Opium Bed Style

Normally I would tell you to not get involved with anything related to opium. Except when it involves a table. A table styled like an opium bed.

The opium bed style is from Asia, and you would find these style of beds in opium dens in China and Southeast Asia. Beds were available for reclining in a way that a writer might try to romanticize with words like “lanquid.” I am  not sure I’d romanticize smoking opium! But nowadays tourists like to collect the opium pipes and other paraphernalia when they travel to the Golden Triangle of opium dealers around Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Travelers have exported the look of entire dens, like this brocaded French opium den of the early 1900s, set up by people who returned from the Indochine colonies and brought their addictions back with them.

French Opium Den of the early 1900s

The reality is obviously far less beautiful. Like this opium den in Manila which is really sad.

I am only addicted to the style. I love those curvy table legs. And in fact I did bring an opium bed table back with me from Thailand! Way back in 2001. Please don’t think it was an extravagant thing to do. It cost us only $100! That is, folks, only $7.69 per year so far, for a large teak coffee table.

We ordered it custom made, about 3 feet by 5 feet, by a lady near Chiang Mai. We got to see it being made, under a tent on the family’s front lawn! It cost only a small fraction of what American retailers charge for a large teak table (including shipping) and we felt good about our money going directly to a family. Here it is in our living room:

Opium Coffee Table

Chinese Style Opium Coffee Table

Those are from a post from a year ago that gave you a peek into our living room. After almost 13 years, the table is a bit scratched and needs sanding and restaining, but I still love it and use it almost daily.

Can I entice you with more opium tables?

Opium Table

Opium Bed and Thai Style

Here’s an antique Chinese opium coffee table from Mecox with nice old details, as it should as it’s from the late 1700s:

Antique Opium Coffee Table from Mecox

Here’s an opium table from Golden Triangle in Chicago:

Opium Table at Golden Triangle

While it has a distinctive shape, this table can fit in many decor styles. It can be elegant and sophisticated, like in the photo above. But with woven cane in the middle, it is more casual. Paint it white and it can fit in a beach house. Could you see one in your house?

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#tbt Story: When the Wrong Chair is Shipped from Thailand

Beyonce actually has some great advice for travelers shipping things home. Similar to “If you like it, put a ring on it,” I’d say “If you like it, put your name on it.” That’s what we should have done with these chairs:

Chinese Chairs

They were spotted as we rounded a corner in Baan Tawai, Thailand, a crafts and furniture-making village south of Chiang Mai. I was driving, and driving on the “wrong side of the road” for an American so it took all my mental resources to not crash into anything. So my husband was the spotter. And he spotted these chairs in a showroom open to the street. “STOP!” he yells. “SCREECH!” I almost went. But no, I was already driving really slow because you have to drive super slow in those skinny gravelly road lanes. We glided into the nearest parking spot (also skinny gravelly spot) and ran to claim the Chinese chairs – the very Chinese chairs that were on our short list of “things to find.” We had been driving out of Baan Tawai for the last time before heading to the Chiang Mai airport. The chairs would cost a heckuva lot more back in the States, so we were happy to score a great look cheap-cheap-cheap.

The chairs would have made a marriage made in design heaven with our dining room table. Our table is a six-seater with only four chairs. We thought two of these Chinese chairs (repro not antique) would be perfect at the ends of the dining table, finally making six seats.

Chinese Chair Found in Baan Tawai Thailand

The patina and color on the chairs was perfect.

But. It was not to be.

We didn’t put our name on them.

Some weeks later, crates were delivered to our house  near Chicago. Thankfully all other furniture was correct. But the chairs from this little shop on the edge of a dusty lane – so close that the road dust settled on the chairs , you can see it in the photos – well, the chairs were not the chairs we saw.

I don’t even have “before” photos of the chairs. I think my husband deleted them, they were so ugly, he probably thought “why keep these photos?” They were yellow honey color. They had grape vines engraved on the backrest. Grape vines on a Chinese style chair? They had plastic-covered pastel flowery cushions that were horrifically sticky. Seriously, so sticky that when I sat on a chair in shorts, the cushion was still stuck to the back of my legs when I stood up. And it hurt when I peeled the cushion off.

It’s maybe eight years later now. Our dining room table still has only four chairs.

I did salvage the Chinese chairs and will show in the next post a corner of our home with the made-over Chinese chairs.

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