Posts Tagged Interior Design

Mad Men Chair – Part 1

That’s what I call it, because I am enamored with mid-century modern furniture as so often seen on the popular AMC television series Mad Men, set in New York City in the 1960’s. The fashion, the furniture, and the social context they build in this series had me hooked. And now I have my own Mad Men chair.

It was probably over a year ago, shopping with a friend at a nearby independent furniture store that I first saw it. The store was having a “retirement & going out of business sale.” Lots of new beautiful furniture, but even on sale it was all a bit out of my budget. First floor, upper floor, full of wonderful items to draw inspiration and future wants. But then the basement is where I saw it. A mid-century upholstered office chair, low to the ground and on casters. It just had “that look.” But it was broken, in the corner, and probably not supposed to be out where the shoppers could see it.

So I found the owner and asked her about it. She laughed. In a store full of deeply discounted new furniture, I wanted the broken old chair in the corner that was probably supposed to be in the trash a week ago and someone forgot about it. “Yep, that’s what I want!” I offered her $10, and the owner declared, “sold!”

Turns out once I got it home, it was a pretty popular chair made by the furniture company Paoli out of Indiana. The Paoli Chair (turns out they made lots of similar styles, all now very popular on Ebay). My chair even had the original label stapled underneath, dated 1963!

Unfortunately, I started taking it apart before thinking to take photos. Can you tell I’m not a professional blogger? Anyway, below is another chair just like it I found on Etsy (with a price tag of over $250!), but in much nicer shape.


Just imagine it all scratched up, with the armrests almost entirely worn of their color, and the upholstery so dirty you want to wash your hands after just touching it. And not yellow. The chair I bought is green, not yellow like the one above.


So here is the main body of the chair, seat removed, and starting to strip the finish.


I even took photos of removing the upholstery, to make sure I could re-upholster it the same way and get it looking as professional as possible.


I also saved the fabric. Why? I knew I wasn’t going to re-use it on the chair, but by saving the pieces I have an exact pattern of each piece to use when cutting the new fabric I plan to use.

Once the fabric and all of those staples were removed, I used a liquid furniture refinisher to strip all of the stain off of the chair Then I wiped the wood clean with mineral spirits and a clean rag. This cleans any remaining refinishing liquid off the wood. Then I let the wood dry completely.

Next comes sanding. You could tell where the old chair had constantly banged up against a desk or wall, it almost looked as if a dog had chewed on it. I knew I couldn’t sand those spots out completely without altering the shape of the chair, but I smoothed the spots over best I could. The rest of the chair needed just light sanding. A few spots will still show a little when it is re-stained, but that gives the chair character. It shows the piece of furniture has been used and loved before I came along. When refinishing furniture, I’m not trying to make a piece look brand new, but rather respect the craftsmanship and give it another life.

I’ll reveal the finished chair in the next post. But below is a very similar chair by the same company that I used as inspiration for the finished product.

Paoli in striped gray

I’ve always been a fan of monochromatic gray, and I think gray together with wood tones results in a masculine look. The gray fabric on this one is a little light, but I really like how the back rest and seat are upholstered with the stitched lines to give it a little interest. I’m not entirely sure how to obtain that effect, especially since I’ve never done anything more than a simple fabric covered board for a seat. But I strive for perfection, and I’ll post photos of the finished chair here soon, because it turned out great!

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Not My Style

My grandfather was a farmer. A large farmer, who farmed over 1000 acres with his children before he passed away. I was only 7 when he died and I don’t remember him extremely well, but there are certain things about him and his house that I will never forget. Like how his kitchen cabinets had hammered copper knobs and spade handles. Or how the bottom drawer to the right of the sink always hid Oreos or mini doughnuts (treats my parents sparingly would keep in our own house). He had a large collection of those now-retro Avon cologne bottles shaped like cars or trains (I have a green Jaguar bottle that belonged to him). His living room had the oldest oak floor television I had ever seen in my life with a remote control that explains why some people still call them clickers; each button was as loud as a dog training clicker.

And I will never forget his living room lamp shades. I don’t remember what the lamps looked like, but I will never forget the two lamp shades.¬† They were made from Styrofoam egg cartons arranged in a drum shape, one pale green and one pale pink. On each of the tall “points” that seperate the eggs, a hole was punched and a colored glass marble was glued over the hole. When the light was on, the glass marbles would glow.

I had never seen anything else like it in my life. Until I Google searched for them. And sure enough, apparently someone else had some. This photograph is similar, only Grandpa’s had marbles on each of the points, not in the actual egg wells, and his two were on table lamps, not hanging.

Not my style at all. But nonetheless, I will never forget them and how much of a statement they were in his living room. I wonder who it was that actually made them and where they ended up after his estate was divided. Not that I necessarily want them, but they would be fun to photograph.

Check out these other egg crate lamp shades that are probably more likely to end up in a high end design magazine.

This first pendant lamp was featured on a great sustainability and design blog, Inhabitat, back in 2009. Very pure looking, this would probably be an easy DIY project. Check out the full post at this link, or click on the photo.

I could easily see these more colorful lamps in a child’s room, glam bathroom, or chic home office. The shades are basically paper egg crates that were spray painted a bold color and folded into a drum shape. Photographed in a display by Recolector Disesno, they have been featured on the blogs DIY Gadgets and Apartment Therapy.

I do like the white version, and it would be fun to make; but would I actually hang it somewhere? What do you think, are you inspired enough to start saving egg cartons? What other egg crate crafts have you seen or made?

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Rainy Day Update

We are sopped in with rain for a while… so any outside plans today have been drenched.

Curious about how the chiropractic office is coming along? Well, check out this horrible cell phone pic for a sneak peak at the progress:

It has been exciting to see the carpet installed, the bathroom walls tiled, and new furniture arriving piece by piece. New chairs, window treatments and some small decorations will be the last touches for the main lobby.

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