One of my arbitrary life requirements is that wherever I live, I need a reasonably sized, dedicated place to keep my makeup, jewelry, and perfume. After four years of balancing all my girly things on tiny dorm room dressers, I’ve decided that from now on, I will always have a vanity. It sounds, well, vain, but I have earned this right! I’m an adult!
The thing is, I hate basically every piece of furniture designated as a vanity table. I hate the little decorative stands with little curly legs, I hate those tiny wood tables with built-in mirrors and barely functional drawers, I hate them all.
Because the universe likes to annoy me, a Bed, Bath, and Beyond catalog landed in the mailbox shortly after we signed the lease on the apartment. I flipped it open and saw this:
What is that?!?!
Seriously, what is that? Why are the legs all curvy? Why is there a wedding photo and an evil villain cat? Who has nothing to put on a dressing table but two bottles of perfume and a string of pearls?
Come on. Ornamentation belongs in Chopin, not on my furniture. So gross. I looked to IKEA and found that the only vanity they offered was this:
IKEA, that looks like the type of vanity I’d have if I were a thirteen-year-old girl, the type who has stockpiles of Seventeen and Cosmo and spends two hours on her hair every morning before school—the polar opposite of the type of thirteen-year-old I actually was.
It just really wasn’t my thing. And it’s $249, which in IKEA terms is just ridiculous.
I just wanted something sleek and minimalist and…well, androgynous, for lack of a better word. In all seriousness, [puts on feminist hat] I’ve always resented that traditionally feminine pursuits, fields, or hobbies are culturally seen as being more frivolous or less legitimate than their traditionally masculine counterparts—the whole world of makeup is often derided as being superficial or unnecessary or the result of female weakness, solely because it’s conventionally a woman’s activity. (To quote this most excellent article, “Fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain.”)
So I don’t like how most of the vanities/dressing tables available out there just look like totally pointless pieces of furniture, like they’re just exaggerating some arbitrary gender stereotypes. TLDR: I don’t see makeup as a silly, frivolous, girls-only thing, and I want my dressing table to reflect that.
Mini feminist rant, over. Anyway. One day, while Bryce and I were browsing IKEA, we stumbled across this steel-and-glass laptop desk in the office section (the VITTSJO laptop table, if you’re interested):
Go ahead and call me crazy, but I think that is beautiful. As soon as he saw it, Bryce said, “That would be a perfect vanity for you!”
My boyfriend just gets me. I love it.
The best part was that it was only $39. We picked it up right away, along with their $9.99 KOLJA mirror, which I liked because it was a no-nonsense square mirror. I took that thing home with me, and it took all of five minutes to assemble:
Looks good, right? Right. And then I put all my stuff on it! Behold:
It’s so beautiful and minimalist(ish) and totally not stupid-looking! It’s so me! I love it! It makes my mundane blush-eyeliner-mascara routine quietly luxurious, and everyone who visits the apartment notices and loves it.
The wrought-iron chair, by the way, was a fantastic find of Bryce’s at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair (same fair where I found those great Cole Haan shoes). I was totally skeptical about it going with the table, but he promised that the curves would complement the straight lines, and he even haggled the price down for me.
And it totally does work with the table! I’ve been thinking about making it a little cushion, but I’m too lazy. Maybe I’ll just throw a sheepskin over it or something.
That patterned box (hand-me-down from my boyfriend’s parents—I think it’s a magazine box) underneath the table holds my hair dryer, curling iron, and straightener—I don’t need them to be all that handy. I used them all the time when my hair looked like this:
But now that my hair is as short as Annyong’s from Arrested Development, I don’t need all these hair styling tools. So that’s why they’re in the box.
The shelf holds a bunch of easily-accessible stuff: a Kate Spade box where I keep my jewelry, my Naked palette, a comb, etc. The Lady Grey tea tin is where I keep my Q-tips.
And because my best friend Alix told me to show it on my blog, here’s how I keep my makeup brushes—in fancy jam jars with paper stars. I am so freaking kawaii.
So there you have it, Internet. That’s how you do a dressing table, Sharon-style.