I've lived in some pretty crappy places ... in some of the most amazing cities in the world.
If I close my eyes and concentrate really hard (unlocking the memories I'd repressed for many years), I can distinctly recall:
- Tiny houses with low ceilings, badly planned bathrooms (the kind that people make fun of on Facebook), and appliances right out of an episode of the Brady Bunch,
- Shared housing with "typical" college athletes (i.e., windows covered with blue pinstripe bed sheets, a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink every night, and a fridge with "stuff" that should have been donated to science), and
- Apartments with boarded up windows, two-inch nails sticking out of the ceiling, paper-thin walls (including extremely inconsiderate neighbours), and ... "critters".
Regardless of the living situation, I could always make the space I lived in more suited to my personality. With a little bit of work, and endless creativity, I could make any space feel like "home".
Because I lived out of my suitcase for nearly two decades, inexpensive furniture became my "normal". One of my first stops, after getting the keys to my new place, was always IKEA. I've purchased the POÄNG armchair in at least three different colours (and in four different cities), LACK side tables for every room of the house (living room, kitchen, bedroom, and back deck), experimented with every configuration of the KALLAX shelf unit (with or without drawers, with or without castors, upright and horizontal), can read an IKEA manual upside down and right-side up, have mastered the use of the IKEA Allen Key (even before they came out with the holder), and have a 100 percent success rate assembling each and every one (most of them without leftover pieces)!
I also sold (or gave away) 100 percent of the IKEA pieces I had before I moved to the next city.
Choosing to Make Calgary My Home (... again)
When I made the decision to move back to Calgary in 2014 ... that all changed. I was DONE with mailing addresses that changed every 24 months. I was DONE with 150+ days of travel a year, spending more time in airports, on airplanes, and in rental cars than most people do in a lifetime. I was DONE chasing the "American Dream" and was ready to make Calgary my home.
It didn't take long for me to find my new home ... a townhouse in southeast Calgary. The minute I walked into the Avi Urban show home, I knew it was the one! It was bright and modern (with a contemporary design), staged with gorgeous furniture and unique accessories throughout the three storeys, and ultimately had a comfortable and cozy feel. Within a week I had signed on the dotted line and within six months I was handed the keys to my newly built home!
I Wanted a Beautiful Home (on a budget)
The six months leading up to possession were hectic! When I moved back to Calgary I rented out a furnished apartment so I had a lot of furniture to buy! This was the beginning of a new life, in a city that "felt" like new, in a brand new house. I needed to break old habits and find good quality furniture that didn't come with an assembly manual, a package of dowel rods, or an Allen key. Unfortunately, I had two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, office, and two bedrooms to furnish ... on a VERY tight budget.
I visited the usual suspects (i.e., The Brick, Leon's, Urban Barn, Rossini's Furniture, EQ3, etc.) looking for good quality furniture to make my home look like the Avi Urban show home. I soon came to realize that the show home look and feel wouldn't be possible with my limited funds. I then went to a couple of furniture consignment shops to see what they happened to have ... but was not comfortable paying UNREALISTIC prices for furniture that had been used for years beforehand.
Just as I was about to give in, and open up the IKEA catalogue, I received an email from Avi Urban. I read through the e-newsletter, talking about the community development and move-in timelines, and stopped at the last sentence on the page ...
"Like the look of our show homes? Visit our friends at Showhome Furniture."
Under the assumption this store sold used show home furniture, I was super excited to find high quality furnishings (like what I had seen at Avi Urban) at a price point that would more realistically fit into my budget.
Showhome Furniture ... New, Unique, and Different!
Knowing that there were only a handful of show homes throughout the city I expected to find a small retail location with limited items to choose from. When I found the Showhome Furniture sign outside it's Deerfoot Mall location I was skeptical of what I would find. But ... when I entered the doors I was completely BLOWN AWAY!
What used to be a 160,000 square foot Sears department store was magically transformed into a collection of beautifully designed showrooms in one convenient place! It was like a group of seasoned interior designers were locked in the store and each given a eight-by-ten space to transform into something spectacular. With every step, and slight turn of my head, I discovered a new living room, dining room, bedroom, office space and gathering area that took my breath away.
It was more than just a collection of furniture for sale in a big room. It was the sparkle of the chandeliers, the reflections bouncing back from mirrored room dividers, the romance of each piece of artwork, and the soft comfort of the throw pillows on every sofa, sectional and king size bed. The fabrics were all so soft and luxurious and the leathers were supple like they were bathed in butter. All the wooden pieces were masterfully crafted and made to stand the test of time ... with every unique natural feature shining through.
But the best part? I wandered through the store and wasn't interrupted by annoying salespeople trying to sell me on something that I didn't want ... or need.
My quick trip to check out the "used" show home furniture store ended up being nearly TWO HOURS of joyful discovery!
A Family Business That Goes Above and Beyond - Showhome Furniture
This family owned business brings unique, hand-crafted and time-honoured pieces of furniture to Calgarians from around the world. Although I was under the assumption it was reclaimed furniture from show homes in the city ... all products sold in their store is actually brand new! What was even more surprising was the price. In one single trip I was able to find furniture for my living room, dining room, bedroom and downstairs office while still staying UNDER budget!
And ... the surprises kept on coming! Just when I thought it couldn't get ANY better one of the owners (Alex "Sannie" Sala) told me about their interest free layaway program! Because I didn't take possession of my townhouse for at least another twelve weeks, this was the perfect solution! I only had to pay a 50 percent deposit, would have the furniture that I fell in love with, didn't have to pay to store the furniture in a warehouse, and wasn't charged any extra fees! I was shocked, thrilled beyond words ... and SMILING!
Since then, I've moved into my little townhouse in FAR southeast Calgary and have been to Showhome Furniture numerous times ... as I anxiously await the possession of my East Village condo in 2018. Each time I visit I have to exercise total restraint because I know Showhome Furniture won't hold my stuff for that long!
Regardless, over the next year I will be carefully configuring my custom sectional and comfy (yet contemporary) swivel chair, and choosing the beautifully crafted dining room, bedroom, and living room pieces to make my new space a TRUE reflection of me and my style (somewhat "unexpected" and totally unique)!
I'll never shop at a traditional furniture store EVER again!!
To check out images from my most recent stop by Showhome Furniture, you can visit my social media using the icons at the top of the page or you can check out the gallery below.