Didn't think I'd have to post on this site, but due to the inevitable nature of living with a roommate, I've got an issue.
Backstory: I have a solid cherry coffee table made by the Monitor Furniture Co (now out of business) that was passed on to me when I got my first apartment. I didn't know the monetary value of the table, but I loved it because of its beautiful warm color and smooth finish. It is well made and is one of the few pieces of furniture I'm planning to keep down the road.
A couple months ago I got an apartment with a roommate for financial reasons. I'm barely around the apartment due to grad school, and couldn't afford a place on my own. I had reservations about putting the coffee table in the living room as it'd be more susceptible to wear and tear, but ultimately decided not to hoard it in my room because what's the point of having such a beautiful table and not displaying it? (However, I am rarely in the living room as roomie usually watches tv and I have to study.)
The other day I noticed some white water damaged areas on the top of the table from where my roommate had left a glass with condensation, as well as a couple other rings and spills on the table. When my roomie came home last night, I asked her to please put a newspaper or catalog underneath any dishes she put on that table so as not to damage it further. (my exact words)
A while later I went past the living room and heard a scraping noise. My roommate was there with a kitchen knife scraping the finish off the table!!!!!
I have to admit I was so shocked I couldn't think of anything to say. I came up with something like "Please don't do anything about that, I'll see what can be done to fix the spots." I had an exam to study for so I didn't pursue the issue further. Plus I thought I should give myself some time to cool down and collect my thoughts before confronting her.
However, this evening I looked at the damage and not only did she take the finish off those areas, but she actually scratched down into the wood! I looked online to see if anything could be done, and found some sites saying that the white water spots could be diminished by techniques such as applying furniture polish or rubbing alcohol... but with the finish gone and the scratches in the wood, the table will need to be sanded down and refinished to be restored to its former condition.
Comparisons of solid cherry coffee tables and pieces from the same maker revealed that the table's value was probably in the neighborhood of $400 (well, before my roommate got to it). The sentimental value is enough that I would like it restored, which I think runs around $300 if it's professionally done based on what I've seen online. I'd then put a sheet of glass on the top so it doesn't get damaged again. Had the problem just been the white spots of water damage to the finish, I would have been willing to try one of those fixes mentioned above or just write it off as wear and tear and get it refinished on my own dime in a number of years when I had money. However, with the scratches as deep as they are, I don't want to leave the wood exposed for further damage.
So how do I go about presenting this info to my roomie? I know she probably didn't realize the value of the table, and I'm kicking myself for not noticing the spots sooner or letting her know how important it was to me. She's working as a research assistant, so money doesn't grow on trees for either of us. She's usually considerate and I don't want to sour the waters between us. The thing is, the damage is all her fault - she's the only one who's been putting things on the table, and she's the one who turned an honest (though clueless) mistake into a clusterf*ck by trying to undo/cover up the damage without having an idea what she was doing.
My options right now as I see them:
1- get an estimate for restoration and see how much it would be
1a - make roommate pay for restoration
1b - decide it's not worth the money
1c - roommate can't afford it
2- suck it up and deal
3- get a (plexi)glass cover for the tabletop
3a - make roomie pay for the cover to make up for the damage she did
3b - I pay for cover
4- get the materials and attempt to restore the table myself
4a - would have to ask for help matching the stain color, figuring out what kind of finish is on it; I have no experience and little time, plus would have to buy the supplies
I think I'll go for option 1, threaten 1a and then when roomie pleads 1c, compromise with 3a and eventually do 4.
Suggestions would be appreciated, though writing all this out has been therapeutic. Thanks for listening to me rant (if you've made it this far).