Don’t buy Chinese wedding cabinets!

Like most knitters and sewists, I have yarn and fabric squirreled away in many dark corners. Before we moved in together, I used to have some stuff at my old apartment and some at my parents’ house. After the move, I consolidated my crafting collection and it’s been … well, overwhelming. We put most of the fabric boxes (and several years of Burda Style issues) in the basement since I hadn’t figured out where to sew yet. Knitting requires no “working space” as you basically just need a place to sit down, so I took my yarn up to the apartment. Problem was, I had no place to store it. For the time being, I put the boxes in my office and squeezed the assorted knitting bits and bobs in my BILLY shelf that’s supposed to hold my binders, scientific literature and research. Not the ideal solution if you want to create a space where you can concentrate on your work!

We did have that empty space in our living room, though. Right behind the door. Where some kind of Yarn Storage Furniture would comfortably fit, wouldn’t it. (Imagine me stroking my chin and smiling smugly.) After this lightbulb moment, I spent months searching for the perfect piece of furniture. At first I thought about IKEA KALLAX, but we already have three BILLY shelves in the living room for our books. I don’t look down on IKEA at all, I actually think they have perfectly good solutions especially for small apartments. It’s just that I’ve learnt that a mixture of new and old, cheap and high-quality makes for a more interesting space.

My library when we had first assembled the BILLYs in 2017.

Then I fell in love with mid century furniture and searched furiously for a suitable piece. I even found one! It just fit a lot better next to the BILLY shelves, and really, it was a bit too small to fit my crafting hoard. (Guys, I have too much yarn and fabric. It’s a problem. I try to de-stash, you know I do, but the stash is more powerful than me.)

Definitely not big enough for all my treasures!

Right after mid century design, I discovered Chinese wedding cabinets. When I came across a picture of such a cabinet in red with golden brass plates, all other ideas suddenly felt stale and boring. This was it. This was the perfect solution for my yarn and fabric related storage needs, and the perfect perfect fit for that corner of the living room.

Of course, real Chinese wedding cabinets are expensive. Even second-hand, you pay at least 500€ if not more. I’m not a purist, though, so when I came across an Ebay listing for a reproduction for 195€ that was fairly close to us, I immediately messaged the seller and made an appointment to view the cabinet. Obviously we bought it, but that was only the beginning of the story.

In a nutshell, it was a disaster.

Me, after THAT evening.

The only day we could pick up the cabinet was right after Phil had a night shift. He had to drive the rented van through Stuttgart, which has the worst traffic, while he was sleep-deprived, and while it snowed. (I’m too chicken to drive in Stuttgart. It’s really bad.) We arrived back home with the cabinet when it was already dark, and discovered we couldn’t get it up the staircase to our floor just the two of us. However, we also couldn’t get it down in the basement just the two of us. There may have been tears. We had to ask our neighbours at 9.30 pm on a weekday to help us, our neighbours who just moved in and whom we don’t know well. Luckily, they’re really nice and we could at least transport the blasted thing to the basement.

Then it took two months with several failed attempts by strong young men until we managed to get the cabinet into our living room. Do you know who managed to navigate it up there in the end? My tiny mom, who is terrifyingly strong, and might have magic powers. She and Phil got it up the stairs in under half an hour. Here’s to mothers!

FYI, my mom is about 10cm shorter than me.

Despite the long journey, it’s still gorgeous. It fits in perfectly into that side of the room, don’t you think? The red paint and the brass details make the cabinet a focal point without it being overpowering. With so much dark wood in the room, it acts as a powerful, but cheerful contrast, and prevents the space from looking too severe.

And let’s not forget the reason we went through this whole ordeal: storage space! The cabinet provides plenty.

I haven’t really worked out a system yet to organize the yarn, fabric and assorted knick-knacks. For now I’m just so glad I have a place to store these things! And a gorgeous one at that. So I guess I lied: I’d totally buy a Chinese wedding cabinet again. Totally worth the sweat and tears. I’d just figure out if I could transport it up the staircase to our apartment before.

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