The one that got away

Last week I found the the most awesome deal probably ever.  A sweet little mid-century cabinet at Goodwill.

mid-century cabinet with hutch

Notice how this is all one piece, not a cabinet with a hutch perched on top of it. It might look a bit scuffed, but that's just some dirt. It needed nothing more than a good cleaning.

It wasn’t Danish and it wasn’t a super high-end piece, but I liked it.  A lot.  It was in good shape and had door detail I haven’t seen before, cool knobs, and nice legs.  (I’ve always been a sucker for nice legs.)

And here’s the best part:  It was only $50.00 (plus another 10% off for my birthday month discount).

Just to know why that’s the best part, here’s what some other similar pieces are going for in Portland vintage shops:

midcentury china cabinet

Image via craigslist; available at Simply Modern in Portland for $175

midcentury china cabinet

This one is from i heart retro; asking price: $399.

Hold on there…


We don’t have a place for it.  I sat there in the Goodwill store, already a few minutes late to pick up the kids (I’d run in to check on something really quickly, and this caught my eye).  I knew if I walked out, that baby’d be gone.  It was too good a deal.

So I bought it.  Right then.  Didn’t ask Cane.  Didn’t worry too much about the no place to put it.  I was sure we could find one, and even if we couldn’t, I reasoned that I could resell it on craigslist for at least an easy $100 profit.

Done.  Sent Cane a picture of it to tell him I’d bought it, not to ask if he thought I should.

But the next day…

Standing in front of the cabinet the next day at the Goodwill with Cane, I liked it just as much as I had the day before. Better, actually. He liked it, too.


“We really don’t have a place for it,” he said.

“What if we move the credenza behind the couch and put it on the wall where the credenza is?”

living room with credenza and couch

That little table behind the couch makes a handy work table, but it's really not the right size for that space. The credenza (on the left) could move over to double as a sofa table.

He shook his head.  “It’ll be too cluttered.”

“What if we move the chairs out from that space behind the couch?”

“But that’s a nice sitting place.”

Yes, it is.  Damnit.

sitting area in living room with two chairs

A little messy--because we really use this area a lot.

We considered a few other places, but there really isn’t one.  We like our spaces the way they are.  A lot.

“Well, I guess we can take it home and craigslist it.”

Plan B


The piece was really big and heavy.  It wouldn’t fit in the car.  We’d have to figure out how to hoist it to the top of the car and get it home without breaking the glass doors.  Then we’d have to store it in the garage (which we’ve just gotten cleared out so that we can both park our cars in it–a really nice thing to be able to do in December).  Then we’d have to run an ad, and be home to show it to people.

“It’s not worth it, is it?” I asked.

Cane gave me the look he gives when he doesn’t want to say something that’s totally obvious that he knows I don’t really want to hear.


“I can’t believe we’re going to walk away from this.”


“We’re going to walk away from this, aren’t we?”

Same look.

And so we walked away.  I returned the cabinet. (For in-store credit only, not a refund.  Damnit.)

mid-century cabinet with hutch

Just a little reminder of what didn't go home with us.

What I did take away from this

Well, obviously, I didn’t take a cabinet away.  But here’s what I got:

A lovely Friday night.  We came home, made dinner, sat at a candle-lit table and relaxed there after eating, and spent a nice night reading on the couch.  Went to bed early.

A weekend to do as we wanted, without worrying about having to be available for someone to come see the cabinet we’re selling.

A clean and clutter-free home.  I walked around the house and realized that there truly is no place for that cabinet, and we don’t need it for storage.  I wanted it because I liked it and it was such a good price–but it wouldn’t make me love our home any more than I already do or make it function better than it already does.

Confirmation that less really is more.

egg on a bolo bun

Time to go out for breakfast...

hipsters in front of camper boutique

...and hang with the groovy folk at the Portland Bazaar.

Funky folk-art light fixture

We also had time to hit up The Rebuilding Center in our perpetual quest for the right light fixtures. (No, this one wasn't it.)

standing on dresser to paint wall

And we finally started painting the living room! Way better than trying to crowd another piece of furniture into it.

I’m sure someone else will love the screaming good deal I left behind, and I hope it goes to someone who both loves and needs that cabinet.  For me, I’m glad my little lesson didn’t cost me more than it did.  That was a screaming-good deal, too.

How about you?

What the best deal you ever walked away from?  Are you glad you did?  Do you think we did the right thing?