Kitty McBride just wanted some chairs.
Unable to find anything affordable, or that she even liked, she decided to create her own -- restyling old frames with new painted finishes and bold, sometimes outrageous, fabrics. And so began The Divine Chair Company.
“I thought I’d put some out there and see how people reacted,” McBride says.
McBride, whose background is fashion design, describes her chairs as whimsical and eccentric.
She buys them from estate sales and auctions and strips them down to the frame before giving them The Divine Chair Company touch -- her signature finishes and fabrics. “What I love is color, and I love fabric.” she says. “Unusual fabrics.”
To find those unusual fabrics, McBride searches online and scours Manhattan’s Garment District. B & J Fabrics on 7th Avenue is a favorite source. She’s fond of fabrics by Finnish company Marimekko, known for their striking, often organic, patterns.
Her process is more intuitive than orderly. McBride calls it impulsive. She might first buy a great fabric, and then pick a paint finish. At some point, she’ll find the right chair. They have to speak to her. “They’re like my children,” she explains. “I name them.”
“I want them to go to good homes,” McBride admits. “I’m very sad when someone buys them, but I’m happy too.”
Where to Find Them
McBride sells her chairs on Craigslist, through The Divine Chair Company website, and at the GreenFlea Sunday Market in Upper West Side Manhattan. Pricing starts at $400. She ships, but prefers that you see the piece in person when possible. Custom work is available.
For those considering their own chair makeovers, McBride suggests finding your local auction houses and looking for great shapes. She cautions that condition issues are normal with old chairs, but wobbly arms and legs can be fixed.
“Never pay a fortune. People think just because it’s old it must be valuable, but most of the time it’s just an old chair,” she advises. She stresses that the value is in what you can create with it.
“Get some color in your life, guys,” McBride says. “[It’s] a little bit of therapy. You look at them and color makes you happy.”