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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dunhill Chair: The Saga

My affection for leather chairs boasting nailhead trim began quite by accident.  It was February 2001 and I was in Paris strolling the flea markets with my husband on the last day of our trip.  I had already had a very successful shopping day having found an elusive pair of blue enamel opera glasses, a beautiful lock with it's original key, and an iron hook with a brass acorn tip!  But then, as we turned to leave, I spotted them. They were old, worn and a bit tattered.  Perfectly imperfect.  My husband and I loved them, but even in our very limited French knew we could not afford them.  The quest was on. When we returned home I began the search.  Little did I know it would more than take 8 years.

That same year we moved to Williamsburg, Virginia and I became friends with a women who had lived in Paris.  She had chairs.  And they were exquisite along with  her many other fine French antiques. Torture.  In the summer of 2005 we moved back to our home in Northern Virginia and embarked on a four year, and counting, long renovation of our home.  My husband and I agreed early on we needed to find chairs that had the character and essence of the French chairs for our small library.

So I consoled myself with pictures like this...

                                      Country Home -April 2003
and this...

                                                  Traditional Home

In October of 2007 while waiting for a gift to be packaged at Crate & Barrel, I browsed.  And there at the top of the esculator were my chairs!  They were not remotely typical for the style C&B is known and loved for.  And, the price tag indicated this at nearly $2,000 each!!!  Not only did they have brass nailheads, but this unique suede band and carved wood details,.  I called my work.  I took a picture with my phone.  I printed out a picture from computer when I returned home.  I talked about the chairs...a lot.  I would visit my chairs every time I came into the store.  I would save for them.

Along with the renovation costs, other unpleasant things like a new roof and HVAC system kept the "Objects of My Affection" away.  The saga rolled on....until November 2009.  Again, I found myself at C&B at the end of a very long day of Christmas shopping.  I browsed.  I did not see my chairs, but was so tired, I did not mind.  I left with my purchases and drove home.  When I got home I checked the C&B web-site for assurance.  None to be found.  I quickly snapped out of my shopping induced coma. I called the store and a women with a very nice voice on the other end of the line said a very bad word called "DISCONTINUED"!!!  However, they might be able to locate some on the computer or from another store.  But with each keystroke hope was dashed.  At just that moment, her manager arrived and she put me on hold, presumably to relay she was talking to a nut bag ready to have a meltdown!  But she didn't say that.  Instead she said a really good word called "ACTUALLY" followed by "we have two".  The last two had just been marked down and sent to the lower vestibule to be sold as floor samples.  They could not hold them.  I had to come now, pay and  pick them up before they closed.  YES! YES! and YES!

I left $20 and a note for my teenage son to buy dinner explaining that I had a "crisis" that couldn't wait.  And back I drove, in rush hour this time, in the same direction I had just come from an hour earlier.  I thanked everyone profusely and drove home...smiling all the way.  When my husband arrived home from Afghanistan(where he has been working as a civilian) for Christmas and saw the chairs, he smiled so broadly and said "finally".  I smile every time I walk into this room.  It was worth the wait.

So, if you hung in there for this story, tell me about something big or small that possessed you?        


  1. Beautiful chairs- I love this story- it does pay to wait until you can afford to get exactly what you want. I admire your restraint as I have a store room full of purchases that weren't quite what I was looking for but bought anyway.

  2. loved reading this Rebecca!

    What a good girl you were to wait so long!!!

  3. Love this post. Your chairs are beautiful and I hope you're all very happy together for many years to come. I can totally relate too. See my post about "Bailey":

    Thanks for visitng me today!

  4. Tracy,
    Thanks so much for the link. I loved your story! And, I am glad to know your "happily ever after" was not an 8 year saga! It was definately the right choice and I bet you are still thrilled with it!

  5. It is always worth the wait isnt it? Maybe the ones in france amy have fallen apart on the trip home...everything happens for a reason I think.
    Ness xx

  6. That sounds like me. I LOVE the chair, excellent story!

  7. Nail head trim is just such a classic. Against leather , fabulous!!

  8. Glad you persevered! Good for you!

  9. It is a beautiful chair! The colour of the leather is wonderful!

  10. Oh...I don't know what I love more...the story or the gorgeous chairs. What a feel good I tell ya!

    Hey...thanks for your input about the roman shade...I have played around with that too...not with much luck (as in figuring out which direction) I may have to play the tincture of time you did with the chairs!

    As an aside...My brother lives close to Williamsburg...on the a sailboat.

  11. Thanks for your great comment today! That's why I didn't say anything about word verification (at first) as I thought there are so many blogs how can we get them all on that one :)

  12. Great story, Rebecca! So glad you got your chairs.

  13. Newly married, I was once window shopping in Frederick, Maryland and saw a pair of AMAZING metal french garden screens that had funky welded concentric circles. I obsessed over them and their weathered green paint. They cost $1000 for the pair but might as well have been a million dollars. One day they were sold and gone. FIVE years later, I was in an antique place in Savage Mill near Baltimore and there were the same 2 screens. They were priced separately and I jumped at the chance. Somehow I talked them down to $400 for one and I treasure it, almost 15 years later.

  14. Anon. @7:40pm such a fantastic story! It seems to me they were yours all along, just waiting for the right time to come live out their happily ever after! Thanks for sharing.

    And many thanks to all who stopped by for a visit!

  15. Lordy it seems like I get obsessed with someone almost every week (just ask my husband!). Right now though I'm obsessed with finding the perfect wallpaper for my bathroom. There are a billion options, and several of them are wonderful, but I'm having trouble committing and saying "yes, you're the one". And so the quest continues....

  16. Great story...the chairs were MEANT for you and they are lovely leather!

  17. Just stumbled on your blog. Love the story of the chairs. I have learned over the years that if something strikes my heart that hard I move heaven and earth to buy it. If not it will haunt me forever. Luckily for my husband this doesn't happen to often or we would be out on the streets with my "loves" piled around us.

  18. Many, many thanks to everyone who stopped by to share a story or endure mine!

  19. Hi Rebecca,
    Would you believe I found your site after doing a frantic search for these chairs? I too, had been eyeing them at Crate n Barrel, but at over $1800, they were just out of my budget. When I saw one left, a sample chair, at a reduced price, I ran home to measure and check with hubby. Can we do it? Yes! Yes! Next morning, chair gone. Oh, the horrible feeling of regret. Would you mind telling me the manufacturer of the chair? Crate Barrel told me it was a new manufacturer that they had tried out but could not tell me more. I am now carrying around a bad polaroid of this chair in my purse with an ache in my stomach! Any help you could provide in my search would be so appreciated.

  20. Villaguna,
    I sent you an email, but I thought I should leave a note here too. Sadly, there is nothing on the chair that provides any information other than a care and cleaning tag. I feel terrible the chair got away. Sending you best wishes that another comes your way.

  21. Hi, What a wonderful story! Currently, I am obsessed with the color turquoise. After flirting with the idea for YEARS I have decided to paint my main spaces with the color. I have taken great pains to research rooms with this bold color to glean furniture, drapery, and accessory choices so it will NOT look like a job done by a professional novice. Turns out deciding on turquoise was the easy part! Turquoise has many hues and my newest obsession is finding just the right one! I smiled reading your story feeling good that I am not the only one (obsessed that is...)
    Thanks again and I love your blog.


  22. What a wonderful story Rebecca,

    I'm so glad you got these gorgeous 'Dunhill' chairs and how wonderful that your husband smiled when he saw them.

    Thanks for your lovely comment that you left me over the weekend. I am so happy to have also found your blog.

    xx Coty Farquhar

  23. I, too, have found this site by searching for these exact chairs! I have eyed these chairs for years in the catalog (I saved, forever ago). I fell in love with them the first time I saw them and wanted them so badly, but alas, money. Then a year and a half ago, I was visiting in Austin (I'm in TX) and we drove past a CB store. As I had never been in their storefront and had only eyed my wish list on paper, we went inside and they had one. It was just as comfortable as it was exquisite! I had dreamed about a pair of these for an english style library nook, but still could not come up with the dollars. Last year we moved (five hours away) with different jobs and are closer to being able to afford nice pieces like this. Today we had to be back in Austin to take my son to the doctor, and I told my husband since we were in the city, we had to go by CB so I could look again. Only I didn't see it, so I asked about it and she looked it up in the system. Discontinued! I was crushed. I still can't believe it. Story of my life, I'm afraid. I never seem to have the money until something I have dreamed about is already unavailable. So if anybody knows where esle there might be a pair of these beauties floating around, please, please, please drop me a line.


  24. I too was saving for two years to buy this chair. One thing after another I used some of the money for a crisis. I was all ready again and called the store only to find out they ere discontinued. I wrote a letter to CB to ask them to ask the company to bring them back, maybe for a limited time . If everyone sends a little email to CB they do tell the company about the requests. Does anyone know who the maker is? I have an empty spot that has been waiting years for this chair.

  25. Rebecca, I join you in your obsession for the Dunhill chair.

    The Dunhill is the perfect piece for my teenage son's English Hunt Club room, and would sit beside a CB computer armoir with fold-down desk on the inside door. Unfortunately, I've not been successful. I too let budget constraints stop me from purchasing it after seeing one at CB in Atlanta.

    However, since that time I've kept the full page CB catalog photo, and have since checked back with them to see if there were any available. Much to my disappointment I'm still on the search. Just today I spoke with a sales rep. at CB and was told the chair was made by Classic Leather. My search continues.

    CB, if your listening, please hear our plea to bring back this beautiful chair!!!


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