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Design

Arlyn’s 3-Year Journey To Find Her Dream Vintage Armoire (For Under $500) + A Bedroom MOTO Update

Internet friends and perhaps new readers (strangers!) alike: It’s me. Arlyn. Verbose ex-Editorial Director turned friend of the blog. I pop in on the occasion, but frankly, it’s been far too long. Fear not, however, as I come bearing gifts for anyone who may still have a morsel of a memory left about my bedroom makeover. You know, the one I started planning and writing about here and on my own blog two years ago. Before a major injury/mysterious illness (I’m on the mend). Before a baby (she’s fantastic). But there have been some developments, and the time was ripe to share. 

I’m not here to ruin any of the juicy details everyone waits for in an official reveal, but rather, to explore my journey to the one piece I’ve been waiting on to pull my entire design together. The x-factor that was missing from all my mood boards. I went through iteration after iteration and everything simply felt too…new. Too modern. Not “me” enough. I prefer designs that are perfectly imperfect. My bedroom plan needed a little funk soul factor, and dear blog mates, it’s been found (and currently waiting patiently in the garage). 

But first, let’s just remind you of where we started: 

a very boring “before” of my bedroom

…where we first tried to go (back when I wanted a rust velvet bed): 

Bed | Plug-in Sconce | Nightstands | Cabinet | Dresser | Paint | Mirror | Curtains | Fabric Swatch | Rug | Lumbar Pillow (no longer available) | Duvet Cover | Quilted Set

…and where we eventually landed (nearly):

Bed | Sconces | Dresser (vintage) | Nightstands | Armoire | Rug | Armchair | Footstool (similar) | Side Table | Curtains (similar) | Duvet Cover | Linen Body Pillow | Floral Pillow Fabric

Ok, now onto the good stuff; why we’re all here today.

This adventure begins as many tend to for us design enthusiasts: with a photo. 

Back in 2019, before the world imploded, and before I left EHD, I worked on a post some of you old-timers may remember. It was a bedroom makeover featuring Brooklinen bedding styled by Emily Bowser. While there’s no denying the room as a whole was very good, there was one part of it that has stuck with me all this time. 

Halfway down the article, in one image amongst many is a photo of the room from a new angle where you can see a vintage burlwood armoire. More accurately: *The* armoire. The singular furniture piece that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would send me on a crusade, nay, a pilgrimage to find one for myself. 

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: this organic, punchy bedroom may be our new favorite makeover

The search started innocent enough: Some casual poking around while I sipped my weekend morning coffee. Scroll, scroll, scroll through Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist/Offer Up/5 Mile/Chairish. A contender or two would occasionally present themselves. Sometimes, even Caitlin would send me some options to consider but things were either too large, too small, too far, too damaged, or—the most heartwrenching—too expensive. I had given myself a budget of $500 to work with, so some of the vintage beauties in pristine shape I’d find were too rich for my blood. 

Not entirely knowing what to search for and also not convinced anyone who had something similar knew how to title it for me to find it in the price range I wanted to find it in, I tried plenty of different variations and combinations of words:

Burlwood armoire.

Burlwood bureau.

Burlwood cabinet.

Once I realized “burlwood” might be the trouble word, seeing that I rarely got many results south of $2k, I moved on to more creative descriptions.

Solid wood armoire. 

Mahogany closet. 

Olive wood wardrobe. 

Armoire with heavy grain.

too far away (i went back and forth with the seller trying to convince him to deliver it to me and i’d pay him but he wasn’t having it, and any quotes from local delivery services cost 3x the price of the piece itself).
too large (but man, what a beauty).
this one looked close but then ended up actually being located out in ojai. plus, the style wasn’t exactly what i was looking for.
left: why i was searching in the santa barbara area is beyond me. | right: this one was a bit too petite (i was looking for something at least 60” tall and 40” wide).

At one point along the way, I kind of just gave up. I desperately needed more storage as my 1930s apartment was heavy on character yet anemic on places to stash my clothing and shoes (let alone anything else). Evidently, people in the early 20th century owned three shirts, two pairs of boots, and a set of slacks. Actually yes, this is likely true. They hadn’t discovered the excess that plagues modern day, and while I try to keep my wardrobe more on the minimal side these days (you know, just a few pairs of compression leggings and nursing T-shirts are all you need when you work from home and have a 6-month old breastfed baby), I do have a *bit* of a thing for shoes. And handbags. Oh, and pajama sets and bras (but that’s a conversation for another day…or never). 

Quick aside: Back in my early twenties, I had a blog called The Accessories Junkie where my tagline was “Because shoes never make you feel fat,” and let me tell you, I’ve lived this truth for much of my adult life. Handbags…they also have never made me feel even remotely bad about myself. Only good. Skinny jeans = bad vibes. Leather bucket bags = confidence boost. Alright, back to furniture. 

So if you can imagine, ya girl needed a solution for where to put her footwear. I tucked my dreamy wood armoire hopes on the top shelf of my heart and started shopping for something new. Surely, if I ever were to come across something by happenstance, I could sell or repurpose what I had and make the swap. But for now, I came to terms with my dashed vintage fantasies. 

I flirted with a beautiful grasscloth cabinet from Crate & Barrel, but it ended up being a bit too large. There was the era when I looked up every caned-front armoire I could find on the internet, thinking the texture would be a nice addition to balance the velvet and brass of some of my other furniture and lighting picks. Here are some of the ones I highly considered (sometimes when I was feeling spendy, and other times when I brought myself back down to earth):

1. Sands Grasscloth Storage Cabinet | 2. Webbing Sliding Door Cabinet | 3. Vintage Acorn And Cane Sliding Door Gustav Bookshelf | 4. Wallace Cane and Oak Armoire | 5. Marte Storage Cabinet | 6. Wood & Cane Transitional Armoire Brown

I even took a sharp left turn and started exploring Brutalist-style bureaus because maybe I’d have better luck there. Ultimately, the search just got a bit stale and my whole bedroom makeover just came to a screeching halt. 

After bravely installing a gallery wall at 39 weeks pregnant while my mother nervously spotted me on our step ladder, I kind of just gave up. Arranging art was all I had left to give for a while. Our daughter was due any day, and we had brought in her changing table, bassinet and other baby things that would likely stay there for at least 6 months, if not a year. They lived along the wall where I had planned my armoire to go, and knowing that made me lose steam in my pursuit of anything new or vintage. There were other things to focus on, like feeding a teeny baby in the wee hours of the morning, constantly checking if she was still breathing, staring in awe at the human I somehow built with my own body. 

And then, about five months and change later, while holding my girl as she napped, I felt the urge to pick back up the trail that had gone cold. 

My Facebook Marketplace feed was chock-full of suggestions related to all my past searches, so I don’t even remember typing in any new terms. A few flicks of the thumb and my heart started racing. My breath caught in my chest. I nearly dropped my infant (I’m exaggerating here. She was safe in my arms, don’t worry). There it was: A beautifully patterned just-ornate-enough “Vintage Walnut Wood Armoire Wardrobe Cabinet” only a tiny bit over my original $500 budget. 

while it’s not a dead ringer for the original inspiration, the spirit of it was the same. what i really wanted was a rich wood grain with lots of movement and matchbooking in the pattern. 

It wasn’t exactly close by, but it wasn’t so far that I considered it too big of a hurdle to get over. My thumbs trembled as a hurried to type out a message to the poster: “Is this still available?” It was. “Would you accept $400?” They wouldn’t. “$500” they curtly wrote back. Bingo. Go low and make them meet you in the middle, I’ve learned. 

The next task to figure out was how to get it from them to me. Charles—my incredibly patient and supportive husband who also always annoyingly says things like “where exactly do you plan on putting that” every time I share one of my hair-brained design purchase schemes with him—had no idea my hunt was back on. Asking him if he thought it would fit in my small SUV had to play hand in hand with a subtle act of convincing him to also drive the hour there and hour back to go get the thing. So instead, I asked the seller for the address and got a quote from a delivery service I had used earlier in the year for a vintage dresser I scooped up. My only challenge with Charles would be convincing him that the armoire could and should just live in our garage until we had the room in our bedroom to bring it in after the baby moved into her own nursery. This, however, is a regular sticking point in our relationship as “put it in the garage” is always my solution, while he looks around down there and claims there’s no room. 

I’ll spare you the details because I wouldn’t be writing this post if it didn’t work out. The title of this article is not “Arlyn’s 3-Year Journey to Find Her Dream Vintage Armoire & The Tale of How Charles Made It All Fell Apart.” Not-so-spoiler alert: I got my armoire.

There was, however, a weird moment where my Zelle payment appeared to go through on my end, but not on theirs (was I getting scammed? After all this?!?). They wouldn’t give me the exact address for pick up without confirmed payment so it was a bit touch and go for a minute there, but the banking deities made it happen. The next day, it was safely delivered to its temporary holding place…and my marriage remains intact. A husband, a baby, and a bureau…what more could a girl ask for? 

So that’s where this story ends, for now. Our daughter Evelyn is quickly growing out of our bedroom and will soon be moved into her own space, so my primary bedroom Makeover Takeover can commence yet again. 

In the meantime, here’s a quick peek at an updated moodboard with a rough Photoshop job of my armoire mocked in: 

There isn’t much left to do besides finalizing some bedding, pillows, small decor and styling, so I hope to share my space with everyone here in the coming weeks. The armoire is lacking shelving inside I need to optimize its storage, but I’ve been eyeing some adjustable tension shelves I can add in fairly easily. 

And there you have it…or rather I have it. It’s a little hard to believe that what started as an ember aglow in my heart in 2019 actually came to fruition. A slow burn that I finally got to extinguish. I can’t wait to see it all come together finally, and my shoes are eager to be set free from the basket they’re all crammed in. 

Stay tuned, sweet EHD readers and see you soon!

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Cris S.
3 months ago

Yay Arlen!!!! This is the arduous vintage item hunt that so many of us can relate to. I’m glad you finally found and secured your dream armoire. And I’m hoping that mojo rubs off on my magical item search too (nope – too suspicious to share what I’m looking for here in the Chicagoland area!). Can’t wait to see more of the room you put together!

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Cris S.

I just did a lucky little dance for you to find your mysterious item!! Good luck!

S
3 months ago

Nice to see you back on the blog, Arlyn. Always enjoy your writing.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  S

Thank you! It feels like home here. 🙂

Nora
3 months ago

Hello again, Arlyn! Congrats on finding the perfect armoire for the perfect price, and congrats on your new baby.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Nora

It was meant to be! <3

Alice
3 months ago

You’re so lucky to live on the West Coast–it seems like the amount of Deco furniture out there is amazing. The one that makes my heart go pitter pat is the second one after the search terms with “broken handle” in the description–she’s s stunner. So glad you found what you wanted and were able to get it home without too much ado. Also, I love the structure of this post–design desire, looking at new and vintage sites, info on practical stuff like budgets and transportation. I hope we see more like this.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Alice

I totally get it. Back when I lived in Florida, the only thing I ever found on a marketplace was espresso-colored laminate furniture from IKEA basically. Or some iteration of that style. No one had anything interesting. On the plus side, when on the off chance there WAS something good, people didn’t really know what they had so it was way cheaper. 🙂

3 months ago

I really appreciate the update, can’t wait to see the mood board come to life. Gosh, we can all relate to stops and starts in life, enjoy your sweet Evelyn. Haha, I “surprise” my husband with what I’m considering and my “schemes” and frequently get “what are you going to do with that?” as well.

Arlyn
3 months ago

Do they teach husbands “what are you going to do with that” at some point in life that we missed? 😉

Don
3 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Pretty sure they do—–luckily mine is fairly long suffering and has traveled with a trailer many hours for some of my finds. I wanted to show you my new 250 plus year old baby, Genevieve. I scored her for $500 because no one wanted something so freaking big. She’s overpowers where she is in the cottage at the moment, but things will be reworked shortly, lol

EBD57984-7CF1-44DE-A235-A82333FB5452.JPG
Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

YESSS love it!

Don
3 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Thanks! Whispers and looks around, FB Marketplace and consignment shops in Connecticut are a GOLD mine.

Cris S.
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

Love this!

Sona
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

Gorgeous!!!!

Sona
3 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

“What are you going to do with that?” is really code for “are you really going to spend money on that?” LOL

Roberta Davis
3 months ago

That’s beautiful and will be a joy for decades to come! I remember all of it, Arlyn! Great to see you here again.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Yes I was really looking for something I could have for many decades to come. Use it in my bedroom, move it into a dining room or living room in another home should it not fit in my bedroom. Super versatile!

Rebecca
3 months ago

Omg Arlyn! I missed your voice on the blog and your mood board makes my heart sing!
Also as a latina who has been personally victimized by jeans for most of my life – yes to shoes! Yes to bags! Yes to make up! Hahahaha

🥰 Rusty
3 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

“personally victimized by jeans” 🤣🤣

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

It makes my heart sing, too! I’m super happy with where I ended up. I struggled for months…years really to get the design to a place that felt right. Just enough color, just enough character, but something simple enough to feel at ease and relaxed. And jeans are a true predator!

🥰 Rusty
3 months ago

ARLYN!!!!!!! Hey there my friend. 🥰 Yaaay!!!
Fiiiinallllly!!! Dang, we FOAS peeps have been hanging for this one!

I love how Charles “had no idea my hunt was back on.” Gahaha! 🤣🤣
Always tge pragmatic tgat balances the dream, huh?

From rust, to mustard bed…all the changes.
Did you get your nightstands yet? Or are you still on the hunt for those?

Um, I’m wondering when Evelyn goes into her room, where will Charles keep his clothes and where will he work? (back to the dining room) and, well… #so.many.things.to.be.revealed!

Fantabulously luverly to read you here.
I cannot wait for the final reveal!
Mmmwwaahh!
💞xxx

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Hi Rusty!! Yes so many changes but really feeling good about it all. My nightstand journey is another conversation, maybe for my own blog ha! I have to get back on the writing horse for sure and give you all all my updates! 🙂

Don
3 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Did you actually go with the mustard bed, Arlyn? I must have missed that, or maybe you haven’t revealed.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

Yes I did!! I’m going to write a whole post about my evolution on my blog soon (I hope) but at some point, I stumbled upon this bed when looking for a rug and it made me change my mind instantly. love at first browse.

Elise
3 months ago

Arlyn! Great to see you here. Congrats on finding your perfect armoire. Keep enjoying motherhood, looking forward to more updates soon here and on your own blog.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Elise

I hope to be able to get back to writing regularly here and on my own blog soon (once I get this baby from waking up screaming for 2 hours every night hahaha).

3 months ago

bahaha that’s exactly what my husband always says to me too – where is that gonna go?? what a great find, arlyn! cant wait to see the end result 🙂

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  steph

HUSBANDS…LEAVE US ALONE! We always figure it out, don’t we?

Amanda
3 months ago

Shoes and bags are the best. Love the mood board progression, so realistic

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Amanda

Thanks! I’m usually far more direct in my designs but the needs of my bedroom have changed so much in the last few years so the design had to change with it!

Lyna Hernández
3 months ago

Nice, the thing is….. like Charles always say: “ where are you going to put it?” Evelyn took all the space in your apartment, sooooo….

Arlyn
3 months ago

Every corner is taken up by her stuff but I wouldn’t change anything for my nena!

Heidi
3 months ago

Inspiring!

Sahaja
3 months ago

Loved hearing your voice again Arlyn! Congrats on the new baby! It was a good moment when we reclaimed our bedroom too, but have #2 on the way, so right there with you soon. What a warm and eclectic cool space you are making.

Arlyn
3 months ago
Reply to  Sahaja

Thank you Sahaja! On the one hand, I know I’m going to be so sad when we move her out. Having my baby right next to me it’s comforting (even if I sleep like utter crap because of it and all her whale tailing, stomping, grunting). But I know it’ll be for the best for both of us. The first few nights, I’m just going to stare at her monitor for hours, I’m sure hahaha. And congrats on #2!!

Beckie K-C
3 months ago

So lovely to have you back on the blog, Arlyn, and congratulations on the birth of Evelyn. In the UK, this type of furniture is super common and cheap. I think people are put off by how big they are, but honestly give me a beautifully crafted and patterned wooden delight with Art Deco vibes any day!

I look forward to seeing the pictures of it in its rightful home.

Suzanne
3 months ago

Congratulations, Arlyn! I’m so glad your persistence paid off. It’s so beautiful, and I can’t wait for the reveal. And it’s good to see you in blogland again!

Deborah
3 months ago

Hi Arlyn, so nice to see your post here today!! 🙂
Wow, what a gorgeous armoire you found and brought home, it is going to look so lovely in your bedroom! I loved seeing the others you found and some of those prices – who knew – I may have to keep my eyes open for some beauties. Though right now I am actually on the hunt for some hutches, I have realized a pretty hutch or two would solve some storage issues for me.

It will be sad when sweet baby Evelyn gets her own space, and yet, so important that you are better able to rest and sleep – because I’m sure Evelyn will be keeping you on your toes!

Ariana
3 months ago

Arlyn, I don’t always comment but I just felt I had to, your writing is👌🏻 This is the type on content I read this blog for. Your story was riveting and I love the way your Baby’s name echos yours.

Paula
3 months ago

I love it when a plan comes together. Yay, Arlyn!

elle
3 months ago

Oh, So Love This Post! So nice to read your voice again, Arlyn, to hear that baby and you both are doing well. It is interesting to see the progression in mood boards. And YAY! to the armoire. It is perfection. We need the rest of the story ….”I stumbled upon this bed when looking for a rug and it made me change my mind instantly… ok! ready for all the backstory as well as the full reveal.

Patricia
3 months ago

I used to have multiple armoires including one that came from a hotel in Vienna with fantastic carved heads. It was basically the size of a mini warehouse and held so so many things. Alas, when I downsized from a three-story house to a two-bedroom condo, it had to go. Alas, it sold for a handful of beans (and not the magic kind) since the market only wanted midcentury and Ikea. I remind my husband we got decades of use out of it and loved it to bits. Moving on…

SusanFromFOAS
3 months ago
Reply to  Patricia

I have two armoires and one Victoria pantry cupboard, the size of an armoire but just 13″ deep, in my small 1921 bungalow. The storage is essential and there is something about armoires that makes them looks sculptural in the best way in small rooms.

SusanFromFOAS
3 months ago

Arlyn – It is so nice to “see you” again and hear that all is well with Evelyn, Charles and antique hunting. I love the serendipity of hunting for antiques and vintage finds. As you were busy with your pregnancy and illness, the armoire just didn’t materialize. And now, when you have space in your life and room, there it was, the perfect armoire for you! It’s really lovely – love the almost butterfly look of the burl and the curves. Enjoy it!

Kelly
3 months ago

Congrats on your new baby and understanding husband! I love your tale and cannot wait to see your wardrobe all set up for your shoes. I need to add shelves to an old wardrobe, too. I wonder if Evelyn might like your wardrobe to hold her beautiful dresses and shoes in 15 years… Hmm..
I love your mood board as well. As a mom to a 23 and 17 year old I would suggest nixing the light colored rug. Go with something darker with some pattern so little feet don’t dirty it up. Its so much more fun not to worry about stains, etc. Maybe Emily has one she could get for you for a song.

Nora
3 months ago

It’s so good to see you here again, Arlyn! Have missed your voice and style. And congratulations too on the baby! I’m excited to see your room come together – I definitely related to the armoire search – and the one you ended up finding is gorgeous. Looking forward to the reveal!

Lynn W
3 months ago

Perseverance!!! An awesome find…can’t wait for the next installment! Congratulations on your beautiful daughter Evelyn 💜

Julie S
3 months ago

It was so fun to hear from you again and with such a great story! Hurrah for a wonderful, wonderful armoire. That room with the inspo piece is one of my all time favorite EHD rooms, but for the wall art, leather pendants, and bed style mostly 🙂

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