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  • Sharon Michalove

Armchairs ... and furnishing a home


What kind of furniture do you like? Is shopping for a new piece fun, or stressful? My dad loved furniture shopping. In fact, my parents replaced their furniture about every five years.


This image came up in my Facebook memories today and inspired a blog post. Why? Maybe because the setting was different, I was sitting on the same chair. That reminded me of why I bought it and why I use armchairs so much in my books.


When Peter and I got married in 1975, we moved into married student housing in Orchard Downs at the University of Illinois. Our one-bedroom apartment was furnished so we didn't need to get anything. Everything was sturdy and utilitarian. I think the couch was brown and the chair orange. Or maybe it was the other way around.


He finished his doctorate in 1976 and we moved up to the Chicago area. Although he was from North Carolina, I was from Chicago and we never thought of moving anywhere else when he didn't get a teaching job.


After a few months of camping out in my old bedroom in Glenview with my single bed (we were both very slim then) and childhood dresser and desk, we were able to move into the new apartment we rented in Northbrook. At that point, we were the recipients of my old bedroom furniture, minus the bed, and the living room furniture my parents were replacing. We bought some metal bookcases and a double-bed frame, mattress, and box spring. This remained our furniture pattern for a long time.


After Peter died, I decided I needed to make some changes. I turned his study into a guest room and put our bedroom furniture (which had been my parents' furniture from their marriage in 1950, down there. Then I went furniture shopping with friends, short friends. We were all about the same height, so we tried out every chair in the store. This was not one of the results, but when, a few months after I replaced almost all of my furniture, I realized that I wanted a chair for my bedroom. This was the result. Now it's my living room chair, and I still love it after all these years.


When I started writing, I knew I was going to have to describe furniture. And, since Max is so tall, and Cress is so short, I had to think about how they would manage things. In the end, having a big armchair seemed to be a good solution. While sometimes Cress will sit in the chair, and Max will will kneel on the floor, more often, he sits down and pulls her onto his lap. This is their chair, only a bit wider.

Max already had this chair and a huge, very deep couch. So he bought some Cress-sized furniture too. One is an armchair like the one I own, only covered in different fabric. The other is a chaise longue. He can't share either of those with her. The chair would be a tight fit and the chaise, way too short for a man who towers at 6'5".


Shopping for fictional furniture has been so much fun. Probably more fun than real furniture shopping.



 

While many of my settings are in places that I know and love, there is always more to learn. And London is no exception. I am incredibly grateful for the guides of London Walks for their many virtual tours during the pandemic. A group of them are up for an award. Please think about voting for these great, hardworking, knowledgeable Blue Badge Guides. And watch out Fiona Lukas. She has a guest appearance in At the Crossroads.


Please vote for them in the Tourism Superstar awards. And tell all your chums


 



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