Chinese Ceramic Garden Stools - Yes or No?
Domino (April) arrived over the weekend and I couldn't help but feel left out of the hip 'n trendy Chinese Garden Stool Club. Michael Bargo had one in a lovely green, the amazing Lulu de Kwiatkowski sported one in her home (in what appeared to be orange), Tom Scheerer incorporated a perky lime stool into the drinks table arrangement that he pulled together (in classic Scheerer style), and Jennifer Marsico had two white ones in her living room alone. But no worries my fellow design addicts. For as little as $69 USD, you can join the Garden Stool Club, too.
Here's a floral ceramic stool used by Burnham Design in one of their rooms, it looks inspired by the Chinese garden seats, just a bit more dainty and detailed. I wasn't able to find an exact copy of it, but if you spend some time on Google, I'm sure you'll find something like it. Check with your local antiques dealer, too.
Why so appealing? They can do it all - the true multitaskers. They fuction as a foot rest, small table, plant stand, place for kitty to sit, or just for a little eye candy - a bright burst of color. They are also small enough to not give commitment phobes a showroom freak out, it's just one itty bitty stool. Slightly larger than throw pillows. About the same price. We love a good ole barely-break-a-sweat purchase.
Also know as 'tea stools', 'chinese stools', and 'porcelain garden seats', the big sellers seem to be those in solid colors, circular, with intricate, but spare, cutouts (vs. the ornate hand-painted or square varieties). Although, I have to say that I love the hand-painted stools in blue and white, like the one shown a few images down from Wisteria for $179.
My #1 stop, Oriental DestinAsian on eBay. Prices range from $69-119 for solid colors in blues, greens, yellows, and of course, white. With a flat rate shipping anywhere in the U.S. for only $35, you can't go wrong for a repro. Keep in mind that just like anything else, you can pay more and find something really unique and one-of-a-kind straight from artisians in China, or you can opt for reproduction pieces inspired by traditional Chinese garden seats if you're on a limited budget.
Although the stools I'm seeing in magazines and designer's portfolios aren't nearly as ornate, if you love to mix things up, opt for handpainted or these cutout floral patterns from The Company Store ($108), or Mecox Gardens. For a one-of-a-kind seat, Red River Trading Co. in Boston's South End has imported stools straight from Hunan, China. The two shown above in teal were handmade and fired in a kiln which means that are totally worth $350- each.
Additional Ceramic Garden Stool resources: Tonic Home, Clipper Trading, even Pottery Barn is in on the trend with a Jade green stool for only $99. You can google for "Ceramic Garden Stools", "tea stools", "chinese stools", and "porcelain garden seats", and find hundreds of other sources. Use those as search words on eBay, too.
Can you spot them in these rooms? Some are much less obvious than others...
So what do you think - Are you into these, or do you run screaming in the opposite direction?