Moving from an apartment under 800 square feet to a colonial that's just over 2100 square feet, we were definitely lacking furniture. With money being what it is... scarce.... purchasing a brand new dining room set was not on the list of "Things to Do." However, Christmas was coming and my wife wanted to have a formal style dinner, at a table (not that a coffee TABLE isn't, so I thought), with her parents present.
I would hate to purchase a temporary set only to buy another grand set a few years later... not only is money wasted on the temporary set, but time is later wasted on getting rid of it. Purchasing a brand new reproduction set of high quality is certainly out of the question. Money would be better spent on other items for the home.
Our solution? Craigslist.org. Yep, used furniture. We've managed to purchase and sell several things on the site: old furniture, old car, new car, baby clothing, etc. So, for a week, my wife and I perused the various listings finding mainly the crap other people are trying to get rid of. I say crap because most of it is a bargain bin special: beaten up, poor quality, or just flat out "f-ugly". On occasion, the quality products are there, and the owners know it with their asking price reflecting it.
We came across this one set that the seller described as a Windsor Chair Set, two end chairs, four side chairs and a trestle style tavern drop leaf table. My ears perked, I love the style of the Windsor, it reminds me of the stereotypical 18th century dining room. I called the gentleman and arranged for a viewing. His asking price was $1,000 (firm, he had already come down from $1,500).
|L.E. Partridge branding on the bottom of each chair.|
After studying numerous pieces of furniture, both online and at a reproduction store, I feel I am able to tell the difference between hand made and everything else. The little details of imperfection give proof of the hand of man. I couldn't help but question the owner of his claim of the set being hand made. You really cannot trust everything you read online. When I saw the set in person, I knew it was the Real McCoy! The seller told me his wife's family purchased the set new sixty-four years prior. Handcrafted circa 1958, these six chairs were made by L.E. Partridge, a reproduction chair maker from the mid-20th century in Connecticut who inspired the founder of the D.R. Dimes Company.
Wait, D.R. Dimes saw L.E. Partridge's work and said, "I have to build that!"? Now that's saying something.
|The little details of hand made craftsmanship.|
I weighed the cost in my head. $1,000 is a lot of money for us. So I had to be technical about it. If we were to purchase hand made furniture from a retail store, how much would it cost us? I know that D.R. Dimes' furniture is quite pricy at $700+ per chair, so, let's simply cut that value in half. So, say roughly $300 a chair and six chairs brings us to $1,800. We're already beyond the asking price and haven't even considered the table.
Handmade Windsor Chairs are expensive because of the amount of time required to construct each one. It's really quite impressive actually. If the reader is interested, there are several sites dedicated to just the Windsor Chair, as well as furniture companies. Here is a four minute video for a quick artsy view on making the chair.
|Our L.E. Partridge Windsor Chair Set in our home!|
In our dining room, the set is on the small size, as we could easily accommodate another two to four chairs, but for our needs at this time, it's perfect! The table is actually not original to the set. It's design, as mentioned previously as a trestle tavern table with drop leaf sides, makes the table quite narrow when not in use. This feature allows the dining room table to become a side table. The table can be placed off against the wall and the chairs surround the room, allowing for an open floor.
|When not in use, the table and chairs can be placed along the perimeter of the room, giving plenty of space to walk through.|