Group 6 4 minutes Read

eames shell chairs

Lauren Zerbey

After writing about our mustard yellow fiberglass shells, the quest for dowel bases officially began. Our preference was maple and zinc, but we knew that might be tough to find.

Or maybe not.

Our shells post generated a lot of positive feedback for reproduction company Modern Conscience. Kyle contacted the company and was pleasantly surprised to learn that 1) they’re located in Seattle and 2) they had 6 maple and zinc wide-mount bases. Let’s call that fate.

So early last week we headed down to their studio, a rad work/live loft in South Seattle.

The owners, Amanda and Brian (both trained as architects), were super nice and helpful.  Amanda was even able to tell us that, based on the plastics factory stamp on the bottom of the shells, our chairs were likely reproduced in the early 60’s.

The legs are maple and have a tung oil finish that will likely darken a bit with time. They also have plastic protectors at the foot of each leg, which seem to work well with our cork floors.

Fortunately, the offset bracket at the top means that the bases can be used for our wide-mount configuration (the shells originally had a stacking base). [Not sure what the difference is? This handy graphic explains it well.] This was good news for us since we really didn’t want to mess with removing and remounting the shocks (which seem to be in pretty good condition).

Felix volunteered to QC the job.

To attach the bases, Kyle simply installed a screw through a washer and lock washer, paying careful attention not to drive the screw too far (which could cause the shock to pop off). The lock washer compresses between the bracket and the regular washer as you drive the screw in, creating a nice solid connection. The bases definitely “settled” the first time we sat in them, so we’re keeping a screwdriver handy to adjust them if needed after a week or so of use.

But in general – LOVE. The maple, zinc and yellow work well together and with the rest of our home.  The smaller size and more delicate proportions are a much better solution for the space. If anything, the table feels a bit too blond now, but we’ve got our own plans for that.  =)

Like some people mentioned, the seat height is a bit lower than a standard chair, but they still work fine. For the future dining room table, we’ll probably make it a smidge shorter. Although the chairs don’t necessarily look comfortable, they really are. The dining table is also our impromptu office, so I’ve spent a good many hours in them already.

Bailey didn’t seem to have an opinion…

…but Felix did. Our old upholstered chairs were a favorite napping spot for the kitten so he’s not too thrilled with the replacements. Good thing we don’t base design decisions around cats. [Although as a consolation prize of sorts, he did finally discover the loft ladder.]

Although it looks more saturated in the photo above (left), the color is more of a muted yellow in real life.

In addition to our chair acquisition we’ve also been tweaking our furniture layout. Although we were loving our flex room redo, we eventually grew tired of the Aerobed and decided to move our older couch back up from the basement. On a whim, we then decided to move the coffee table into the flex room…

…and you know what? It works so much better in there! This whole time we’ve known that something wasn’t quite right about the living area but chalked it up to its modest size. (We’ve even been toying with the idea of doing a future bump-out addition for that space.) But with the coffee table gone, the space feels more inviting and functional. In the flex room (aka TV room), we finally have a place to set drinks and store our half-dozen remote controls…which means I no longer have to hold my glass of wine through an entire episode of Dexter. A win-win for me and our wool carpet. 

The other radical thing we did was shorten and rotate the table 90 degrees. We originally designed the space so the table could work in a number of configurations depending on the event or our mood. When we first brought it back into the room last year it was right before my big 30th birthday party, so we must have decided to add the leaf back in, which meant orienting it parallel to the long direction of the house.  Over a year later, it finally dawned on us that we certainly didn’t need the larger configuration on a day-to-day basis and by shortening and rotating it, we could free up a bit more space for the living area.

[Also, we need an orchid whisperer. After one watering mishap, all of the flowers fell off but the plant itself still looks healthy. I’ve just continued to water it, hoping it will remedy itself, but I’m growing weary of that strategy. Orchid experts, advice?]

Anyway, scooting the couch a bit closer to the kitchen also gives us more room for chairs at the other end, which we’ve found is critical when we have people over. Although it was important for us to get six chairs, we’re keeping two in the living area for the time being.  The jumble of audio equipment behind is also on the to-do list for this fall/winter. Last year we came up with this design for a media cabinet. While we’re still envisioning a long, low-slung piece, we’re tweaking the design to work with the revised furniture layout (and our growing record collection!).

There are still several things on our to-do list for this space, but the chairs are a giant step in the right direction. And, they make us happy.


[P.S. – thank you for all of your thoughtful and encouraging comments last week! You guys are the best.]