Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Home Is Where You Put Your Elbows

The Divine Italian is desperate for armchairs in the dining room. I have promised him two, one at each end. I am currently out of love with matching sets and the idea of having different chairs around the same table completely appeals to me. A successful dinner party hinges on a scintillating mix of personalities; in my view, the chairs you sit in should be granted the same privilege.

To be able to read the newspaper with your elbows decadently resting on the sides of an armchair instead of dangling in mid-air is one of life's sweet luxuries. It's one of those things you never count as important until you have to do without it. 
In my dining room, the horseshoe chair flanks one side of the table...

...and the ikat bench has pride of place in the other (it's promoted from the foyer during dinner parties).
The two armchairs which I have yet to find will replace the woven leather ones in the above photo.

I love these leather peacock-blue ones from Cecconi's in West Hollywood because they're exceedingly comfortable, not overly large and their low profile means they don't take up much space. 
(photo via Cecconi's website)

These upholstered tub chairs (in background) from the Covent Garden Hotel in London would also work. During my last visit there, I was so content sitting in one that I kept prolonging the lunch by ordering more refreshments so we wouldn't have to leave. 
(Covent Garden Hotel, London, 2008)

Dainty little things, aren't they? And look, they're ever so slightly knock-kneed which makes me adore them all the more.
(Covent Garden Hotel, 2008)

Armchair: A snug refuge, an invitation to lassitude, a rest stop for weary triceps. 

The search continues.


Caro said...

At brekky, when I have no thought of manners or consideration, I will plonk them right on the table, one arm folded across the bottom of the newspaper, or book, with my plate pushed off to the left. I am not a morning person. I become a little less yobbish as the day continues.

With regard to mis-matched dining, my dinnerware is white, white, white - which compared to a dear friend is very boring. Her table is always set with an eclectic mix of plates and glasses, odds and sods, that along with untidy bunches of flowers, plonked in jugs or steins as often as vases, is somehow sooo incredibly inviting. I'm quite jealous. You're right about arms - essential, particulary at brekky.

Jane said...

I agree that at breakfast when you are still dreamy armchairs can be great. I think they are also brilliant for reading the paper. But I am not sure about at any other meal. I think people should be propped up neatly with a straigh back(or is that just my upbringing talking), no seriously I think it can be quite uncomfortable to use cutlery with armchairs - the arms need to be really low - and the height v arms is quite critical. Lord so much to take into account. But the restaurant idea is quite good - find one you have eaten in which comforts then ask them for their supplier.

pve design said...

You always do your homework in the best places.
I would love that flowery tub chair at a vanity table for slathering on good moisturizer.
I think a man does need a good armchair, now I shall never look at another arm chair quite the same way.

amber darling said...

I completely agree with you about the pleasure of dining chairs with arm rests. A comfy chair encourages guests to linger longer...and seems to put them at ease.

The 1950's French highbacked dining chairs I once loved are so hard and straight-backed and formal. No-one enjoys them. They look lovely, with their elegant tapered legs which kick out as if the chairs are on tippy-toes. But what's the point of that?

Love your dark, moody dining room. Cheers to you and your thoughtful home!

Rocio said...

Chatting during and after meal times - what in Spain is called "sobremesa" - is one of the little pleasures in life. To enjoy it to the fullest, I believe a comfy spot is required.
I hate those lovely looking chairs that make your meal an ordeal rather than a joy. I agree with your Divine Italian: armchairs please !!! - I have a couple at our table. Perfect for hours of non-stop chatter.

Ahhh, love those flowery ones, they look utterly inviting.

Kalee said...

I really love your combo of the horseshoe chair and the bench- fantastic! Good luck with the armchairs!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I love a dining table where you can linger comfortably. I've always had a dream of a cozy round table surrounded by big old english armchairs - like an old-school men's club. However, I'm loving all over those blue armchairs from cecconi!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Caro: What a delightful description of your morning routine and your friend's table tastes!

Jane: I hear you on the armchair/cutlery situation. Height vs. arms is indeed critical. Notice that only Papa and Mama Bear will be sitting in armchairs; our guests will be going armless. :)

PVE: That flowery tub chair...I still have dreams about it!

Amber Darling (lovely moniker, by the way): Your chairs DO sound lovely, though, and see "Jane's" point -- perhaps your dinner conversations remain intelligent and pointed...armchair conversations do tend to spiral into degeneracy at some point (although that's usually when things get fun). Yes, my dining room is moody. In the mornings it always seems slightly hungover and I adopt a soft soothing tone so as not to disturb it. :)

Henry: I will check out that link directly. Thank you ever so much!

Rocio: First you identify my heraldic crests and now you introduce an incredible word like "sobremesa" into the mix. I am adding it to my vocabulary forthwith. I grew up in a home where there was NO lingering after meals; I still can't get over how luscious and louche it feels to just sit and talk amid the remains of a much-enjoyed meal.

Consummate Hostess: Buy what you love and they will innately work together.

Architect: My fancy friend Max used to have eight antique leather wing chairs surrounded by a Zuber wallpaper mural in his "Gosford Park-ish" kitchen. I basically fell to my knees every time I saw it.
And you HAVE to go to Cecconi's if you come to LA. It's seriously seriously chic, in the most old-school, relaxed, delightful way.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Lisa, I havne't been to LA in a few years. I have stayed in Weho but never heard of Cecconi -it's on the list!
That kitchen sounds DIVINE -anything remotely relatable to gosford park is OK in my book :-)

JamaGenie said...

I've never heard chairs called "knock-kneed", but those flowered tub chairs certainly are. And absolutely adorable, plus you say quite comfy. What's not to like???

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Good morning Lisa-

You are very astute to look at restaurant chairs for inspiration. They have to be comfortable and chic and they have to work. Today they are also stylish, not industrial-style.

Happy days,

Laura said...

I love the idea of the armchairs, but I find that when I have to sit in one at a table and enjoy anything other than a cup of tea and a light snack it is difficult to sit up straight enough to ingest my food appropriately! Excellent idea to do a test run in a restaurant, and I vote for those blue leather die!

Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

I believe you could persuade me to buy a bucket of weeds - your so good at making anything sound desirable! Now, I need to find an armchair so life at the table can be even more indulgent!

Pimm's and Lemonade said...

Zuber wallpaper. Sigh. Ditto for de Gournay.

All our dining room chairs have arms since I thought it was kinda rude for us to be the only comfortable ones. However they are getting boring and I love the mixy matchy idea. And I double adore that horseshoe chair and its fluffy friend.

Unknown said...

That definition of armchair is simply perfect! The armchairs from Covent Garden Hotel are so pretty and sweet. I love the bench you use for dinner parties. I like a bench at the dinner table but the problem is no arms - maybe a small loveseat instead! I've always been partial to mismatched chairs around the dinnertable, even if it's only the needlepoint seats that are different!

Enjoy the search. I cannot wait to see the armchairs you choose!


Chairloom said...

My love of chairs can be seen at I can"t wait to see what you find for your dining room.

Anonymous said...

I love your horseshoe chair and the Covent Garden hotel's chairs look perfect too, just right for leisurely lunches like yours or late suppers and lots of laughter.

Scott Fazzini said...

Firstly, your dining room is perfect the way that it is. I'm probably going to have dreams of that horseshoe chair tonight... But, if new chairs are to be introduced my vote is for the lovely little knock-kneed beauties!

krys kirkpatrick said...

Lady Birley, a lovely character. I love that she sees flowers as important as a person or a pet. Quite evolved in her thinking as we are all one. Beautiful.


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