Chair-y on Top

About six years ago, I was visiting my then-boyfriend/now-husband in his college town, a small, rural city just south of Fort Worth. He had just moved into a rental house with a couple of his football teammates, and they needed furniture. There happened to be an estate sale in his neighborhood, so we popped in. An elderly couple had lived in the home since the 1950s, and it was like a perfectly preserved time capsule. I was totally in heaven! (All of Scott's teammates/roommates who joined us at the estate sale thought I was crazy for liking this "old junk," if I remember correctly. I've never been one to care what other people think about my shopping habits...)

An hour later we emerged with the motherload of all thrifting hauls – two sofas ($10/each), an accent chair ($5), a pool table ($25), a vintage rifle ($100, a gift for Scott's dad), a box full of art supplies (free) and a full set of vintage encyclopedias (free).

It was one of my first experiences with what I like to call "thrifter's high." It was amazing.

Yes, we did ask the offensive line to come over and help us move the pool table – perks of dating a quarterback! The two sofas went into the new "football house," so you can imagine what those poor pieces of furniture went through for the next couple of years. But I kept the accent chair for myself because I was madly in love with it.

At this point in my life I was still a fresh-out-of-college rookie who lived in an apartment and wasn't nearly as into decorating and home decor as I am today. I did, however, read Domino magazine religiously, and I instantly recognized the shape of my new chair from an image in the magazine:

My new chair was pretty much identical to that one except for the upholstery. This photo from a few years ago isn't the best quality, but you can see what I mean about the structure being the same as the Domino beauty. The seat and arms were a little worn out, but the rest was in pristine condition.

I've held onto this chair for more than six years now because it holds a special spot in my heart. No one forgets their first amazing thrifting purchase. I'm sentimental about that stuff!

A couple years ago we had slipcovers made for the chair because the dogs basically lived in this thing. It sits low to the ground and they loved to snuggle up in it.

I found these photos from random old blog posts, but they show the slipcover situation pretty well.

Anyway, I was taking the slipcover off the chair to wash it this past weekend and realized that the original vintage upholstery matched the room perfectly now that we had the deep teal table and green accents! I've had the slipcover on for so long that I forgot about the fact that we have a new house now with a different color scheme. Then I decided to wash the original vintage upholstery to see if I could "spiff up" the worn out seat cushion a little bit.

Anyway, I was messing with the cushion when I absentmindedly read the label underneath. Then I did a double take. Did my chair's label really say "Designs by Milo Baughman?!"

I felt like a giddy little school girl! I'm a big Milo Baughman fan; I always search his name on Craigslist and look for his style of furniture every time I go to the flea market and thrift store. I cannot BELIEVE I have had a Milo Baughman chair in my house for 6 years and never knew it!

I wanted to understand his background a little bit more and his relationship to James Inc., so I did some online research. Another famous furniture maker from that era, Thayer Coggin, was the only major furniture company that appreciated Milo Baughman's modern, forwarding-thinking designs during that era. Baughman and Coggin formed a furniture partnership that would last from 1953 to 2003, when Baughman passed away. They became hugely successful and are considered some of the top furniture makers from that century.After Baughman's passing, Thayer Coggin, Inc. formed an agreement with Baughman's estate to forever own and produce Baughman's designs. You can read all of this on the Thayer Coggin website, where you can still order custom Baughman pieces.

Check out this awesome brochure Thayer Coggin, Inc. created to celebrate Baughman's work. You can see the full scope of his creativity in one brochure!

A quick internet search found my exact chair (different upholstery) selling for a mere $2,400 on 1stDibs.com.  Um, hello! When reupholstered, it runs for about $4,325. Not bad I guess...

I haven't found one with the same unique upholstery, though. That's part of what I love about it!

Right now it's sitting in my studio/home office, which is undergoing a bit of an organizational makeover. I'm pretty excited to share some of the really fun DIY projects we've done in there, but they aren't quite finished yet. Right now I'm the master of being almost finished... Not good!

What's the moral of the story here, folks? Always check your labels when you buy vintage furniture. You never know what treasures you might have found. Check the label; google the designer; count your lucky stars if you found something good!

It's the thrill of the hunt  – thrifter's high! – that keeps us all coming back for more, am I right?

As for the chair, I have now banned the dogs from sitting on it. It's no longer an old $5 chair that just holds sentimental value; it's an old, $5 chair that holds literal, monetary value. It's part of American furniture history. Trust me, I'm going to take much better care of it from now on!

Best Blog Tips