August 30, 2010

Shaker Furniture: The Birth of Modernism?


Poor modern furniture. If it had feelings, it would almost certainly have an assortment of self-esteem issues. It’s so polarizing – people either love or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be much room for a middle ground.

The same features that make modern furniture so appealing are the ones that turn many people off. Its smooth lines and sleek appearance can sometimes favor style over functionality, while a generally abstract (and sometimes bizarre) design can simply leave some people confused.

Despite its bad-boy reputation for not staying inside the lines of traditional furniture design, the ideas for some of today’s hottest modern furniture designs have been propelled by a surprisingly humble source: Shaker furniture.


Established in the 18th century, the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing was a religious sect known for their emphasis on equality, rejection of marriage, hard work, and the pursuit of perfection. These Protestant Quakers believed God could be found within oneself rather than through clergy or rituals.

Although they didn’t perform rituals per se, they did dance, as they considered music to be an integral part of the religious experience. The group’s erratic dancing often frightened outsiders, who took to calling them “Shakers.”


Shakers were known for creating a style of furniture known as Shaker furniture, which they made for their own use and sold to the general public. Shaker furniture is widely admired for its simplicity, innovative joinery, quality, and functionality.


Many examples of Shaker furniture still exist today, including Shaker tables, chairs, rocking chairs, and cabinets. Collections of Shaker furniture are maintained by many art and historical museums in the United States and England, as well as in numerous private collections.

Though it would be a stretch to say Shaker furniture gave rise to modern furniture design, the influences are striking. The underlying principles of Shaker design have given inspiration to some of the finest designers of modern furniture.

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

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August 23, 2010

Back to School Season, or Parent-Christmas

DJI_Dazzle_Sept_back2school_b (800x202)

Shh. Do you hear that? Listen closely.

It’s one of the most wonderful sounds in existence.


As summer draws to a close, kids all over the country are headed back to school, relieving their poor, exhausted parents of the constant rowdiness that only an energetic child with no responsibilities can inflict upon his/her guardians.

For about six hours every day, moms and dads everywhere can slowly regain pieces of their sanity while the kids are off at school.

As Staples not-so-subtly implies, back-to-school season is akin to Christmastime for parents – Parent-Christmas, if you will.

Parent-Christmas takes place around August.

This daily respite is brief, however, for once the school day ends, the kids return home. To maximize their learning potential (and your quiet time), you’ve got to keep them focused on their homework. This can prove to be quite a struggle, but you can get the upper hand with the right furniture.

Studying for next week’s history exam while on the couch in front of the television isn’t exactly productive. Solving algebra problems while sprawled out on the floor won’t get your child high marks for organization. And doing online research while sitting on the front porch watching the neighbors go about their day won’t yield the greatest results.

Like adults, kids need designated areas to do their work properly. Getting your child their own desk to work from will not only improve their homework and study habits, it will also get them excited about doing the work! Having their own desk space can boost a child’s self-esteem by reminding them that they’re capable of handling more responsibilities, thereby bringing them one step closer to adulthood.

El Dorado Furniture offers a huge selection of desks designed for children and young adults. Listed below are just some of our more popular items. Many of these products are part of a larger collection, so you don’t necessarily have to stop at the desk.

Want to get your child even more excited about their new set? Bring them to any of our showrooms, or browse our website and have them choose a set they like best. If they’re excited about their desk, they’ll be even more excited to work on it.

Click on a piece to find out more about it!

Artsy Craftsy Desk


Jia-Li 4-Piece Modular Desk



Jerraffin Writing Desk


Simon Cherry Gloss Complete Desk



Hida Desk


Santa Fe Frame Desk



Aura Desk



Leeland Laptop Desk


Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

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August 17, 2010

5 Useless (But Fun!) Facts About Office Chairs

xion-03%20office%20chair_MEDIUMOffice chairs: we use them all day, every day. But how much do we really know about our trusty seating tools? Did you know…



1) One of the earliest iterations of the office chair was invented in the 1800s by naturalist Charles Darwin. Yes, the same chap who took the science world by storm with his claim that humankind evolved from primates is partially responsible for our modern day office chairs. Mr. Darwin added wheels (which would later become casters) to his personal lab chair so he could get to his specimens more quickly. Today we use those wheels mainly to roll ourselves over to the copy machine five feet away. And office chair racing. Charles would be proud.



2) Although it may not look like it, comfort was the focus of the original office chair’s design. It’s funny to think that even during the mid-1800s, furniture designers were thinking about personal comfort in the workplace. But this design concept didn’t exactly come from the kindness of their hearts. The idea was to make the chair as comfortable and functional as possible so employees would stay seated longer and be more productive.



3) Though we were only joking about office chair racing earlier, some people have really taken this “sport” to heart. In 2009, the first German Office Chair Racing Championship was held in Bad Koenig-Zell, Germany. Seventy participants brought their office chairs out into the sun and put them through their paces. The downhill race started on a steep ramp before facing another ramp. The only rule was that everyone wear a crash helmet, which most participants needed. Dozens of racers fell off their chairs, and many didn’t make it to the end of the 170-meter race.



4) Though many of the above participants’ chairs were likely hand-made, more serious office chair racers may want to invest in some extreme hardware for their craft. Some specialists offer top-of-the-line accessories so you could race your office chair in style. Customers can trick out their chairs with actual seats from a selection of cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and Maserati. The seats typically come from race conversions, cars that have suffered low mileage wrecks, and dealer errors (such as ordering the wrong color seat or forgetting to order a seat feature). The customizations even include genuine automotive paint!



5) Some cutting-edge chairs are taking ergonomics to a whole new level, especially in the office. Many people with chronic back pain are turning to these specialized chairs as a replacement for their standard office chairs. These special chairs claim to ease back pain and even improve posture by redistributing some of the weight from the upper thighs to the calves. Studies are still being done on the effectiveness of these chairs, but the weirdness of their design has definitely been confirmed.

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

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August 10, 2010

5 Common Furniture Myths

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I’ll be the first to admit it: I’ve had my share of “space cadet” moments – those moments when your brain completely ceases to function and you’re forced to contemplate a particular situation without the benefit of thought or logic. Others may simply refer to these as bouts of stupidity. Whatever you call them, I’ve had them. Many times.

That having been said, I’m sure many of you, dear readers, have suffered these bouts as well. (Admit it!) The good news is that these synaptic misfires can usually be attributed to ignorance. The cure for ignorance is education, and that’s what we’re doling out in this week’s post.

The following is a list of some common misconceptions about furniture. If you’ve ever had a space cadet moment pertaining to any of these topics, consider yourself cured! How many of these have crossed your mind?

1) Removing that tag from your mattress will land you in trouble with the law.

An iteration of the following scenario has played out in all our minds at some point: while changing your bed sheets, you accidentally rip off the mattress tag bearing the ominous words “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW.” Moments later, the mattress police show up at your door and haul you away to mattress prison where you’re forced to fashion shivs from coil springs for the rest of your days.

A little wisdom and logic help us to realize this is a ridiculous scenario and the tag is not meant for consumers. But the question remains: why is that tag there in the first place?

do-not-removeIn the early 1900s, some shady bed makers were filling pillows and mattresses with anything they could get their hands on: horse hair, straw, rags, crumpled paper, and other less-than-hygienic materials. Consumer awareness was on the rise, and so were disease and infection. Many sicknesses were passed on through this kind of bad bedding, so lawmakers implemented regulations that required bed makers to clearly display what materials were used in their products so consumers would know exactly what they were buying. The solution was the mattress and pillow tags. The DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW warning was meant for the manufacturer. Recently, some manufacturers have cleared up this long-standing confusion by adding a line explicitly stating that only the consumer may remove the tag. But for many of us, the damage has already been done.

So rest easy knowing that you can rip off that annoying tag, but know that that tag is your guarantee that you’re sleeping on safe, quality materials.

2) Imperfections on a leather piece mean it’s damaged or isn’t made of real leather.

Whether it’s a coat, purse, couch, or recliner, genuine leather can transform an ordinary product into something exquisite. Unfortunately, many people avoid leather products because they see imperfections and consider them to be defects, or sometimes think they’re being “tricked” into buying something that isn’t really leather.

scarsIt’s reasonable to expect a brand new product to be flawless, but this mindset works against you when shopping around for natural products like leather. It may sound like backward thinking, but the reality is that a product made of 100% top grain leather will most likely have some kind of imperfection somewhere. Leather is a direct representation of the animal from which it came. These animals have their own imperfections in the form of injuries and scars. As a result, these same imperfections will be visible on the final piece.

Some types of leather have undergone treatment to remove imperfections and make the entire piece look uniform. This doesn’t make the leather any less genuine, but it’s not considered top grain leather (which is typically untreated) since it doesn’t have the unique, one-of-a-kind imperfections.

To find out more about leather, check out some of our previous posts:

Leather, Pt. 1 and Leather, Pt. 2

3) Tempered glass is unbreakable.

BrokenGlass101409It’s hard to find something that is truly unbreakable. Even Bruce Willis’s seemingly invincible character in “Unbreakable” had a breaking point. The same is true of tempered glass.

Tempered glass is glass that has undergone a special thermal treatment to make it stronger than regular glass. Tempered glass is used in car windows, refrigerator trays, and as a component of bullet-proof glass. Many people assume that tempered glass is indestructible due to its versatile applications. While tempered glass is statistically stronger and more resistant than plain glass, it will break with enough force.

Ironically, one of the major selling points of tempered glass is that when it does break, it shatters into smaller, duller pieces instead of larger, sharper shards. Despite this, people continue to abuse the tempered glass on their furniture and are appalled when it breaks.

So take the baby (and the pets) off the glass coffee table and remember that just because it’s been treated, it’s still glass and still very delicate.

4) Knots on wood furniture are defects that need to be repaired or touched up.

This is very similar to the misunderstanding surrounding leather and its natural imperfections. Wood can carry a number of imperfections that are often exploited for artistic use. Knots are one such imperfection.

Birnbaum01During a tree’s development, some of the limbs die, but side branches from these dead limbs can continue to grow for years. A knot is usually the result of these side branches growing into the tree’s bark. Because the rest of the tree continues to grow in one direction, the dead limbs’ side branches continue to grow in a different direction, digging their way into the rest of the tree. The size and color of the resulting knot can vary depending on the thickness of the branch and how deeply it penetrated the tree.

With natural wood, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these imperfections, which is why many furniture manufacturers have embraced knots when designing pieces; the knots add a visual flair while reinforcing the natural origins of the materials used.

5) Leather furniture gets too hot, especially in the South Florida heat!

I have a sneaking suspicion that cars (and school buses) are to blame for this misconception. Stepping into a car that’s been sitting in the scorching South Florida sun for a few hours is uncomfortable enough as it is. Add a leather interior to the mix and the experience can become downright painful! Initially, the leather almost seems to burn your skin, but within seconds, you feel fine.

ITAL-51%20Sofa%20(1)1_MEDIUMLeather is a breathable material. The degree of breathability varies depending on the quality of the leather. Top grain leather is the most breathable; as the quality degrades, so does the breathability.

This breathability causes the leather to adjust to your body temperature and maintain it just slightly cooler so that you’re comfortable over extended periods of time. It also ensures that moisture won’t accumulate between your skin and the leather itself, so there’s no worry about “sticking” to your furniture.

Right about now, you may be thinking, What about all those times on the school bus when I’d get all sticky and my legs would get stuck to the seat?

Unless your school bus was commissioned by Bill Gates, chances are those seats weren’t covered in leather. Most buses (and other public places) use a leather-like compound based primarily on polyurethane. To a certain extent, polyurethane can achieve the look and feel of leather with the added benefit of lower manufacturing costs. But these benefits come at the expense of comfort, breathability, and overall quality.

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

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August 2, 2010

Mysterious Furniture: The Haunted Mirror at the Myrtles Plantation


Just outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the small town of St. Francisville, there lies a majestic plantation. The 10-acre property has been home to many families throughout the years. Today it is a charming bed and breakfast. Guests can take guided tours of the grounds and enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant before settling in for the night.

Many guests prefer to forego sleep, however; they’re here for something more than a picturesque getaway. Legend holds that at around 3:00 am each night, the ghosts haunting this plantation make themselves known.

Welcome to the Myrtles Plantation. This 200-year-old property has been declared one of the most haunted homes in America. It is said to be inhabited by, not one – not two, but at least 15 ghosts.


The Myrtles has seen a colorful history. This, coupled with the plantation’s age, provides the perfect breeding ground for innumerable stories and legends. From Indian burial grounds to grizzly murders, there are many unsolved mysteries surrounding the property.

In this post, we’ll be focusing on one story in particular: the tale of the Woodruff family and a young slave named Chloe. According to legend, the souls of these individuals continue to haunt the Myrtles to this very day. But before we get into the hauntings, let’s delve deeper into the history behind them.

The year is 1796. General David Bradford, a law professor, builds a small cottage on his plantation (then known as Laurel Grove) and lives there with his wife, Elizabeth, and their five children.

One of Bradford’s former students, Clark Woodruff, begins dating Bradford’s daughter, Sara Mathilda. The two eventually marry.

After Bradford’s death in 1817, Clark, Sara, and their three children move onto the plantation to help manage it.

Clark brings with him a slave named Chloe. Clark seemed to favor Chloe over the other slaves. But she became jealous when she noticed Clark was losing interest in her.

Afraid she would be sent to work out in the fields, Chloe began eavesdropping on Clark’s conversations. Clark had caught and reprimanded her several times. Fed up with her insubordination, he cut off her offending ear as punishment. After that, Chloe wore a green turban to hide the missing ear.

Undeterred by Clark’s abuse, Chloe devised a plan to win back his affection. She would make a birthday cake for the Woodruffs’ eldest daughter and spike it with a poisonous mixture of oleander leaves – just enough to make the family sick. Knowing the cause of their illness, Chloe planned to nurse them back to health, winning back Clark’s affection in the process.

The plan backfired. Chloe accidentally used too many oleander leaves, killing Clark’s wife and two of the children. Horrified at what she had done, Chloe confessed her crime to the other slaves. Fearing they would be punished for harboring her, the slaves hanged Chloe and threw her body into the Mississippi River. Clark was devastated at the loss of his family. In memory of them, he planted beautiful myrtle crepe trees around the house and moved to New Orleans.

The plantation saw many owners and underwent a number of expansions and renovations throughout the years, but the souls of Chloe, Sara Woodruff, and her two children are said to remain on the property.

Guests touring the Myrtles have reported seeing a mysterious figure walking the grounds. In most accounts, the figure is described as a dark-skinned woman wearing ragged clothing and a turban. One witness allegedly captured the figure on camera. Many believe this is the ghost of Chloe.Chloe Composite

Another legend revolves around an ornate mirror inside the house. The mirror, which has been in the house since its construction in 1796, is said to hold the trapped souls of several spirits – more specifically, Sara Woodruff and her two children.

mp8An old Southern tradition holds that when a family member dies, mirrors in the home are covered in order to keep the soul of the deceased from becoming lost. According to legend, when Sara Woodruff and her children died, all the mirrors on the plantation were covered, save one. It is inside this mirror where the Woodruffs’ souls are said to be trapped forever.

Those who have seen the mirror up close describe it as “unsettling.” A faint residue of “drips” running from top to bottom mar the glass. Others claim to have seen markings resembling handprints on the mirror.

mirror_ghosts_lgThough the its original wooden frame remains intact, plantation caretakers say the glass portion of the mirror has been replaced at least twice due to the disturbing markings. Shortly after the first replacement, the markings reappeared.

Many tourists claim to have captured what appear to be “faces” when photographing the mirror. Most of the time, these ghostly faces seem to resemble children.

One unsuspecting guest even managed to capture a strange anomaly on video!

Is it a trick of the light? An overactive imagination? Could it all be one big hoax? Or is there really some otherworldly presence roaming the corridors (and mirrors) of the Myrtles? The evidence is compelling, but the most important question remains…

What do you believe?

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

Have a comment or topic suggestion for the author? Shoot him an e-mail at