Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just a little white life

Temporary perfection.

So did I mention that I snagged two Chippendale chairs when I got the dining room set a couple of weeks ago at auction? Well, I did. They were gorgeous mahogany and at $20 each just too nice to not drag home, with the idea being to find other similar chairs and re-cover them all to match each other.

The re-covering was necessary because the seats of these two lovely matching chairs are white.

I brought them home and, as I knew I would, absolutely fell in love with those white seats. So elegant, yet simple. So clean and pretty.

You see, in in the deep-down recesses of my brain I have a Fantasy of White. In it, I am able to live a gorgeous, pristine Little White Life.

In my fantasy, I find myself on a comfortable sofa with white denim slipcover fabric over it, and similar covers over the arm chairs. The room doesn't look TOO white, because I've chosen some bright colored pillows offset the blinding perfection of the white sofa. In this fantasy my kitchen is white marble with pale gray cabinets. In the dining room there are white linens, with eight of those gorgeous white Chippendale chairs and their lovely, contrasting mahogany wood accenting the whiteness of the whole vignette.

In this life we have no pets and my husband always comes home in a pair of clean dress slacks and carefully folds his napkin over his lap before eating (perhaps my husband is George Clooney in this scenario, since it is, after all, MY fantasy.) Did I also mention I have white floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with literati and tchotchkes which never need dusting?

The utter cleanliness of the place should be the first cue this is a fantasy. My Little White Life does not exist. But I think we all have a fantasy like mine somewhere deep in our unconscious -- a fantasy that tells us things could be a certain way, if only we were just a little more perfect ourselves. We imagine in our best circumstances that we could somehow make it work. That the Little White Life would always stay clean, fresh and snow-driven perfect.

I know that because last night, while sitting on my white Chippendale chair in the dining room I spilled refried beans on the seat, because I'd set my napkin down while going to the kitchen to get something for a guest and forgot to put it back on my lap once I returned.

Refried beans. It could have least been an expensive red wine. But no, my royal fantasy ran head-first into my Tex-Mex-flavored country peasant life.

And even more surprisingly it was not Big Ag, the resident bull in the china shop around here. It was me who screwed it all up. I outed my Little White Life for the fantasy it was.

And for the record, Big Ag has never come home in a pair of jeans that did not have half the vineyard's dirt on it, or mystery oil of some kind, so that's why I always imagined him to be the one to ruin my fantasy. But second to him, there are the hordes of pets. (The fact that I currently have a pooping indoor chicken should be the first clue, right?). And then of course there's the canning -- when I can tomatoes I am fully capable of launching pieces from the kitchen all the way into the dining room and within striking range of those beautiful Chippendale chairs.

So really, it was only a matter of time. About two weeks, to be exact.

There is no such thing as a Little White Life, at least not at this homestead. And so I will re-cover those chairs as soon as I find their mates and have a complete set. I'm looking at a brown floral pattern to do them in. And this will make me sad, because somewhere deep down I believe in the myth of the Little White Life -- the slipcovers that always wash to snowy perfection, the chair covers that stay clean, and the bookshelves that never need dusting.

The truth of my life, and life in general, is a lot more colorful...


  1. As someone who has almost everything white, I can tell you that you are 500% correct. I'm sorry that you dropped something on the cushion already! Isn't that just the way? Beautiful chairs! I love Chippendale style anything just about. I could also see a dark red or even navy being so pretty on those chairs! Though, really, they'll look good with anything. My sister has a stunning antique Queen Anne dining set and she re cushioned all the seats in white patent vinyl! They look so good and are wonderful to clean. I borrow them all the time. They'd be perfect if they didn't make such suspicious noises when people shifted in them. Doesn't always make for comfortable guests when they are constantly saying "it was the chair!"

    1. Lol I can totally see that happening! They DO make strange sounds when you shift around on them. Red seats would look stunning, you're right, I may have to look at some fabrics in that color too. I'm so happy to hear my "white" assessment is correct...sometimes in the back of my mind I imagine it MIGHT be OK and work, because people do it successfully, right? How you do it with Barbie is a miracle of vigilance and I admire you for it.

  2. How timely that you posted this now. Last year, as I was faced with the fact that the fabric on our otherwise-sound sofa was self destructing. I sew, so I decided that slip-covering it was the answer. Cotton dropcloth canvas, of course. I got as far as finishing the covers on the seat cushions ... put them on the sofa and lived with them before proceeding and farther. Within minutes, there was a light, very visible film of black dog hair and a smudge from who-knows-what on the seat of my pants. (living in a house under renovation, this isn't unusual).

    Plans to finish my dreamy white slipcover were derailed right then and there. The canvas cushion covers do their job, covering the self-destructing fabric, and all is hidden underneath one of two big-box-store printed quilts, tucked in as tidily as possible, to make the place look somewhat presentable.

    I changed from one quilt to the other yesterday ... had to wash the one on the sofa because the dog barfed on it. Washed the cushion covers, too, because the barf soaked through a little bit. As I was reinstalling the now-clean covers, I wondered how I could have thought that our house could live with white furniture, and I was thankful that I came to my senses before it was too late.

    1. Oh, but it's so tempting, isn't it? I just love how white looks when it's clean....well, for the 5 minutes it's clean, of course. Don't know how people do this successfully!