The Soul Of Furniture
Many years ago my husband and I were in an antique store in Westport, CT when we spotted an old, French, mustache club chair. It was a big, regal, show-stopping type of chair and while it was not cheap, we bought it anyway. Over the years it occupied a prime spot in our living room and it always seemed to be the chair that the first person in the door wanted to plop in and stay for the rest of the night. It had soft, buttery leather that you sank into and it cradled you with its welcoming wide arms. It just seemed to lure people into it.
Over the years we moved many times and it was always the centerpiece of the living room. While I admit that I am very careful with my antiques, I don’t treat my furniture like I live in a museum so eventually the signs of wear started to show. The leather got dry and cracked, the piping on the cushion eventually ripped, and the seat started to sag to an all-new low making it difficult to get in and out of. Rather than risk it getting worse, when we moved to my current house I decided to downgrade it from show-stopping status to a quieter life as a corner reading chair in my bedroom. I think this might be what killed it.
I believe that since older furniture is made from wood and leather and even horsehair stuffing that comes from trees and animals, then it’s possible for it to have a soul, and even memory. Its birth from a living thing gives it an energy that today’s soulless, man-made particle-board crap simply doesn’t have. I know this because sometimes I feel a distinct pull from a piece of furniture that honestly seems to speak to me. This chair was like that. I always loved it, loved looking at it. Unfortunately, once it was in my bedroom it became a cat chair, the chair you threw your clothes on, the one you couldn’t sit in because you could feel the springs coming through. It made me incredibly sad because I could never really bring it back to its former glory. To reupholster it would be to make it something it wasn’t. To throw it away would be tragic. To watch it slowly fall apart to the point of embarrassment was definitely painful.
So I put in on Craig’s List and hoped for the best. I found someone who had a companion chair just like it and he loved the lived-in look of it, but in the end he chickened out. To be honest, it didn’t have a lot of years left unless you took it apart and started over and that seemed like heresy. I didn’t know what to do. I had never “worried” over a piece of furniture in my life. Usually when it was time to move on, I didn’t have a problem re-homing an item and letting it go to make someone else happy. When a buyer finally showed up and was willing to pay to have it shipped to SEATTLE sight unseen, I had the bad feeling that it was a death knell. But what could I do? It was old, it was big, it was falling apart and would cost a fortune to restore. I let it go.
When the moving company came to wrap it up and take it away I watched it go and I felt really, really strange. Bad strange. I eventually reached out to the resale site and asked if they could share the contact information of the person who bought it. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to it. They said they’d ask but I never heard anything.
I can only hope that if it was indeed stripped for its parts, its soulful pieces have gone on to make newer, more beautiful things and that somewhere in its memory is me, one of the furniture mamas in its long history who truly appreciated and understood and loved it for its greatness.