Chair

Before becoming mine, this chair lived in my grandmother’s basement on the Stanford Campus.No one seemed to know where it came from, and no one seemed to want it.The fact that it had no history makes it ideal for my vintage mint green mission!

I stripped the paint off this chair when I was 18.At the time I thought I would either paint it shiny black or cherry red.Those were the Axel Rose years.And frankly it is probably better that I didn’t paint the chair then, because it’s not a good idea to commit to anything when you are 18.The chair actually looked great for exactly 18 years after it was stripped.The bare wood kinda’ meshed with my previous driftwood and lavender aesthetic.However, after many a wax puddle and the general wear and tear of non varnished living the chair just looked and felt dingy.Every Martha Steward knock off mag on the shelf will tell you that the best way to reclaim not so high quality furniture is to give it a fresh coat of paint.Well my life needed a fresh coat of paint.

I was initially going for whimsy, but then I spent all of last summer agonizing over the paint color. Then the winter passed with the unopened can of paint on my seed sideboard. This really took the whimsy out of it. Mint green you might ask? Well, it’s complicated…I’d been obsessing about the colors of late summer, spent hydrangea, water starved lavender, iris stem. But really the driving force was the house. This house/the ghost that resides here is really bossy about colors (and chintz, and four o’ clocks, and climbing roses). Granted she is usually right, it’s just weird to crave mint green, and wintergreen blue, only to notice that every chipped door frame, and missed cabinet interior reflects this palette!

I have to confess spending a lazy summer afternoon paining an old chair in the shade of rustling poplars is heavenly. It’s days like these when I miss my mom. There was always time in summer to spend an afternoon just the two of us doing something nonessential and crafty. We would visit thrift shops looking for the ideal chair to recover. This was the 80’s and grandparents were dying left and right. As a result the thrift shops were filled with 1950’s and 60’s wardrobes. My mom couldn’t really understand why anyone would want to revisit a fashion era that included crinolines, but I understand now that those were stolen moments with a relaxed teenager. It was a way to communicate that did not involve team sports, over achieving, or malls. It was probably a time to watch and nurture self discovery. Perhaps I romanticize the past, but she was so real then. I can almost taste her warm remarks about personal style, and a confident posture.

Speaking of confidence, I can definitely thank my mom for encouraging me to take risks.Not many people would paint anything mint green.It’s nice to have the inner gumption to follow your taste instead of bending to the e Crate and Barrel of it all.Although art school did a pretty good job of bauhausing the kitsch out of me, I still follow my heart when it comes to my personal space.I really respect the personal space that my mom carved out of a 1950’s track house on the not so artsy side of town.The inside of our house was so interesting, full of inquisitive comforts and carefully selected rituals.My mom gave such great care to her interior choices, and put such hard work into restoring, recovering, polishing, placing and preparing that the minute you walked in the door you felt instantly graceful in your own skin.

On that note, it’s time for me to stop taking risks and start ironing my wintergreen hydrangea sheets.