Pardon My French, But Je Suis Chéfrugal

Bonjour mes amis!

About a month ago, I found myself on Craigslist, the most popular, online thrift store, perusing the For Sale ads.  Usually I’m on the hunt for things that I need (or think I need) and don’t want to pay full price for. (Who pays full price for things in this economy anyway?) Because I have a gift for negotiating and convincing sellers that getting half of their asking price is beneficial to everyone involved, it’s very easy for me to find bargains.  That particular day, I searched for antique chairs, specifically Queen Anne, wing back chairs.  I had seen a gorgeous wing back chair online  and I thought it would add a nice vintage modern touch of design to my living room or office.  However, when I saw the comma in the price, I knew it was not the chair for me.  Even though, I liked it, there was no way, I’d be spending a comma amount of money on a chair.  I mean, really?!?!?!  For that much, I could invest in a new piece or two of camera equipment and write it off.

Being chéfrugal (pronounced shayfroo-gull.  A French word I made up that means cheap and frugal.) I began to brainstorm and I thought surely I can find a similar chair for a whole lot less and perhaps add a bit more customization to it.  Sifting the listings my eyes came across this ad: “Vintage set of wing back, striped chairs – $100” and I quickly clicked the link.  The description stated the chairs were 40 years old, dirty and well worn, but they were functional and the wood was still in great shape.  They really just needed a new life, a new look.  I quickly replied to the ad.  Quite often on Craigslist, the early buyer gets the sale, so it’s good to be quick!  Asking price $100, I offered $50, they sold for $60 or $30 each.  Score!

A friend and I picked them up and hightailed the chairs straight to my upholstery guy, even though at that time, I had no clue what I was going to do with them.  Whatever I did, I knew it was going to be fabulous, and each chair was going to be different.  Luckily, my upholstery guy was okay with me taking a few days to figure out my design game plan.  I got on my smart phone and started searching for local fabric stores.  I needed to find a fabric that suited my style.  Not just any fabric though, I imagined something with international appeal.  My mind immediately drifted to Paris.  Since I had an awesome vacation there a year ago, and I took several photos, my inspiration came from there.

I was on a mission to find a French print that was awesome but versatile!  I wanted a fabric that would work with several design styles, wasn’t seasonal nor too feminine, yet still very chic.  Then I found it!  A black and off white Parisian postal print (say that 5 times quickly) that looked like stamps from old mail.  It was enough for one chair, and would buy me some time to decide what style I wanted for the other chair.

Here’s a before and after:

Before and After Paris Chair-hr

And a closer look:

The great thing about this chair is it looks great by itself or I can add a bright colored pillow and incorporate it in several interior designs.  With a little bit of seeking, bargaining and inspiration, as well as having a talented upholstery guy, I got a brand new, one of a kind, vintage Queen Anne chair.  The best part: there was not one comma in the price!