A chairy story for #Recycleweek 2015! June 23, 2015 09:00


We said no to the offer of buying these chairs but immediately felt a pang.  Surely there was somewhere they could go!

Brown furniture is just not in fashion but in their heyday little occasionals were all the rage!


I have just seen your website with the lovely chairs
displayed, and I wondered if you would be interested in
purchasing my 3 French Occasional Chairs, which I have
attached an image of.
They are over 100 years old and given to my wife by her
grandmother, so we have had them for more than 30 years and
the grandmother for many years before that.

They do need some recovering and a little attention, but are
sound and attractive.

We are not seeking a great deal for them, and would be
pleased that they were to get the attention  they need.

Please respond if you would have an interest in purchasing
them, or any helpful suggestions we might try.

Thank you for your time.


 How could we resist a story like that? But after some tooing and froing we reluctantly had to say no...

Bad news, I'm afraid.

I sent the photograph around the Collective and no-one took up the challenge. 

The upholsterer who did the French occasional chair in the shop that originally brought you to us, sources her chairs from France or an auction room in Cambridge (Her mother visits the showroom as she lives nearby).  She thinks that this sort of chair would be difficult to sell and really not more than £20. 

'Brown' mahogany furniture is just out of fashion at the moment which is a shame as in its day they were much loved.

You could try a nearby Auction House but of course they take their share of whatever is earned on a sale.

I recently upholstered some 18th century chairs with similar legs but the Seat and backs were curved rather than straight and walnut rather than mahogany.  They had wooden dowel nails holding the frame together which after 200 years made the chair fairly rickety.  Perhaps the origin of  shabby chic?

Sorry not to be able to help.  And thank you for getting in touch with us.  The shop is only 3 weeks old and it was a bit of a shock to have someone actually use it!

Good luck with your move and with finding a home for the little chairs.

Kind regards,


We got such a nice reply...

Hello Carol,

Thank you for your informative and sensitive reply to my enquiry about the 3 chairs, and I fully accept  your assessment of their sale prospects.

As they need some refurbishment before becoming saleable, it seems that the proposition is uneconomic, and that despite being over 100 years old, they have no market value.

I will therefore, reluctantly, have to scrap them, and console myself with the thought that everything has its day, and their day is past.

Thank you again. and I wish you good luck with your business venture.

Best regards,

That got the wheels turning....

He could just take them to a charity shop, or second hand furniture place.
I’m sure if he puts them out on the street they’ll be snapped up.
In the East End, he could take them to Restoration Station on Shoreditch high street, its a social enterprise place:

We might not want them, but someone will definitely take them.
And did you check with Pia, they have a workshop with students in Archway that might want furniture….?
And amazingly this turned into success

Hi Michael
I have a home for your chairs.

However no money I'm afraid.

PIA, copied in above, thought her students could do them as a project. 3 students doing the chairs simultaneously.

They would be loved as all students adore their work! As they should.

Let PIA know. She can collect if necessary!

Dear Pia,

Carol Mandeville has advised me by email that you would be kind enough to accept my 3 chairs for your students to restore.

This is most welcome news for me as we have had them for a very long time, and grandmother had them prior to that. But  I was reluctantly going to have to scrap them as they had no saleable value in their present state

And then Carol took up their case and now they will be receiving attention that they deserve.

If you would let me know an address and time that suits you, I will deliver them to you next week.

I will await your response.

Kind regards,
Dear Michael,
That is really kind and we will appreciate them.  Our workshop is in Tufnell Park but as you are gifting them I would come to Enfield if you prefer. 
If I collected, mid-mornings would be best.
Thank you very much again.
So bit of a long story but we got there in the end.  Look out for photos of the re upholstered chairs soon !