Rewind: Inheriting My Reading Spot: The Saga of an Armchair

I'm on vacation this week and next, so will be mixing in some past posts with new reviews and content to keep things active around here. This post originally ran in October 2011, but it just as near and dear to my heart as it was three years ago.

Once upon a time, my dad's cat ran away. The cat had a tendency to do this and not return for days and days, so we trekked through the neighborhood with flashlights in hand, making absurd mewing noises and shaking bags of treats.

When this did not turn up one Very Sly and Sneaky Cat That I Thought Deserved to Spend the Night Out in the Cold, we checked our neighbors' houses. At one of these houses, a bundle of items for Purple Heart stood perched on the stoop, awaiting the next-day arrival of the truck. Amidst this bundle was buried one Very Ugly and Very Pink but Very Cozy Looking Armchair.

This wasn't just any armchair. This was my grandmother's armchair. Why, you ask, were my neighbors donating a family heirloom to the Purple Heart? In the smallest of small world stories, it turns out they had purchased it from a Goodwill nearly 20 miles away, intending to have it recovered in not-so-ugly fabric. When the re-upholstery proved to be too expensive, it sat in their basement. When no one bought it at their yard sale, it was destined for Purple Heart.

And how did it end up at Goodwill in the first place? My Very Helpful Uncle donated it, along with the rest of my grandmother's furniture, after she died. Little did he know that the chair, no matter how very ugly and very pink it was, was well-loved. My grandmother had sat in the overstuffed armchair everyday for as long as I could remember - first when she lived with us, then when she moved in with my dad when my parents split up, and then when she moved in with my uncle later on. It was her center, her spot, her comfort zone. It gave her a wingback to lean on while she cried through Days of Our Lives, and it held her in its comfy cushions while she read romance novels plastered with Fabio covers.

It broke my heart when we lost that chair. Luckily, though, the chair never lost us.

Three families, two houses, and several NYC apartments later, the chair has returned to its rightful home in my living room. It has become my rock, my nook, my reading center. And until a week ago, it was still Very Pink and Very Ugly (though also Very Cozy):

Now it has left again, this time for a stint in a reupholstery shop. The chair will now be Very Khaki Colored and Very Plain and Still Very Cozy. It will always be my grandmother's chair, but in recovering it, it will continue in its journey to become my chair, too. The upcoming chairless weeks will be a trial. I'm not sure where to rest my feet when settling in with a new book. My library books have no cushion creases in which to lose themselves. My reading lamp shines on an empty corner. But when the chair returns to me, as I know it always will, I will curl into its oversized arms, open a book on my lap, and read with thoughts of my grandmother to keep me company.

(Follow-up post: A New Reading Nook, on the chair post-reupholstery.)


  1. Aw, this is lovely. What a wonderful story.

  2. PS You don't have to answer this, but how much did it cost to have the chair reupholstered? And also, when they reupholster chairs, can they make them slightly fluffier? I have a chair in need of reupholstery and am trying to sort out in my mind how it will all go down with the reupholstering.

  3. Emily@AstheCroweFliesJuly 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    That's such a lovely story. I'd love to have any piece of my grandmother's furniture but it's long gone. Your reading nook looks great, and the pinkness doesn't come across as so terrible on my screen.

  4. LOTS of cool background story of the early days of post Civil War New York City and Psychology and crime detection such as fingerprints. This was a great mystery and good read. I'm going to read his other books because I like this one so well.

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  5. I have inherited stuff from my grandparents (not furniture though) and I really like that it is something pre loved, pre cherished before it came to me. This sounds a lovely story.

  6. This really is a wonderful story! I have a very similar chair (it's a rust orange color, just awful) that was my Grandma's and is now in my library. I also had it reupholstered and it means the world to me.


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