Have you ever walked into a room and fallen in love with a chair? I cannot begin to count the number of times that I have gone to someone’s home, to a shop or restaurant and been drawn to a piece of furniture. It is like the chair is pulling me in, I am drawn to it like a bug to the zapper. The beautiful wood work, the old upholstery, where did it come from? I need to know. So what do I do?
“Excuse me, but I am obsessed with this chair, where did you get it?”
The answer? “I made it.”
“WHAT?!” What kind of sorcery was this woman using that she could make a beautiful chair like this? I asked her the secret and she told me, “I just repurposed an old one my mother had.”
Oh. Well, this changes everything. The first thing I did was call my mother and ask for an old chair. (Of course, she did not have one.) So my next step was to find one on my own. As every good Iowa girl knows, (or should know) when you need something new you go to the mall, but when you need something old, you go to Walnut.
There I was in the heart of Antique City, old-timey music was playing (literally) as I came in and out of every shop on the street. The stores ranged from antique items I could recognize from my grandparent’s houses, to repurposed gardening items. They even had homemade candles! Some places, (many actually), had wonderful chairs-- even some that came repurposed. But none of them were "the chair".
Just as I was ready to call it quits and ultimately indulge in a food coma from all of the delicious cakes at Roberts Bakery Treats and Treasures, I tried one more place, the Antique Mall Barn. Three floors and 34 vendors in this glorious 18th-century barn? Yes, please.
I scoured this barn high and low. First floor and not a single chair to be found (many beautiful tables though-- next project). Feeling defeated, I dragged my feet forward. The second floor had just as much as the first, but still, I couldn’t find the chair. I was about to head back downstairs, when out of the corner of my eye I saw what appeared to be the back of a wooden throne.
I couldn’t help myself, I was practically running up the stairs at this point. There it was. A seat lover’s heaven. I had never seen so many chairs of different kinds in one room before. They were all unique, and all beautiful in their own way. It was like they had lived and seen things that no one else ever had. They had a story.
I had triumphantly found a chair to repurpose. It had old wood that would take paint easily and the upholstery looked as though it had seen better days. It was perfect.
As I got ready to leave Antique City, I thought of all of the things I had seen that day. There were rooms of Christmas decorations, collector’s items, and objects that brought back pleasant memories from my childhood. I want to thank Walnut for the perfect day spent in days gone by, and of course for the chair.
For more information about Walnut Iowa and its many, many lovely shops visit TravelIowa.com.