Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are you sitting comfortably?

Could use some advice, please. We've decided that we ought to start eating at the table. Our kitchen has enough room for a table and there's nowhere else for more than three people to sit, let alone eat comfortably, so we need to have a dining table when people come round - my parents are coming for breakfast on Mother's Day and we currently have a picnic bench in the kitchen for this purpose. We didn't have a dining table at the old place, as we didn't have room for one and anyway, people don't really do that sort of thing oop North.

An ordinary looking dining chairThe trouble is that we need comfortable chairs, chairs that I would be okay to sit on for moor than a few minutes. And dining chairs are not really designed for comfort. This chair, for example, is perfectly nice to look at, but actually makes me feel queasy just thinking about sitting on it long enough to eat a meal - I'd rather sit at the picnic bench with no support at all. My back hurts a lot today, but that's kind of the point.

A rather supportive wicker chairLast time we did have a dining table, we sat in wicker chairs something like this one on the right. Indeed, they may have even been the same chairs, although we made cushions for them. They got a lot of use and after a period of literally being held together with string, they eventually fell apart.

With shallow cushions, this is a pretty comfortable chair which it is difficult to fall off, but alas, it takes too much room.

A chair in the shape of an oyster shellSpace is an issue (okay, so I got somewhat distracted, didn't I?), but if I'm going to be able to sit in a chair for some time, then I need something so that I'm not spending half my energy trying to balance on the thing and not keel over to the side. Not necessarily, arms, but something.

The support I need to the back is more difficult to explain, as folks with different back issues are likely to have different criteria. My issue is muscles; I need to be able to sit upright whilst using as few muscles, to as little extent, as possible.

I keep finding very comfortable looking chairs which are simply impractical, and many practical chairs which look a little like torture equipment to me.

Anyone got any ideas? There is a budget of course, but right now I'm looking for an idea of what we need; having established that, we can then try and find the cheapest way of getting it.


Anonymous said...

I suggest a chair with arms for a start. Then, perhaps a lumbar support we have two different types (including one like the one on the right in brown)you can take to try next time your down here.

Anonymous said...

Something I've seen executed very well -- even on Changing Rooms, years ago! -- is to use one wall, especially in a corner, and build a bench off of that. It can be any height and depth that pleases you. There can be storage underneath the seat. Usually hard wood or plywood or some kind of composite, you can pad it thickly seat and back and also stuff it with cushions and other pillowy goodness with which to brace and cozy yourself and any other guests whose comfort and physical stability may be unreliable. You can make all these things yourself and thus be sure all these things have washable, removable covers, so that once the guests have departed, should you and AJ get in a 9½ Weeks kind of mood or something (ack, newlyweds!), or as the nephew explores the fun of throwing food, there will not have to be consequences that linger. For the unbenched portions of the table's seating area, you can fill in with padded dining chairs. They do exist, with and without arms, some with quite slim profiles, others more generous. I recommend a close examination of thrift shops, where you might find wooden ones or groovy chrome ones from bygone eras for reasonable prices.

I'm thinking you could also just leave space for a wheelchair at the table as a matter of course. Wheelchairs are neither festive nor, in my experience, ultra comfortable for long sitting in spite of supposedly being designed just for that. But if that's the chair in which you feel safest and most comfortable, I say use it. It's your house, after all, not a public space; it must work for you first.

Once upon a time I remember the blogger known as Wheelchair Dancer remarking that she wanted to buy a house in which the bathroom had been designed for her, not adapted for her use. This is your opportunity to take the same approach with your own dining space. It's kind of an exciting opportunity, actually, especially since you're already on a making-not-buying things kick.


Mary said...

Put your elbows on the table. It helps, really.

Oh, and if you get a numb bum from sitting on a wooden chair, DON'T just think "oh, I'll put a cushion on it" because they slide around like no one's business.

Something like this but with a padded seat is what's ideal for me.

Or alternatively... in my flat, where I like to eat at the table but don't care about having an attractive set of matching chairs... I have a wonderful computer/desk chair which is basically THE most adjustable office chair we could find, seat height and tilt, back height and tilt, arms, lumbar support, and easily wheeled over to the table.

Anonymous said...

I got a padded faux-leather computer chair from Argos some years ago, one of those wheeled jobs with adjustable height and adjustable back tilt and a high back so you can lean back. It is so comfortable I have been known to doze off in it.

Anonymous said...

What kind of table do you have? If it is rectangular, you can put two dining chairs with arms at either end and then armless ones long the side?

Just for the design, you might want to check out the following...
and click on upholstered dining chair. There is also one with arms.

These are wildly expensive but I think it is a great model to use when hunting for a cheaper version. Very comfortable.

Good luck.

Sally said...

(*Sorry if this appears more than once, but blogger has asked me for the word verification three times)

I adore the shell chair, just the thing for your next reincarnation, to recline in as you rise from the sea.

I agree with Mary - use your elbows, I do all the time.
And with Mary and Charles - get an office chair. Due to Health and Safety at Work Act, operators chairs have to comply with strict regulations on support and comfort - just what we crips need.

I have used one at the dining table for years - you need...
one with lots of padding under the bum, support up to the shoulder blades so all the upper body is supported so energy doesn't go on keeping yourself upright, (yes, I know you know this, bit if I digress from my list I will get lost), shaped arms that are cut away so they fit under the table,
gas lift seat base which helps you up, back tilt, back to seat height adjustment,lumbar support - get one designated 'high operator use', rather than occasional perch only use, and the wheels are great for spinning round, either for practical reasons (pass me the sprouts darling) or just for larking around when you have the space to yourself. Blue looks nice, or red, anything but office grey.

They are not cheap - but if you are not using a wheelchair indoors, this can be the in between stage, so think of it as a disability aid not a dining chair.

Try Viking online:
viking hyphen direct dot co dot uk -
0844 412 0000 and they will send you a catalogue which describes all the various technical and useage bits and bobs.

Do not stint yourself on this.
Think of all the beer money you and AJ save when he goes to the pub and you stay home.

seahorse said...

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The Goldfish said...

Thanks everyone. It's really been a great help whilst we've been working this out. I think we may have found a pretty weird compromise, which is nothing anyone suggested, but it was extremely useful to get all this advice.

Thank you. :-)

Anonymous said...

thank you sarah