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Furnishing a Home in Portugal
This is the fun part ...
In October I told you about our first visit to Paços de Ferriera…the furniture capital of Portugal. Today, we share details on the vendor we are working with, our selections, and the process of furnishing a home in Portugal.1
White Oak Furniture
If you read the prior post, you may recall that we fell in love with the last store we visited in Paços de Ferriera. I’m pleased to report that our love affair has continued. White Oak Furniture is a small, family-owned business. António is in charge of design and the store’s retail presence while his brother Carlos oversees manufacturing and the 6 men that build all their furniture. Started by their grandfather, then run by their father; this legacy will likely end as neither brother has a child that is interested in taking over the business.
A few days after our first visit, I sent António a long email with lots of attachments. In addition to the updated floor plan, I included photos of pieces we had selected as we toured his store. I also included photos of mid-century classics such as the Eames Lounge Chair, Mollino’s Protractor Desk, and Saarinen’s Tulip Table. Design that is both functional and beautiful. Pieces like these, as well as the Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant that hung above our dining table in California or the Eero Aarnio Style Ball Chair that was in my bedroom as a child, just make me smile. Fortunately, Denise puts up with my eccentricities.
After I sent the email, António and I talked by phone. About one week later he sent us a preliminary budget. The furniture, including replicating the mid-century classics was estimated to cost about €25,000 … a very fair price considering the quality and the custom nature of many of the pieces. I called António to say we were okay with the budget. A week later we received the first set of renderings.
In December, António called to say he was going to be delivering furniture to Tavira the next week. Would he be able to stop by and see the house? I explained there really wasn’t much to see, but he was welcome to stop by.2
Once we had the renovation timeline from our builder, I contacted António again. António said he needed 8-10 weeks to build our order … ever the optimists we planned our visit for early March.
Our Last Visit
It takes 5.5 hours to drive to Paços de Ferreira from VRSA. We spent 2.5 hours at the store on Thursday and another 5 hours on Friday. If you have gone through this process you know that there are highs immediately followed by moments of second-guessing your decisions. Through it all, António’s professionalism and calm demeanor assured us we were in good hands.
We finalized the exact measurements of every piece3. We selected wood finishes and made pet-friendly upholstery choices. I kept reminding António that he was to tell us if “we were doing anything stupid”. He reassured us he would…though I am certain he would say it more gently than I might.
Along the way, we designed a new piece by placing something similar to a coffee table he had designed over an ottoman. A place to rest your feet and to place a drink. António seemed to like the design…perhaps it will become part of his line. We also designed a combination bar and wood storage unit…clearly, an odd combination that is only possible when you are can customize a piece.
Of course, in addition to his furniture, his showroom displayed lighting and floor coverings. We learned that he had relationships with rug makers and lamp companies. There were two very unique lamps on display.4 We liked both but wished they were just a bit different. It turned out they could be5…so it would seem we are not only getting our furniture from White Oak but our area rugs, lamps, and even mattresses as well.6
Most of the photos included in this post are the renderings António provided. While there will always be little voices nagging us about the myriad of decisions made … these provide a bit of comfort while we wait.
Talvez um dia veja o projecto real, até lá, fica bem…
Finally: It is tax season. Last year I explained how we went about filing our US and Portuguese taxes. I used TurboTax again this year to complete our US tax returns and then sent the requested info off to AFM to file our Portuguese taxes. In addition, all US citizens who maintain a bank account in a foreign country are required to complete FBAR filing. Our friend, Sheri, forwarded me a link for a Youtube video on filing FBAR. If this is your first time…you might find it helpful.
We never seek, nor accept, compensation for our posts or endorsements. We are only sharing our experiences.
You see, we had “saved” a grate from over one of the windows hoping to turn it into a table for the rooftop deck. We had also cut several meters of wood off the stage in the main room. Perhaps he could take both back with him and do something with them. A nod, like the cannonballs, to the history of the building.
For example, the room divider that will separate the front hallway from the living room is being built to accommodate a sculpture we brought with us from the States. Storage under the guest room bed will be lined with cedar so that we can safely store sweaters. The depth of the coach is narrower as we are not tall people.
Funny story: we spotted a lamp on a table in his showroom. Both Denise and I loved it. We asked António if it could be made as a floor lamp. He said yes and that we could choose the metal finish and lampshade color. He also explained that his wife hated that lamp and scolded him for buying it. “No one is ever going to buy that ugly lamp!” Well, we proved her wrong…it is the floor lamp next to the couch in the photos above.
Again, we agreed on measurements, finishes, and lampshade material.
Full disclosure: after adding several furniture pieces, rugs, lamps, and mattresses António provided the final budget … €32,000.