Our striking Kent-Coffey Sequence bedroom set sold recently and left a hole in our booth. We quickly filled it with new acquisitions: 4 pieces of a Broyhill Premier Sculptra bedroom set. It stretches along one side of the booth: chest, dresser, nightstand and headboard hanging above. This headboard is unique because it’s one of the first king-sized headboards that Broyhill Premier produced.
Our pieces are dated 1964 but Broyhill Premier introduced the Sculptra Collection in 1957 and continued its production into the mid-1960s. Designed to have a Scandinavian sensibility, the Sculptra line boasted sophistication and style aimed at a voracious upper-middle class audience.
Despite her strong lines and subtle charm, the Sculptra line is often overshadowed by Brasilia, a sister collection introduced by Broyhill Premiere in 1962 that sought to capture the spirit of Brazil’s new capital.
While Brasilia has the drama of swoops and arches, Sculptra offers rectangles and restraint. The carved elliptical pulls — shaped like cat eyes — offer a delightful contrast.
The closest we come to a swoop is this delicate dip on the top of the headboard. Sadly, this set does not include a footboard.
Creation of Broyhill Premiere
The story of Broyhill furniture stretches across the 20th Century, composed of a family of entrepreneurs whose vision and guidance kept the company afloat. Following the end of World War II, Broyhill Furniture faced ruin. Despite an initial post-war surge of buyers, by 1949 demand had all but dried up. The company found itself in dire straits, as lagging demand forced the company to cut its workers’ hours down to three days a week.
Luckily for the company, Ed Broyhill proved to be visionary. He allowed his business to adapt. Faced with a market indifferent to the large, opulent pieces produced by his company, Ed turned to his son Paul to modernize and diversify the company’s lines. The sleek, modern pieces marketed by Paul Broyhill bolstered the sagging fortunes of Broyhill furniture and paved the way for the creation of the Broyhill Premiere collections.
Established in 1957, Broyhill Premiere sought to capitalize on a rapidly expanding market. Changing tastes led Americans to demand sophistication and style, but above all, quality. The collections were aimed at young, affluent families looking for an alternative to their parents’ massive and ornate furniture. Broyhill Premiere found immediate success, but was not profitable until the 1960s.
Continued commercial success allowed for the expansion of both the company and the furniture collections. The company issued a letter in 1966 explaining their philosophy of the Sculptra line. Here’s a portion of it:
October 10, 1966
In recent years modern designers have been paring away at the excesses in scale, weight and ornamentation in art, architecture, furniture design, and countless other related fields. A new reverence has developed for clean, uncluttered, but graceful lines which are functional and well proportioned. Designers and furniture craftsmen in the Scandinavian countries of Europe have undoubtedly thrust themselves into the forefront of this new “Puritanism.” Their success has been evidenced by the fact that a great deal of the furniture produced in the past few decades which adheres to this principle has become known throughout the world as “Scandinavian Modern.”
Sculptra is an outstanding example of this “imported look” of Scandinavian Modern. It is master-crafted by Broyhill Premier in beautifully grained American walnut. Sculptured moulding bonded to the faces of doors present an outstanding principle design motif. Carved elliptical recessed drawer pulls contribute to the elegant simplicity. A curved stretcher between the gently tapered legs arches gracefully to support leg pieces. A unique moulded gallery rail sweeps upward from the top of many case pieces to add to the sculptured effect.
As you can see, our wooden pieces have endured years of use. This is a Before shot showing the wear that comes with age and use.
David rubbed it down with Watco Danish Oil to revive the rich brandy walnut finish. Here’s an After shot in the late afternoon sun:
Notice that the finish has been completely rubbed off the center of those cats eyes. Years of fingernail contact with the wood caused that. The handles are metal and originally painted in wood tone. David used a brush to saturate that bare area with Watco.
The result is mixed. He plans on removing the handles, masking off the drawer and spraying the cutout surfaces with Touch Up Solutions’ Aerosol Toner-Dye Extra Dark Walnut. The dye will add a uniform walnut color to the visible areas in the center of the drawer pills. He estimates it will take 15 minutes, tops.
We found all 4 pieces in very good shape — pretty amazing. Minimal finish issues were easily solved by using Watco Danish Oil Medium Walnut to even out the color and renew the top coat. Of course, “easily solved” is a bit misleading. The finished product represents three grueling 8-hour days of cleaning, oiling, rubbing, oiling, rubbing . . . you get the idea. One coat is never enough. The 60-year-old wood/finish soaked up the Danish Oil.
This is important: David made sure he didn’t leave oil on the wood past the specified drying time. If left too long, the oil becomes a sticky residue. Be sure to follow the instructions on the container.
While I appreciate the strong lines and subtle curves of the entire set, I think the King Headboard is a crucial selling point for our collection. Unlike the assortment of undersized Twin and Double size so prevalent in Mid Century Modern furniture, the King Headboard didn’t exist before the mid-60s. I’m inclined to believe in the scarcity of these big headboards. In over a year-and-a-half of searching estate sales, this is the first King we’ve come across. I could be wrong though. If you’ve had better success, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Ann Marie and David