Friday, August 7, 2015

Gothic Revival Chairs (aka "Vampire Furniture")

At the moment, The Papered House is sparsely furnished. In the dining room, we have a small drop-leaf IKEA table (like this one, but cheaper) and several mismatched chairs left over from my college days. Even by college-kid standards, this stuff was cheap. Our "dining set" is functional, but it looks so out of place in our 14' x 20' dining room. It's a room that is meant to have grander furniture than we currently own.

We're furnishing this home slowly, for a few reasons. The first is purely financial. The chimney project is still in progress (more about that next week) and we're also saving towards an oil-to-gas conversion for our heating system. Both of these are pricey, important repairs so we need to make sure we allocate our resources accordingly. Secondly, we're trying to furnish this home primarily with interesting antiques, so we expect that it will take some time for us to find exactly what we're looking for.

But over this weekend, some new dining room chairs made their way into our home. I'm no expert in antique furniture, but I have a hunch that these chairs were crafted in the Gothic Revival style.

These chairs have three prominent arches, lending an ecclesiastical aesthetic. They are quite similar to this pair available from a UK antique seller. But more importantly, these chairs look like they belong in Count Dracula's home, which everyone knows is the true hallmark of the Gothic Revival style. (kidding!)

I wish I had a better story for how we came by these chairs -- something like Victoria Elizabeth Barnes' quasi-maniacal quest for her kingdom mirror. In actuality, the way we acquired these chairs was very ordinary. I was just running weekend errands and happened to drive past a garage sale. We hadn't been in the market for vampire chairs, but there they were. The seller was offering four of these chairs for the very reasonable price of $25 total.

$25?! I'm not sure what I was expecting to pay, but it was far more than $25. I tried to maintain my composure when the seller told me the price, but I'm not sure I did a very good job. I would be a terrible poker player because I'm far too transparent.

Look at those details!

My husband was at home so I texted him a picture to ask his thoughts. His chief concern? What will we do with just four of them? Don't we need more chairs for the dining room? And I thought, "Okay, so he doesn't hate them." Sold!

The fact that there are just four doesn't bother me. We'll still look for an antique dining room set with 6-8 chairs. These will be for occasional usage, whenever we have more people eating with us (which is not very often, especially since our house is not really ready for prime time at the moment). Besides, with the state of our current furniture situation, we just can't be too picky.

The joints are loose and some of the wood is scratched. But for such a decent price, I'm willing to put some work into these chairs. I like the current upholstery and it happens to be the precise color and style that we wanted. Some of the upholstery is stained, but we'll try to spot-clean it. These chairs look to be oak, and my husband would have preferred something with a less prominent grain. When we fix these up, we may try to stain them a dark color to look more like cherry or mahogany. The seller and I settled on $24 for the set, since that was how much cash I had in my wallet.  

And then I did something that would make my mother very proud: I fit all four of these chairs into a compact car. At the same time! My mother was an engineer by training and she has superb spatial awareness skills. This means that she is the master of fitting lots of things into a small space. She is also very, very good at Tetris and other geometry-themed games. My Tetris skills are mediocre at best (when those blocks start falling quickly, it gets stressful!). But enough of my mother's spatial awareness rubbed off on me that I was able to transport these chairs home efficiently. Thanks, mom!

-The Papered House invites you to Transylvania

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