Apr 18, 2011

Musical Chairs

The new house has the dining room I have longed for, for like FOREVER - it's big, it has two large windows plus a set of French doors that open to the wraparound porch, wainscoting, high ceiling...the works. In a word - it's perfect.   Except for the paint color, which is red.  Been there, done that.  So the new dining room will get a new color scheme...and new dining room seat cushions.

(Sidenote:  I have found that seat cushions and pillows, like paint, are inexpensive ways to quickly update and rejuvenate a room, especially if you're willing to shop around a bit for your fabric.)

But I should start at the beginning.

My dining room set is mismatched - by choice, if not design.  The art-deco era table belonged to my grandparents. Their homes were tiny and their family was huge.  In their last house, the dining room table was relegated to an enclosed sun porch and used mainly to hold my grandmother's houseplants.  During family gatherings it got a workout serving meals, a space to work on puzzles, play card games, and sit around and gab.  When I got it about 15 years ago, it had a maple finish and was marred with some serious water spots from a roof or plant pot leak.

I refinished the table and applied a fruitwood stain.  I used it and the six accompanying chairs as a matched set for a few years.  But then I found a reproduction Duncan-Phyfe table and four lyre-back chairs in a second-hand store, and I loved the chairs enough to buy the whole set.  In case you're interested, the lyre-back chair is almost synonymous with this Scottish-born furniture maker who made a name for himself in New York City during the first half of the 19th century.  He used the lyre shape on both chairs and tables.  It's almost impossible (and very expensive) to own an authentic piece of Duncan Phyfe furniture, but reproductions abound, especially in vintage pieces produced in the 1930s to 1950s.

At any rate, the second table and I parted ways when we left Oklahoma in 2000 (thanks to mom and dad for taking it off my hands!) but I took all ten chairs with us when we moved back to Tennessee that year.

The chairs in their original state - blah.
Several years ago, I revamped the formal dining and living areas of our current house. Ten chairs were about four too many for the small space. I discarded the original 6 dining room chairs (no groaning at my callousness, these were rickety and not terribly attractive, despite my efforts to gussy them up - check out the photo to the left.  No amount of crackle paint and pretty cushions could transform them into graceful, sturdy chairs.)

Once the old chairs were gone, I purchased two parsons chairs for the ends of the table instead of trying to match the foursome.  So my chairs remain mismatched, by choice.

Fast-forward to now.  My beloved lyre-back chairs have had the same 1990s green fabric for a long time.  Too long.  The color scheme for the new dining room is a mineral blue and mocha brown.  But instead of going for a sedate fabric in brown or blue, my heart hankered for a jolt of color and a trellis pattern to echo the rug destined for the new dining room.

"Imperial Trellis" in Citrine 
When I spotted this popular (and expensive) fabric designed by Kelly Wearstler for Shumacher, I knew I had to have something similar. It's a gorgeous fabric, but if you go in search of it as I did, be prepared for sticker shock - it retails for around $175 a yard.  To cover dining chairs you don't need much, but it was still more than I wanted to spend.  (I love the fabric but I'm not marrying it, you know?)

It took me a while to convince a friend (with impeccable taste and an artist's eye for colors) that I could make key lime work in this color scheme.  Or maybe she just relented and decided to let me do what I wanted to do all along.  Either way I appreciate her input and advice.

With her help, I interviewed several fabric swatches, holding up one of the new drape panels behind to determine the level of conflict between the green and blue:

And eventually chose "Felton" in kiwi (it's made by Croscill, if you're looking for it): 

Even better, I found these wood folding chairs made by Stakmore and sold in pairs (Linens n Things had the best price and free - and fast! - shipping), and they are very similar to my lyre-back chairs. That means I can easily pull up two more chairs when needed and store them in the coat closet when I don't.  And yes, I am covering them in the same trellis fabric as the other chairs, so while the chairs may still be mismatched, they will all have the same fabric on their seats.

So there you have it - my story of musical chairs.  Pictures of the new dining room are coming soon...stay tuned!

Happy decorating!