I can’t believe “adult winter break” is coming to a close—I took two weeks off work and it was so nice to have this time to relax and recharge, especially after 2020. I didn’t leave town at all and instead just focused on some personal projects like reorganizing around my apartment to get ready for the new year, catching up on must-watch TV and books, and enjoying living life without a set schedule.
During the workweek, especially this past year when there’s less separation between work + home, I sometimes lack the motivation to work my blog. I have to be really “on” at work, so there are many days where by close of business, I just want to get away from my computer, not sit on it for longer. Now that I’ve had a break from work—especially since Q4 is always our busiest time!—I’ve felt really energized about blogging again and am hoping to keep that momentum going.
Since we are spending so much time at home, I’ve been really excited about having a new apartment to decorate. (You can see some things I’ve done so far here, here, and here.) As I was brainstorming ideas for posts, I realized I never shared one of the larger purchases I’ve made for my place: a gorgeous vintage Dixie Aloha Bamboo Dresser that I purchased from D.E.G. Furniture Designs. I purchased it the week I moved in to be used as a credenza under my mounted TV and it arrived about four weeks later. It fits the space perfectly and gave me a ton of extra storage, which has been so nice to have.
(As of the original post date, they have an identical one in stock on their Etsy Shop HERE.)
For those of you that have been following along with my blog for a while, you’re very familiar with my other vintage faux bamboo piece—this seven-drawer Thomasville Allegro dresser I purchased a couple years ago from The Resplendent Crow and had lacquered in Benjamin Moore Seaweed. Don’t worry, I still own that piece—it’s in my bedroom in this apartment as my main clothing dresser.
My living room in my Arlington apartment is much more sizable than the one in my Dupont Circle studio, so I knew the room could accommodate—and would look better with—a slightly larger piece. I also really wanted to grow my vintage furniture collection and had always loved the look of this Dixie Aloha Bamboo Dresser. I found one at a great price from a highly-rated seller and the rest was history.
Since I’ve now bought a couple pieces of vintage furniture online—which can be really scary since it’s such a sizable investment!—I wanted to provide some tips I’ve learned through my experiences:
WHERE TO FIND VINTAGE FURNITURE
I’ve had my eye on vintage faux bamboo furniture like this for years so I knew what I was looking for, but if you’re interested in starting a search of your own, Thomasville, Dixie, and Henry Link are three prominent furniture makers that made a lot of faux bamboo pieces. I’ve found that searching “faux bamboo dresser” on Etsy or Chairish is a great place to start.
Lastly, while I’ve never purchased from any of them, The CEH, One of a Find Charleston, and Lucketts also sell/lacquer vintage faux bamboo pieces—I’ve had friends that have had positive experiences with all three.
SHIPPING + WHY I LIKE WHITE GLOVE DELIVERY
D.E.G. Furniture Designs, where I bought this white dresser, is on both Etsy and Chairish. I ended up purchasing this dresser on Chairish for one reason (they had this piece listed on both, which I’ve found many sellers do!)—Chairish made it super easy to set up white glove delivery with really transparent shipping fees.
When I purchased my green dresser from The Resplendent Crow on Etsy, Sucheta, the shop owner, helped me coordinate delivery. I’ve found each Etsy shop has its own shipping procedures for vintage furniture—sometimes shipping is included in the price with white glove being extra or sometimes the vendor will help you coordinate shipping via FedEx, Greyhound, or a white glove delivery service they use regularly. I would highly recommend reaching out to the vendor before you purchase your furniture to coordinate shipping and so you have an understanding of what the price will be.
When purchasing furniture, especially vintage, I like to do white glove delivery since I live in an apartment building by myself—it makes it super easy for me. I just reserve the service elevator on the date of my delivery and they bring it up to my apartment and put it where I want it.
One thing to keep in mind when ordering furniture from Chairish, Etsy, or other smaller sellers—at least in my experience—is there’s not a ton of warning ahead of them when your piece will arrive. For both of my dressers, the delivery driver called me a day or two before and let me know when they would be coming to drop my piece off. They were also late on the day-of both times. So, I would flag any days you’re out of town to the seller when you buy your piece and then just know you just have to be flexible on the delivery date since your furniture will likely arrive late.
WHY I ALWAYS REQUEST TOUCH-UP LACQUER
Another thing I will flag is that both times, my furniture has arrived with a few minor chips to the lacquer job. While both vendors packed my dressers up decently well, I just don’t think they’re secured that well when they’re on the trucks, and the trucks are usually dusty.
I was really disappointed when my green dresser arrived with a big piece of the lacquer missing from one of the legs and a few other smaller chips—you spend so much money on a piece and want it to be perfect! But Sucheta was great and sent me some touch up lacquer I applied with a foam paintbrush and it was as good as new—you can’t tell where the chips were.
Knowing this, I proactively asked the team at D.E.G. Furniture Designs to send some touch-up lacquer with my white dresser and they did. It was great because there were a few small places that had been damaged in transit I was able to touch up immediately.
My white dresser has only been with me for a few months, but I’ve had my green one for almost three years now. I am very gentle with it, but notice that the lacquer does chip pretty easily, especially where the drawers and actual body of the dresser meet. Having touch up lacquer on-hand means it’s easy for me to fix. Sucheta, the shop owner at The Resplendent Crow has been so kind and sent me more lacquer over the years so I can keep my green dresser in top-notch shape. Since these companies use professional-grade lacquer, you as a consumer cannot purchase it—which means you really are reliant on the shop you bought it from to send you the touch-up lacquer. (Trust me, I *tried* buying a gallon of Mohawk Duracoat lacquer color-matched to Benjamin Moore Seaweed and it is not possible.)
Last year, I did buy a can of Benjamin Moore Seaweed paint in high gloss to see if that would work as well as the touch-up lacquer, but once the paint dried, there was a slight color difference, so I do not recommend it. (I tested it in an inconspicuous place, don’t worry!)
One of the reasons why I went with white for my second vintage piece was that I figured it would be easier to touch up down the line—it’s much easier as a consumer to buy white lacquer than it is to color-match lacquer. That being said, don’t be afraid to pick a fun, vibrant color for your vintage furniture—I would do my green one over, and over, and over again—annoying paint chips and all.
WHAT I PAID FOR MY DRESSERS + SHIPPING
In the spirit of full transparency, I bought this white vintage Dixie Aloha Bamboo Dresser for $1,650 and paid $299 for white glove delivery. I bought my green dresser in 2018 for $1,025 and paid $250 for the shipping. Once you find a piece you’re interested in, I’d shop around and make sure you’re getting the best price. If the seller is open to it, you could also throw out a reasonable offer. I watched my white dresser for about a month before purchasing and got it for $400 less than they initially listed it. Patience pays off!
HOW I PROTECT MY FURNITURE
One thing I’ll note is that vintage furniture will have imperfections and there definitely are a few things on both of my dressers that aren’t perfect—i.e. drawers that can get stuck, some minor dents in the furniture you can see through the paint, etc. To help protect my pieces, I had a piece of glass custom cut for each dresser to protect the top surface from wear and tear. It gives me a lot of peace of mind! (If you’re in the DC area, I use Circle Glass & Mirror.)
On my green dresser, the glass has never taken off any of the lacquer, but on my white dresser, I noticed the glass was sticking in a few spots and pulling up some of the paint*. As such, I bought some of these glass bumpers to put on the glass so it doesn’t sit directly on the surface, except where the bumpers are, and it’s worked like a charm. (FYI—a reader commented to let me know Circle Glass & Mirror will give you free glass bumpers if you ask, so definitely check with your vendor, too! If not, they’re cheap on Amazon.)
(*My theory around why this happened is that my green lacquer dresser was without glass on top for about six months after I received it, so the lacquer had a long time to really dry out. I put a piece of glass on my new white dresser almost immediately, so while it was dry to the touch, it didn’t have as long to really dry all the way out.)
I don’t really worry about my vintage furniture on a day-to-day basis—I’m not rough on them and when the paint chips, since I have touch-up paint, it’s an easy fix. However, what makes me most nervous is when I have to move the furniture. Watching the delivery guys take these beautiful pieces off the truck was so nerve-wracking for me! And don’t even get me started on how stressed I was both times I moved my green dresser during apartment moves—it’s definitely “weaker” than my white dresser and isn’t in as-good condition (I knew this when I purchased it and was ok with it!), so entrusting it with movers is so nerve-wracking for me. It’s always worked out, but I am looking forward to the day these two live in a permanent home instead of the apartment-to-apartment lifestyle, hah!
If you have any questions about either of my vintage faux bamboo dressers or any of the tips I’ve shared about buying vintage furniture, please feel free to drop me a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Excited to take you along as I continue to decorate this space!