The Barstool Story

So, when Tim and I walked through this house, the previous owners were still living here. All their stuff was here (well, all the stuff the real estate agent let them keep after staging). I didn’t open cabinets and peer in crannies as much as I might have if they hadn’t been. When you’re looking at a house, you’re supposed to be imagining your stuff in the space, not admiring the current owner’s style. One of the chairs drew my attention immediately, though, being pulled up to the ‘desk’ right at the kitchen entrance. They were lovely. Looking further in the house, I was struck by how elegant the dining set looked in the room. It was a nice oval table with matching chairs, and this extra matching one at the kitchen desk. (Yes, a kitchen desk is weird. I don’t know either, but it seems to work.) I love traditional wooden furniture, and always wanted a strong wood/antique influence in my house. Now, suddenly, that house is in my hands. Sans chairs, unfortunately, but I have a very clear idea of how I would like the place to look.

Between the kitchen and dining space, there is a peninsula. (I’m not sure what you call it. It’s not a bar, there’s no ‘bartender’s side’. It’s not an island, those are detached. I call it a peninsula because it’s attached, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what it’s supposed to be called in HGTV-ese. For now, until someone enlightens me, it’s a bar.) It needs stools. There is definitely room for two stools, maybe three if I squeeze.

My thought was, whatever furniture I collect now is going to last me, potentially, the rest of my life. I had better love it. I also have the rest of my life to watch garage sales and flea markets to assemble the set. I did need the bar stools right away, though, because otherwise the space was really wasted. So, I went looking on Facebook’s Marketplace for stools in the style of those beautiful chairs I had seen.

I found a pair and messaged the seller. She accepted my offer, but then told me they were gone hours later.

I kept looking, and found another set, this time with four stools. I have four kids (obviously), but not really room for four bar stools at the counter all the time. I figured I’d offer for the set, and either sell the extras, or keep the extras in the basement until one broke. I messaged the seller with an offer, and waited. Eventually, I got a positive response, and set up a time to drive to Spring Grove, MN to pick them up.

Cold-contacting anyone is terrifying, in my experience – even if you’re potentially there to give them money for their junk. I managed to find the right house, and a lady who was very happy to get rid of her furniture. In making conversation while we carried the stools to the van, I mentioned that my goal was to have a whole dining set in the same design.

“You interested in these?” the lady asked, and gestured to a row of chairs in the house.

I counted five chairs as I picked up a stool and said, “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. They’re beautiful.”

“You want ’em?” Apparently all the dining chairs were for sale, but she hadn’t decided how much, only that she didn’t want to have to move them. I suggested that I was interested, and that she should have her niece (her technological intermediary) contact me on Facebook when she decided how much she wanted.

“You interested in the table, too?” she asked suddenly. I hadn’t really looked at the table, being focused on carrying furniture, and said so. The lady invited me back inside, and pulled the tablecloth off the table. A quick glance told me the set was exactly what I had been envisioning for my dining room.

“It’s perfect,” I blurted. It was a gorgeous oval oak table that would easily and elegantly seat my 6-member family. Plus, apparently, two leaves and eight chairs.

“Well, what do you think it’s worth?” the lady asked. What is it worth? Those chairs would cost $150 apiece, new. The table, with two leaves, I couldn’t even begin to price. I knew the whole set was worth easily a grand, and it was in very good condition.

“What it’s worth and what I can pay are two very different things,” I said honestly.

“Well, what do you think?” she asked again.

I looked at the table and scrambled mentally while she mentioned that there were two extender leaves and eight chairs to the set. “Three hundred?” I finally threw out, having rejected $200 as insultingly lowballing, and higher than that as more than I could afford.

“How ’bout $350?” she said.

“Deal,” I replied. “As long as you know I won’t have that money ’til Saturday.” It was payday weekend, thank goodness. “I can come back then.”

We shook on the deal, and she had me load three extra kitchen chairs into the van along with the four barstools I had originally come for. On the way home, I texted Tim: “I went to Spring Grove to get bar stools, and accidentally bought a dining set for $350.”

His response: “I really hope you have the money for that.”

Between my savings and my paycheck, I actually did. Lance happened to be available that weekend to help me move the items, and suddenly… My dining room is complete!

On Wednesday night, before I went to get the barstools, I was telling Tim how much I liked them, and how I imagined finding the whole set secondhand would probably take me years. A few days later, he was telling me, “See? Someone up there is listening to what you want.”  Truly, if I’m not fooling myself, He must be. What a wonderful and completely unexpected blessing.

So, here is my assembled dining set in all its miraculous and unlikely glory.  It fits perfectly in the space, and looks so beautiful. My dining room makes me happy every time I think about it. We keep six chairs around the table, and the seventh hangs out in that empty corner on the right, because there is often an extra person or two to feed.

Three of the bar stools tuck up against the ‘peninsula’ very nicely, and the fourth one is set against the wall, ready to pull out as needed. It works to put it at the end and fit a fourth kid at the bar temporarily, but blocks traffic if it stays there.

The last chair is tucked in at the kitchen desk, just like it was when I first saw the house. Just as it should be.

We put the whole set to use shortly after we got it, when the Kelley family showed up en masse for a somewhat impromptu family reunion. I had 7 adults and 7 kids in my house, and managed to find seating for everyone. It was friendly, and homey, and comfortable, and exactly what a home should be – full of family, food,  fun, light, and most importantly… Love.


As a bit of a coda: I did some research online to see how far off I was in estimating the set’s value. Let’s just say I found out just how blessed I was, and I decided not to post the retail total because I don’t want anyone to think I’m bragging. I would never pay that much for furniture. Even if I could afford it. But having been blessed with it is a wonderful feeling.

Oak Pressed Back Dining Chair, Set of 8: $943.92 ; Solid Oak Dining Table: $1309.99 ; Acadian Swivel Bar Stool, Set of 4: $415.96

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Barstool Story

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.