House of Windsors

We, as a nation, are a classless society. We follow the British royal tabloids for vicarious pleasure, but embrace the ideal that all men are created equal. The Windsor chair as we know it was developed somewhere in England, possibly Windsor, around 1725. America embraced this form, as we are less about formality and more about comfort.

You can almost imagine George and Martha Washington sitting in these chairs in the afternoon with the family watching the Potomac flow by. They were our first royal family, receiving dignitaries and guests on their 8000 acre estate.

I have been to Mount Vernon twice and continue to be amazed at the colors used in the interiors. The moneyed public at the time was traveling to Herculaneum and Pompeii and reviving the colors found in the renovated ruins. They were influenced by the latest fashion, just as we pickup fashions from our travels. When I teach my continuing education course for Interior Designers on American Antiques, one of my true/false test questions states that “George Washington furnished his home with priceless antiques.” About 50% of the students find the statement true. The home was actually furnished with the latest in fashion at the time – cutting edge materials and styles. And they ordered most of it from catalogs, such as Thomas Chippendale’s “Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director”. Local cabinetmakers clustered on the coast where mahogany came in as ballast on the ships. They used Chippendale’s catalogs to inspire their clients to commission the latest “contemporary furnishings”.

Our delivery of style has changed over time, but this classic chair has retained its original form. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

A Hope of Spring and A Promise of Summer

I was born a city girl raised by city parents. My mother did not want to live with old furniture or carry a stick of firewood, because she grew up in the depression. My father considered “roughing it” carrying his own golf bag. But we must be born with certain affinities because I am happiest in the wide open with my critters.

When I established my interior design firm, Laurie McRae Interiors, I wanted a timeless brand. I chose a rising whippoorwill as my logo, a symbol of the hope of spring. When I developed a line of clothing embellished with antique and vintage linens, I wanted to continue the brand but with a twist. So, I named the venture “Chuck Wills Widow”. The name started as many conversations as the clothing ever did. A chuck will’s widow is a closely related bird to the whippoorwill, both in the family of night hawks. There is a week or two of time in the south when you can hear both birds call their own name.  The whippoorwill call is fast and constant, while the chuck is slower and lilting. So, listen late next May for the hope of spring and the promise of summer during that short time when their migrations overlap.

Link to Whippoorwill Sound from American Bird Conservancy

Link to Whippoorwill and Chuck Will’s Widow Sound from cdavidfloyd