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In the latest in our series on people’s favorite spaces, we talk to wardrobe consultant Monica Negri about new starts, discovered art, and the vintage chair that almost got away.
“We had been living in an 800 sq ft cottage in Palo Alto. We lived there almost 20 years. It was a rent control situation, and every time we looked at properties to buy in California, they were outside of our price range.
“I used to own a consignment store there, and my husband and I visited Phoenix and Tucson to shop some vintage stores. Every time I came here I loved the way it felt. It’s so warm and sunny, I never felt closed in. There was no heating in the house we rented. It was dark and cold, with a canopy of oak trees outside.
“So we bought a condo in Tucson as a getaway. Eventually I said ‘ I want to move, I want to start my life over’. We’re both risk takers. We said ‘Let’s go for it’ and we moved to Tucson five years ago and both changed careers. This is the very first house we’ve owned.
“In Palo Alto our whole house was circa 1950s. I said ‘You know what, let’s just get rid of everything and start over’. I had bought this Hans Wegner chair for $800 in Redwood City. It’s called a Papa Bear chair because of its shape. They go for anything from $2000 to $3000. I put the chair up for sale and people were haggling with me over the price, until eventually I said ‘It’s not for sale any more’.
“I found some fabric and got it reupholstered. Then I bought a replica Hans Wegner ottoman to go with it. My husband and I sit in the chair and watch TV, and my two dogs like sitting in it too. We’re not fussy that way. Furniture is there to be used.
“The painting on the wall is by Bay Area artist Michele Katen. I was the first one to buy one of her paintings, and I have several of them. There is nothing more exciting then seeing joy in the buyer and seller simultaneously. I feel that is what happened with me and Michele.
“The Papa Bear chair ended up being the only piece of furniture we brought with us. I have some regrets about some of the things I sold, like some 1930’s mannequins with cages, and a 1940’s mannequin head made out of papier mache. I called her Natasha. Another antique dealer who had wanted this head, she bought it from me. I do regret that. I literally lost my head.”