At every talk I give on downsizing, the subject of handing furniture off to grown kids comes up. And every time I deliver the bad news: The kids don’t want your stuff. Invariably, parents moan and adult children cheer.
“Don’t believe me?” I ask. “Just walk through any secondhand furniture store or visit Facebook Marketplace. They’re flooded with brown furniture no one wants.”
Today, however, I am sharing a happy exception: The Tale of the Mahogany Dresser.
Back in the 1950s, when my parents were newly married, they bought a mahogany bedroom set: a four-poster double bed, two nightstands and a double dresser. Fifteen or so years later, when I was about five, they got a new bedroom set, and I got the old one. (Big day!)
Several years later, without consulting me, they decided that mahogany was out and that a fruitwood finish would look better. Piece by piece, the furniture disappeared into the garage along with my father, who spent many nights and weekends sanding off the old, dark finish. One by one, the pieces reappeared in my room as lighter versions of their former selves.
Many years later, when I finished school and moved to my first apartment, my parents gave me the bedroom set; it was all the furniture I owned. Eventually, I married and had children. When the oldest was out of a crib, the bedroom set became hers. When she got her first place, the bedroom set went along.
Not long after, she and her then-boyfriend decided to give the set a lighter look and painted all the pieces white. That might have been a good idea if