Years ago, my cousin Shannon messaged to see if I might want my Grandma Shimansky’s chair. The only other thing I really have of my Grandma’s is a white beaded purse that we think belonged to her that I used on my wedding day.
This chair was one my grandma had purchased in the 60s when my dad was in high school from W. & J. Sloane — a prominent furniture and rug store in New York City. Pieces of theirs could be found in the White House as well as with the Rockefeller, Whitney, and Vanderbilt families.
It had been in our home in New Jersey — and as legend has it, prior to her passing in 1988, this was the chair Grandma would sit in while Kellie (all of 2 or 3) would steal crackers and other treats from her.
I immediately told Shannon “Yes” and shortly after, she and her family brought it up from West Palm Beach. Where it sat in my parents garage...until just recently.
Right away, all those years ago, I took to looking up places to have it reupholstered — only to nearly fall over at what something like this might cost. I, clearly, had zero concept of what it would take to refurbish a piece like this — and it was all during a time where money wasn’t exactly something I had a ton of.
The chair would then sit a while longer, until my parents would inevitably “remind” me of it — and the search, in some capacity, would start all over again.
I researched doing it myself. Only to realize this was a job for a professional. I took to social media (more than once) to see if any friends knew of upholsters or someone they’d recommend and trust — only to hit dead ends.
My dad, more than once, told me I didn’t have to reupholster it. He’d tell me it was "silly" to put that much into an old chair, when most new chairs could be bought for half the cost. I even bought a similar-but-not-really brand new chair, but it never compared. It was never Grandma’s Chair. And. mostly, I knew he was telling me these things so I would know that it was okay to let this chair go.
But, we Shimansky’s are stubborn people. And each time I’d tell him firmly, “No. I’m going to get it done.” THIS chair had something no new chair had - a story, and it's ours. And I wasn't just going to let someone else who WOULD reupholster it or, worse, a garbage truck take it away.
No chair could beat this chair, and I knew the investment would be worth it to see the chair in our home every day.
We had a few spots picked out in the old house for Grandma’s Chair — but this was still in the days of me trying to find someone who could do it. So, it continued to sit in my parent's garage. Waiting, patiently.
Fast forward to 2020, I wound up on a Facebook page called EAR FOR EACH OTHER — a page created for furloughed and laid off Disney Cast Members to help support them in the wake of COVID. Amongst those amazing, talented creatives — was Alana.
Alana re-upholstered furniture.
And, suddenly, the stars started to align.
Searulean Upholstery would restore my Grandma’s Chair when the time was right. Of course, a few months later, we were in the throws of selling our first home, and buying our second. Finally, I reached out to Alana back in December - before we moved into our new home. There was going to be a place in this home for Grandma’s Chair.
And, after searching all the fabrics, we chose this tropical, beachy beauty that fits perfectly in our home — which my parents both confirmed Grandma would’ve loved. The pups and I dropped off the chair last week, and Sunday morning we drove out to Clermont to bring Grandma’s Chair home. 🥰
That night, we had the family over for outside-patio dinner for Sean’s birthday...and to surprise them with Grandma’s Chair quietly, beautifully, FINALLY sitting in the corner.
When I asked, "Notice anything different in the front room?"
My parents saw it, "Oh, isn't that pretty!" Dad said as they made their way over to it and Mom added, "Oh, that's gorgeous! I love it!" We talked about how beautiful it turned out and how great of a job Alana did with it - keeping it's same qualities, but giving it an amazing refresh so that we could continue to use it. It was exactly how I had envisioned it - still very much my Grandma's Chair, with a nod to it's age and history, but stitched into it was a new life, too.
Dad said, "After all those years..."
Sometimes, the best things really are worth waiting for.
The story continues...
And, yes, it should go without saying that Kimbee & Kenobi think Great-Grandma's chair is just the perfect size for them. (It's already been 'protected' by a blanket when I can't have eyes on it so their GSP Glitter doesn't become the chair's main theme.) 🤣 For those wondering what we'll be doing with the original piece of fabric and Sloane tag - we’ll be framing that hopefully with a photo of Grandma and the chair.