Thursday, April 8, 2010

New old furniture.

Perhaps there are a few of you who may be wondering what I have been doing since last we spoke...

Well, orchestrating a move of 8 pieces of furniture (as inexpensively as possible) from Brussels to Corfu, can be more difficult than I imagined. 

Last fall my uncle died.  He and my aunt were in their late 80's and both were pretty frail.  He passed away quickly after falling and hitting his head.  He never regained consciousness. 

My nearly blind aunt was well taken care of by my cousin and his wife and children, immediately afterward as she really couldn't be expected to live on her own, alone.  Still, she didn't want to live with her children- she wanted a little more autonomy and friends her own age.  Getting old is not fun, and younger people don't understand the way people your own age do! 

My cousin found a perfect place not too far from any of them in a great neighborhood nearby.  She has a lovely room with huge windows and a balcony door, that lets in plenty of light.  The cook is excellent and finally my aunt is again eating and gaining a bit of weight.  The 12 other people are mostly her own age and she enjoys talking with them and sharing meals, when she wishes, in the community dining room.  It's really lovely.

The point of the whole story is that in order to help pay for this, my cousin needed to rent out their old apartment (now not being a very great time to actually SELL one.) 

So the shifting of furniture began.  The apartment had a garage and as much as possible was shifted to the apartment's downstairs garage.  BUT there was a bit more than they'd counted on... more and now: My cousins garage is full.  His daughter's garage is full.  His son's garage is full.  His wife had a solution- get rid of it all!! 

Needless to say, my cousin couldn't do that so, they called me!  Would I like anything??? 

I remembered a bookcase I admired, with leaded glass doors, and a round table my grandfather used that had clawed feet, as well as a plain cabinet of my great grandmother, that my grandmother had used in her kitchen.  There was a writing desk that I remembered that was pretty and if they didn't want that it would be nice.  

I sent my cousin an email and asked for the measurements and pictures of those items so I could get a quote from a mover- or someone who might be interested in moving her to Corfu for me. 

My cousin got back to me and included four more things as he needed to empty the downstairs garage so as best to be able to rent it out and make some more money for my aunt's upkeep!!  He said if I didn't want it, it was going anyway!  (eBay, the skip, whatever...)

Coordinating this whole thing via email to the movers and phone call to my cousins, was a bit strange, but it all worked out in the end.

And that was how it came to pass that I now have 8 new large pieces of old furniture strewn about my house!  Including a second writing desk, a small display coffee table, another bookcase cabinet and my great-grandmother's mahogany chest of drawers (with marble slab top!).

I am really glad I have a large house and plenty of space!

When it all arrived, (in "pretty good" condition, considering travel, age and distance!)  there were a few bits and pieces that needed T's tender loving care.  My cousin had fortunately included all the little broken bits from all the pieces so it was a bit like having a really big jigsaw puzzle at times as unfortunately we had no exact idea where the pieces originally came from!

According to my mother, the table needs a piece of marble cut to cover it (as that was as she remembered it many years ago during the war, when the marble broke after one of the aerial bombings of Brussels. )  She also remembered that the cabinet door always stuck, even for my great grandmother. (T fixed it- the hinges were bent) Lastly I remembered that the display table used to have a glass top.  It sat pride of place in my aunt's apartment with lovely little cups and other treasures she'd collected. 

As my cousin didn't send the cups and other nicky-noos, I figured I'd add a few of my own little bits from when we lived in Turkey.  Someday I'll get around to replacing that glass top.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my Easter Ham!!


  1. Love your new pieces, I do love old furniture it has far more character xx

  2. Sorry about your uncle and aunt, but nice furniture if there's a bright side to be found.

    I was wondering how difficult it would be to have a cargo container of personal effects shipped to, say, Thera if I found a nice little place there. (that is to say, would import duties be 100% or more?)

  3. Sorry for the family sadness, but you have such lovely memories attached to the furniture. They are beautiful pieces and fit so well into your home, which looks just as beautiful! I love the artwork on your walls!

  4. Oh it was well worth all the effort getting these pieces shipped over Jes...they are beautiful. I'm sure they will give you endless pleasure and wonderful memories.

  5. Dear WildernessChic,
    I SO agree. There's this website that makes me laugh out loud all the time Unhappy Hipsters:It's lonely in the modern world (the link is in the column at the right)and sometimes I look at the really modern and minimalistic stuff and figure I would look so totally out of place surrounded by it all. I like to think it's because I have more character, not that I'm just old!

    Dear Eric,

    Ah. A fairly complicated question, that. If you were moving from say Texas, then yes you would encounter a lot of paperwork and expense.

    If you were moving it all from Italy on the other hand (as it's from one EU country to another) it's not bad at all, because you are still living in the EU (even if Thera sounds more Romantic than say Brindisi, which come to think of it, if you didn't know personally, would sound equally romantic!)

    Other Americans have asked this question and unless you can take care of all the visa paperwork before you leave the States, DON'T move anything over as you will have to leave it behind or pay to have it shipped back 6 months later. If you have dual nationality - US- some other EU country- then you are considered a European when you move inter-Europe.

    The other problem you are likely to run into is shipping things to Greek Islands can be pretty tricky. (I mean it's tough enough to get MAIL much less a truckload of furniture!)

    As for the import duties, personal possessions for the most part are OK. Art, antiques, things that could be classes as "luxury items" well, you get into a bit more of a gray area. If you were interested I'd check with the closest Greek Embassy. They'd probably give you a generic answer, but that would be the horse's mouth.

    We could exchange more but that's just some general ideas...

    Dear Wanda,
    Thank you! I have a lot of stuff on my walls - I've been collecting for years!!

    Dear Ayak,

    The memories ARE the best part, you're right.

  6. I love the furniture, it's so beautiful and I'm so glad everything worked out.

    I'm so behind on reading, kind of doing this backwards...and I like the new look of your blog!



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