Sunday, 18 October 2009

My Chair Affair

I am in the throes of a great passion. There’s a new love in my life. The object of my affection waits ready to welcome me into a soft, warm embrace whenever I am in need of comfort. I am in love with my new chair.
What I love about my new chair is that it is mine alone. Does that make me sound selfish? Well, it’s the truth. I didn’t have to negotiate the purchase with my husband. It doesn’t represent a hard-won compromise between our individual tastes. It’s not an inherited family piece I had to find house room for. It wasn’t a choice based on cost considerations rather than aesthetics. I saw it, loved it and bought it.

This is part of the intense pleasure I am discovering from, in Virginia Woolf’s words, having a room of my own. In our new flat, me and C are lucky enough to have a ‘room’ each. (‘Study’ sounds a bit grand; ‘office’ a bit business-like; ‘den’ a bit American; workroom a bit dull, not to mention, inappropriately industrious!) I’ve never had such a thing before. A room that’s just mine, to do what I want with. To furnish it, I already had my desk, a bookcase and a cupboard. But what I wanted was a chair. A chair to sit and read in, to think in, to rest in.

We have lots of chairs in our flat – most of them acquired from C’s parents (for which I am very grateful in the main). But none of the chairs we already had was exactly what I wanted for my room. I felt I couldn’t really justify acquiring yet another chair, especially as I spend a lot of time moaning at C that we need to get rid of some of the ridiculous quantity of furniture we live with. But secretly, I dreamt of acquiring the perfect chair. It needed to be comfortable and cosy, but not too big, as I don’t have much space in my little room. I wanted a second-hand chair, that would complement the ‘lived in’ (!) nature of the rest of the furniture in the room.

Last weekend we discovered a fantastic second-hand furniture warehouse on Leith Walk. We were actually on the hunt for a wardrobe. Whilst we were enjoying wandering around the showroom, the owner approached us with the magic words “would you like to look in the warehouse?”. Oooh- yes please! He took us down a lane at the side of the shop, across a yard into a huge storage unit, piled high with an extraordinary range of second-hand furniture. There was everything – wardrobes, bookshelves, desks, dining tables, marble topped washstands, cheval mirrors, wooden bed frames, an early record player in an imposing, mahogany case. And there it was. Hidden behind the broken frame of a rocking chair. My chair.

I’ve no idea how old it is. It is in reasonable condition – all the rattan is intact and the cushions have been reupholstered I think. It fits me like a glove. Best of all, the patina on the armrests, where the polish has been rubbed away suggests that this chair has been sat in a lot. I like to think that it was someone’s favourite chair. And now it is mine.

Part of me is loathe to share a good source of second-hand furniture, wanting to keep any potential bargains to myself, but one of the reasons why I started this blog was to share my enthusiasms (of which there are many). So for those who are interested, the furniture warehouse is: Crawford's Salerooms, 250 Leith Walk, Edinburgh. No website.


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  2. I have a story about a similarish chair. I bought it from a colleague who had found it in the garage of his new home in 1987. It was stripped bare and crying to be reborn. So for years it lived in my series of garages - of course being transported to new garages or storage units every time I moved. Each time my Dad would ask (only half teasing): "Shall we take this to the tip?" I would respond with horror - for I had a vision!!

    Anyway, in 2002, I had it restored, finally giving up on the notion I
    might manage it myself. My Dad lived long enough to see restoration of the timber but not the reUpholstering. The timber came up beautifully and he helped me select a rather expensive material to be imported from the US. He thought the timber magnificent and said he couldn't believe it was so transformed. Finally, he shared my vision. It now sits in my family room. I
    adore it and it reminds me of Dad.

  3. I just love this story Jan. It makes me want to cry!

  4. I have now seen the chair in situ in Melbourne. It looks wonderful!