Category Archives: CHAIRS

THE DOUBLE DUTY ROOM

PROBLEM: The client has recently renovated a room (new floors/walls/lights) that needs to serve double duty. The space will become a cross between a home office, bar, and entertaining space. The requests were as follows:

1. Plenty of storage for books, papers, and various other elements.

2. A desk that doesn’t look like a desk. It should be on the tall side so one could pull a stool up to it and feel like you’re at a bar. Hence no desk chair as one would normally think. This high desk/bar should also allow people, when seated, to look out through the back windows and enjoy the view.

3. The room should easily be able to transition from work space to entertainment space.

So this is what I’ve come up with…

THE BEFORE:

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THE SOLUTION, AFTER:

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A few things to highlight are: The red credenza. This aged deep red cabinet will serve as both an anchor to the room and as easily accessible storage. Adding a large black and white photograph in a gold frame compliments this deep red color instantly adding richness to the room. The two white book cases that flank the cabinet are perfect for storing and displaying just about anything and have tons of space. The two leather club chairs and small red and black cocktail table give this room some comfort and help it feel much more relaxed than any office would ever feel. The gray chevron patterned rug adds a strong contrast to the warm but heavy colored hardwood flooring and immediately brings a sense of lightness to the room. The desk against the back windows is tall and narrow, in fact it would be considered more of a sofa table that I’ve repurposed to serve in this space. The tall height means you can stand and work, or sit in the old-school draftsman stools and have a cocktail or two. The clients already had a vintage wooden refrigerator that was easily incorporated into the space and can serve as additional storage. The two gold starburst mirrors on either side of the desk/bar help to accentuate the warm tones throughout, as well as adding addition reflective light to the room. And finally a pair of dark drapes not only contrast the warm tones of the various woods in the room, but they also serve the practical purpose of blocking out any unwanted light while you are working.

And here is some additional info on some of the pieces used in this redo:

WHITE SHELVING UNIT, from West Elm, $899

RED AND BLACK COCKTAIL TABLE, from Pier One, $80

LEATHER CLUB CHAIRS, from Homeware, $559

CHEVRON RUG, from Pottery Barn Kids, $499

RED CABINET/CONSOLE, from Pottery Barn, $1,099

RUSTIC STORAGE DESK, from West Elm, $499

 

BIG-BOX STORES: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Shopping for furniture can be tough. The danger of ordering online is that you can’t physically feel and touch the items. Is it a soft leather? Does the fabric feel cheap? Is this color blue or aqua or slate? For reasons like this people often stick to the big-box stores, which is fine. The challenge is finding something stylish and contemporary at these giant chain stores.

Below is a small sample ‘test’ I did online for three big-box stores; Ashley Furniture, Raymour & Flanigan, and Macy’s. I simply went to their websites and searched for chairs. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of what I found.

RAYMOUR & FLANIGAN

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The Good: This is a modern wing back chair in a textured gray fabric. The Cassa Chenille Accent Chair is $350, but like many of these large stores you can probably get a discount in person. This chair is great because while it has a modern look to it, it still has the right amount of comfort that many people like in their homes.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.57.45 AMThe Bad: Tufted fabric is a classic element, that when used right, can add a little bit of sophistication to your room. This however, is not sophisticated, it’s over-stuffed and under-styled. And worst of all this Maxine Chair is $800. The one thing they got right is the frame. It has sleek modern lines and does not feel too bulky. In fact, the frame is the only thing about this chair that’s NOT bulky. Note the overstuffed cushion as well.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 9.58.32 AMThe Ugly: At $370 this Caroline Swivel Rocker might be perfect for grandpa, but not for anyone else. In fact, you should not buy this chair or any like it if you are under the age of 75!

 

 

 

ASHLEY FURNITURE

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6220021_KOThe Good: I like orange, for now. I can see this color going out of style in a year or two, and perhaps coming back again. This color was popular in the 60’s, 70’s, and even the 80’s, but had gone out of fashion until recently. Called Verbena Chocolate (price unknown as Ashley does not list costs online) this is a somewhat soft looking formal chair in my opinion. I could see it flanked by a cocktail table or arranged in a pair for a small conversation corner.

2490131_KOThe Bad:  This chair looks like something an Eames chair threw up. It’s just wrong, all of it. Oddly enough this is a very popular design as I see it at many of the big-box stores. Here’s a tip: If you see something at every store, don’t buy it. That means that style has come and gone and is no longer ‘in’.

 

3920044_KOThe Ugly: I think I saw this pattern in a hospital waiting room back in 1991? Sometimes the pattern says it all, and in this case it says burn me.

 

 

 

MACY’S

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Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.11.14 AMThe Good: Unlike the pattern we saw in The Ugly from Ashley, this Brie Fabric chair uses a much more pleasing design. The pattern has enough white space in it so as not to overwhelm your sight. The frame has a classic feel with solid arms that are delicate but still substantial. All this will cost you though at $850, but don’t forget your coupon and 10% off for using your Macy’s card!!!

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.08.54 AMThe Bad: While I like the general color and style of this Asher Leather Recliner, they just missed the mark. It looks like if you sat down on this seat you’d slide right down to the floor. It is hand-rubbed Italian leather, so the quality IS there. Not sure why the chair has to recline either, that really takes away from the aesthetics. Maybe having the chair recline is the only way to keep people from falling off it?

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.10.09 AMThe Ugly: Oh Fudge! The Jedd Fabric Power Recliner Chair (who the hell named this?) is a steal at $600. And if you’re lucky maybe someone will steal it from you! The fabric is actually called fudge. I think that’s because this chair looks like a big chunk of fudge! They should rename this chair The Big Chunk.

CASE STUDY – MUSIC ROOM

PROBLEM: How do you fit a baby grand piano, two accent chairs, a side table, a floor lamp, an area rug, and accessories all in a 12 X 14 room? I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna figure it out.

The client wants the room to be elegant, but simple, with clean lines. There’s not a lot of space to work with, in fact the room really only has two walls. The third wall is mostly windows and the fourth ‘wall’ is actually the archway to enter the room. Making things even more difficult is the fact that there will be a baby grand piano occupying most of the 168 sq feet.

SOLUTION: So what does one do when space is this limited? The answer is scale down. People have a tendency today to buy oversized furniture far too often. Part of the problem is that when we shop for furniture we usually see it in a giant store the size of a warehouse. Only when the pieces are delivered to our 12 X 14 rooms do we realize our eyes were bigger than our floor plans! We end up with giant sofas and enormous coffee tables that make it so we can’t even walk into the room anymore. So the plan with this room will be to make sure the items we place in it are the right size. Take a look at the sketch below which illustrates what sort of furniture and decor we should be aiming for as a guide. Also, as a bonus all the items you see (except for the Steinway piano and Benjamin Moore paint) are available from Overstock.com. One stop shopping, you can’t beat that!

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Here’s what’s what:

A. Bottoms up! We might as well start with the foundation. There will be hardwood flooring in this room which is a big plus for any room to start with. However, we need to give the room a little softening up, and one of the best ways to do that is with this gold Metropolis area rug. The rug isn’t meant to occupy the whole room, but rather to go under the seating area we are creating. It has a timeless Moroccan pattern and is a steal at $150.

B. The baby grand! Pianos can sometimes be a nightmare to work around, especially if you find yourself having to move it one too many times. On the flip side, they do provide a sense of classicism to a home as well as fill it with wonderful sounds, hopefully. If nothing else pianos can act as big shelves to display your curios!

C. Paint in the Butt. One of the hardest things to figure out in any room is what color to paint the walls. The client said she wanted a white with slate gray scheme. My suggestion is this palette from Benjamin Moore. The lighter gray called silver spring has just enough of that hint of slate blue but still keeps a very neutral tone. Match that with the much lighter steam color and you have a great base to start building your room.

D. Light it up! This Nova Lighting tripod floor lamp will make a great addition to the corner slightly behind the seating area. It should provide enough light for reading or just sitting back and listening to the music. It’s a bit pricier than I would like at $284, but still within reach. You might be able to find a cheaper version that looks very similar, so do your research before you buy.

E and F. Travel in pairs. Here are a couple of somewhat matching black vases that can be added to the room, be it on the side table, or perhaps on a corner shelf. The taller Tung Chi vase is 14″ tall while the shorter Jar is 12″ tall. Both cost $63 each.

G. Have a seat. These accent chairs are a great size for a smaller more crowded space. The Safavieh Noho Lounge Chair is about 30″ high X 30″ wide and 25″ deep and costs only $228 each. Buy two of them to create a nice seating area while saving on space AND money! These chairs have very simple lines. The fact that they are armless will help give the room a sense of having even more space. The white piping and buttons are a great touch that adds some contrast the the gray fabric.

H. Table time. I really like this gold table. Gold is in again so don’t be afraid to use it. This great little side table is also made by Safavieh and sells for only $130. It’s about 20″ high X 17″ wide and 12″ deep. This is a perfect size for a small vase, a cup of coffee, or just a place to rest your book. The top is actually mirrored so it will reflect a lot of light brightening up the room even more. The elegant gold color of the table against the gray side chairs and wall will compliment each other nicely. The lines in this table are as clean and sharp as they come. The straight verticals and horizontals will be a good contrast to the curved line of the side chairs.

I. Soften with Color. While I think the chairs may be great by themselves, you may find that they need a little more cushion. My suggestion is to add a pop of color with this set of two pillows made by Key Lipstick which sell for $70. The rich, deep, red color add a bit of luxury and elegance to the room, while the gold embroidery helps pick up the warmth from the rug and side table.

Chair-y Picking!

If I had to pick one chair and one chair only to sit in for the rest of my life it would be the classic Eames Lounge Chair from Herman Miller.

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Of course if money wasn’t a concern I’d already have this chair, but at $4500 it’s a bit more than I can afford right now! But fret not for my bottom, as there are plenty of knock-offs and similar designs for a fraction of the price.

Here is an option from Modern In Designs for $995. It looks almost identical to the real thing and you get free shipping!

Soma Classics has essentially the same deal for $989 also with free shipping. This Eames knock-off is made by Modway Furniture which sells several other copy cat styles so check them out.

You can find deals all over the internet for around $900, some a little more some a little less. Just be sure to do your research on the maker before you buy. Always read customer reviews to make certain you’re not being taken advantage of and to be sure the quality is somewhat reliable. However, there really is no substitute for the original, but if you absolutely need to have the Eames Lounger and can’t afford the $4500 price tag, this is a suitable substitution. Just don’t expect it to be the same high quality as Eames.

That being said, a little birdy told me that there will be a sale in Novemeber, 15% off Herman Miller items at Design Within Reach! That would knock the price down to about $3825. I spent thirty-eight hundred sounds so much better than I spent over forty-five-hundred dollars on this chair, doesn’t it? Now I just have to get my wife to see it that way too!!!

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Danish anyone?

Recently I saw a pair of danish modern ‘Z’ chairs on an estate sale website (see the image below) and began thinking about this timeless design.

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As of late Danish modern furniture has become very popular. I see chairs like this in virtually every magazine and interior design book I pick up lately, and with good reason. Their classic design is both modern and retro. They are usually very well built, easy to reupholster, and come in several types of wood and colors, making these chairs highly compatible with any home decor.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you saw Danish Mod furniture in someone’s home you’d think it’s time for a makeover. But times have changed, and like fashion, interior design is somewhat cyclical.

The good news is many pieces of Danish furniture can still be had at a pretty low cost. I recently picked up a teak Gunlocke chair (see image below) at a flea market for less than $50. The chair is in great shape, still as sturdy as the day it was built!

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And if you can’t find the right chair for you at the local flea market or consignment shop, a quick search on eBay reveals tons of affordable options. Sure, there’s some high price seating in here as well, but mixed in are a lot of great bargain chairs!