Modern Windsor chair roundup

Posted by Lauran

English settlers brought the Windsor chair to America in about 1726, and they’ve stayed a favorite in traditional homes ever since. But in the last couple of years, we’ve seen a modern re-invention of the Windsor chair, often in fun colors that look fresh gathered around a dining or kitchen table.

windsor painted chairs

image from

If you’re a fan of this look, you’re in luck—several great retailers offer their own version. Here are five such resources.

Serena & Lily

tucker 1

The Tucker Chair is offered in 9 colors, for $188 each.


EQ3 Lyla Side Chair

The Lyla Side Chair from EQ3 comes in 6 colors and is priced at $179.


DWR salt chair

DWR’s Salt Chair is $129 and is available in 4 colors.

West Elm

west elm spindle chair

West Elm’s version is called the Scissor Spindle Chair, available in Gray only and on sale right now for $149.99.


Threshold Windsor chair copy 2

Finally, Target offers a set of 2 of their Windsor Dining Chairs for $149.99, in 7 happy colors.

Here’s another image to inspire you to mix and match these simple chairs to your heart’s content!

more chairs

Image via A Place for Us to Dream

New ideas in outdoor furniture

It’s time to dust off the outdoor furniture, scrub the cushions, and replant your pots, all in anticipation of warm weather outdoor living. If you’re in the market for a new piece or two, check out these options from some of our favorite retailers.

For casual dining

beer garden copyInspired by the beer gardens of southern Germany, this set from World Market features an unexpected color and is collapsible for easy storage.

For luxurious lounging

montego sun bed

The Montego Sun Bed from Room and Board invites you to enjoy a lazy summer nap. The cushions are available in several colors to brighten up your deck.

For the kids

childs picnic table

You can afford to give the kids their own dining table thanks to the Reso Table from Ikea. This retro picnic table is a true bargain at only $39.99.

For chill-axing

huron chairKick back with a novel and your favorite cool beverage on the Huron Large Lounge chair from West Elm. Made of lightweight aluminum and all-weather cord, it’s designed to withstand the elements.

For cozy gatherings

Hearth-Lounge-Orange-w-Blanket-65495-e1355516423386Sure, this amazing Hearth Heated Lounge is a splurge, but what a cool (make that warm) addition to your outdoor space. The cast-stone sofa utilizes radiant floor heat technology to keep you toasty even on a foggy evening. Nice!




Book review: Creative Family Home

We’ve just added a new design book to our collection: Creative Family Home, by Ashlyn Gibson. This book, featuring stunning photography by Rachel Whiting, is a treat for the eyes from cover to cover. It showcases 13 real families with colorful lives (literally and figuratively) that know how to put the FUN in functional.

creative home 4 copy

Anyone who lives with kids knows that they come with a lot of stuff—toys, books, dolls, etc. This book is full of inventive storage solutions to help contain the chaos.

creative home org

Here you can see some of these clever ideas (top, l to r): an old greeting card wire rack holds books and art prints; handcrafted baskets beautifully collect the stuff that needs to be taken upstairs; a vintage candy storage fixture holds pens, packets, and of course candy; old crates are artfully arranged and hung on a wall for the kids’ clutter; and stackable cubes are used creatively—some open and some filled with pull-out bins.

What I particularly love about this book is the glimpse we get into the homes of 13 European families. I was stuck by how most of them incorporate child-like whimsy in their dining spaces.

creative home 4-2 copy

This fun eat-in kitchen is in the home of a London family with four boys under the age of 10. Yikes. Note the casual collection of mismatched chairs. This combination of materials and colors tells us that this family has great taste, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

creative home 5

Here’s another light-hearted eating space, this time belonging to an Amsterdam family with two girls. Again, mismatched chairs and bright colors are welcoming to kids and adults alike.

creative home 4-3 copy

And another Amsterdam family with two small boys doesn’t let the graphic tiled floor stop them from introducing more color and fun in their dining room. As the book says, “A carefully chosen selection of seating has something for everyone: the ubiquitous Tripp Trapp chair for the 1-year-old, the versatile bench for the 6-year-old, and retro-style chairs for the grown-ups.”

We highly recommend this book, even if you don’t have kids of your own. It is filled with prints, patterns, color, and fun that will inspire anyone who loves to decorate.




How to make a big room work for you

We just finished a project for a couple who called us with an interesting problem: their “great room” wasn’t as great as it could be. Their large rectangular space had a fireplace on one end and a sliding glass door along one wall, and they just weren’t sure what furniture to buy, or how to place it in the room. Their existing configuration (two large sofas pushed against the walls) looked awkward, and didn’t work well for entertaining or watching TV.

Our first step was to find out how the family wanted to use the space. In addition to reading, watching TV and entertaining, their son needed to practice his keyboard and do his homework in the living room too. Our solution was to divide the room into a few functional “zones” that flow together.

entire LR

The middle of the room is the entertaining/relaxing/reading space. The comfortable Metro sectional is paired with two bright Grayson chairs that can easily be moved into different configurations for conversations or TV watching. Behind the sectional is a small table and chairs that offer a more casual alternative to the dining room table next door. This is a great little nook for homework, playing games, etc.

wooden crates

The unique bookshelves next to the table are actually wooden crates ordered from Etsy, which we stacked and layered to fit the corner space.

tv keyboard

The TV works well above the fireplace, and the keyboard finds a perfect spot next to it.

gallery wallWe moved an antique piece they already had against the wall, and created a gallery for them showcasing family photos and artwork. The Aero tables add a rustic touch to the room.

We also decorated their dining room, which was a blank slate. The clean simple lines of the table, chairs and bench make the magnificent Foucault’s Iron Orb Chandelier the focal point of the room. The clients chose to forego a rug in order to show off their beautiful floors.

dining room 2

If you’re perplexed by how to furnish and decorate your own “great room”, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t push your furniture against the walls. Bring it out into the center of the room and create a living room/conversation area.
  • Use a rug to ground the living area and visually separate it from the rest of the room.
  • Try to buy furniture that is easy to move around for increased flexibility.
  • Furnish the rest of the room according to your specific needs. If you are a book collector, put bookshelves and a separate comfy chair in the corner to create a mini-library. If you work at home, put a table up against the back of the sofa to create a desk.
  • Make sure your room has a good traffic flow—can you walk through it easily without bumping into anything?

Let us know how you use your great room—tell us in the comments below.


Color Inspiration: Yellow

It’s the color of daffodils, sunshine, and Spring. In honor of this being the first day of March, I’m showing off some of my favorite yellows . . .

(image via Poppytalk)

I can’t help but drool over these smooth, modern yellow cabinets. Those of you who think yellow is just for country kitchens — think again!

The cover of the new West Elm catalog, featuring this sunny Everett chair, made me smile.

I’m so happy that CB2 has reinvented the traditional Mexican Acapulco chair . . . check out their Ixtapa chair in these delicious colors!

Our favorite yellow paint color is Laguna Yellow (Benjamin Moore 291). It really made this kitchen and dining room that we staged glow.

And speaking of Benjamin Moore, they’ve selected Lemon Sorbet as their color of the year. This buttery yellow brings a soft brightness to surfaces.


Do you use yellow in your home decorating? Tell us about it, in the comments below.

Sectionals for comfort and style

We’re noticing that more people are choosing sectionals — rather than sofas — for their living spaces. A sectional is a great option if you want to include a “lounge” into your seating plan (perfect for TV watching). And when you have a sectional, you only need one other side chair, instead of two that would be next to a traditional sofa.

BoConcept allows you to create your own modular system from their pieces. We especially like the Mezzo and the Istra models, shown below.

We’re also fans of the Replay sectional from EQ3:
And we think the Dual Chocolate Sectional from CB2 is just yummy!

And let’s not forget the Karlstad sectional from Ikea — one of Jill’s personal favorites!

Bringing Color to the Table

This week we spent some time in Ikea, where the Reidar chair really caught our eye. It comes in 4 colors, including this vibrant blue — and it’s a great deal at $49.99.

It’s no secret that we love color, so the idea of bright chairs around the dining or kitchen table really appeals to us. You can even mix an assortment together for a really fun look, as shown here:

If you want to achieve this look in your home, here are some other great options for colorful chairs in stores and online right now.
These are both from CB2: the Echo Orange Chair is $89.95 and the Fleet chartreuse chair is on sale for $129 (regularly $149).
If you’re ready to make more of an investment, Design Within Reach offers the 111 Navy Chair for $260; or the Era Round Armchair for $225 (both chairs are available in other fun colors too).
And for a nice shot of Kelly green, try the Ming Green side chair from Crate and Barrel, $199.

Inspiration: Charles and Ray Eames

Here at Visual Jill, we are fans of many designers, past and present. But the duo of Charles and Ray Eames holds a special place in our hearts. The Eames’ core philosophies — that design should be for the masses, not for the elite; and that good design is important for the commonplace as well as the complex — are truths that we try to adopt in our own work. We also use the Eames beautiful, functional pieces in our own homes and design plans.

The Eames are famous for their innovative molded-plywood techniques that led to the design and manufacturing of a line of chairs, tables and screens. While these are valuable vintage items today, they were affordable and accessible when originally created in 1945. Below, top is the Molded Plywood Lounge Chair, and bottom is the Leather and Molded-Wood Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

Here we’ve used the same two chairs in our design work.

Below right, you can see the Eames molded-plywood screen. On the left is another design revolution: the fiberglass-reinforced plastic armchair. It was the first one-piece plastic chair with an exposed, rather than upholstered, surface.

These plastic chairs were eventually offered in vinyl and upholstered versions as well. Below is one of our coveted blue vinyl Eames armchairs, in front of our beloved screen.

When it comes to good design, Charles Eames said, “The real questions are: Does it solve a problem? Is it serviceable? How is it going to look in ten years?” By creating furniture that could be easily mass-produced, was comfortable and still looks good over 50 years later, he met — and surpassed — his own requirements.

Note: If you’re in LA, be sure to catch the “Living In a Modern Way” exhibition at the LA County Museum of Art, which studies California mid-century modern design — including pieces from the Eames collection.

Eames furniture images from The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.

A Mid-Century Modern Masterpiece

The Eero Saarinen-designed home of J. Irwin Miller, the wealthy industrialist who put Columbus, Indiana on the mid-century modern map, is opening its doors for tours to the general public. All the design magazines are a-buzz, and let’s just say Indiana is lookin’ like a great destination vacation right about now! Of course we’re not going to make you take our word for it. Just try not to drool on your computer, ok?

The sunken conversation pit. We’re dying over the pillows–aren’t they amazing?!!
(Elle Decor :: The New York Times magazine)
The Dining Room makes us giddy: The illuminated table base! The custom tile-patterned rug! The chandelier! Oh my…
The Library/Office with custom-designed textiles
(Elle Decor)
The Floor Plan :: A custom-designed rug and Eames lounge chair in the den :: Textile Designer Alexander Girad’s textile master plan :: A detail of the den rug, with a design based on the floor plan of the house
(Elle Decor :: Dwell)