The Occasional Chair

The Occasional Chair. It might not be grand or scream for attention, but its very presence can make a mighty statement within a room. Known for coming to the rescue in adding that defined detail to completing a space, the occasional chair is the "wing man" every homeowner should want to have.  There are so many types of occasional chairs, we wanted to know which ones were the best. We're delighted to have Kathryn Dixon from Kathryn Dixon Interiors educate us on this important piece of furniture and share her favorites with us today! BACKGROUND:  Kathryn Dixon has studied at the New England School of Art and Design as well as the New York School of Interior Design. She has practiced interior design both in Connecticut and California, before finally settling down in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she resides today.  Kathryn's style is classic with a fresh, youthful approach.

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The Occasional Chair...

Don’t underestimate the power of an occasional chair. For a relatively small, transportable piece of furniture comprised of four legs, a seat and a back, the occasional chair can be a powerful design tool. It is easy to employ and can truly transform a space. At first glance, it would seem a chair may simply "stand" in a room. However, depending on it’s style or it’s placement within the home, a chair doesn't merely stand, it "speaks". A well-chosen and well placed chair can "say" many things. For example, an antique French bergere with a worn painted patina placed in a foyer, might say, “welcome”. While a cozy upholstered slipper chair placed fireside, can beckon one to sit and relax after a long day. About 15 years ago, as a student at the New York School of Interior Design, I studied the history of furniture.  It was fascinating to learn how the curve of the leg of a chair, its embellishments, carvings, and the type of wood used in its construction, can tell us its history. These details and more can reveal the country of origin, the era, the class of person who might have owned it, and its purpose. When I look at an antique or vintage chair, I can’t help but wonder who that person might have been, when and where they lived, the clothes they wore, the company they kept, of course the home in which they dwelled. You've heard the expression " an eye to the window of the soul". One could venture to say, a chair is like an eye to the window of a home, and a certain time and place. Even the most avant guard new designs of today most often take from the past and are reinterpreted in new forms, materials and expressions. A wonderful example of this and one of my favorite chairs is the Nierman Weeks Elgin Major Arm Chair, which is a version of the klismos chair. The Klismos chair was a type of ancient Greek chair from the 5th century BC. It was characterized by curved, tapered legs- one that sweeps forward and one back. It is just beautiful in form and perfect in proportion, really quite sculptural. With its graceful lines, I feel its best suited in a more formal, entertaining space. I would place this arm chair as a pair flanking a buffet in a dining room or as a pull up chair in a living room. As an Interior Designer, I am exposed to many new ideas, fabrics, furnishings day after day, year and year. As a result, my taste is constantly evolving. There are a select few pieces that I still love today that I did 15 years ago when I started in the business. The Loop Back Chair by Frances Elkins has been a long time favorite. Originally designed by Frances Elkins in the 1950’s, it has been reproduced and reinterpreted beautifully by many of today’s furniture designers. It is a high style piece that I would use to make a statement or to add a bit of whimsy to a space. It would be perfect for a foyer, at a writing desk or seating in a dining area. We placed one here at a writing desk in a master bedroom on a project in LA several years back. In the April 2013 Issue of Veranda magazine, Miles Redd features the “Hoop Back Chair” by Century Furniture in a chic and whimsical breakfast room complete with upholstered walls and a tented ceiling in a sky blue and cream stripe fabric. Another of my favorite chairs that I find to be charming and unique is the Anna Side Chair by Julie Chichester. This piece is great looking from the front and back, with its upholstered quatrefoil medallion on the back and pretty cream glazed finish. It is perfect for a space that requires a chair that will be viewed from the back, like at a writing desk. It also has a very sturdy leg so would function very well in dining area. I used it below at a lady’s writing desk in her master bedroom. The quatrefoil shape has a feminine air to it and overall it provides great form and function. Another wonderful chair, and versatile chair is the slipper chair. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a slipper chair is "an armless upholstered chair with short legs”. Slipper chairs were originally used in the bedroom and this remains a relevant place for use today. I’ll often place a slipper chair, like this one below from Lee Jofa in a master bedroom or bath as a place to sit down and take off a pair of shoes, drape a robe or a stack a set of bath towels. Slipper chairs are very versatile. I often use them in living rooms or family rooms where the space is tight and doesn’t accommodate a pair of club chairs or simply where a more tailored looking chair looks best. Below I used a pair of slipper chairs flanking a fireplace for extra seating while entertaining. This particular slipper chair is by Baker, it is great quality and has been recovered several times over the past 10 years. Currently, it is upholstered in a Brunschwig & Fils linen zebra print, which gives it a fresh youthful look. When putting together your next space, don’t overlook the opportunity of incorporating a well-chosen and well placed chair. In my opinion, a chair brings “more to the table “ than seating. It brings function, form, history and style to a room.

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KATHRYN DIXON INTERIORS

www.kathryndixoninteriors.com

kd@kathryndixoninteriors.com

Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/kathryndixon/

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Charlotte Interior Design Blog

(Images:  1-www.cdn.homedit.com;  2-Niermann Weeks.com; 3-cotedetexas.com; 4-Kathryn Dixon Interiors; 5-Veranda; 6-9-Kathryn Dixon Interiors)