Spilt Milk: What to Do When Furniture Gets Ruined

Spilt Milk: What to Do When Furniture Gets Ruined

Anna Hoffman
Jan 4, 2012

Last weekend, gravity did some redecorating at my apartment, bringing a large antique mirror crashing to the floor. Both the mirror and frame were totally unsalvageable, reduced to splinters of glass and gilded wood, and once I got over my shock and my gratitude that no one was hurt (because someone could have really been hurt!), I confess it made me want to cry — I loved that mirror! I'm sure many of us have had beloved objects or decor that has been irreversibly ruined. So what are some of the lessons we can learn from their untimely demises?

1. Don't cry over anything that can't cry over you. This is my sister's mother-in-law's advice, and it's become something of a mantra in my family. Inanimate objects don't care about you, so you shouldn't care too much about them. Even really pretty mirrors that totally made the room, and the fun little gilded plaster bust that it took down with it.

2. Don't buy anything you can't afford to lose. Now that it's dust in the wind, I kind of resent those extra dollars beyond my Big Mirror budget that I spent to buy that mirror. Stuff happens — earthquakes, floods, fires, gravity, toddlers — don't spend more than you can on things.

3. Turn lemons into lemonade. A few years ago, my then-3-year-old daughter made permanent marks with blue crayon on my friend's beautiful — like, beautiful — beige upholstered hallway walls. My friend couldn't have been more gracious about this incident (though I'm basically hyperventilating just remembering it) and eventually turned it into an opportunity to switch out the beige for gorgeous black-and-white wallpaper. I'm sure she was still devastated, but she turned that devastation into a positive! Maybe I can follow her lead and find something new and great for my mantle. Meantime, I'm hanging up a painting that I've had for a while and haven't yet found a good spot for. Maybe this is the spot?

4. Hang and install things properly! Um, yeah. I had a professional art hanger put my mirror up, since its heft was daunting to me, but I see now that he didn't properly distribute the weight across the wall. Also, it was an antique (though not THAT old!), and the wood of the frame and the metal plates and screws holding the picture wire onto the frame were getting soft. It seems that one of the metal plates got twisted right off, either because the screws gave out or because the metal wasn't strong enough. I should have made sure the frame and its hangers were reinforced before even getting to the hang-it-up stage. Plus, my 'professional' was maybe on the cheaper end of the spectrum? Sometimes you get what you paid for (an antithetical corollary to Lesson #2 above).

So what do you think? Have you lost a piece of furniture that you loved? What lessons did you learn from it?

Images: Anna Hoffman

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