Take a Seat

Interested in collecting period furniture or adding some style to your home but don’t necessarily have the room or budget to accommodate cabinets, cupboards or chests… why not consider a chair?


Relatively speaking chairs come in manageable sizes, are functional, have good conversation value and provide a terrific decorative element to any room – bathroom included. AND the cost factor is amazing! On the high end, side-chairs signed my cabinet makers, in original paint or decoration, will set you back $200-400 compared to thousands for pieces of furniture made by the same cabinet makers and firms.

Unsigned, everyday examples are also easily found at auction, antique shops, and markets for under the $100 mark. Side chairs with rush, cane, and plank seats consistently sell between $20-45 – amazing when you consider most are over a hundred years old (just think of all the backsides they’ve held!) and will last another hundred - those Ikea purchases will be rotting in the landfill…

From these antique chairs, there are endless styles. Chicken-coop, ladder-back, gunstock, and Windsor’s can be the most common and continue to be popular with interior designers wanting to bring a certain class to a room. The beauty of a chair is that they fit in with modern, retro and traditional decors. If the finish is not up to snuff, a simple coat of paint is a quick and cheap fix - although I wouldn’t suggest repainting an original piece if you are at all concerned about retaining the value.

While good examples in room-ready condition fill shops (including the Waterford Antique Market), you may also stumble across pieces in need of love. Repairing a chair can take a bit of time, particularly if regluing is required. It can also cost you some extra cash if you’re not up to redoing a seat yourself – upholstered or caned. As a general rule, re-caning will cost you a $1.00 a hole with an average of seventy-five holes in a single seat. Sometimes the end value just isn’t there so… consider an alternative. Why not have a piece of plank cut to size or use strips of flower/sugar sacks to weave your own. There are several good do-it-yourself tutorials posted on youtube and inspiration on Pinterest. This make-do style has been done with great effect; a perfect fit for a primitive décor.

Open your eyes and look up, way up the next time you visit the Waterford Antique Market – you’ll be amazed at how many inexpensive, beautiful antique and vintage seats are ready for a good home! 

Please note: This “intro” to chairs is very, very brief. Collecting chairs can take you on many adventures and history lessons… it’s all incredibly addictive.

*Pictured: A sampling of this bloggers chair collection with examples dating between 1790 and 1880.