Since showing a bit more of our home (during the holidays and with the house tour), I’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we travel with furniture, how much of it we bring and how that works. So over the next few months, I can pull a few posts together on how that works.
1// Bertoia Wire Chair (expensive, but nearly indestructible) 2// Louis Ghost Chair (great end chair)
3// Tolix Marais Chair (bonus, stackable!)
4// Seagrass Side Chair 5// Preben Chair (since it’s from Ikea, you could get it at practically every post!)
6// Dane Side Chair (also in a gorgeous platinum color) 7// Crawford Leather Chair
8// Mid-Century Upholstered Chair (would look so so good in the dusty blush color)
9// Thomas Leather Strap Side Chair 10// Folio Bonded Leather Chair (comes in lots of colors!)
But first up, the dining room! The dining room can sometimes be the toughest space to make your own because it’s home to some of the heaviest pieces (both literally and visually). In most instances, it wouldn’t be possible to travel with all of your own furniture for this room in the house due to the weight limits we have. But at the same time, it’s one of the easiest spaces to feel like you’re drowing in Drexel because by the time you add in the table (which admittedly, I love), the chairs, the china cabinet and probably a sideboard or two, you are looking at a whole lot of brown wood.
One of the ways we’ve gotten around this feeling is to travel with our own chairs, and we get a lot of questions as to where we get ours. We’ve traveled with two sets – one which we had for the first five years which were white leather ones from BoConcept, and recently we updated them to the current molded plastic ones below (which we bought locally here), as the other ones finally gave out. Even though we have two children, it really wasn’t the kids that were killer on the white leather chairs (which are remarkably forgiving to spills and such). It was repeated dark denim on them (that blue really sinks into the grooves of the leather and hard to get out) and a storage stint in a humid environment that gave the leather a bit of a work over.
So all of that to say, if you do want to travel with your own chairs, like with anything else that goes into a shipping container, be sure you have a comfortable relationship with how you’ll feel if something happens to them. Here are a few other rules of thumb to keep in mind if you want to bring along your own chairs:
- Double check that your post allows you to send furniture back: even in posts that were hesitant to take major furniture back we’ve had good luck with the chairs, but if you don’t think you’ll have room to store the originals, make sure it’s worth the effort to bring yours
- Stick with lighter weight chairs: Your shipment weight will thank you. I’m dying for a set of tufted, upholstered chairs inspired by one too many cocktails at the Hay Adams bar in DC, but for the moment that is not feasible for shipping nor for small children, so we’re having fun with younger, lighter options instead.
- Choose chairs that are lighter “visually”: Again, that Drexel dining room can feel very “heavy” very quickly given all the big wood pieces. Break it up visually with something leggy and airy, the whole point is to change things up here. You’re not wedded to these chairs forever so have a little fun with it.
- Change it up: Try to pick six chairs and two arm chairs for the ends for a more complimentary look. You don’t necessarily have to order 12 of the same chair. In ours, we have six of the molded plastic chairs, two Louis ghost armchairs on the ends, and several back up ikea folded chairs for big dinners as well as a couple of state department chairs we keep in other rooms – for the really big events, we bring all the chairs in and it all plays together just fine.
- Try the chairs out first: If you are leaving from the US, or will be buying chairs at one of the posts, make time to try them out first if you can. Catalogs have a way of luring us in, especially if the chair has leather or upholstery components, but things can sometimes not be exactly the way they seem. Try out the chairs, sit in them for awhile, picture yourself at a long dinner… Interestingly, our main reason for changing out the chairs wasn’t an aesthetic one, it was a comfort one. I had a really hard time sitting in the Drexel main chairs and felt it in my back, especially if I was working at the table so we went something that worked better for me (and I have an ergonomic office chair I keep hidden away and use for working as well).
- Look for chairs with a 18-19″ seat height: The standard Drexel table is about 26.5″ from bottom lip to floor and I have found the chairs that work best are ones where the height of the seat is 18-19″ – with 19.5″ being the max (for my own height anyway). If you don’t mind being a little further down, you can probably get by with 17.5″ (all the chairs here should be in this range but always double check measurements as they change in production sometimes). It’s also why some chairs which are great visually aren’t on this particular list. For example, we’ve done the molded Eames chairs before with a dining room table in DC and while we loved the chairs, they were a terrible match for the table. The seat was just an inch or two too short, which made me feel like I was perpetually sitting at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving in my own home.
- Be ready to part with them if you have to: Traveling to post is not the time to pack up a container full of family heirlooms. As I mentioned above, there is always a chance that the chairs won’t survive the journey like you thought they might, or might not be accommodated in your next post. I find that stuff like this is relatively easy to resell, but you have to be okay with doing the legwork on that or potentially taking some loss on them. If you’re okay with that in the long run, go for it!
Pull up a chair:
I know others have done creative things with their chairs, whether it’s to bring in new ones, or enjoy looking for local furniture at post, or cover the seat cushions with fabric on the standard issue ones. If you’d like to share a post on how you’ve made your dining room your own, feel free to add a link in the comments below!