Chairs & Accent Tables

Flashback…to the Telephone Table days!

This post is a literal flashback…not just to an era when telephone tables were a necessity, but the telephone table featured here is a piece I finished over a year ago and never had the time to make a post about.  Just like I fondly remember having to sit in a chair near the telephone when talking with friends as a child, I also fondly remember the day I picked this beautiful piece of history and breathed new life into it with a bold color and some funky new upholstery.

When I brought this piece home it was in really sad condition.  The wood was banged up, scratched, and the varnish was all sorts of worn off and worn thin.  The seat was covered in a hideous 60s mottled beige vinyl that was not original to the piece nor stylish in any decade.

Telephone Table

1940’s telephone table with harp back and rare left-hand drum!

But as you can see, it had good bones and certainly deserved to be renewed and enjoyed for many more years.  I loved this table so much, that at first, I dreamed of redesigning it to fit in my own home.  Not only did I love the nod to Duncan Phyfe with that harp, but I also was thrilled that it was a rare left-hander’s telephone table.  The problem I ran into…and it’s a recurring problem in my household…is that I couldn’t find anything I could part ways with in order to make room for it. Sad face.

So, with the idea of redesigning this table for my home thrown out I decided to get a little playful and went with a funky HGTV upholstery fabric that I loved so much I had a few yards of it already stashed in my workshop.  I almost decided to pair it with a simple, sleek black finish but after seeing the fun fabric on the chair, I immediately settled on this beautiful shade of emerald.  Someone very much enjoyed pointing out that I was watching the Wizard of Oz while recovering the seat and that the inspiration had to have come from the Emerald City…but honestly, I have no idea where the inspiration came from!  I’m just glad it came because this table is a show-stopper and is much loved by the new owner in New York.


Geometric and Curvaceous

One of the most common questions I get asked at markets and through social media is “Where do you get your inspiration from?”  Shocker, right?  Most of the time, this question is asked casually and in a space where a short answer is required…and so my go-to response is usually “Everything.  From nature’s soft edges to architecture’s bold lines to  the laws of mathematics and geometry.” Short, concise, and encompassing.  For the few opportune moments where I am able to elaborate, I usually ramble on and on about personality tests like the Myers Briggs, left brain v right brain, rational and logical v emotional and erratic.  Truth is, I’m considered by many personality tests to be, for lack of a better phrase, a fence-straddler.  That is, I don’t fall neatly into any specific personality type.  I’m both creative and analytical, both left-brained and right-brained.  I very much enjoy the cold calculation of physics and math but can also easily get lost in the chaos of the abstract.  From the perspective of furniture and design, I’m easily influenced by both modern design and traditional.  I like sleek edges and bombastic curves.  I love saturated colors as well as neutrals.

But most of all, I enjoy contrast and opposition.  I find exquisite beauty in unexpected and prominent juxtapositions. That’s why I have no problem painting an ornate, century-old dresser in a bold, bright blue or painting a victorian-era desk in a sassy, vivid red.  And it’s also why I’ll take two French Provincial side tables, with all their curves and ornate handles, and reimagine them with a two-tone blue paint job and geometric frames stained on their wood tops!


The Janis & Joplin

Chairs.  We use them everyday.  And, for the most part, we don’t even notice them unless they hurt our backsides.  Am I right?  I know I’ve never spent much time thinking about or looking at the few chairs I have in my house.  I have no dining room or table, so I only have 4 chairs in my house…2 folding chairs that I pull out if I have more dinner guests than can fit on the couch, a hideously upholstered antique wing-back chair that I’ve yet to get around to updating, and, my favorite, a tufted leather executive armchair that I bought at the flea market for $1!!!

Clearly, chairs barely register on my radar.  In fact, when I’m out picking and finding great vintage furniture to redesign for Urban DEN, I rarely (read: never) come home with chairs.  So, when a client came to me and asked if I would re-do these two 60s era chairs for her, I eagerly jumped at the chance!  Her vision was neutral paint with that bold Urban DEN pop of color in the upholstery…but mid-project she reluctantly needed to abandon the project and was gracious enough to let me keep the chairs. 

I wasn’t really vibing with the white she had picked out, and I was so focused on other projects that I was unable to nail down a clear vision for them…so I set them aside for a while.  Finally, as I was painting some photo frames for the first market, inspiration hit!  My vision was similar to the client’s original vision…but in reverse!  I opted to use a bold, vibrant green on the chairs, and paired it with a neutral white, black, and gray ikat fabric for the seats.  Marvelous!

The Janis & Joplin

Great upholstery!

Great upholstery!

The Janis & Joplin

What do you think?  I had these at the last market and many people commented on how much they loved them!  And what about that fabulous yellow lacquer table?  I stripped the top and did the color-blocking with a light stain before sealing with my favorite wipe-on polyurethane.  I think it looks so great paired with the chairs.  Someone at the last market, though, already had some chairs at home they thought it would look great with and it went home with them.

The chairs, for now, are still available.  They’ll be going up in the Etsy shop next week if I don’t sell them at Sunday’s market.  If you’re interested in them before then, send me an email!