Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An interesting chair

One of the first things that struck me about the furniture plan for the new house is the sheer number of chairs that make their way into every room of the house.  Some of the chairs are functional – they provide for balance and extra seating in the room.  Some of the chairs are like decorative accessories, much like a piece of art or sculpture would be used in a room.

When looking at the furniture plan, I thought about Mariette Himes Gomez’ book Rooms: Creating Luxurious, Livable Spaces, where she professes a love for chairs.  On her web site, she says "Chairs are like sculpture to me. I love chairs like I love books. I'm truly crazy about them."  In recent months, I have been noticing interesting chairs as key elements in the decor, and agree that they add a very special touch to a room.

This is one of my favorite vignettes, mainly because of the artful arrangement on the console and the beautiful collection of sketches on the wall.  However, when looking through my files for interesting chairs, this sweet little decorative chair really jumped out at me. I doubt anyone ever sits on that chair – it looks very dainty.

In a room full of strong design elements, the interesting chair under the cascading series of paintings draws my eye. Design by Barry Dixon.

This beautiful foyer, with interiors by Suzanne Kasler, has many wonderful architectural and design features.  However, what stands out in my mind is that the chairs came from the Gianni Versace estate, and Suzanne loved them so much that she even kept the original fabric on them.

The ornate lines of the chair in this entry add a whimsical quality to the vignette.  The green velvet seems like the perfect choice for this chair! I wonder if anyone ever sits on it?  Interior design by Amy Morris. Photo credit: Emily Followill.

Another striking design by Amy Morris features an interesting chair that is clearly meant to be part of the decor, not really a place to sit.  For some reason, this really appeals to me – chair as sculpture! Photo credit: Emily Followill.

This chair caught my eye as it is used as an extension of the tabletop and wall space, with a book perched on the seat, and a painting resting against the back. Source unknown.

This is one of my favorite images from the portfolio of Daryl Carter – the balance of the lines and the curves, the darks and the lights, the aged and the new really appeals to me.  I also love that interesting chair to the right of the console – it adds a great element to the space.

This chair looks like an antique, and seems to be purely decorative given its placement in the hall.  It looks perfect in this spot, and is one of my favorite images of Sheila Bridges work.   My husband’s grandmother has the most beautiful French antiques in her house, and told me that she rarely buys antique chairs because they often don’t hold up well to actual use.  The proportions of antique chairs don’t really suit the proportions of people today (I guess people are taller and wider now!), and the delicacy of some antique chairs make them very frail after 100 years or so.  However, using antique chairs as a purely decorative element works so well in certain spaces.

This chair is neither fragile nor retreating, and really seems to invite one into the space.  Interior design by Axel Vervoordt.

The diminutive chair set in a small hall seems to have a story to tell.  Interiors by Jackye Lanham, from an old real estate listing.  The house was featured in Southern Accents many years ago (see more of the house in this post).

I am not sure where this picture is from, but look at that incredible chair to the side of the armoire!  The fantastic woodwork makes it like a piece of art.  Not sure why the stylist put the stack of hats on the chair – I want to take them off to appreciate the chair itself.

Finally, a beautiful image from Clint Smith’s new website and blog – the chair really struck me, as it pulls out the tones of the tile and the wallpaper, and adds just the right balancing element to the room.  Clint is the editor of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and we are all familiar with his unerring eye and his way with words from his work at the magazine.  The website (http://smithonstyle.com/) shows a more complete picture of Clint’s many talents, and is a visual feast.  I am looking forward to reading more on his personal perspective on style and design!

The good news is that interesting chairs are an easy addition to most settings, and can often be found on Craigslist and antique and flea markets (Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta always has dozens of chairs that catch my eye).  Phoebe Howard’s store Mrs. Howard always seems to have beautiful and unique chairs that Phoebe has found on her travels and refurbished.  Often vintage and antique chairs need to be recovered - I did this a few years ago with an old flea market find, with great results (see blog post here). I am not sure where I will use these chairs in the new house, but I am sure they will find a place!

Books mentioned in this post: 

Rooms: Creating Luxurious, Livable Spaces (Mariette Himes Gomez)
Click here to purchase on Amazon.

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
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Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.


  1. Yes, yes, yes. I came late to chairs; then my brother gave me "Chairs" by Judith Miller, kind of a field guide to the classics. Gordon delighted in finding a chair that would turn a room on its head or perfect a room. Most do all that and are a practical place to sit to boot.

  2. Antique chairs and antique chests - I never recommend them when they are going to be placed in areas where they will be used. They are beautiful elements, but not too sturdy or usable!

  3. I don't agree with the "anonymous" above. I respect it, but don't agree.
    You should not have items only for display at your home. It should be a HOME not a museum. Unless the piece is worth too much money, but again, then.. why have it at home? A chair is to be used, to be appreciated, loved and sat on! :-)

    Chairs can add so much to a room... they can bring soul, beauty and of course, comfort.

    I love this post. Really interesting.

    Have a Blessed Day!


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  4. Hard to pick a favorite. All such wonderful chairs and amazing vignettes. I have a thing for "character" chairs as well.

  5. I have a small addiction/obsession with occasional chairs. They can be placed just about anywhere in a room and often add that just right amount of character. The semi clover chair in Barry Dixon's room is wonderful and I think Amy Morris is a huge talent.
    Someone needs to publish an amazing chairs book. Well another one anyway.
    Thanks for sharing,

  6. First I am always interested in anything MHG has to say! Secondly, I agree that there is something wonderful about an antique or quirky chair in a space that really adds something. It reminds me how of how the right pair of shoes or jewelry makes a fabulous outfit even better.

  7. Great observation. I like alot of interesting chairs too. If you go back and a take a look at McAlpine's house featured on the cover of his book you'll notice an abundance of chairs in the design. There are functional chairs and some that are less so. One that stood out to me was a carved wooden chair that resembles an eagle.

  8. Holly this is one one my very favorite posts you have written. The chairs are all unique works of art!!

    Come and enter my Artful Offering!

    Art by Karena

  9. I too, am a chair lover. I have several sweet little cane seated, Victorian chairs, not ornate, but with turned legs and interesting backs. Two are in the kitchen and we do use them with seat pillows to protect the cane, one is a child's chair and I have it in my bedroom for a stack of throws.

    I was surprised that no one commented on the second to last photo with the armoire and white arched-back chair. I noticed that the chair back echos exactly the arches in the doors of the armoire. Fun!

  10. Holly,
    Your blog is so great, I love looking at the design world through your eyes. I love chairs too, they are so versatile. . . Need one of these adorable chairs somewhere in my house!

  11. Lovely post featuring all these pretty chairs. I love collecting them also. Seems you always have room for one more "interesting chair."
    Mary Ann

  12. I thought I was crazy to love chairs! Thank you for this great post. I will continue to use chairs for decorative intrest even if my friends and family don't get it.

  13. I love this post and the attention to detail in each room you showed us. I have always loved the look of two interesting chairs beside a console table in an entry. Chairs are something that anyone can find while antiquing and what a fun hunt it would be. KS

  14. OK, thanks for reminding me how much I will miss my antique chest flanked by two pretty chairs vignette in my foyer post-renovation. (We're renovating our kitchen and relocating powder room to part of foyer, thereby losing the expanse of wall where I have pretty chest + two chairs combo -- waaah). Great post as always!

  15. Thanks for the post Holly. I am a chair ADDICT myself. Love chairs. I am always looking for something different for my office, bath, etc. Mu husband thinks I'm crazy. I bought a beautiful little french antique chair with floral needlepoint at an antique store and I use it in my mudroom. My children sit on it while I put on their shoes. I would never let an adult sit on it though, too dainty. I love it! Funny, my husband put felt on the back to keep it from rubbing on the walls too. LOL. I just purchased a few side chairs in limewash & belgian linen as accent chairs in my living room. I also love to mix contemporary art with antiques. I am trying to talk my Husband into moving south. We have friends and family in ATL..maybe that's a possibility in the future. Tired of the cold winters. Thanks again..always love your posts. Renay

  16. I recently saw a chair stacked with a few books and a painting leaning against the back (similar to the image you show us) and I loved the look, especially for an antique, more fragile chair.
    I really like what you said about seeing an antique chair as more of a piece of art. In the right vignette it can add so much.
    Thank you for giving us something to think about.

  17. Love a good chair... a girl can never have too many ..right?

  18. There are so many forms and functions for chairs. Great depiction of styles. Interesting post.
    Au revoir

  19. I am a chair nut too but don't seem to have the room for them in a small home. I do love the chair as art. Many wonderful images you posted. I could have posted this and got 5 comments, but you will get 40 no doubt! I have a whole CHAIR file on iphoto. You have inspired me - I will have to do a chair post some time and show my favorites to my readers too. :)

    Now for your new house, we expect many, many posts. But an interesting one would be to just feature all your interesting new (and old) chairs in their lovely new vignettes!! I cannot wait to see your house...

    xo Terri

  20. Hi Holly...like you I love chairs also. They add interest and intimacy to a room and certainly welcome and beckon you to take a seat and make yourself comfortable. To me, there is a void in a room without chairs!
    We are planning to use lots of chairs in our own living room and many of the great designers will opt for more chairs over more sofas or loveseats, they can be moved around to create different seating areas as often as needed....I love a small antique chair, true it might not be as comfortable or practical but it adds a level of authenticity to the room and almost always has a story which makes it interesting. So many beautiful pictures above...but Barry Dixons has always been one of my all time favorites:) Happy decorating!
    PS There is a wonderful book, Chairs; A history by Dampierre that is fantastic, you might enjoy...
    PPS Doing a fabulous giveaway, come take a peak, two beautiful handblown Murano glass lamps!

  21. Those chairs from G Versace are fabulous; I would not have recovered them either.

  22. Holly!

    I love this post as I am a 'chair-a-holic'. I adore them in all shapes and sizes and love them in a not always 'functional' form!

  23. What a wonderful posting!... I have had a chair fetish as long as I can recall... traditional, contemporary, oriental... never met a chair I didn't like... with exception to the god awful over-stuffed recliner...

    Some chairs are truly as great as a fine sculpture...

  24. I love a little chair, just sitting there waiting for a stack of books or for me to use to take my shoes off.....a nice little surprise where you need it.

    I have Mariette's book Rooms and love her other one, Houses.

    So happy to check out Clint's new blog. Being a Southerner, ok Texan, I am always drawn to the South and the styles found within.

    xo Elizabeth

  25. Holly,

    I just want to thank you for following me on Twitter. I hope we have so fun there. :-)

    Have a peaceful and harmonious weekend! We all need that, don't we?


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  26. I have always loved chairs too. A few years ago, there was a chair exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and I absolutely loved it!

  27. I believe that there is a whole cadre of us that are, in fact, chair addicts....I confess to having an entire walk-in closet known in our family as the "chair closet"....smiles.

  28. Your post inspired me to write about a chair I just bought. I linked back to your post to complete my story. You can see it here. http://zoomin24-7.blogspot.com/2011/03/single-chair.html You confirmed for me that a beautiful chair is beautiful anywhere.

  29. I love this post! Sometimes chairs are overlooked in rooms in favor of sofas or cabinets or rugs... Who wants to talk about the little chair on the corner? I'm so happy you devoted a whole post to them! very cool!

  30. I am a chairaholic. Ladies chairs, children's chairs, French chairs... Just put up a post on a pair of os de mouton chairs I had recovered. I love chairs!



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