BATTLE OF THE MID CENTURY MODERN CHAIRS.

Glenfiddich has a bottle of whisky that sells for  $94,000 a bottle.  So obviously it isn’t the best you can buy.  It’s one of the best but not the best.  That’s assuming in the world of whisky you equate cost with quality.  In case you’re running out to pick up a few things this afternoon and you’re curious about it, it’s called Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, 1955 and even though you think it might, Walmart doesn’t carry it.

Apparently it has flavour notes of Orange blossom and violets folded into toasted almonds with a modicum of smoke. At $94,000 for a bottle of this Scottish whisky I’m going to leap, skip and jump to the assumption that it also comes with an orange grove, violet field, almond plantation,  castle containing several smokey fireplaces and of course … Sean Connery.  Even though he’s like 90.

I drink the odd bit of whisky but I don’t need to drink a $94,000 bottle of it.  I can’t afford the best and honestly, I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate it.  I’ll leave the best whiskys for those who are far superior drunks than I am.

I also don’t believe in buying the “best” when it comes to all my furniture, clothes or even my food.  My couch is a piece of crap, but it has half decent style and it’s lasted 10 years so far.  I buy 85% of my clothing in stores that have shopping carts (not something you typically see in Gucci or Chanel) but it all has good style.  I don’t buy high end milk, hipster protein bars and I like a lot of store brand products that are copies of originals.  Like store brand Windex, or fake Magic Erasers.  They’re half the price and work just fine for me.

But sometimes, the odd time, you really are better off buying something that is the best. The original.  You might not be able to buy it right away, you might have to save for it and make due for a decade, but eventually buying the best, the original, is the right decision.

What I’m about to tell you about, isn’t one of those times.

I’ve loved the iconic Eames lounge chair since I saw it sitting in Frasier’s apartment in 1993.

It’s an original.  The Eames chair is one of those classic Mid Century Modern pieces that every hipster seems to think they need to own (or at least a copy of it).  I also really like non-iconic Mid Century Modern chairs because they’re a little bit cheaper than the the most popular pieces and a bit less … I don’t know … desperate?

The problem is, those iconic pieces are usually iconic for a reason.  The womb chair for instance is supposed to be the most comfortable chair in the world.  But I’m so sick of looking at it in every magazine, commercial and blog I don’t think I want one.

 

And the Papa Bear chair is also an iconic original that’s supposed to be unbelievably comfortable, but it’s just too big for my space.  I’ve seen and sat in an original Papa Bear Chair and I even felt like the back was a little bit hard.

 

Funny eh?  The Papa Bear chair was just too hard.  And a lot of the other chairs I’ve seen just aren’t fitting the bill for some reason.

What I’m actually looking for is a chair to go in my living room beside my fireplace that won’t take up a huge amount of space, isn’t $5,000 and carries over some of the Mid Century Modern from my foyer into my living room. Which leads me back to the Eames Lounger.  Even though I like it, it has a footstool.  Even though I like it, it’s $5,000.

 

But, BUT this story gets even more interesting.  In the 60s’,  furniture company Plycraft started knocking off the Eames lounge chair.  In fact, their knock off designer, George Muhlhouser ended up making a name for himself with beautifully designed chairs of his own.  His Mr. Chair was every bit as beautiful as the more celebrated chairs of his contemporaries.

But again, to be truly comfortable it has to be used with its footstool which I just don’t have the room for.

 

All this obsessive research into chairs led me to this … the Plycraft knockoff of the Eames lounge chair as designed by George Muhlhouser.

It’s not quite as nicely proportioned as the Eames version. And the bent plywood shows the screws holding it together, as opposed to the Eames which has all hardware hidden.

But this copy has something that the original never had.  It’s a recliner.

It has a space saving, BUILT IN FOOTREST.

 

Which of course eliminates any need for a footstool, making this Eames copy in my opinion, better than the original.  For my purposes anyway.  It swivels, reclines and … reclines some more.

Muhlhouser also made a more straight forward knock off of the Eames chair that included a regular chair and traditional footstool but this version with the built in footstool is perfect.  For me.

So …

Feel free to keep your eye out for me.  I know a LOT of you did that when you knew I was looking for a tulip table but this … this is far more elusive than the tulip table because they’re much rarer.  The reason for that is this is a vintage knock off chair I’m looking for.  And believe it or not no one made a knock off of this knock off, so there are only the few originals that were made decades ago out there on the loose.  No one has manufactured it or copied it since the 70’s.

And even better, even though some high end sites like 1stDibs or Chairish sell it for over $1,000 when they get one, most people on Kijiji or Ebay sell them for around $450.

That allows money leftover to buy lots and lots of books for when I’m reclining in my reading chair with a glass of … a good, but not the best, bottle of whisky.

Have a good weekend!

 

 

70 Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Years ago we had the Eames leather lounger and footstool which at first glance was a wonderful chair. The problem was it had five feet (I guess you’d call them) and the stool had feet and by the time you had gotten between the chair and the footstool to sit down you had stubbed your toes viciously several times on the extremely sharp metal feet. If you moved the footstool to the side we still seemed to still mangle our toes on the chair. There was no competition for the chair and footstool during our divorce – we each hoped the other would continue to destroy their toes on the dreaded chair.

  2. Kelli says:

    Using the “Hive Mind” of the Internet to do your bidding? LOL I love it 🙂

    Yeah I chuckled about the Papa Bear Chair being too hard to!

  3. Paula says:

    I also went through a similar search (not as specific) for a comforting recliner that doesn’t look like a recliner. We decided to get a Stressless chair – rocks, tips, swivels and reclines 😉
    Btw I love your choice – your taste is pure style!

  4. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Hmmm. And here I was envisioning a classic leather club chair…………

  5. Centi says:

    A fine chair. I like the look of the leather.
    Good luck!

  6. Bobbles says:

    When my ex moved out, he demanded he would take the living room suite, that I had custom designed. I didn’t say anything but went straight out and bought 3 of the most delectable, black, glove leather recliner chairs…on his credit card. That’s been 14 years ago and I’ve been thinking they need to be replaced but they’re so comfortable, I’ve never found any that fit so well.

    In fact, several years ago my doctor suggested that I get a hospital type bed to sleep in. I have arthritis in my neck and shoulders. I commented that I wished I could find one as comfortable as my recliner and he suggested that I should sleep in my recliner, if it worked. I do. I moved One into my bedroom, made a washable slipcover for it and sleep like a baby!

    • Tiffany says:

      A perfect “get back” -you got the best out of that deal. I know a few folk who sleep in recliners and they agree…a good sleep and easy to get in and out. Well done, you!

  7. judy says:

    WOW! That is one gorgeous chair and i like the lounging Cat in the warm Sun soaking up the heat from that floor. So comfy and I am so tired and the dishwasher’s broken and guess I’ll try beating the pillow into submission again. Write on dear girl you are so interesting industrious -gosh I think I just got really really tired…..yawn…..

  8. Jennie Lee says:

    It’s a sad story. When I was a child, say 3-13 years old, we had Mid Century Modern furniture, Homer Laughlin dishes, and a few Asian accessories, all of which I would love to have, now. I do have the MCM/somewhat Art Deco bed and dresser, which I like, but after about 1966, Mom got rid of all the other cool stuff and got into all this fussy Victorian stuff I don’t like at all. 🙁 I hope you get your Dream Chair, Karen. It’s awesome.

  9. Ann R Eagerton says:

    I have one. Looking at it right now. But not sharing. EVER! Found upside down in my dad’s garage where it had probably sat like that for 30 years. He probably bought it when he lived in the John Hancock Building in Chicago in the early 70’s. With a little bit of cleaning it was back to its original splendor and function. Thanks for the article! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      You …. you … YOU HAVE MY CHAIR???? ~ karen!

      • Ann R Eagerton says:

        Perhaps with your great write up there will be others to surface and available! This one has done a bit of traveling in its day–Chicago, Miami, Columbus, Mississippi, Atlanta and soon off to Alaska! I’m selling/giving away most of my stuff before the move but this piece is going with me. 🙂

      • Héctor Contreras says:

        And with those very simple words the image of Karen suddenly turned a violent shade of purple, veins about to pop and a twitch in her eye will be forever engraved in my mind

  10. Mary W says:

    It would look wonderful in your home. Got to say that cat picture hopefully earned the photographer a nice paycheck. I don’t care for this style (legs are way too skinny for the luxurious upper parts – like a Mia Farrow body with Dolly Pardon boobs) but this picture oozes comfort and shows no signs of cat hair balls. I’m searching for a lounger that doesn’t have a high, curved pillow head rest. They make me feel like I’m sitting inside an egg shell and when I rest, I don’t want my head smashed down on my chest. Maybe cause my body is 5’3″ or whatever, they just look like torture to me. Give me a danish modern, sturdy, flat back that I can actually get out of by myself and don’t feel like Laugh-In’s Carol Anne (?) in the rocking chair. Miss that politically incorrect show. But I have you which is even better!

    • Deb J. says:

      Edith Anne I think. Loved her 😄

      • Mary W says:

        YES! Edith Anne. Was it a porch swing or rocking chair?

        • Deb J. says:

          Great big rocking chair. Lily Tomlin – who is excellent. Remember one ringy dingy? Her telephone operator. But I can’t remember her name

          • Mary W says:

            She snorted when she laughed and was constantly pulling up her bra strap – yes, I loved her too! I don’t know if she even had a name. Lily Tomlin was one of a kind and very much missed!

          • Mary W says:

            Oh my – I think Carol Ann was the little girl that was haunted. I didn’t see the movie cause I don’t like to be afraid – too much stress. Ernestine, thanks, how could I forget that name? Now I’m about to really show my uncool rural self – I thought it was Jane Fonda and I thought she was dead. She caused me to pop internal stitches when I was given the all clear after surgery and tried her exercise video. Bigly mistake, so sad. I hate politics.

  11. Teri says:

    I thought scotch was ‘whisky’ and rye was ‘whiskey’…
    Great looking chair. Looks like it could be comfortable for people with smaller frames, i.e. women. Most recliners make me feel lost and vaguely like I’m lacking a cigar and a nice single malt. Except I couldn’t hold them because I would be too busy holding onto the arms of the chair to keep from disappearing into it ala Alice in Wondeland.
    Comments not necessarily in order of importance…
    Teri

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      U r right about Scotch Whisky. The way I remember which way to spell it, short of checking the bottle, the Scots are a thrifty folk and don’t waste their letters!

  12. dana says:

    That Papa Bear Chair (?) looks like it’s asking for a hug. 🙂 These chairs are pretty cool looking. They look like art. Hope you find what you’re looking for, Karen. By the way, have you seen the crocheted apron for collecting eggs? It has an individual pocket for each egg. Lol! Thought of you when I saw it.

    • Karen says:

      I have. And I’ve told every person who sent the pattern to me that there are lot of things I would do for my chickens, but wearing crochet is NOT one of them, lol. ~ karen!

  13. Screw the chair, I want the rocket pictured in that mid-century living room!

    • Marc Menard says:

      Not so sure it’s a rocket, AWESOMESAUCINESS. More like a WWII era bomb… Painted to look pretty but…

  14. Susan says:

    I myself am partial to Mr. Chair. As in, ‘Excuse me Mr. Chair. Do you mind if I sit here? Why Mr. Chair! Is that a remote in your lap, or are you just happy to see me? Oh, that’s actually a remote. My apologies Mr. Chair!’

  15. Barb says:

    Ah the hunt… the fun part. I scored some MCM chairs as they were being put on the curb. Jammed 3 into the hatch back and took off! That’s the best kind of hunt.

    I’ll keep an eye on the curb for you!

    http://www.madebybarb.com/2016/08/31/mid-century-modern-thriftstore-makeovers-part-2-the-chairs/

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Barb. And good score! ~ karen

    • Ei Con says:

      Great job on those chairs in your link, Barb. Congrats. But as a fellow curb-chair-reupolsterer, I can highly recommend asking Santa for an air powered staple gun. I had found two gorgeous oak and horsehair slipper chairs and the electric gun just couldn’t handle the dense wood. You’ll never regret it. I got my mini air compressor for $15 at an estate sale. Cheers!

  16. Meredith says:

    Good luck on your search. Finding a comfortable stylish chair that you can recline is super hard. I also am on the hunt for something smallish, don’t want an ottoman, but want something that reclines. I used to hate recliners from a design sensibility. Then my husband hauled one home that had a heated seat and a massager. That chair has saved us soooo many times with back injuries. And is the perfect sick day chair. As I get on in years, I recognize the value of a recliner.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I have been following your blog, your life, your home for a couple of years now. All this time I have thought, she is a pretty cool chic. She is a DYI’er, raises chickens, has good hair, watches great tv and reads interesting books. The only thing that could make this chick even more cool was if you had an appreciation for mid-century modern. Queue, Tulip. I was like WHAT! OMG, she really is the most cool chick I know, but dont really know. Then you drag the most beautiful teak bullet lamps from your basement! Seriously, from your basement? And more seriously, $6?? I was so unbelievably excited, I told my husband – well that Canadian chic (he knows exactly who Im talking about, btw), yeah she is definitely much cooler now.
    I LOVE mid century pieces, love the whole era. I’m pretty sure I would have been quite happy being born in the 30’s just so I could have sat my ass on the originals we scour to find and purchase 60 some years later.
    Oh, I would really like to help you with your search for the chair, however I spent my entire night searching for your damn lamps, because it was love at first sight. Which I did not find. I did however find a similar pair for $600, that’s like what you paid but with 2 zeros at the end.

    Cheers my friend!

    P.s. I kidding about not helping you with your search. I already looked on Let it go and 5 miles. No luck, but I will keep you posted. 🙂

  18. OMG, I have a George Muhlhouser “Mr. Chair” in yellow along with the ottoman that I bought in 1967! It’s the only prized piece of furniture I acquired during that era that still lives with me. It was also bought to fit next to a fireplace. I now live with French Country, oak antiques, books and lots of china. My much loved GM chair now resides in a very large studio with 3 looms, sewing machines, books, rug hooking frames, tables, floor easels and 3 super large Palladian windows! It looks right at home. I will never part with that chair! BTW, it is comfortable to sit in without the ottoman so don’t shy away from a good buy on one because it doesn’t have the ottoman. If you happen to get lucky and find one with the ottoman then think about where you can use the ottoman someplace else in your home! Good luck.

  19. Let me know if you get more offers than you can handle, I LOVE that chair and may be interested in taking an extra off your hands. 😉

  20. Karen says:

    https://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/fuo/6020448010.html

    Karen, please ck this link. There are also a few others! Unsure just how you would get it! But maybe you have craigslits.org where you live? I was suprised at what my search found!
    good luck hunting……….its the hunt that is just as much fun as the find!

    Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen. Thanks! That’s a bit more colonial than what I’m looking for but I have indeed added a Craigslist search for my Mid Century Modern Plycraft chair since seeing your post. Thanks again … ~ karen!

  21. Alena says:

    I didn’t even know there was a knockoff that comes as a recliner. Even better!!! Good luck with the hunt!

  22. Arlene Stopps says:

    I saw a chair at Millionaire’s Daughter and actually took a picture of it for you. I showed it to pink tool belt. And she said you would have loved it. I was too embarrassed to send it to you. I think it’s great to have scouts out the for you! Good luck!!

  23. attygreen13 says:

    I have this chair! In black, in great condition (just had it re-upholstered). You can’t have it, but I will confirm that it is comfy as hell. A bit wider than the version that doesn’t recline, but so awesome. I’d never seen one before when i ran into ours and forked over the $500 or so for it, plus another several hundred to recover, but it’s great and totally worth it. Good luck on your search, Karen! I’ll keep an eye out in Texas for another, in case you’re in the shipping mood 😉

    • Karen says:

      Lucky you! And you know I actually don’t think it would be a lot of money to ship it on a bus. I’d totally do that if I found the right one. I would just have it shipped to Niagara Falls and drive over and pick it up. 🙂 ~ karen!

  24. Tracy Gaydos says:

    I don’t have that one but I have 2 other plycraft leather chairs- one small, one large. Would you like to see them?

  25. Charlene says:

    Once you find your chair, may I recommend a bottle of Angel’s Envy. It is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in port wine barrels. Smooth. Even has angel wings engraved on the back of the bottle.

    Smooth….like your website. Working great on my iPad now. Thanks so much!!!!

  26. Barb says:

    Just a thought, I’m sure you know the place, but in case you don’t… Antique Avenue (Ottawa Street) they sometimes have the ‘craziest’ MCM pieces in their collection. They could keep an eye out for you. It’s always a fun trip down ‘memory lane’ in there!

  27. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Hey KB, have you read this? Just found it and made me think there’s still hope for you!

    http://www.desertdomicile.com/2015/08/plycraft-eames-lounge-chair.html

    • Karen says:

      Yes, lol. Didn’t you recognize the pictures from that particular blog on my site? I link to it in my own post. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Doh. 🙄

        and on a different note, any idea why my name and email addy no longer automatically appear when I reply? No biggie, just have to enter them every time . . .

  28. Oriah says:

    Good luck on your chair hunting challenge. Somehow, vintage MCM chairs just “come to me.” I picked up what i believe to be an authentic Eames lounge chair and ottoman for $65. One button was missing off each piece. I found them in a barn. Dust was included in the purchase price. I also found a vintage Joseph Hoffman bentwood & cane chair with arm rests for $10. Unfortunately i now want at least 3 more. But my favorite score was a matched pair of club chairs with external oak frames for $60.

    I will keep any eye out for this chair for you. I have a way with seating…..

  29. Magali says:

    I love mid-century chairs SO much!
    One of my friends used to live in a fancy loft and she found a classic Eames chair by the garbage container one day! No need to say that she snatched it up!

    • Karen says:

      I saw those the other day Gail!! The one is in great shape the other one, not so much, lol. Great colour too. ~ karen!

  30. Carrollyn d Navarro says:

    I think I may have found your chair!! But you must hurry!!Mid Century Modern Lounge Chair with Ottoman
    THURSDAY, MARCH 30TH 2017 @ 7:30PM EDT

    10 HOURS LEFT
    Mid Century Modern Lounge Chair with OttomanArrow left lightArrow right light 1 / 10
    ITEM DETAILS

    A Mid Century Modern lounge chair with ottoman. This pair features espresso colored leather cushions with button tufting, fixed to maple finished wood bases. The headrest is elevated on chrome toned rods, above the backrest. The seat has raised sides, with padded armrests attached. The chair stands on a metal base with four chrome toned legs forming an “X”. The ottoman repeats the look, with a button tufted cushion, maple finish base, and chrome finish legs forming an “X”.

    Please note, this is an item that may be especially difficult to move and/or transport. Unless shipping arrangements are available and made by the winning bidder, that individual is responsible for, and advised to bring, appropriate assistance, vehicle, and any necessary tools to pickup.
    VIEW TERMS & CONDITIONS

    CONDITION

    Fair

    – significant wear to leather, scuffs, frame has a few scratches and rust, button missing from footstool upholstery, chair missing a foot.

    DIMENSIONS

    32.0″ W x 36.0″ H x 23.0″ D

    – measured chair.

    ITEM #

    16CLT095-496

    CATEGORIES

    CHAIRS FURNITURE OTTOMANS, FOOTSTOOLS, AND POUFS
    CURRENT BID:
    $230
    PLACE BID
    32 BIDS (VIEW HISTORY)
    LEARN ABOUT BIDDING
    ITEM LOCATION: BLUE ASH, OH

    SHIPPED TO 22553
    $150.45
    PICK IT UP
    FREE

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Carrollyn, but you didn’t tell me where the auction was, lol. So I didn’t know where to search for it online. Thank you so much though! ~ karen

    • Carrollyn says:

      Last time I cut and paste. The site is EBTH as in Everything But The House.

  31. Ei Con says:

    Saw one on eBay today. They’re asking more than your price but they’ve got no bids either. Maybe you can negotiate. http://www.ebay.com/ulk/itm/182531461384

    • Karen says:

      Ha! That guy saw my plea for one and emailed me giving me first dibs on that chair a couple of weeks ago. I thanked him but told him it was WAY overpriced for the condition it was in and the two tone was going to be a hard sell. He was trying to sell it to me for $1,500!!! As if. ~ karen!

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