Sprouting up at the Botanic Gardens

Booth“a pair of re-imagined chairs receive a dramatic debut”

Chairs beforeLast weekend I had a terrific time participating in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Antiques and Garden Fair.” I was invited to provide the furnishings/set for the “Style Blogger Panel” held at the fair that Saturday. From there I decided to take on a booth and put together a small space519 pop-up for the weekend; prominently showcasing a few furniture items I had scouted for the occasion (pictured above).  Central in this dual effort were a pair of Square Chairs circa 1960s. The chairs came to me from Coyle and Herr (a most favorite resource run by my friend MB Coyle and her partner Dot Herr). They were found in a Lake Shore Drive apartment – covered in dated green and white polka dots  – and most certainly surrounded by loads of chintz (pictured above, bottom left). However, when I first saw them I instantly recognized that they had great lines and solid construction. Back in my workshop the chairs were completely reworked.  First order, I removed the skirting around the bottom and had the legs stained dark black. Next up the chairs were completely reupholstered in a felted grey Ralph Lauren flannel. As always, my upholsterer did a masterful job – maintaining the overall square effect of the chairs while softening things a bit through the subtle curved lines on the cushion. These Chairs received a lot of attention throughout the fair and found a great home on Chicago’s North Shore. Not bad for a pair of old bitties.

imageFor the blogger panel set (pictured above) I paired the Square Chairs with a few other great pieces.  An Gilded Italian Rope Coffee Table circa 1960s, a vintage Iron Chair with Moroccan Details and Brass Finials (enhanced by two new midnight blue velvet cushions), a pair of circa 1970s Victorian style Elephant Garden Stools (which I had restored by the folks at Broken Art Restoration), and a Teak “Hand Chair” (an homage to the style made famous by noted Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg), and some great Hand Painted Throw Pillows from designer John Robshaw.

medium_reedhambiscuitsThe panel was a huge hit with solid design observations from The Peak of Chic’s Jennifer BolesStylebeat’s Marisa Marcantonio, and design historian Emily Evans Eerdmans. But the discussion was certainly dominated by the moderator, the ever-amusing Julia Reed (noted writer, Southerner, cook, Garden & Gun contributor, and a generally savvy lady). Things scribbled in my notebook while she talked: Marshall Biscuits, Sister Schubert Yeast Rolls, Spinach Madeline, VD Spinach, Tomato Aspic and Reed’s cookbook, Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialities. So typical of me, listening to a panel about home design and all I focused on was the food.

botanic gardensWhat a terrific spring weekend.  If you haven’t been to the Antiques and Garden Fair it is well worth attending. They have a remarkable mix of vendors in a truly gorgeous setting. Look for us at the garden again next spring, we are already thinking about our booth enhancements for 2014.  And in the meantime, since spring seems to finally be upon us, head to The Chicago Botanic Gardens for some terrific botanical inspiration. I was really taken by the green houses, filled with lush plants and trees in widely varying hues of green accented with small pops of color throughout (see photograph left ).  Perhaps I’ll even vary my all green and white outdoor color scheme at The Richmond this summer.  After all, a man can not live on box hedges alone.


Chicago Botanic Gardens
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440


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