Those of us who spent long rainy hours of our childhood summers on folding chairs in the main dining hall of Camp Geemahowitsuks will never forget those rickety old contraptions with bum-pinching wooden slats. I have a few embarrassing scars to prove I was there, singing "Kumbaya" with the best of them.
Tell me why, then, when those old wooden camp chairs were headed at last for the dump a few years back, I appropriated a half-dozen to bring home?!
The history of home furnishings has some better moments, to be sure, than the ill-fated day that some bright spark invented the folding chair. Clever, yes, and the wood is the kind of rich dark anonymous patina that you can't replicate in modern furniture. They haven't made chairs like that since the Second World War, I'm sure.
And folding chairs are practical, no argument there! I love to be able to stow the chairs away in the cupboard under the stairs when they're not needed. But, frankly my dear, there comes a time in a woman's life when she really wants something a little more stable underneath her floral chiffon derriere when she shows up here for Charlene's baby shower...
I love old furniture, that's my problem.
But I'm prepared to admit that not all of the beautiful chairs and tables in the world were created in the decadent days of Louis Quinze, however, or by eccentric European artists turning out handcrafted one-of-a-kind whatnots in tiny ateliers, the musky ambiance redolent of of sawdust and beeswax polish...
No, some of the truly fabulous furniture comes out of the work-a-day aesthetic of colonial North America — or the clever inventions of more recent times, suchas all-metal folding chairs, metal-legged chairs, moulded plastic chairs and ergonomic chairs...
New and improved technology led to innovations such as molded plywood and laminate wood chairs — think Eames — and then there was that whole decor-gone-wild Mod Movement in the 1960s, with the butterfly chair, bean bags, the pod chair. (Have you ever checked out some of the chairs and "conversation pits" in the movies of the sixties? Groovy, baby!)
But if "the history of furniture parallels the progress of culture," we have a problem, Houston...
I've got mixed feelings about the marriage of technology and art — as you may have gathered by now — when it comes to an object whose primary function (lets face it) is to keep the butt of my guests' white jeans unsullied by the dust-bunnies.
Who hasn't experienced at least one personally undignified moment, struggling to escape the after-dinner effects of gravity in combination with low-slung "art furniture"? I've had my share of flailing and sprawling and spilling the tea.
As a result, I was less than overjoyed to see the infamous butterfly chair attempting to make a comeback as lawn furniture last season, let me tell you! I mean, Hello! Let's take an inheritantly unstable chair that requires Olympic-level gymnastic abilities to exit with grace and aplomb — and set it up outdoors, on the Sutherlands' crumbling patio or my own bumpy lawn? I think not.
Some of this stuff makes my turn-of-the-century wooden bum-pinchers look like a better choice!
Choose your chairs wisely, my child. Don't just admire the upholstery — do a test sit. In fact, get your elephantine great-aunt Bertha to do a test sit. Heck, if you can get a little privacy in the showroom, go ahead and try a discreet little lap-dance to test it out!
Just make good and sure that this chair is going to be a happy addition to your home, not only the right price and a pretty style. Your bottom line will thank you, and your dignity will too.
Jen (a.k.a. Domestik Goddess) is a thrifty home-loving writer who dabbles in arts and crafts, lives to feed a crowd, and generally enjoys life in a drafty old farmhouse on Canada's east coast. So you wannabee a Domestik Goddess? Visit domestikgoddess.blogspot.com for more decor ideas.