I was taking a look around the house (in my mind) the other day and I realized that so much of the stuff that we have is old stuff. It’s not very often that we go out and buy something for the house from a retail shop. I thought maybe I’d start a feature, here on the blog, making a little inventory of the treasures we have collected over the years. Since I seem to have this compulsion for things to be both beautiful (in my eyes) and useful as well, I thought I could try and explain how I judge things based on those criteria and maybe tell a little story, too. Sometimes, an object can just have so much personal meaning for me that I’ll love it even though it is neither useful nor beautiful, but some combination of those three qualities usually come together and then… I know.
It has to be mine.
Up first in the “old things” category is one of my absolute favorite pieces of furniture. Ever. I just did a quick search for an Emil J Padair Barber chair on eBay and found them for anywhere between $800 and $2,000 depending on how fancy and what kind of shape they are in. My husband bought this antique barber chair at an auction almost 13 years ago. He paid $45.00 Yep. Forty-five dollars. I’ll go ahead and admit, right now, that I am (in general) very bad at remembering how long ago something happened. However. I do remember that I was away on a camping trip with my mother, and that I was pregnant with our first child when my husband called me to tell me that he had purchased a 600 pound chair…
I think I said something like,
“Are you nuts?!”
“Are you NUTS?!”
He was quick to point out that, “no one else was even bidding on it!” Ya think?? I told him he was crazy. He hadn’t yet picked it up from the auction building and I wondered how he would convince anyone to help him come and move this thing. Well, I was out of town, and I was pregnant. I knew I wouldn’t have to haul it…
I know that my barber chair has made appearances in quite a few of my photos on the blog and a few people have mentioned it before – so I thought I’d give you a better look.
As you can see – the chrome is not in perfect condition – but you know some of us think that rust adds character, right? All of the porcelain is in great shape and the leather is new. The original leather was till on the chair when we bought it but after a while of hard use in our kitchen, it ended up looking like this…
That little honeybee is almost 10 now and if your eye is sharp you’ll see that there is no head rest in this picture. We bought that fairly recently on eBay and yes, it cost more than the chair itself. We have yet to replace the lovely piece of tan pleather that came with it…
One of the great things about this chair is exactly what made it so crazy to try and bring into the house in the first place. It really does weigh about 600 pounds. That’s really just a guess but a fully grown adult can easily stand on the foot rest and it doesn’t even think about tipping over.
And, although it does not swivel any more, (it probably would if we knew how to oil the moving parts) it does still do this… with just the push of the handle…
Which is sometimes a good thing if you just need to put your feet up while you’re working in the kitchen or if you have a small sick friend who wants to keep you company….
The barber chair has a lot of memories for me now. What once seemed like an over exuberant folly on my husband’s part now seems like an indispensable part of our lives. Really. Someday when we get our new kitchen you can bet that this chair will be included in the design.
So how does this barber chair measure up on my scale of useful beauty? It’s right up there at the top.
1) Beauty? I think it fits in exactly with my vintage industrial farmhouse style – I absolutely love the way it looks.
2) Useful? It is used daily – I’d say, besides the couch in the living room, it is the most frequently used seat in the house.
3) Personal meaning? Over the years the meaning of this piece has just continued to increase.
It gets a 10 out of 10 in all three categories!
What do you think? Do any of you have an odd piece of furniture that you really love?
Leave me a comment and tell me about it!