From time to time we buy mid-century modern sofas, usually at estate sales. They’re not the easiest to transport or store, but a good sofa can become the focal point for a space. Take a look at this fantastic pale yellow one:
Its clean, simple lines capture one’s attention. The brass-capped wooden legs contrast vividly with the cream coloring. The sleek minimalist design and soft hue keep it light and airy. There’s nothing to suggest an overbearing object. It’s no wonder this piece didn’t last long in our booth.
On the other hand, this curved orange one sold quickly for a very different reason. Brash and bold, its color demands attention. Imagine it as the focal point in a living room.
Ideally, the sofas we buy are well cared for and possess no serious issues. If we have room in the booth, we can haul the sofa directly from the sale to Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. This happened only once.
Sometimes a piece needs spot cleaning before it goes into the booth. We can handle that.
Our new sofa exceeded our abilities. I fell in love with this blue-and-white Selig Mid-Century Modern sofa when I gazed upon it in the dim light of an estate sale’s living room. I was drawn to its fabric, lines, and size. It’s so spacious in both width and length.
Granted, it had issues but David didn’t have a chance to examine it closely because a flock of women crowded around it and tested it out. That was encouraging, right? He usually flips furniture and examines the bottom. I pushed for us to leave a bid with the estate company. We did. And we waited.
At home I began my research. The Selig Manufacturing Company, based in Massachusetts, imported much of their furniture from Scandinavia and Italy in the 1950s through 1970s. They focused on high-end contemporary pieces. Here are some examples currently at 1st Dibs (which tends to list prices higher than our regional market):
This next photo shows the rare and timeless Z Lounge Chair designed by Poul Jensen of Denmark for Selig:
There were inherent risks in buying this Selig sofa.
- It was manufactured in the late 1950s or 1960s, possibly in Scandinavia or Italy, making it an authentic Mid-Century Modern piece
- The heavy frame is made of hardwood and held together by glue, not staples
- It has clean lines and looks fabulous
- It can provide space for an adult to nap (important to me)
- The original rubber latex foam, plush and expensive when new, has dried and hardened in a few spots, mostly along the top of the back cushions and along the edges of the seat cushions. These are areas where body oils probably brushed against the fabric.
- The fabric shows patches of discoloration, probably from the sun.
- This is a perfect candidate for reupholstering but our skills are too modest for what’s required.
A closer look:
The owner took excellent care of this sofa. Original tags are still attached:
Two packages of original fabric pieces stayed with it all these years:
We won the bid.
Structurally, this Selig Mid-Century Modern sofa is far stronger than anything made today. We visited our upholsterer for advice. After cooing over its fabulousness, she advised us to do nothing. Just keep it as a blank slate and let the new owner make the choices.
Our intent is to offer this sofa as an investment piece, with the knowledge that it needs work. It’s now in our booth and . . . we wait.
Any thoughts? Has anyone ever undertaken this kind of upholstery project?
Take a last look:
Ann Marie and David