To Meddle, Or Not To Meddle

So, I was minding my own business when my new, shiny companion (mobile phone) buzzed at me.  Well, I’m not quite sure if it buzzed.  It might have dinged, chimed or wolf-whistled.  There’s about 57 different ringtone alerts for every ‘push notification’ that I receive and I haven’t quite worked out which one corresponds to which notification yet.

But I’m almost sure it wolf-whistled.

Anyway, the point is I received an email from a prospective client with a query regarding my interior design services.

Yes folks, I’m now designing interiors, for like, real.  Scary thought, right?

I can’t really divulge too much about this particular project due to confidentiality but once it’s complete I’ll seek the necessary permission and upload photos of the finished result.

I. Can’t. Wait. 

All of the rooms will be designed with a contemporary, classical style (leaning more towards contemporary) to pay homage to the surroundings (this will all make sense once I’ve uploaded the photos) and to reinforce these classical elements I’ve decided to include a statement chair in the bedroom.  It’s an antique French Balloon Back chair.  I instantly recognised its awesomeness…can you use the word ‘awesomeness’ to describe such an elegant, refined and historical piece?

Yes, yes I believe you can.

There’s only one reason why I immediately recognised this chair’s characteristics.  And that’s because of my interior design studies.  I had to complete a module entitled ‘Design in Historical Context’ and to be honest, as soon as I clapped eyes on that title I felt my shoulders slump.

The whole module sounded, well, boring.  So, I studied the history of Modernism and also a local property that had an element of historical significance.  And I have to admit that whilst the learning curve was quite steep, I did actually enjoy certain aspects of my research.

Bear with me, I’ll be getting to the point soon.  Honest.

I was also required to design a room within the local property that honoured the characteristics of design during that period.

I hated every minute of this particular assignment, I’m just not a ‘traditional’ type and I found it extremely challenging to design a space reflective of the Victorian period.  Ugh.  This was the board I put together for the design of said space.

Victorian Board

I’m not a fan of the Victorian period (I’m allllllll about the Georgian), but I quite liked this shape of chair.  I trawled and trawled and then trawled the internet some more, to find a chair I liked.  Which is why I’m now very familiar with this ‘Balloon Back’ style.

So, it’s quite nice to meet one in the flesh.  And when I say ‘one’, I mean an original French one from the early 1900s.  Actually, it’s not nice.  It’s downright thrilling.

Where are my manners?  Allow me to introduce you.

 Antique French Balloon Back Chair

No sooner had I clapped eyes on it, I started inspecting it like a soldier in a line-up.  Its wood grain, how it felt to the touch, the carving and its fabric all came under close scrutiny.  It was even flipped upside down in the most undignified manner so that I could get a closer look underneath.  Once I had become fully acquainted with its characterful charm, I decided that it most definitely belonged in my design scheme.

But I would have preferred it to be a little more ‘aged’.  A few scuffs and some little knocks and bumps to its finish would have injected much more character.  But then, how much more character does it need?  It’s antique for goodness sake!  From France!  It’s already steeped in history, right?!

So, my question is this: should I distress it even more or leave it untouched?  Should I reupholster it in a modern fabric to give it a little quirky edge?  C’mon, don’t let me down, let’s start a little debate on the pros and cons of meddling with historical pieces of furniture.

The floor is yours.

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10 responses to “To Meddle, Or Not To Meddle

  • Birgit Wahlhaeuser

    So, it is french, it is vintage … I think it needs ticking or maybe some linen upholstery … but then maybe it will not fit into the design scheme – non ??

  • The vintage goodlife (@vintagegoodlife)

    It’s antique already and will carry on getting knocked and sat on and hopefully well loved…. It does seem a little bit of a crime to mess with this piece! You may be in danger of treating it as re-pro…
    Just a thought lol I’m a purist.

    • anitadesignstudio

      Thanks for your feedback! The more I think about it, the more I think that attacking this chair with paint and sandpaper is an absolute sin! It is beautiful as it is! x

  • Bouchra

    What about reupholstering it with leather? Slightly distressed leather, perhaps? I wouldn’t touch the wood though, I would let it age by itself otherwise it would look fake and if it is original and in good condition it looks more expensive.

  • blackc96

    I would leave the wood as is, but re-upholster. I love to re-cover chairs. I’m sure the end result will be fantastic whatever you decide. Can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

  • anitadesignstudio

    Thank you for your comments on this. I agree, a great reupholstering job is all this chair needs! I might however, use a modern quirky fabric just to add a unique touch! I’ll be sure to upload photos!

  • Amanda

    How the heck could I have missed this little nugget?! Anita, that chair is sooo beautiful. Personally, I wouldn’t paint, sand or rub lol. However, I too may have been tempted to tweak the seat colour. Just lovely. Must be honest, I have one just like it lol. I reupholstered the seat in an antique linen flour sack. It worked well for my weirdo taste, hehe!!

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