A RIFF ON COLONIAL FURNITURE

By Nii B. Andrews

There is a certain warmth of feeling that is engendered when one encounters colonial furniture from Ghana.

The craftsmanship is of a high quality; never a nail in sight; exquisite joinery abounds with well seasoned pest free wood that never ever warps.

A timeless but restrained finesse permeates the designs.

The pieces always remind me of the early 60s – in Mamprobi, on the Accra Aca compound – where I spent my early years.

The dark brown low wood armchairs with their art deco influenced lines and wide armrests were present in almost every living room -including the residences of both Grandpa’s at Osu and Teshie respectively and all the uncles and aunties had them too.

My Great Grandpa’s house in Krobo Odumase has the best ones that I have seen; those have scalloped backs and scrolled arms.

Over the last 25 years, I have rescued colonial furniture from a pig sty (while a sow was in labor) – that piece was an inlaid wood trunk that still had many complete newspapers in it from the 1940s.

Another time, a lovely buffet chest was being used as a table to smoke herrings; that rescue succeeded too.

On yet another occasion so did that for a rectangular low center table with four delightful angled spindly legs.

My cousin Pierre and his spouse – Tanya, house their drinks in a stately reconfigured colonial armoire; it is simply magnificent.

Tanya refurbishes colonial furniture professionally and with great sensitivity.

And just last week, she sent another refurbished one to Tema to house the collection of vintage tuxedos. The two year quest to find a safe closet for them is now finally over.

All told, the “town hall chairs” are unbeatable for sitting out on a porch with a good book (or glossy mag) between 8 to 10 in the mornings – before the heat and humidity force you to enlarge your carbon footprint with the AC.

My roommate still works up a bellicose rant about how she never received the colonial iron bed her Grandma had promised her.

The one in the guest room downstairs she insists is a toy compared to that particular one.

Every morning, I am overjoyed when I see my Grandma’s massive dresser cum chest of drawers, as I prepare to shave; it weighs a ton.

No chipboard furniture for me, I stay far away from it.

Why bother when the colonial stuff is indestructible and has loads of charm.

Now where did they say the rosewood forest is located?

 

****To refurbish or purchase excellent colonial furniture contact

Jardi Kordylas 0246910000.

jardikordylas@gmail.com

8 thoughts on “A RIFF ON COLONIAL FURNITURE”

  1. Wonderful.
    I am actually restoring 5 pieces for use in my gallery!
    I am inspired.

  2. I just love the colonial furniture – especially the tables with the legs that taper as they go down.

  3. Great piece NBA.

    I took my Grandpa’s chair to Cyto form two when the school insisted it had no chairs.

    We sat on blocks.

    Unfortunately other students fought over my chair and took it to other classrooms.

    I always went back for it. They couldn’t argue because mine had unique features.

    When it became weak from misuse, a nail was driven through it and it started squeaking.

    When I completed BECE I proudly carried it on my head home.

    1. Inspiring anecdote, AM.

      Do you still have the chair? If you do, then please send us a photo of it to share with our readers.

      Warmest personal regards.

  4. Loved this article on colonial furniture, and you are right when you say it was so prevalent in most homes back in the day.

    Brought back that warm fuzzy feeling one associates with one’s childhood whilst listening to the Gramaphone playing Tommy Gripman on a his Masters Voice label.

    I once read an article about a “warehouse” some where around Nsawam that has housed dilapidated colonial furniture from those old Government bungalows for decades.

    Would love to refurbish some of those pieces myself one day.

  5. Beautifully written article. Colonial furniture is a work of art – just like colonial buildings. Sadly, most modern carpenters lack the homely touch of the colonial furniture.

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