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- June 7, 2017
Delightfully playful, stylistically sculptural, and a touch otherworldly, Mid-Century Modern furniture is our not-so-secret obsession. A catchall term used to classify designs produced during the Mid 20th Century, Mid-Century Modern furniture is easily identifiable by its swooped forms, teak frames, and bold-colored upholstery. Iconic makers include Adrian Pearsall, Milo Baughman, and, of course, Charles and Ray Eames.
One thing to consider and check for, on all the sofas that I show, is their size and scale. Back in the day, sofas were not 40″ deep — oversized — the way they often are today. Some of these sofas are more less-deep and less-high than others — more “authentically” proportioned for smaller mid century rooms with lower ceilings. Mid century = long, low, horizontal lines. On the other hand, deep sofas can be very comfortable if you are tall or large and also if you like to hunker down to watch TV. So — thinking about the proportion of the sofa to your space, vetted with how you will realistically use it, is the task. Note, I also could not get a retail price on this Weiss sofa, above, without giving my coordinates to an online quoting place, which I refuse to do. (This exercise also made me an expert on website design and marketing for furniture makers, I swear. If any manufacturers want to hire me for a 25-point checkup, send me an email.) I’m going to guess that this, and others in this Vanguard line come in under $2,000 if you don’t go too crazy with the upholstery. Michael Weiss mid century style sofas for Vanguard.
For those who dream in shades of cool California fruit trees (think sunburst orange and creamy avocado), like their teak-oiled arms accented with a bit of bright brass, and crush on anything Eames: meet Mid-Century Modern. A term used to classify furniture constructed between 1945 to 1970, Mid-Century Modern style encompasses everything from sparse Scandinavian pieces to exotic Brazilian masterpieces decked out in pillow-padded frames and butter-like hides. It’s a care-free, effortless style that brinks on boho, but thanks to integrated elements of Danish Modernism, never veers into overly layered or how-exactly-do-I-clean-that? territory.
In its hey-day Mid-Century Modern furniture was not one to play it demure color-wise. Upholstery in shades of saffron, cobalt, and poppy was commonplace. Updated for a new millennium, however; we’re inclined to favor shade-dwelling colors a bit more than the full-sun showstoppers. Mid-Century shapes look divine when cloaked in emerald, navy, and oxblood velvets. With tables and case goods, opt for pieces with slightly darker finishes and brass or turquoise hardware or inlays. Unexpected metallic or stone will make for a room that reads more ambiguous (and glam) than the usual, brisk Scandinavian look.
Younger Furniture: This Lily sofa (above in gray) from Younger Furniture is the first sofa that I would look at if I were in the market today. As Gavin pointed when I originally posted about Younger, this is very similar to original Dunbar designs. There are additional modern designs from Younger Furniture, which also are well executed — like the sofas and chairs that Dave and Kristin used in their house. Mid century modern sofas from Younger Furniture
Rowe Furniture: Readers reminded me of Rowe Furniture, and indeed, the Abbott (above) is just one of least five sofas that could look beautiful in our midcentury interiors. Even more, really — a lot of their line has what I’d call “modern-to-traditional” styling, meaning they are very versatile. Be sure to look at Rowe – easy to use website. Mid century style couches by Rowe.
Heywood Wakefield: Hey, do not be forgetting, you can STILL get Heywood-Wakefield sofas — NEW. Yes, they are still being manufactured, by a company that bought the rights. That’s the Margaret, above. I’m not counting this in my “mid century modern” count, though. Heywood-Wakefield sofas still made today.Thanks, readers, for your continuing help in making this the #1 most conclusive list of midcentury modern style sofas in the U.S. interior design blog world. If you find more manufacturers — let me know via the Comments. Also, please also feel free to share you experiences with any of these products.
Macy’s: Macy’s gets up high because of all the Macy’s Corona sofa (above) love we have shared over the years. The sofa is stylish and inexpensive — although, there have been varied opinions as to quality. The Morgan, Blake (shown) and Corona are what popped out at me in the current lineup — as I type this, they all seem to be on sale for $699. A reader also suggests that if you get a Macy’s card same day, you get another 15% discount — also watch for tax-free sales events. Mid century modern style sofas and loveseats from Macys.
New materials like bent plywood, fiberglass, and acrylic made it easy for designers to forge into previously uncharted territory. For the first time, they were able to produce furniture that wasn’t hammered and nailed together so much as it was sculpted. Additionally, manufactures like Knoll and Herman Miller provided designers with large-scale platforms on which to promote and distribute their designs. These manufacturers helped Mid-Century Modernism permeate the cultural consciousness, which in large part, has led to its enduring appeal.
Castellano Custom Furniture: When I was at Rejuvenation Lighting two years ago, I saw this line of furniture for sale in their large showroom. It’s Castellano Custom Furniture — made right in Portland, and it sure appeared to be the real deal. I’m not sure it really hits under $2,000, but I’m putting it in anyway, it’s probably in the range. Modern sofa from Castellano Custom Furniture.
Buying furniture online can be nerve wracking, but the supremely well-curated Etsy shop Select Modern is in a league of its own. Shop owners Danielle and Cory Kingdon have been selling midcentury-modern furniture, lighting and decor online since 2009, and they’re clearly well practiced. Their streamlined shipping system and high-quality inventory (Arthur Umanoff bar stool, anyone?) makes items sell quickly, so check their website frequently.
I’ve been shopping for a mid century sofa for the past 6 months. Was so happy to read this post. In my cyber searches I found a company called Joybird. Really nice website, healthy selection of fabrics/frames to choose from and excellent consumer feedback. Have been to Macy’s , CB2 and West Elm. Any thoughts?
Perch Furniture: Above, Gracie sofa by Perch Furniture. Based in Portland (there is a bird in their logo tee hee), workshop in LA. These guys get double extra bonus points for rockin’ the orange. (God help me, all the greiged-out neutrals on these furniture websites had me on a rip-roaring rant revival.) Gracie sofa by Perch Furniture.
Like their name suggests, West Coast Modern L.A. specializes in restoring and selling midcentury-modern furniture. Pieces come from both the United States and Denmark, creating a period-specific collection that still has good variety. The huge salesroom is also stocked with lighting and decorative pieces, and shipping within Los Angeles is free.
What: We especially love the ceramics and art selection of this notoriously chic L.A. storefront. Located in North Hollywood, the store specializes in midcentury modern furniture from Denmark and Sweden. You’ll find all the marquee names from Hans Wegner to Peter Hvidt. The online inventory is updated consistently, featuring lighting, objects, furniture, and in-house restoration pieces.
Hollywood set decorators and designers are devoted fans of family-owned antique shop Hernandez Furniture, making it a great spot to check out for unique finds. Most desks and chairs lean midcentury-modern, but their stock list is also dotted with funkier items, like a real ostrich leg. Sifting through the store can be a process, but there’s a good chance you’ll find something amazing.
And we all approach that refresh differently. For some of us there's the friends and family discount or sample sale. For others, there are the retail websites whose singular mission is to bring us designer furniture at bargain prices -- which, let's face it, are the best kind of retail websites there are. And with these we're talking old favorites and late adopters to the online shopping scene; those places where eBay meets designer showrooms and relationship-ending meltdowns don't exist. (Yes, we're looking at you, IKEA.)
What: Located in Los Angeles’s prestigious La Cienega design district, Downtown is among our favorite local purveyors of vintage rarities. The classic selection will satisfy even the most discerning of tastes, with a cleverly curated best-of-the-best offering plucked from every decade.
Dania: Bloom sofa from Dania. $699 – made in China. Don’t yell about only this one, though, I think most of the Gus Moderns are from China, too. I did not check country of origin as I did this research. Dania’s other sofas also are modern designs, at relatively low prices. Bloom sofa from Dania.
What: A modern design mecca for reproductions and contemporary works alike is our worst-kept secret. (We’ll tell anybody.) Our de-facto resource for beautiful, accessible design, the impressive collection of Serge Mouille lighting reproductions is a dream in itself.
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