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Chairs. I must have an obsession because I’ve picked up so many chairs from the side of the street in my life, it’s ridiculous. I still have a couple that I painted blue way-back-when in my son’s rock band’s practice room in Bonn that I wish I’d kept. Oh, well.
I had a table but no chairs. I bought it at Troc (that big thrift store in Bonn) a few days before my retinal detachment (something I’ll never forget since perhaps the carrying it up and down stairs was part of the cause of my malaise) to use as a desk:
It is really very small and I never intended to use it as a dining room table until I bought this house.
I looked around for chairs. Old and new. I found a nice-looking, simple “cafe chair” in the West Elm catalog and put one in my shopping cart because it was pricey (for me), but it looked like they were phasing it out. I thought perhaps I could buy one at a time and if they ran out, they would run out.
Then, on June 30 as I was walking to the place where I pick up Zipcars, I found a very similar chair on the street in front of a house by the trash. I grabbed it, stuck it in the Zipcar and drove it home.
I did some research on “mismatched dining room chairs,” it is “a thing” and I figured I could pull it off. (If not, I’m poor, gimme a break.) This one, reupholstered, and the West Elm chair would look fine together.
But then, I found two more chairs sold by one fellow on Etsy and threw all caution to the wind.
I now had three sorta similar chairs that just needed a little work! Actually, the one in the middle is fine. So two chairs that needed work.
As Capricorn Aries Rising, my modus operandi is to first jump in, then do the research, but the Internet has never let me down yet. I’d re-covered old chairs once before with just a stapler and some fabric, but these — or two of them — needed all new padding as well. I already had fabric swatches because I was in the process of choosing a sofa, so picked out one and ordered a bolt. (I have far too much leftover, so let me know if you need some.) I also ordered foam padding and backing and a staple gun on Amazon, which is where I always shop because I don’t have a car. The foam I ordered was twice as thick as it needed to be, but the chairs are twice as comfy.
When I sent that picture to a friend, she started asking me how to do it. So I sent her one of the “How-To” links I had found and took pictures of the making of the next chair, which also needed a completely new seat.
I figured that was that; I often like to just let fate run its course. Maybe someday I’d find a fourth. I decided against the West Elm chair (because they were not the least bit customer friendly about a 4 year old sofa bed that “broke”).
Then, one day in December as I was walking to the credit union, or back from it, I passed a house I always passed with an official notice on the porch and where I’d seen lots of “trash” from someone emptying it. And there, two feet from the street, were two chairs. A nice, simple one and an ugly ornate one. I took one home.
And with the last bits of foam and board, I made it into this:
So by December 20, I could have invited some people over for dinner!
That house was razed to the ground a few days later, by the way.
One last one, and I’ll try to keep it short: On the day of our block party — so the Saturday after Labor Day — since it was also rubbish collection day, the neighbors are asked to put their trash in one place at the corner. I was out helping clean up the street and walked past the collected rubbish and there was an easy chair. Not really old, but made to look it, I’ve seen the same chair elsewhere. But it was blue! And I wanted a cozy easy chair for the guest bedroom.
A neighbor’s son, a college student, kept asking me if there was anything he could help me with for the block party and I finally said, “Yes, Joe, could you carry that blue chair to my house?”
Turns out his mom had thrown it out! So I asked her if I could have it and she was very generous. It needed cleaning, so I turned to my trusty advisors on the world wide web and found some recipes for homemade upholstery cleaner and fixed it up real nice.
Here’s the chair on 09/09:
And ten days later:
I am hoping by now you understand what I mean about recycling. Why create the demand to cut down more trees, thereby depleting our oxygen supplies, if there is more than enough furniture (and building materials, and clothing, and electronics, you name it) already on the planet for everyone alive?
And we all know, older things were made to last. So let’s let ’em last.