30 July 2009

coming soon.
I haven't shown too many "before" images, but I am so excited about this little gossip bench that I have to post it, even in its raw state. I am fascinated by this vintage chair type, which originated in the 1950s to provide seating for people making phone calls--thus the fun nickname. I tend to imagine these "gossipy" calls occurring in a Pleasantville-esque setting, perhaps--scandalously?--after 9:00 pm, but I digress. Though it has been five years since I've had a landline, this piece makes me want to go out and find a brightly colored rotary phone to sit and talk on for hours. For more practical (and mobile) chatters, the great shelves are also perfect for flowers or, my favorite, books. I have a couple ideas in mind for this gossip bench and, of course as are all the unfinished chairs, it is available as an allora.CUSTOM chair as well. Look for the finished product soon!

29 July 2009

fabulous fabrics.
A small sampling of deep coral and brown fabrics used on allora.signature chairs. These bold textiles and animal prints add pizzazz to any room. Look for these fabrics on allora.signature chairs VINE, RUTLEDGE, BEAUFAIN, and E82ND, as well as on allora.signature.NELSON, coming soon! Happy Wednesday!

28 July 2009

what to read.
When I first embarked on this little hobby, I decided that some research was in order. I have a small obsession with big, pretty books and an even larger obsession with big, pretty books that are interesting. Naturally when I googled "history of chairs," I was drawn to this particular book by Florence de Dampierre, which not only satisfies the big and pretty criteria but the interesting one as well--and it happens to be critically acclaimed. Chairs: A History is full of information on seating, from Ancient Egypt to Bertoia, which de Dampierre disseminates with her keen understanding of antiques, particularly Parisian. She also uses her knowledge of interior design, gleaned from years of styling an elite clientele, to provide context for the pieces she discusses. So, if you're tired by the light beach reads of the summer and looking for some interesting non-fiction, curl up in your favorite chair and learn about where it came from in Chairs: A History.

27 July 2009


allora.signature.BEAUFAIN features a bold, geometric patterned cushion in deep espresso and white paired with a Mediterranean enamel finish, emphasizing the clean lines of this contemporary side chair; it is sure to add character to any room!

26 July 2009

allora for friends.
If you're like me and have been on a wedding marathon for the past couple years, you might be looking for something unique and original to give to your friends in celebration of their marriage. Though towels are arguably interesting, the odds of a couple picking one up in two years and remembering how thoughtful and touching a gift it was are probably slim to none. While melding two styles, weeding out "college furniture," searching for new peices and planning a wedding all at the same time might be some people's cup of tea, others return from their honeymoon and begin the nesting process amidst white boxes and bundles of tissue paper. Why not give them the opportunity to design their own chair--one that will fit in perfectly with his leather sofa AND her Danish coffee table? allora home gift certificates are available for just that! contact marymac@allorahome.com for specifics.

23 July 2009

one. two. three. four.
uno. dos. tres. cuatro.

YET ANOTHER INTERESTING CHAIR. Vastly different from the Gaudi chair I blogged about last week, this hyperbole of a wingback chair that I came across in Baltimore last weekend is wonderfully exaggerated and beautifully bold. We found it in a nook outside of the restrooms in a Fell's Point pub and immediately had to test it out. This oversized loveseat of a chair fit both my mother and me comfortably, while we took in its curves and bright red velvet. I love the playful nature of this chair and how it suspends your expectations of scale, particularly in the small spaces that it inhabits.

22 July 2009

It is appropriate that the grandmother for whom I'm named, Mary Lide McArthur (better known as Ga-Ba), was attaching memories and meaning to chairs long before I was born. One of my earliest memories is being photographed in the large, marble throne of a chair that belonged to Ga-Ba's father, my great-grandfather--a tradition that continued for all of the children and grandchildren well into my adult life, and one that I'm sure my own mother will continue with her grandchildren. Ga-Ba loved the metaphoric connection of sitting in the same place that so many have sat before you; the cold marble of that chair on a summer day always reminds me of her. During the days I spent with Ga-Ba on Roslyn Drive, I first learned to sew and knit, and she humored me, allowing me to make whatever I could come up with: pillows, washclothes, blankets, dresses. To celebrate Ga-Ba, her love of flowers, and her affinity of all things pink, allora.chair.ROSLYN is named in her memory.

21 July 2009

beaufain. kathwood. roslyn.
As of late, the weather in Charleston has been wonderfully and uncharacteristically temperate, reminding me of the sunny, early days of spring when I spent many a weekend in my yard enjoying the blue sky, priming chairs, and hoping to catch some rays. I thought today might be an appropriate day to show a (semi) before image of these chairs--look for finished images on Facebook!

20 July 2009

217 E. 82ND ST. NO. 5A. Though the location was ideal, the countertops granite and the appliances new, this wonderful address was lacking only one thing: space. My roomates and I took to decorating, focusing on organization to overcome the minimal area. As for my room, I decided to conquer the square feet with color. With the first few strokes of paint came the overwhelming feeling that I had made the wrong decision. My deep salmon was more of an electric coral, but I didn't have the time, energy, or budget to back down. I painted through the week, one wall a night, until my little room was complete. My white bedding and shelves helped offset the color of the walls, and it actually started to grow on me. Convinced that bold was the way to go in this small space, I went to West Elm and picked up a zebra rug, which managed to successfully hold its own with the bright walls. I was in love!

A short 13 months later, I primed the walls, rolled up the rug, rented a Rav-4, and reluctantly left my cozy oasis in the city. In my new place, the kitchen is the same shade of coral, and the rug is in my room. When I came across this brown and white zebra fabric, I just couldn't resist!

17 July 2009


Recently featured in Charleston Home magazine, the color pairing of gold and deep aubergine is nothing short of regal. Though both colors made an appearance in the Crayola bold color collection at some point in my childhood, it has been awhile since I personally have put them together. Because of their relative richness, these tones can sometimes be an overpowering couple, but this particular chair, with its cabriole legs and gentle curving lines, is at once elegant and understated enough to host them both. My recently renewed affection for "power purple" has as much to do with its current emergence in fashion as it does with eggplant's ability to merge effortlessly and subtly into most traditional and contemporary settings. The brown hues of stained wood that one might expect from a sideways glance at an occassional chair are not far from the undertones of aubergine, which lends a wonderful element of surprise on closer inspection. This same characteristic is what gives an otherwise cool color the warm depth to offset and complement the gold, fantastically textured fabric. Pair with white for a clean, crisp look!

16 July 2009

allora meets vale'

BLOG NO.2. Here we go. I was recently lucky enough to visit Spain--which is great for a lot of reasons, but particularly wonderful because I got to travel for two weeks with my sister, Lauren. I might add here that Lauren is fully fluent in Spanish and a master of the Spanish lifestyle, making her the perfect guide. She not only spent two weeks translating my terrible Spanish to shopkeepers and waiters, she also patiently indulged my need to visit everything of architectural significance in each city we went. Although I am slightly conflicted by the work of Antoni Gaudi, I couldn't imagine being in Barcelona and not paying homage to some of his most famous works. It turns out that I'm actually a much bigger fan of Gaudi's than I initially thought. I particularly enjoy his ergonomic details, from oddly but appropriately shaped door knobs to highly designed furniture, such as this great chair at the Casa Mila. Obviously made for a couple, the chair almost forces you to lean in, and every inch is made to accomodate your body. We had a great time testing it out!

15 July 2009


So, I'm new to this phenomenon that is blogging and not exactly sure where to start. I suppose, however, that the beginning is a pretty safe place. Ergo, the chair that started it all.
When I moved to Charleston from New York last fall, I decided to rent the second floor of a carriage house downtown and immediately set about making it my own. After painting and arranging and rearranging and antiquing and thrift-storing and all of these wonderful things, I felt as though my little home was complete, but I soon realized that I was lacking one key element: seating. I intended to make friends and knew that I would eventually need somewhere to put them; so naturally, I went to my parents' house to go shopping in the attic. I returned with an old dining room chair recently purchased at a neighbor's yard sale. I wasn't a huge fan of the dingy fabric or the peeling finish, but nonetheless, I had solved my seating crisis. The chair remained in this beaten state for days, until one evening, sitting directly across from it, I spotted my golden yellow tea kettle and all of this began...