We’ve been known to tell visitors that it’s easier to point out the few store-bought items in our home than all the thrifted ones. I looked around the other day and realized this is certainly true when it comes to our chairs, and that the thrifting goes w-w-a-a-a-a-y-y-y back. Like over 40 years. How can that be when we ourselves are still so young, so dewy fresh? Dang, I couldn’t even write that with a straight face. But no matter. I’m still young enough to give you a tour of our chairs!
Let’s get the retail-price ones out of the way. All three of them. Yup, three places in our house to sit that we bought in stores. Actually two, because this one came from a craft market.
Must have been about 25 years ago, in High Point, NC. We went to a big Christmas craft fair and wandered around until we saw this puppy. Tried it out. Bought it. No matter who sits in it, the curves fit perfectly. Can’t remember what it cost, something like $100, but we’ve amortized it down to about four bucks a year so far. I can live with that.
The other two retail pieces are my husband’s desk chair, and a bench that used to be at the foot of our bed.
When we moved to this house, we discovered the bench fit perfectly into a space in the master bathroom. It is the best place to tie your shoelaces.
Don’t worry that you won’t have plenty of choices when you want to sit down, however. Feeling particularly vintage? Settle in the corner of the living room in one of the Hans Olsen chairs, or the Danish rocker.
Just found a pair of Olsen chairs like these for sale in a showroom in Los Angeles. Theirs are refinished, mine are original (though we did replace the cushions). Theirs are priced at $2695 for the pair.
If you’d like to bask by the fireplace, we have the Sixties sofa, currently covered with a linen throw.
At mealtime you can settle in at the table on one of the Hans Wegner CH-23 chairs. Steven was at a vintage store in Portland recently that had a set of these. Theirs were priced at $2450 for the set of four. Mine weren’t.
For many years our dining table was surrounded by a mix of chairs. Some have gone by the wayside (i.e. were resold to other thrifty people) but we still have our first – a pair of antique pressback chairs.
We bought these from a little old lady in Minneapolis back in the early 70’s. At the time they had that kind of gooey dark finish that old varnish gets after years of use. Steven refinished them and we were amazed at the design that emerged from the grime.
These chairs have an unusual detail for pressback chairs of the era, can you pick it out? Think about it, and we’ll check later to see how you do on your test!
Another chair dates from our time in Minneapolis, from a sale in a very posh house. I’ve never forgotten the design of the inlaid wood floor in the foyer.
Light weight but very sturdy, this chair has been on stage many times. Steven often takes it with him when he performs.
Sturdy but decidedly NOT light weight would be our old dentist’s chair. We found this in the catacomb-like basement of the first place we lived in Minneapolis, along with an old x-ray machine. Our landlord sold the pair of them to us for ten bucks.
We still have the control panel from the x-ray apparatus, and it’s scary enough.
You should have seen the rest of it – or maybe not. You’d never have dental work done again. We parted with it because of it’s huge size. Wish we could have kept the label with the patent-pending from 1916, and the warning not to use this machine for pyrotechnics. Ah, those were the days.
If you’d like to have a snack at the kitchen island counter, you’ll get to perch on these vintage babies. We have three in all.
My office chair is not fancy, but it works.
Sometimes I sit on this old lab stool instead.
The big wicker wingback and ottoman relax in a corner of the master bedroom.
This was our dog Lizzie’s favorite bed. Edward usually spends the night there now.
Zoe’s favorite chair is the ever-so-comfy Siesta Chair by Ingmar Relling. With or without Edward.
Noll Baxter often sleeps on this bench, guarded over by his friend Woody.
(Picture this cat on that cushion.)
We have two of these benches, which sometimes become tables. They weigh a ton. We think they must have started life in a mall or gym.
If you settle in to watch movies with us, you can sit on the Forties rattan sofa
or the surprisingly comfortable hair dryer chair.
Or you can move Zoe off the Heywood Wakefield armchair hiding under a throw until I get it reupholstered.
Back in the guest rooms, we have the old piano bench
and the vanity pouf that swivels.
And for a real trip back in time, here’s the piece we’ve had the longest. My mother in law bought this at Montgomery Wards when she was pregnant with my hubs.
Okay, test time! If you’ve been around very many pressback chairs, you might have picked out the detail that is different…it’s the slats in the backs. Almost always they are carved with knobby things that poke you as you try to relax. These have smooth slats that encourage you to sit around the kitchen table longer, sharing stories.
I’m sure it’s obvious that we have eclectic taste in furniture, which helps when you’re a thrifty soul. I’ve been very lucky with my finds, but I do believe that luck resides in showing up. (Which I will be happy to do as soon as the weather warms up a bit and folks start having sales again!) But here’s a little comparison to put retail vs. shopping on driveways in perspective.
For the same amount of cash that we spent on this modestly-priced chair in a store (dog not included with purchase)
I brought these home from driveways.
Patience and perseverance pay. You can take that to the bank!