mustard shells

A year ago, we wrote this post about our quest for dining room chairs. After much research and discussion, we decided to keep the IKEA ones we had until the right thing came along. 

Well, hello Mr. Right:

It all started a few months ago, when Anna clued me into some mustardy yellow Eames fiberglass shell chairs that she heard about through Victoria. They were being sold through Midcentury Modern Finds, a vintage seller based out of San Francisco. Long story short, I didn’t act fast enough and before I knew it the chairs were gone.

But when I finally contacted the seller she let me know that they had about twenty more that just needed to be cleaned up! [Fist pump!] The chairs, which came from a SF longshoremen union hall (which conjures up all sorts of mental images), looked to be in pretty good shape. They were being sold with a wide mount stacking base for $150 each, but we knew we had our hearts set on the dowel base. Fortunately, we were able to purchase just the shells for $100 a piece, which seemed like a reasonable price for 6 matching chairs. (We were originally going to get just four to replace the ones we have, but realized that we often have 6+ people over at one time and making people sit on bar stools is just awkward.)

So anyways, we bought them. On Monday, the shells boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Seattle. (I had no idea you could ship via Greyhound!) Tonight, I headed to the bus station in downtown Seattle to pick them up (which was an experience in itself), but I didn’t care – because I knew the glory that was packed inside my green cellophane-wrapped box. 

We held our breath as we unpacked the box, both secretly hoping that the color would be the right shade of yellow. To our relief, it was. We had discussed the merits of getting a more neutral color, but the yellow is actually playful without being too bright and we think it will work well in our house. (I decided to go ahead and snap a few photos tonight, even though the artificial lighting does not do them justice.) Plus, we love that they’re durable, easy to clean and the right scale for our small house. There are some very tiny marks/scratches here and there, but the overall quality is fantastic. And really, I think there’s also something to be said about getting a piece of furniture that’s already broken in.

Now, let’s talk about something serious.

Dowel bases.

We know of a few reproduction companies, like Modernica, Herman Miller and Modern Conscience, but if anyone has any other leads or suggestions, please share! (We’re ok with going the reproduction route, since it would probably be close to impossible to find 6 matching vintage bases.) Kyle has been eyeing the maple/chrome combination but I’d be ok with maple/black too. The shells came with wide mount shocks, but we’re willing to change them to a narrow mount if needed. (Of course, cost is also a factor – we’d like to stay under $100 per base if possible.)

I know the Eames shell chair is in every other modern house in America, but I don’t care. This is love.


44 Responses to “mustard shells”

  1. Brismod says:

    What’s not to love. They’re fantastic!

  2. Monica says:

    Gorgeous! And I love their history. Kind of fits with the building and welding that you have going on. Hope you find good bases.

    • chezerbey says:

      Me too! Especially since I’ve always imagined that a longshoreman or logger was the original owner of our home. =)

  3. Jo in NZ says:

    Lovely pieces! And I like too that they indirectly came to pass through two other lovely home bloggers – karma 🙂

  4. I’d just like to point out how adorable your kitten is in that last picture!

  5. Sammi says:

    Yum, delicious eye-candy! They are just perfect for your abode. Happy base shopping and can’t wait to see them complete 🙂

  6. Nick Klaus says:

    That’s incredible that you’ve got a set of chairs that’ll look great in your space. Patience really pays off! I’ll keep an eye out for dowel bases; LA craigslist sometimes has random things like that.

  7. Michael McTigue says:

    Go Modernica. Good quality. I am pretty shure that the rubber mounts on the H-Bases do not align with the other bases, so you might have to remove and reposition them. A little work, but nothing some gorilla glue can’t fix! While you’re at it, you might as well replace the rubber mounts.

  8. katie says:

    love the color of your chairs! i have 6 gray chairs that i bought on craigslist a few years ago – they are also the wide mount stacking base. one of these days i’m going to switch out the bases. i keep going back and forth between the dowel and the eiffel. are you going to move the mounts on your chairs or try to find those transition pieces?

    • chezerbey says:

      Not sure yet, the dowel bases on Modern Conscience come in both wide and narrow mount but I’m not sure if the wide works with our current configuration.

  9. CT says:

    They look great — it seems like a perfect match/tie-in to the yellow on your sofa’s accent pillows which I’m sure works with the other mustard accents elsewhere in the house. I’m glad you guys didn’t play it safe — you’ll enjoy some color so much more. Cheers!

  10. Cait says:

    I love those! Good luck hunting down the bases!

  11. Gavin says:

    What a wicked good score!

    Not sure if you have stumbled across plastolux blog or not, but he just restored some eames shell chairs and put new mounts on them. He got the bases at Modern Conscience and the mounts at special k hardware. In case you have yet to stumble across his blog.. here is his process to restore the shells he got.

    • chezerbey says:

      Thanks Gavin, yes I know exactly which plastolux post you’re talking about! Also, just realized today that Modern Conscience is based out of Seattle!

  12. Amanda says:

    Congrats! I’ve been looking for mustard shells as well, and I’m getting impatient. It may be time to take the plunge since she still has some available. How is the condition of the shock mounts?

    • chezerbey says:

      Hi Amanda, the shock mounts look pretty good – in fact the epoxy looks new but they weren’t replaced by the seller (I asked!).

  13. megan says:

    Love them! I have four in orange from Modernica and they are the best dining / all around chairs, ever, for the reasons you list: durable, classic. Seriously, they’re the one thing in my apartment I’m never sick of. Every time I see them on a magazine cover or in a spread, I remind myself how great they look in just about every kind of setting. Mine have the eiffel bases but the dowels are great, too. Congrats!

  14. They are so pretty! What a good find.

  15. Kate says:

    I love them too! can’t wait to see them all finished.

  16. maya says:

    its a great color for you space!!!!

  17. Ohhhhh.. the colour of those chairs is perfect for your house! I can’t wait to see them put together with whatever bases you find. It’s going to look fantastic. 🙂

    I’m curious – are they comfortable to sit in?

  18. Hi Lauren (and Kyle). These are fantastic. We need dining chairs, so I wrote to Christine at Midcentury Modern Finds and ordered some too. Looks like I too will be making my way to the local Greyhound station. BTW, Christine at MCMF is fantastic with communication. That mustard color is perfect and I’m convinced that even with the cost of the bases, these are good investment. I hope you’ll keep us posted whether you decide on the narrow or wide-mount bases.

    • chezerbey says:

      That’s awesome Amy! Are you keeping the stacking base or going with something different? We’re narrowing down our base search, but Modern Conscience seems to be a great company with really reasonable prices.

      • Hi Lauren. I only ordered shells. Eric (my husband) and I like the walnut dowel bases with black metal. Our floors are oak and our wall is “Deep Space (a dark blue/grey by Benjamin Moore). It should be a good contrast. Modern Conscience seems like a solid reseller. They’ve got all the parts, shocks, adhesives, etc. I’m still unclear whether the narrow or wide-base dowels work. Does it even matter since these were stacking?

        • chezerbey says:

          Ooh…I think that’s going to look really good! Definitely send me pictures when it’s all together. Re: the bases…I believe that the wide-base dowels will work, but we’re going to take one of our shells down to MC to make sure. (I thought that the stacking mounts were wide-base, but I might be wrong.)

  19. Nicole says:

    I love them in mustard. They’re going to look fantastic with dowel bases!

  20. ChristinaM. says:

    These are going to be perfect once finished. As far as I know Herman Miller won’t sell the bases by themselves. I’ve tried to order one and I even know our rep really well and it just wasn’t possible. I hope you have luck with one of the other suppliers!

    • Kyle Z says:

      yeah I asked herman miller earlier this week and got a no. We’re going with Modern conscience! It was between them and modernica but modern conscience was a much better price and they’re local to us in Seattle;)

  21. Nice score on the shells! I just wanted to put my two cents in. I was and am still very please with my bases from modern conscience. In my day job I am around hardware, nuts and bolts all day. Their stuff is really nice and Brian and Amanda were great to work with. Can’t wait to see the end result!

    • Kyle Z says:

      yep, we’re working with Amanda, supposed to pick them up on Monday!

      • Tim says:

        Hey I have also just aquired some similar chairs with the wide mount base. I’m wondering if you switched to narrow mount or just got the wooden dowl wide mount from modern conscience? If you did switch the base was it easy to do so?

  22. breanna says:

    they are awesome! beautiful pop of colour! i recently stumbled across your website and i LOVE what you’ve done with your home! as a fellow renovator (only 3 years in!) you have inspired me to keep going! amazing work!

  23. Dave says:

    Love them. Classic is classic even if it’s in every house in America.

  24. Lunh says:

    100 dollars for chairs. Even if you seem really talented, that kind of things just makes me sad.

  25. matt says:

    love the shells. question, after attaching the new dowel bases, do they have any ‘give’ or flex when you sit in them? i bought some, and don’t want to overtighten, but they currently bow out a bit when i sit down, and i’m only 180 lbs. any advice is greatly appreciated. thanks.

    • Lauren says:

      Hey Matt, I’ve noticed this with ours too – I believe this is part of the design and a little give is ok (though you do need to retighten the screws every once in a while). We haven’t had any “incidents” with ours and they get used on a regular basis. =)


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