Is Stickley is the New Ikea?

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You’ll have to pardon the breakout of bungalow fever on the blog this week, but I’ve vowed to spend the summer patching, painting and fixing up things around our almost 100 year old house. One of my projects is an all out war on ugly furniture. Sorry, Ikea, but you’re out. Stickley is in.

Thanks to the folks at Archive.org you can download a copy of Gustav Stickley’s 1909 furniture catalog as well as Gustav’s brothers Leopold and John George’s 1910 catalog. Gustav and his brothers enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame between the years 1900 and 1915. Furniture trends changed during and after WWI and Gustav’s company went bankrupt. It wasn’t until the 1970s when interest in the Arts and Crafts movement returned.

stickley 811 rocker
We were lucky to have picked up an L. & J.G. Stickley rocker #811 this week that now graces our living room. At nearly 110 years old, the rocker looks a whole lot better than the disposable Ikea couch it faces. If one were to¬†amortize the cost of a well made piece of furniture versus something cheap and disposable I think it’s obvious what’s the better choice.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 8.42.24 AMCraftsman furniture seems to have fallen out of favor again with the ascendancy of mid-century modern mania. I’m hoping for a Stickley revival. To that end, please note that L. & J.G. Stickley seem to have manufactured the world’s first futon couch and it’s a lot more handsome than the ones I see discarded on every other block in Los Angeles.

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Lastly, I’m trying to think of the lifestyle adjustments that would justify a weekend in the garage making a copy of the L. & J.G. Stickley dinner gong. How exactly would a dinner gong work out in our 1,000 square foot house occupied by just two people? Would its existence prompt more inspired daily meal prep? Would reheating a frozen Trader Joe’s meal (what a friend calls the Ikea of food) in the microwave justify a bang on the gong? Would it cause the cats and dog to scatter? Should I develop a gong app instead?

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P.S.
My attempt to craft a longer blog post with a clickbait headline, “Is the Dinner Gong the New Killer App?” failed due to lack of source material, but I’d like to share this bittersweet object: a French dinner gong crafted from a WWI artillery shell.

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5 Comments

  1. Our simple bungalow was built in 1924 and we have both Arts and Crafts and Mid-Century (as well as modern) furniture — the mid-century goes surprisingly well! We have a wooden sunburst clock above our mantlepiece, 2 midcentury chairs, some Heywood Wakefield refinished to a natural wood tone, etc. etc.

    Most of it is no-name stuff inherited from the in-laws purchased from the Sears catalogue ala 1961, or stuff that I’ve found at estate sales or thrift stores. All of it is SOLID, beautifully made and we love our mash up style. :^)

  2. Greetings from Syracuse, NY, the epicenter of the Stickleys’ work! A local factory carries on the Stickley name and produces respectable reproductions of some of the furniture (www.stickleyaudi.com). And the library in the suburb of Fayetteville is housed in the old Stickley factory and has a little Stickley museum on the top floor (http://stickleymuseum.com).

  3. Oh boy do I have opinions on the quality of furniture! Every piece of furniture in our house has been bought at a yard sale or antique store, solid wood. Part of the appeal of wood – in addition to its beauty – is the fact that it can be repaired, whereas pressboard furniture can’t, a major consideration when our three boys were small. That said, we don’t particularly favor Arts & Crafts styling, we tend more towards late Victorian in our taste.

    As for the gong, no need to find a reason for it. Some things in a house, even the home of a person who dislikes clutter (me), can be there for no other reason than to give pleasure. Go for it!

  4. You’ve just given me an idea of what to do with one of the cymbals I found in the trash years ago. And I love Stickley furniture. So unfussy and peaceful.

  5. My friend replaced almost everything in her living room with Stickley-inspired furniture. A friend in B’ham has a home that is Arts and Crafts all the way. Anything solid wood appeals to me. There is no fake wood in my house. Things may break, but all that can be repaired.

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