Monday, September 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Settees

Okay, I know they're chairs but how could I pass up such a good pun?  

Actually, they're not even chairs; they're allegedly fauteuils in the Louis XVI style.  Who knew?  And, actually, the Dickens' story is a pretty good reference to use for these two pairs of very differently priced chairs.  

The ones above were ones that caught my attention when I was publicly brainstorming new ideas for my living room.  (And thank you all for being so kind!)

As I kept looking, I found a lot of variations of the style but I particularly like the one with the oval back. I found another pair that's very similar but the price is VERY different.

Let's take a look.

The former pair is stripped of their paint and have muslin on the seats making them ready to upholster.  This pair is painted and has an ivory damask that seems really outdated to me.  Or at least a little too Petit Trianon for my taste.

Let's take a closer look at the two side by side to compare apples to apples.

Pretty close, huh?  The form of each seems almost identical.  The wood version has a carved ribbon detail at the top of the oval back.  The shapes in the arms seem to be the same.  The one on the left might have a little more padding but it could just be the lighting (and that's fixable).  The front of the seat on the painted version might have a little more of a curve to it.

Again, they look pretty similar from the back.  The oval back of the painted version may not be as graceful.  And the piece that connects the back to the seat is crafted a little differently.

The shape of the arm is the same but it's clear the one on the left has more detail carved into it.  The painted version has that spattered effect that I guess is supposed to give the finish more depth.  This one must be a newer reproduction.

The carving on the top of the leg on the left version seems nicer but the shape of the design is pretty similar.  The shape of the leg is pretty close too except the little bulb at the bottom of the leg.  I think I like the shape of the painted leg better.

Maybe to the trained eye the differences stand out a little more but to my eye, they look remarkably similar.  One is an antique (alledgedly turn of the century) and the other I would guess is '50s?  '60s?  My feeling is I'm not trying to create a museum, I'm trying to create a look.  From my experience, I like to change things up every few years so a reproduction that I'm not afraid of painting, might make more sense.

So are you ready for the price difference?

This version is $2300 cheaper!  

They'll be on a Greyhound bus making their way from Newport Beach, CA to Boston sometime soon.  Obviously this set will take a little more work to fit my vision but the price was great!

And I think it'll be a fun makeover.


  1. Wow! What a find! You know I think that chair is fantastic as is...but to each her own. Happy renovating!!

  2. Delurking to say I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with these chairs. I have 2 similar chairs that I have been dying to redo, but have no idea where to start. Good luck!

  3. Any idea what fabric(s) you'll be using? Are you going to repaint the frame? I wonder what kind of wood is underneath the finish? They are going to be gorgeous! What a neat project to have to keep you busy in your spare time! Can't wait to see what you do with them!

  4. fantastic find, can't wait to see the end result!

  5. Damn got my chairs!!!

    : ) kelley

  6. Wow! The chairs are great, you got a great bargain.

  7. steve i'm loving the chairs. you really are gonna swank the place up, aren't you.


  8. Oh...I just found your blog. I'm renovating a 1931 cottage. I am thrilled to have found a blog about fixing up a historic home. I just became your newest follower.

  9. If I had the opportunity to do these chairs, I'd strip them to bare wood (take them to a local shop that dumps them into a strip tank) take out the back padding, and re-cover just the seat, as per the example. A bare, striped, unfinished wood looks wonderful on very detailed wood.

  10. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You ~Ron

  11. Great find... Knowing a bit about antiques I can garanty that the one on the left (wooden one) is not antique at all...! It is a perfect example of reproduction that are very much easy to find in France (where I am from!)The carved details are actually typical of a recent reproduction... In fact the carved details shouldn't be looked at as an indicator of age... at all...
    If you look at the last two pictures side by side you will see that the leg of the painted chair is (even though less detailed) "finer" than the wooden one, it is not as chunky. Same for the arm shape, yes the wooden one is more detailed but the details are not of great quality, the painted one on the other hand is more deeply carved in the curve and carved in a nicer way...
    I think you did really weel when you made your choice... cause you pretty much saved thousands on a copy! And painted armchairs with their original patina have so much charm!!!!
    Good on you ;-)

  12. I'm always more impressed with a good bargain than anything...well done! It's coming together beautifully.

  13. Great find!! Can't wait to see the after...

  14. Bravo! You really did have a great find with these chairs, great job!!

    Amy R.