The brown chair


May 19, 2014 by Kara Nichols

When I lived with Andy back in 2008-2010 all of my decorating and love for interior design were put on hold. He liked the house just the way it was: a beige & brown bachelor pad AKA my nightmare. I still can’t stand the color brown to this day.

I tried to make the best of it. Instead of adding splashes of color to the dull living room I became addicted to HGTV and lived out my fantasies with shows like House Hunters.

We got engaged, but the wedding was eventually called off. I was shipped to Lynchburg, Virginia, to live in my parents’ walk out basement apartment. For the first few years I was too depressed to care about my new home’s decor. I left all of their furniture in place. But slowly I’ve started to make this apartment my home. With my taste and style.

I’m not going to lie, clearing out the old and starting over with fresh, new pieces that represent what I love, has been a blast. it’s been six years since I’ve felt this freedom and creativity in a space of my own. I’m used to hand-me-downs, so about a month ago I began tracking listings on Craigslist religiously for a new table, couch, and living room chairs. Deep down I want to just go to Pottery Barn and pick out a two thousand dollar couch. I have Pottery Barn taste and a Craigslist budget.

This is where I have to tell you about my favorite hand-me-down chair that was here when I first arrived in Lynchburg. It’s brown (ugh) and not at all my style. But this is my spot where I do devotions, watch tv, write, read books. What it lacks in good looks it makes up for in comfort. I absolutely love this chair. So does my cat, who likes to shred the sides of it with her claws. But with this new obsession of trying to perfect my space, there wasn’t room for this old recliner. It’s kind of bulky and doesn’t go with my color schemes at all which right now are based on gray and white with some hot pink accents. The chair sticks out like a sore thumb but it’s like an old friend.

I’ve been saving a couple of chairs and a couch in the virtual IKEA shopping cart for awhile now, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger because I don’t have the cash for it and I hate to add to my debt. And then the other day on craigslist I found the exact same chair I had been eyeing on IKEA’s website. With the ottoman it retails at about $300 and the guy was selling both for $70. I was so excited! A new chair! I got it – even paid full price because I didn’t want to let it slip out of my hands. Once home I pulled off the covers and threw them in the wash (one of the benefits of this particular design) and then settled in to the chair. It’s comfortable. Sort of. It’s not big enough for me to fold my legs into strange angles which I tend to do. And I’ve been obsessing with keeping it clean. I mean, it’s WHITE. I have a Tide To Go pen at the ready. I inspect it often, which is completely opposite of my experience with the brown chair. The brown chair can take serious beatings. Stains just blend right in.

Since I got the white chair I’ve been catching myself looking longingly at the the brown chair in the corner of the room. And finally the other day I couldn’t take it. I moved the brown chair back to it’s prime location and it feels so good to have it back. Like coming home. Bijoux has already adopted the white chair as her own.


There’s always a new color to incorporate or a new style of furniture to buy. And don’t get me started on the trials of picking out a paint color. It can be maddening or really delightful. I want to embrace the chaos instead of fighting against it. So big deal, I have grey walls and a giant brown chair and mismatched furniture and hardly any art on the walls. It’s probably going to be that way for a long time because I don’t have a big budget to spend on decor.

I fantasize about perfecting my living room’s look but the truth is that I will always be changing it up. Or moving to a new home and starting over. Or getting sick of a design after only a few months.

A year ago I had my living room decorated in a beach theme but it screamed Long John Silver’s – not beach retreat. Sometimes I think that maybe when (if) I’m married I will be able to invest in better furniture and original art. And then I would be happy and my design aesthetics will be complete. But that may never happen. I could be single for the rest of my life, or I could be married and poor, still hunting on Craigslist. So I have to learn to be happy with what I have now, which is one slightly beat up, super comfortable brown chair and TV shows and articles featuring my favorite designer, Sarah Richardson for inspiration. Not to mention the sacred opinions of my sister-in-law and sister, who are both incredible home decorators.

I’ve been chasing an ending point. Where I can finally say “Ta-da” and be done with decorating. But I’m realizing now, as I write this from my beat up brown chair, that home design is an evolution. It’s a journey, not a destination. I’m just thankful that I have my own space, which was recently leveled up after adding some new flooring. I have a view of a lake. I have my own little kitchen. I have a comfy chair. I couldn’t really ask for much more and hopefully the next time I am surfing the internet for new furniture I will remember that I am blessed to have a roof over my head, let alone the perfect curtains or side table.

My dad always says “enjoy the journey” and while I don’t think he ever imagined that being used in the context of decorating, it definitely applies. I want it all, and I want it now. But what’s better, and also my only option, is to be patient, thankful and become a pro at window shopping and daydreaming.

“We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.” – Winston Churchill


3 thoughts on “The brown chair

  1. Maybe you could slip cover the brown chair? There are ready made covers or there are paint products that may work….but DO have fun which ever way you decide to go.

  2. Kara Nichols says:

    That’s a great idea – although a slip cover won’t work I don’t think because it’s a recliner.

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