My grandfather sits in his favorite chair, feet flat on the floor, long legs bent in his usual relaxed posture, fingers curling gently over the scrolled mahogany posts that curve gracefully from the narrow cylindrical padded arms to the floor. The fabric is a sort of rosy-salmon color, patterned with tiny rough diamonds. It’s that old nylon-that-looks-like-wool-and-lasts-forever that they don’t make any more.
The ritual begins in the kitchen. I am four, my two sisters, five and seven. Each of us is handed a full glass of buttermilk and cautioned to hold it steady to avoid spilling as we are marched into the living room to stand in a row before my grandfather where he awaits our ‘show’ in his chair. A warm smile spreads over this face as he watches us drain our glasses together, each emerging with a white mustached grin.
Many years later, while browsing at a thrift store, I stop before an old tattered chair with a sudden flash of recognition. In my mind, it’s the same chair. I can almost taste the buttermilk. I am bathed once again in that warm smile.
Do you have a similar story connected to a special piece of furniture that paints a picture in YOUR heart?
I’m Carla Pyle, co-owner of Natural Upholstery (a.k.a. Living Home Furniture), based in Livingston, Montana. When I think about how lucky we are to live within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (just north of Yellowstone National Park), I realize it’s no mistake. We’ve discovered a unique balance in this place – the close connection with nature keeps us grounded, while the vibrant culture of our surrounding communities empowers us to embrace the challenges of a rapidly evolving world culture. We all need this. Nature and People.
Over the past 14 years, our work at Natural Upholstery has focused on creating positive change. This means building a resource for businesses and individuals to learn upholstery restoration using natural and organic materials. We have helped individuals and businesses source those materials, and offer consulting for those looking for project-oriented guidance with specifying ‘inside green’ materials and methods.
In our workshop, we have produce a limited range of prototypes, and tested new materials and upholstery configurations, always with an eye toward integration of upholstered furniture into a circular economy model of manufacture and reupholstery.
Partners in life and enterprise, my husband, Chandler, and I have partnered in Natural Upholstery’s mission, building eco-friendly furniture, educating clients, and testing upholstery materials.
Chandler Pyle has been the craftsman behind the scenes. Wood is his forté. Every sawn board recalls for him the source tree, and its journey from raw logs to milled lumber. And finally to the furniture that graces our lives. The dark straight grain of mahogany or the curving texture of a walnut burl recalls that deep reverence. He’s pragmatic. He’s down-to-earth. His carpentry and furniture endeavors over thirty years have served well when there’s upholstery frame work to be done.
As of September 1, 2023, we have both retired from providing Upholstery Services and Classes. This website will remain active for as long as we can maintain it, and we hope it will continue to be helpful to those wishing to pursue healthy furniture.
See resource links to others who provide Upholstery Classes here.