With as much demolition and construction as we’ve done since moving here four years ago, we haven’t had much time (or money!) for furniture shopping. Thus, many of our rooms are fairly empty. So when my mother-in-law announced that she was planning to downsize and asked if there was anything at her place we might be interested in, I didn’t hesitate to ask about her wicker furniture.
Family folklore has it that when Julio’s great-grandparents bought their summer cottage in 1920, the previous owners left behind a five piece set of wicker furniture. This same wicker suite has been passed down through several generations. In fact, our daughters will be the fifth generation of kids to claim the petite rocking chair as their own. Unfortunately, back in the the 1970s, the third generation painted everything shamrock green. (Pleased to meet you – I’m Paddy O’Furniture! Sorry – couldn’t resist!)
Julio couldn’t understand my interest, mostly because he had a hard time seeing past the bright green paint. But I knew it would be a lovely addition to our home. First of all, it’s roughly the same age as our house, and I really loved the idea of having something of the same vintage. Secondly, the scale is absolutely perfect. While our house is roomy by bungalow standards, most modern furniture is too large to fit comfortably in our living room, but this wicker set fits as if it was made for the room. Lastly, I’ve always loved the interior photographs I’ve seen of Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, in part because of the unexpected juxtaposition of curvy wicker chairs and settees against Stickley’s masculine, rectilinear wooden furniture. Beautiful!
Of course, Stickely’s wicker was natural wicker, and our recent acquisition was bright green. Since you can’t easily strip wicker, we decided to go with a deep espresso colored paint that seemed at home with our dark tables and woodwork. Next on our list will be finding an upholsterer who can recover the cushions in something more bungalow-appropriate, but for the time being I suppose I will have to live with the existing cushions. Eventually I would also love to add a small tabouret table next to the large rocker, and an area rug to serve as a room anchor (Oak Park Home and Hardware has a few drool-worthy contenders) but since we need a few slightly more important items before we can purchase a rug (new roof, anyone?) the rug won’t be joining the family any time soon.
And so, without further ado, here are some snaps I took of our recently painted family heirlooms. (Julio, who is quite particular about photography asked me to specify that I took these photos, so that if you find them less than technically flawless, you won’t blame him!)