"A quiet patience has taken us this far." (Adrienne Rich)
Because we didn't have a dining room in our condo, we didn't own a dining room table and chairs. In our new house, the dining room is the literal center of the home--and I wanted it to be the figurative one too. So I didn't want a formal dining room set. When we discovered that the previous owners had left a beat-up but solid dining room table in the basement, we brought it upstairs. I had visions of refinishing it, but decided not to when Sam started pounding on it with his silverware.
But we needed chairs. I have always loved the chairs at Starbucks, which look a lot like the "Schoolhouse Chair" from Pottery Barn ($200 apiece). I even like the mismatched color look. I considered trying to collect mismatched chairs from garage sales, thrift stores, etc., but wouldn't you know: once you're looking for something specific, you never see it.
I tried Ikea. Nothing good there. Craig's List? I found one nice set, but they were already sold. I went to the unpainted furniture store (where the owner was SO helpful) and found exactly what I wanted (I could stain/paint them whatever color I wanted--by this time I was thinking black would be nice), but even with a "buy one, get one half off" sale, it would have cost over $500 and taken 4 weeks.
Then last Thursday night, I was checking out the Chicago estate sale listing, peeking at the photos of sales I couldn't go to because I wouldn't have a car that day--when I discovered one in my neighborhood. And the first picture was of four red chairs. EXACTLY THE ONES I WANTED!
So the next morning, I got up and walked almost 2 miles in the rain (the bus never came) with my son in the stoller, wondering the whole way how much they'd be. I had decided I'd like to pay $100 but would be really happy with $80. That is, if they weren't gone already. I arrived 15 minutes into the sale and grabbed them immediately! They were $65. For all four.
I love, love, love them. And they really cheer up the old table and our dining room. I had hoped to paint that room a pumpkin orange, which won't go with these chairs. But on the other hand, I am thinking maybe red accents in the kitchen, when we redo it and include an eat-in area.
On top of that, the sticker on the bottom of the seat says Heywood-Wakefield, which means they may be antiques or collectible. The estate sale was for a former college professor (who had thousands of books) and his artist wife. I imagine she painted these "old chairs" to brighten their colorful house. And gave them several coats of varnish. They're nice and shiny.
This has to go down as one of my best estate sale purchases ever. (And I bought a few other things at the same sale too!)