Monday, March 7, 2011

Shopping with GMT

Burt Bacharach wrote: "A chair is still a chair..." and, since picking out a dining table is only half the battle,  now there are chairs to consider! Not an easy task, but through the proliferation of catalogs and online resources, it doesn't have to be a chore. One of my favorite starting points for looking for anything is, the premiere online resource for vintage and not-so-vintage furniture, art, and accessories from dealers around the country and in Europe.  The important thing about a dining chair is the quality of the "sit", but after parking it in too many chairs to count, my eyes can now tell what is comfortable, at least for me. After a quick browse, these sets rose to the surface. Oh, and never worry about "matching" your existing or newly purchased table. If that ever was a trend, it is long gone!

These four elegant French fruitwood chairs from the 1920's have an upholstered cushion in a rich, dark chocolate brown leather and hand-caned backs. According to the dealer, these chairs are extremely comfortable to sit on and even more so to look at with their clean and simple lines. They would also work perfectly at a card or game table. I love the traditional, yet clean, very contemporary style these antique chairs offer. They would mix beautifully with a pair of upholstered arm chairs for a complete set. The price for the four runs $1890.00, but could easily last a lifetime!
This set of four Swedish chairs from the 1940's is another great find. In excellent condition, these chairs are completely restored with golden elm exposed legs, hardwood inner frames, and eight-way hand-tied seat springs. They are newly upholstered in new chocolate brown diamond-quilted velvet and trimmed with hand-placed antique brass finish nail head tacks, which I think is such a great touch. These are in another bracket at $2850.00, but because they are restored, they are ready to go around a well-deserved table!
And now for something completely different! These four very fresh and striking Mies Brno chairs are upholstered in a moss green velvet. The bright shiny one piece cantilevered tubular chrome steel artfully forms the base, legs, arms and back with the upholstered seat and back seemingly afloat. A 1929-30 design by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the Tugendhat home in Brno, Czechoslovakia, the chair is a modern icon. These four were produced by Thonet in the 1970's, and are just stunning... at $2950.00 for the set, they should be, but again the quality and integrity of the chair is truly timeless. This would definitely be the "10% cool" in your dining room!

In the mood for a little Loius?? I'm a fan of the XVI, myself- straighter lines, yet still very French. These four are not from the Ancien Regime, but are in the "style of" and stamped Jansen, the venerable French furniture house, and are from the 1940's. I love the fine reeded legs which support the leather seat, the solid cane back rest, and the wonderfully worn pickle finish. The price per chair is $800.00. While I'd love to see the Mies chairs, above, around a more traditional table, these would look smashing around a modern or contemporary design. I loves me a mix of styles!

There is nothing better than a good "window shop"!
Till next time,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The soul of the home...

Everyone says that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that may be, but the soul of the home has got to be the dining table. This piece of furniture is the stage for your celebrations, holidays, and gatherings of family and friends. It also stands witness to the toasting of accomplishments achieved, promises to come, and the coming together at the end of the day to share a meal. The dining table can be the keystone for a family and can last a lifetime and beyond (now that's green!).

One of the last essays by Dominique Browning, the last editor-in-chief of the late, great House and Garden, was about just this: buying quality. Quality lasts. It never goes out of style, and furniture of high quality bought today will become your family heirlooms of tomorrow. Thomas Pheasant's 'Classic Oval Dining Table' for Baker Furniture is just that.

What a great foundation for a family, however you define that for yourself. Shown in a rich sable finish, this table can tread the fine line between traditional and contemporary. I love the shape of legs ending in the brass caps, the apron that runs the perimeter and the fact that it comes with three extensions to accommodate almost any size gathering. This table perfectly fits with designer David Netto's winning formula of 90% classical/10% cool, which is probably one of the most simple and yet comprehensive mantras to remember when furnishing a home.