Sunday, November 11, 2012

on chippendale chairs and getting things done.

After finishing up the Young House Love book last night, I realized I wish I had more "before" photos of our apartment. I never took many pictures of what our place looked like when I first moved in as a single lady. I had gone from a 325 sq. foot studio to a one-bedroom approximately quadruple in size. After setting up the three large pieces of furniture I owned, I played hostess at many a gathering that involved guests sitting in a circle on the floor.

This is what being in your early twenties is for: Five Guys floor circles. I would argue it is a (small) step up from undergraduate Papa John's futon meetings. I mean, they're hardwood floors, you guys. And the President eats Five Guys.

Anyways. I went flipping way back through my iphone photos today and found some "before" shots from years ago that I'd forgotten. So today I'll focus on before and [eventually] after chairs.

Living on my own was an important marker of beginning to feel completely comfortable at home (which I'm still working on).  Knowing that I had control over who and what walked through the door was empowering. After leaving an unstable family "home," everywhere after had been more of a "place" than a home. They were all transitory: dorm rooms and roommate apartments. Living alone marked the transition from living somewhere to living at home. My home. I was eager to fill it up things I loved and make it a comfortable, safe place both for myself and the people I love.

The place was all but empty, so I turned to my magazine collection and the internet to start culling inspiration.

Nate Berkus living room Chippendale chairs
NOT a before picture.  Nate Berkus's living room, featured in Elle Decor.  Look at those gold Chippendale chairs!

Windsor Smith home decor breakfast nook with chippendale chairs and bench
I love a good nook. The chairs are like the whipped cream on top. Windsor Smith's home photographed for Rue Issue 2.

I did a lot of furniture scouting and immediately fell in love with Chippendale style chairs, like those from Jonathan Adler and Ballard Designs.

black Chippendale chairs, Ballard Designs and Jonathan Adler
Ballard Macau chair at left | Jonathan Adler Chippendale chair at right. Links available in the previous paragraph.

$645 a chair? Nope. Chair sitting for none! Floor sitting for all!  But then.

Then there was a glorious day in summer 2010 when I was out with friends. We stopped into a Salvation Army. Way at the back, stacked atop each other near other junk that was making its way out the backdoor, I saw my chairs.

Now, when I see something I like at a store, whether there are a million of the item or only one, I become CONVINCED that I am in cut-throat competition with some other customer who is waiting to pillage my find out from under me. This is a normal thought process, right?

I motioned a friend over. I had her get a guy, since I refused to move away. How much for the chairs? He looked at the chairs, cocked an eyebrow, and looked back at me. These chairs? Yes, those ones. He paused for a moment and I held my breath. Forty-five.  Each? No,  the set. Can you take them now?

Chippendale chair set, Rebuilid Health & Home
In the alley behind Salvation Army, waiting to get loaded into a car.

And then my head exploded. I was the proud owner of five new Chippendale chairs. Did I necessarily need five? No.

But did I need them? Yes.

Since that point two of them have stayed at home with me, and the other three are in storage for the future. The wood was reddish and very glossy, and the upholstery was stained and in need of fixing. The chairs were added to my long and crowded to-do list.

Unfinished Chippendale chair in living room decor, Rebuild Health and Home

One day (a year later), I just went for it. I had this suzani print fabric left over from different project. And because I am a common Chicago street hooligan, I always have some black spray paint on hand. New upholstery! Paint! Let's do this!

Chippendale chair details, Rebuild Health & Home
Like all great things, the chair was made in France.  Detail shots from the beginning of redo one.

I finished one chair last year. Just one. Now finally, a full two and a half years post-purchase, we have a matching set. I have a remarkable track record of getting things done.

black Chippendale chairs before and after, Rebuild Health and Home

We still need to touch up the black paint in a few spots and add dust covers to the bottom of the seats. The one on the left is from last year, and my boyfriend worked on the right guy a few weeks ago. That's right, we've had two mismatched chairs sitting next to one another for a year.

The new fabric on the right is much more vivid than the upholstery on the left that's been sat on and sun-exposed. Let it be known, this will drive me crazy. Maybe five years from now I will do something about it.

 The moral of the story: chair dreams can come true. Just leave yourself a several year buffer zone.

black cane Chippendale chairs before and after, Rebuild Health and Home
Pillows from cb2; tray table from Target.