Cottages & Bungalows
ARTISTRY: COLORFUL WORLD OF WHIMSY
Transform any space in your home with amazing, creative, custom chairs.
Transform any space with these amazing, creative, custom chairs.
“I’ve always had a thing for chairs and design,”
says Chair Whimsy artist Wendy Conklin. Her work creates a bold, joyful world where color and patterns surprise us, and we are emboldened to go with what we love instead of conventional design choices. Wendy’s chairs reflect and embody this vision. “More than 20 years ago, I studied to be a teacher,” she says. “And while I’ve enjoyed the journey of being an educator, author and trainer, I’ve never quite gotten over my first love.”
In 2012, while working in education, Wendy enrolled in several upholstery courses to take some steps toward her dream of designing chairs, and it changed her life. She found that each chair she worked on presented a unique challenge and multiple opportunities for problem solving. “To me, chairs have personalities that call for certain fabrics and paint treatments,” she says. Colors, in fabric and paint, are elements that really make chairs special and bring out their hidden beauty, Wendy believes.
Wendy opened her Etsy shop, Chair Whimsy, in December of 2012. During her first years of upcycling antique and vintage chairs, she realized the old chairs she used needed many repairs to continue being usable. Then, her clients began asking for different styles that were hard to find. For a solution, she looked no further than her own home, a newbuild Victorian “made to look old [with] all the cool features like crystal doorknobs and transom windows, but without all the headaches and repairs that most old homes need.”“What if I could create chairs with all the charm of the past, but none of problems?” she asked herself. “And what if I added unique, colorful fabrics and the choice to mix and match different frames?”
And that’s exactly what she did. Wendy decided to create a new line of antique-inspired dining chairs using newly crafted, quality chair frames in the desired styles and pair them with colorful, carefully curated fabrics from many different sources. The three styles of chair frame she chose are made in Italy from high-end, European beech. It’s a strong, heavy wood with a bright color and a straight grain. Wendy then puts the chair frames together with their fabrics in her Texas studio.
Chair Whimsy offers two easy ways to shop: On her website’s Shop tab, you can choose a frame first (there are currently three different styles, with more planned), or you can choose a look first. Looks and fabrics come in these categories: On the Wild Side, Boho Chic, Classic Romantic, Vintage Farmhouse and One-of-a-Kind. Or you can order a frame and redesigned chair from Wendy’s Etsy shop. She finds these frames at flea markets, junk stores, estate sales, and sources fabrics for them from all over.
Wendy has expanded her design repertoire to include interior design services and consultation too. “For me, all decor begins with the chairs. After all, a chair has the power to completely change your space.”
Her advice on choosing a chair for your home? Trust yourself, enjoy yourself and engage your playful sense. If you want to upcycle or redesign an existing chair,” she says, “you need to get past what it looks like now and completely reimagine the chair.”