The very first antique I bought was a Dutch marquetry chair from the 1820s. It cost either $425 or $475; I can’t remember exactly, but I was a graduate student in my 20s and it was a lot of money. If it had been in good condition it probably would have cost a lot more, but one of its legs had been broken and repaired and there were some punky spots here and there. I didn’t know about CONDITION yet, but it hardly mattered to me. I loved the chair’s curved back and arms and thought it was the most beautiful piece of furniture I had ever seen. For quite awhile, it played a major role in several living rooms, but gradually it got pushed out, and relegated first to the second floor and then to the third, both because it was rather frail and I kept buying more and more chairs–a major weakness of mine.
The summer before last, the chair was in such an insignificant space that I thought, why don’t I see if someone can make it strong again? I certainly won’t miss it! So I called a series of restorers and woodworkers, all of whom said no, too difficult to fix or not worth the effort. Finally, one nice man said he would give it a shot. I said, take it away and take your time, and off he went. I promptly forgot all about my old chair until the middle of this past summer, more than a year after it left my sight. Mr. Pelletier (Pelletier & Son Furniture Restoration, 52 Howard Street Extension, Salem MA) delivered it to my door, refitted with new internal frame, missing marquetry pieces replaced, and French-polished.
I was very excited to have my chair back but obviously it was time for upholstery. So off I ran to Zimman’s for my fabric (the best decorating resource anywhere: 80 Market Street, Lynn, MA; zimmans.com). There’s so much to see there I always get a bit lost, but I finally emerged with a dull gold silk damask fabric that I thought would complement, rather than contrast with, the chair’s woodwork. A couple of days later, Steve the upholsterer (Up-Right Upholstery, 250 North Street, Danvers, MA; uprightupholstery.com) came to get the chair and it just returned (again). It’s strong enough to be a living room chair now, but I prefer it in my bedroom, where it has pride of place.