I have been longing for a set of Hepplewhite chairs for a while now. I first fell in love when I was taking a class called the History of Architecture and Interiors when I was a freshman in college. I studied them and learned how to tell them apart. I memorized their character and features and soon became obsessed with having my own set.
Granted, a set that I could afford. True Hepplewhite-style furniture can be thousands and thousands of dollars. If you don’t believe me, just check out this article from an art examiner about Thomas Jefferson’s Hepplewhite desk. Wowzers. So since I don’t have that kind of money sitting around, I’d settle for a replica set.
While I was in D.C., I stumbled upon this display (first photo) of an original Hepplewhite chair that was once in the Washington Parlor (second photo). Rumor has it, that this exact chair was in the White House until the Obamas moved in. Michelle didn’t like it and wanted it thrown it out. Now, it’s safely in the museum. Thank goodness someone knows their history! This one, I’d say, is worth a fortune.
Anyway, I’d seen people advertise they had some, but I never really felt drawn to a set. Some sets were painted white and distressed a little. Others came with three side chairs and one arm chair. I couldn’t find the perfect set. Until, I told my mom and sister to be on the lookout, and let’s just say they didn’t let me down.
My sister knew a guy who refinished furniture. She just so happened to run by his house to drop something off and noticed he had four Hepplewhite chairs hanging in his garage, in immaculate condition. She immediately sent me a picture and of course I told her to jump on it.
I got them for (cough, cough) $150 and words can’t describe how proud I am of them. The fabric is one he recovered them in, a traditional upholstery to keep their charming personality real. He refinished them in a dark mahogany after saved them in a house fire. One chair’s leg has a darker tint to it from the fire. I’m even more proud knowing they came with a history.
Who knows who the original owners were, but I’m happy they fell into my hands. They look excellent next to my grandmother’s table, same finish and all. Her chairs are safe at my parent’s house and I’ll collect them back when I have a bigger home. Maybe I can land a Hepplewhite table next!