I’m not a fashionista, nor a whiz in the kitchen, nor good with make-up like some gals. I’m a wanna-be interior decorator and I love thinking about color schemes, and curtains and wallpaper, and rugs and lamps. And I actually collect pitchers and bowls.
And I like reading decorating magazines, and refinishing and reupholstering and rearranging the furniture. Sometimes my husband comes home and asks, “Now where did you move that little table that was right here?”
My parents had a big, boxy club chair and ottoman covered in a nubby fabric in their living room where my father would sit with the evening paper, and I remember sitting on his lap in that chair as he taught me to read the baseball box scores. And so years later furnishing one of our early apartments, I decided we needed a big, boxy, nubby club chair and ottoman too.
I made the rounds of the major department and furniture stores but couldn’t find a club chair big or boxy enough, or a fabric nubby enough to please me. So I went to a little shop in the neighborhood and had one custom-made, and I selected what I thought was a great fabric – a large plaid in beige, blue and red.
But that was before I had perfected my decorator’s eye, and before I learned that you can’t always tell from a small swatch just how a big piece of furniture will look when it’s upholstered.
So the afternoon my new furniture was to arrive, I excitedly rushed home from work to meet the delivery guys. But when they pulled off the protective brown paper and I saw my chair and ottoman in that awful, loud plaid fabric I started to cry.
I called my husband office. “You have to come right home, ” I told him, “we have a crisis here!”
Of course there was nothing much we could do, but as the fabric was nubby – very nubby – eventually the cat got at it, and I had both the chair and ottoman reupholstered, this time in a sold red corduroy.
Both pieces were red for many years and then we renovated our apartment, redecorated, and got all new living room furniture. But that chair and ottoman were so well-crafted by that local upholsterer, and still is such good condition that I kept them, relegated now to our bedroom. And then to match the bedroom color scheme I had them reupholstered – once again – this time in blue.
But years before – when the chair and ottoman were still in our living room, and they were still red, and my son was still very young – I went out for the evening to a meeting or a book club.
When I got home I asked the kid, “What did you and Daddy do while I was out?”
“We hugged in the red club chair and ottoman.” he said.
So strange as it may sound, that blue club chair and ottoman in our bedroom we still call “the red club chair and ottoman”. But now you know why.
Dana Susan Lehrman
THE RED CLUB CHAIR AND OTTOMAN