Suzi’s decorating a new one-bedroom home and has been sharing her ideas & inspirations (& many fails… ahem) throughout the process. Read her blog posts on this: Suzi’s House Project.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been using an IKEA dresser to hold the clothes that I don’t hang up in the closet. And I’ve continued using it even as the inside panels of two of the drawers have started warping into a concave shape! They’ve sagged so much that the drawers don’t even fully close. (Cheap Asian person ALERT). But for all my threadbare frugality all these years I decided I finally deserved a nice dresser. After brainstorming a bit, we’ve honed in on the idea of Japanese “tansu dresser.”
Mind you these tansu dressers ain’t cheap. At least not the authentic antique ones. As fate would have it, a little bird told us that Shibui, a Japanese antiques warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn, was having a 40% off everything sale for 2 weeks only. So we made a day trip out of it, hopped in the car, slurped a bowl of ramen at Minca, and found ourselves browsing like a handful of snooty poseur yuppies at Shibui.
Everything in the warehouse was stunning in its sheer ancientness and delicateness. As Dave the owner explained to us, the Japanese were little people and they needed to be able to move such large furniture easily. Cute. A single tansu dresser often was made using 3-4 different types of wood, with the outer front surface being made of the most expensive of course, and the inside often made of a super light wood called kiri wood. I was amazed when I tugged open any of the drawers, how extremely paper-light they were. They felt as though they were made of cardboard.
That dresser pictured above was the one I was fawning over for a little bit. It wasn’t a coincidence that it happened to be the only one that was remotely affordable hehe, even at the massive discount. I especially love how asymmetrical the tansu’s tend to be. They’re chock full of nooks and crannies, sliding doors, both normal-sized and tiny drawers and also these long, cross-cutting wooden bars that snap in perpendicular to the drawers to lock them in place.
I was admiring this black tansu below, when Dave strolled by and said “Oh this one is actually sold. To Anne Hathaway.” Nice. Apparently her parents came by the warehouse and bought it for her. Baby on the way for her I vaguely recall… or maybe just married? I can’t keep it straight.
At the last minute I spotted this one below — a small black piece, which Dave said he actually used in his house for awhile as a lantern. He placed a lightbulb inside and lined the walls of the dresser with cream paper, and it illuminated a nice soft glow! Alas, amid much anguish, we made an 11th-hour decision and decided not to get anything, at least for now. But to support the cause (of collecting and upkeeping Asian antiques and making them available to Americans!), we picked up two wooden Japanese buckets, one of which you can see pictured in another post. We figured the buckets would go nicely with our wood and metal-only theme described on our last antique shopping trip to Brunswick (ie, our 19th century butter churner hehe). And we also bought two zabutons… square, flat cushions that the Japanese use to cushion their butts while sitting on the floor 😉