My Red Gingham Chair
By Geri Cherin
My red gingham chair was splendid in the beginning. Now, 21 years later we are aging together. The older I get the more I need the welcoming love this simple chair offers me. A sanctuary of comfort facing the ever changing Davis Creek with its seasonal slendors, crimson sunsets and wildlife dramas.
My chair and I share a history. Although I bought it on sale at Hildreth’s Department store inSouthamptonfor $400.00, it became my most used piece of furniture. I will admit that I went to that sale as a flexible furniture snob. The people I know who bought recliners were usually older, less fashionable folk, the type of people who succumbed to grey velvet living room sets. I was a person who sought out unique pieces in quaint antique shops or bought uncomfortable upholstered pieces from high priced furniture shops. After all, my husband came from a family of furniture mavens. Great grandpa, Barney Chrein, owned a select furniture store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His legacy of fine taste haunted the Chreins who only sanctioned classic highly polished woods and neutral, mainly beige, fabrics. That was considered good taste.
As a wedding gift my in-laws gave us a bedroom set; dresser, chest and headboard/foot board from the princely furniture house of John Widdicomb. I chose the most contemporary set, walnut accented by raised striations of darker wood and brass star like handles. A set approved by all Chrein generations unlike some of the other pieces I chose that had a more dramatic flair including the Danish modern dining room set, sofa and lamps that today have grown very collectable.
All that changed in our many moves and evolution of style. Each house I lived in told me how to decorate it. I just looked and listened and then became the medium through which my homes expressed themselves. Our little cottage on Davis Creek said, “Give me casual comfort.” I immediately fell in love with that red gingham wing chair with plain pine legs that could also recline. We were meant for each other. This countrified chair belonged in my life. Imagine something so beautiful that was also deliciously comfortable
The cottage we bought 21 years ago had a long, large living space. A white brick fireplace stood in the center of the longest wall. I placed the red gingham chair on an angle next to the fireplace facing out to the water. I discovered nirvana, the perfect spot to read books or browse magazines and catalogues while keeping one eye on the creek. Most of all it was the ideal napping chair. All I had to do was to recline and close my eyes to get a most tranquil fifteen minute snooze. Guests were welcome to sit on the tapestry style sofa on the other side of the fireplace. My husband claimed his own chair, a round back bamboo chair upholstered in a large striped floral fabric. Only my grandchildren were allowed to sit in my chair with or without me.
In anticipation of our retirement, when we could spend more time in our house, we renovated to make a larger, more comfortable place. No longer did my aging red gingham chair have a spot near the new fireplace. Instead two plush white and green arm chairs replaced it. I suffered the thought of giving away my special chair but where could I put it? After the new chairs were delivered I pushed the recliner into the sun room, temporarily, to get it out of the way. A continuation of the new longer living space, that room housed an old wicker set with cushions upholstered in a colorful garden of flowered fabrics and basic stripes.
The new chairs were attractive but they didn’t hug my bottom with the same loving touch as my old chair. They were so deep that I needed many pillows to be comfortable. I kept sliding down. I missed my red gingham chair and it missed me too. At first, I couldn’t see how well the red gingham chair fit into the sunroom. Then I finally saw that it belonged with its new wicker companions. I found a new place for my best chair with an even better water view. The perfect place for both of us.