Livreiros

My main criteria when looking for furniture is:

I want real wood. And by “real” wood I mean no MDF, MDP or other modified substances that include pressurized wood chips and glue. Those pieces of junk may look presentable when they are new, but said looks don’t last. The humidity in the air alone make it bloat, add some water action due to cleaning, or the accidental water spilling, or a bit of rain (shit happens), and you have very ugly bookshelves in your kitchen (applicable to all sort of ugly pieces of furniture that I’ve had over the years, including my digital piano that works fine but is starting to show its years — and its many moves). 😦

Plus, let’s admit it, real wood looks so much better.

Unfortunately this criteria alone makes it very difficult to find what I’m looking for. Most stores where we used to live (and here too) are only carrying for the lowest budgets so I am given the choice between MDF, MDF and… MDP (maybe? — I’m still not sure of the difference between the two). Oh, and nobody has bookshelves. Who reads books nowadays, right?

So I’ve had to order online. The only problem with online shopping is that you rely on the description on the website, you can’t really check the quality of the product beforehand, and you need to wait between 4 to 8 weeks for delivery. Oh, the anxiety. After we came back from vacation back in November, and after 5 years of not seeing my books out of their boxes, I had finally decided not to wait any longer and ordered some bookshelves online.

A couple of weeks after the deed was done, we learned that we would be moving. (%$!”*&?!)

So I waited anxiously for our furniture to arrive, hopefully before our change of address. One of the three arrived on time, but after a couple more weeks of waiting, I was informed by email that the shipping  of the two other ones would be delayed due to “unplanned I-don’t-know-what“. So in the mean time I started packing and planning the logistics of our move.

… stress… pray… wait… (I can’t begin to tell how much I pray for silly ordinary stuff since I live in Brazil : please God, help all these guys to do their job the way they should. Amen).

One week before leaving, months after ordering my things, I received another email informing me that one bookshelf would finally be delivered THE SAME WEEK OF OUR MOVE and that the other one was simply discontinued. Argh!

Thankfully after some frantic emails the whole mess was settled : I was given vouchers for the same value to order the stuff again later from my new address. Phew.

(Brazilians keep saying that we need a lot of patience when something is not working out the way it should… I think they should have less patience with incompetence and do their jobs efficiently. Our daily lives here would be much less stressful!!!!)

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Isn’t she a beauty? *heart*

I found this cristaleira (china cabinet) in a store here. There wasn’t any choice in stain color or any other model, but I liked it so I bought it. It was delivered the same day. Miracles do happen. The next few days were spent oiling the wood and finally lovingly unpacking all of my books. Yet another miracle (pinch me I must be dreaming): they all fit in. The pretty books behind the glass doors on top, the not-so-pretty dictionaries and language manuals behind the wooden doors below.

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Top : Grove dictionary of Music (20 volumes) and Music History; Middle : English fiction; Bottom: French fiction + some Spanish and Portuguese fiction too.

In the days that followed its arrival, I was spending a few minutes every morning and before bed at night just looking at my shelves, rearranging, picking up a book, reading a few lines. Big sighs of happiness.

These two smaller ones were ordered online. The one with the door has the music books (voice, piano, theory) and the other one had the kids’ books (in Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and exercise books).

I realize that if we were living in Canada, we would probably frequent the Public Library. So I wonder if we would own more or less books at home. On the one hand there would be no need to own the books (the ones in English at least), but on the other hand books would be much more affordable, and I surely wouldn’t be able to control myself in the second hand bookstores. Over here there is no Public Library and bookstores are rare. I am so glad we have family and friends from North America and Europe who are always willing and wanting to send gifts for the children. (Books make much better gifts than toys or clothes, I always say).

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9 comentários sobre “Livreiros

    • I thought like you too. It seems that Brazilian wood is too hard to make furniture, or they don’t have the skills to use it. In the end, the furniture I found and bought is made of pine wood like everywhere else… There is a craze about furniture made with “demolition wood” which is wood recycled from construction sites. The wood is harder than pine, and the furniture made with it can be pretty, but like most fashion, it’s way too expensive for what it is.

  1. I have to admit, I love the “IKEA” type furniture here – but I like a minimalist, contemporary look in my house. However, those bookshelves are GORRRGEOUS! I think I mentioned before that I ditched my books and brought the Kindle down with me. I finally wrangled it back from the kids and snagged my mom’s library card number, so I’m digitally borrowing books from her library. Score! I DID sign up for that book site you told me about, but I haven’t gotten too deep into it.

    I have this grand idea to create one of those small “free libraries” in front of our house, but I’m having trouble finding some good spare materials to make it. It will happen one day..

    “I think they should have less patience with incompetence and do their jobs efficiently” I can’t agree with this enough and I hear it from so many immigrants. Brazilians think we need to be more patient and we think they need to get a little more angry. Acquiescence to the lackadaisical approach to EVERYTHING only implies permission!

    • I used to love Ikea too (there were always a couple of collections with real wood furniture too), but I can’t find anything equivalent here. Tok&Stok maybe, but it’s not very budget friendly.
      My husband, who is Brazilian, gets angry pretty much everyday and repeats : “there was a reason I left this country!”.
      Your idea of a free library is great, but I’m afraid that in practice it won’t work here… People are not careful with what does not belong to them, and here even more than in other countries. However I hope you prove me wrong! 🙂

  2. Hah! “Please God, let these people do their job like they should. Amen.” I say that prayer SOOO often! I also agree with the MDF thing, but have caved. Can’t find wood locally (unless it’s that rugged, rustic style–and don’t get me started on the time I tried to get local artisans to make me a set of ladder bookshelves…) and I dreaded seeing what the prices for real wood would be online. Where did you shop? Was it affordable?

    • I’ve bought on Mobly, MeuMoveldeMadeira, and recently on Ziph. I find that the two first ones have great costumer service and let you know about your order every step of the way, which is great because when you don’t hear about your order for more than a month you start to worry… The quality of the furniture itself, even if it’s wood, is not great. It’s just pine after all (unless it’s madeira de demoliçao, but that’s much more expensive). It’s still better than Mdf though. Most furniture is shipped in pieces, like Ikea but worse because it’s very poorly explained (people who complain about the stick figures of Ikea manuals have obviously never built anything from a store here). My hubby is handy, but he has been spending HOURS building each piece of furniture once we received it. As for the ones that arrived already built, it was not carefully done, but oh well, once it’s here I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning it!

      • Good to have the recommendations. Unless it’s a big place, I’m always hesitant to buy online for all the reasons you list. I was just thinking about this yesterday, in fact, because we’re ready to upgrade some of our stuff from the cheap-MDF-need-something-now version to a buy-for-quality version. I’ll check out those sites.

  3. Oh this rings very clearly with me, what is with the lack of book reading in this country? My Grimlaws have never bought a book for our son (who they adore), yet three of them – THREE!! – are teachers! Like you, we rely on friends or family back home to send books to our little guy.

    As for the wood, oh hell yeah, I hate MDF with a passion. We’re about to put a kitchen into the house we’ve just bought and even here in the more civilised south, it’s hard to find actual wood. We had a farm in Goias and had to be careful about how much wood we brought from it since the cops or Receita Federal or some such busybodies could have seized it from the moving truck, go figure. Great blog, I’m really enjoying reading your experiences! Enjoy your books 🙂

    • For the kitchen I chose to buy the metallic ones. I’ve found a collection that didn’t have the dimensions for a dwarf family (apparently we are tall) and I’m quite pleased with the looks of it, but once again it arrived in small pieces (a pile of steel sheets and a couple bags of screws) and hubby was complaining the whole time in the poor quality of the material and stupid explanations (or lack thereof)… *SIGH*

Oi! Tudo bom?

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