04 Apr My Malachite Cane Chairs
Here we are today picking up where we left off. In case you missed it, you can read all about my DIY shelves you see in the photo above in this post, and you can learn how to create a baby’s breath flower arrangement in this post.
So now…on to the malachite chairs. I love blue and green, and there is so much blue in the rest of the house, that when we added the room off of the kitchen, I knew I wanted to incorporate a lot of green in there to play off of the greenery that comes through the windows surrounding the room.
I found these vintage cane chairs at an estate sale last March. I LOVED the large scale caning, and it was in perfect, I mean, per-fect condition. The chairs are heavy, and I really liked the bamboo accent on the arms and legs. These are classic chairs which will always look stylish and can work in a variety of room styles. Best of all, the chairs still had the little “Made in Italy” brass tag on the bottom. I love little details like this!
I was on the fence about selling them, but they were listed and sold in a matter of hours. I will tell you, I was a bit sad. Although I can’t remember what happened, the buyer decided to buy another pair of chairs, so these were on the market again. My dear friend, Kristen, told me I would regret selling them, and she was so right! (thanks girl)
So I kept them.
Clearly, the burnt orange velvet material was not going to work, so I needed to decide what to reupholster them in.
I have long been a fan of malachite. I can clearly remember going to a friend’s house in the 80’s for a family Christmas party and thinking their malachite dinnerware was soooooo pretty. Anyone have these back then?
Fast forward to now, where malachite has been more and more popular in home and fashion in the past five years or so. Perhaps no fabric in this pattern is quite as recognizable and quite as celebrated as the Tony Duquette via Jim Thompson version.
Tony Duquette was the protege of the classic American designer, Elsie de Wolf. He was the mastermind behind beautiful sets and costumes for Metro Goldwyn Mayer pictures during the heyday of Fred Astaire and musical extravaganzas, and was especially beloved by movie icons, Arthur Freed and Vincent Minnelli. He was married to a renowned artist, Elizabeth Duquette, whom he affectionaly called “Beegle”. You can read more about his life here.
After Tony passed at the age of 85, his business partner Hutton Wilkinson, decided to launch a collection of his classic patterns through Jim Thompson. Mr. Duquette was a big fan of malachite himself, and often used it in his own home and his client’s homes. Here is a photo of his Beverly Hills dining room.
Mr. Wikinson located a piece of the handpainted (HANDPAINTED!!) malachite fabric used above and created the Jim Thompson malachite fabric available for purchase today.
Here’s a little more about the fabric:
The “Malachite” pattern was used extensively by Duquette for his own residence as well as for many of his clients. When designing jewellery, malachite stones were a favourite of Duquette. His interest and love for the stone translated to dishes, bound books, floors and tabletops. For Jim Thompson, Wilkinson found a length of Duquette’s original hand painted malachite fabric to be faithfully reproduced in rich colours. Wilkinson has also updated the design by including it in lapis lazuli blue, rose quartz pink, beige and honey-toned onyx.
As you can imagine, it is quite pricey (I think $150-$200 a yard) and available through the trade only. But as luck would have it, I was at an estate sale three years ago, and found a small roll of it in the back of a closet. I know, I couldn’t believe it myself. The estate belonged to a lady who was a seamstress, and she must have had a remnant left over from a project she did. I think there was a little over two yards, and I have held onto it waiting for the perfect project. I love love love it. It’s flowy, organic, and the color is amazing.
Side Note: Estate sales can be really great places to find nice fabrics. Over the years, I have found lots of high end vintage fabrics plus the occasional awesome find like the Tony Duquette malachite fabric. Lots of people skim over the linens section at estate sales, and there may be some good fabric finds in there. Also, look for rolls in the back of closets. I have discovered awesome wallpapers and fabrics this way.
This amazing fabric was just what those cane chairs needed to highlight their fabulousness. (plus a pair of ivory pillows from Home Goods)
If you love malachite fabric and want the look for a more affordable price, there is hope!
Check out this fabric from Spoonflower,
or if you like more of a white background, you may prefer this Robert Allen version, which comes in three different colorways.
I barely had enough fabric for the seat cushions, but I’m so happy with the way they turned out. It really does make the room feel more glamorous.
You can read more about the Tony Duquette for Jim Thompson fabric collection here.
P.S. Thank you so much for your kindness and encouragement after posting my story last week. I will be responding to all of your sweet comments today. I’m doing better this week, and will be back next week with a regular posting schedule. Thanks again for your patience and love. xo