Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Grandmother's Armchairs: Dreamsicles for My Home

Two armchairs have been living in a storage locker since my siblings and I cleared-out my mother's apartment last year. They are identical and were last new probably in the 1950s, when my parents immigrated to Canada from what was then Yugoslavia. The chairs followed my parents to Chicago in 1959 or 1960.

My maternal grandmother, Milosava Petković (née Milić) lived with my parents and my siblings. She was a lifelong needlepointer. Probably after we visited Florence in the mid-1970s, my grandmother began needlepointing Bargello-style patterns, usually pillows. I don't know what made her take on such a large project, but she needlepointed enough to re-cover both armchairs (except the backs). The cushions are a little worn (see the rip, in the photo above, probably caused by one of my poorly-behaved nieces or nephew). They are to be refurbished next week at a local upholsterer.

These chairs synthesize memories and values important to me: The possibility of a new life, both for my family (in its escape from Yugoslavia) and for the chairs (with reupholstery); childhood; my grandmother; and the exhuberance and joyfulness of a jolt of color. They will be a powerful force for good in my new home.

The armchairs will also guide the color palette for the apartment ("dreamsicle" (orange and white) and blue). The palette is based on a theory I have about color. There are studies that have found that exposure to various colors can, slightly, change one's perception of temperature. As a result, I believe that in warm weather, to feel more comfortable, one should be exposed to cool colors (blues and greens). In cool weather, warm colors (reds, yellows, and orange). To cover the hot and cold weather in Chicago over the course of the year, I plan to have curtains and certain major pieces of furniture be orange, white, and/or blue. I have two dreamsicles already in place.

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