3/17/11

1 Once Upon a Chair


It all started at a random Saturday morning auction in Charleston,
which I attended with my mom, who is a master nester. When a group of three random, mismatched chairs
came up for bidding, I raised my number and started bidding without thinking too much about it; yes, we nesters seem to have a thing
for random, mismatched anything, and one of the chairs really caught my
eye for some reason. I stopped bidding at something like thirty dollars, which is a low price, I know, but I really don't have much room for any more random anythings in my lovely home. Plus, I'm really trying to simplify.
Anyway, another woman outbid me on the chairs by tens of dollars, but I was pleased for her and did not think much about it. A little while later,
however, the woman who won the chairs came up to me and said, “I noticed
you bidding on the chairs, and I only want one of them. You are welcome to
the other two.” I was completely stunned by her generosity, and of course I offered to pay
her for them, but she simply would not let me (proof positive that the generosity of perfect
strangers can be amazing). And so, my mom and I left the auction with two entirely free -- albeit old, dusty, and perhaps a bit stinky -- chairs, including the one that originally had caught
my eye. 
I thought about what to do with the chair that had caught my eye, which was worn in a wonderful way and appeared to have its original upholstery (a faded chenille tapestry). Upon turning the chair over, I could see portions of the springs as well as gobs of old horsehair stuffing. Because stinky tapestry and old horsehair stuffing don't really suit my design aesthetic, I knew I wanted to reupholster and update the chair, but I also wanted to honor the chair's "freeness" and keep my costs down. (Remember, the chair was completely free to me as a result of some nice lady's random act of kindness.) And because of the shape of the seat of the chair, I thought that one of my seldom-worn denim skirts with an A-line shape might work well as upholstery fabric. Plus, I'm all about repurposing (all true nesters are), and I think denim-covered chairs are vastly underrated.)
So I took the chair to a friend of my mom’s, who is, quite simply, a fantastic upholsterer. I knew he would love the quirky project. 
And sure enough, as I suspected, he loved the project. Interestingly, he dated this chair to the late
1800s or early 1900s (probably from an old dining set) based on the craftsmanship, the fabric, and the styling. In fact, he was so
impressed with the quality of the construction that he kept the original
springs in the chair, and he even saved the fabric-covered nail heads and gave them back to me because, as he said, "you cannot just throw away such fine craftsmanship." (Apparently no one does it like that anymore.) I just let him be creative with the chair, and as you can see from the pictures, he truly outdid himself.
At this point, I’m not quite sure what to do with the other chair. It's sitting in storage and needs a few minor repairs, but based on the success of my Levi's-covered antique, I know I’ll have to come up with something fun. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And as my mom says, it's all just about moving your stuff around.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

This blog has changed my life. Literally. Best. Blog. Ever.

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