Transformed: Vintage Kroehler Sofa
Feb 27, 2012
The sofa. It's important. Everyone has their list of requirements. We had lived with a sofa-loveseat set for 11 years that was quite fine. It was comfy enough, it looked good even after a decade, but I knew the space plan for our room would be better with a sofa and two chairs instead of a sofa and loveseat. Plus, I was tired of the matchiness and the height, which made the seating area seem disconnected from the rest of the space.
I sold the sofa set. I wasn't going to settle this time. I was looking for sofa perfection: a low profile, clean lines, wide arms, slim legs, and a tight back. I considered the Gus Modern Blake Loft sofa, but I didn't like the narrow arms or any of the three fabric options. (Three? Seriously?) I leaned toward the Rowe Dorset. Nice lines and available in many fabrics, but lacking the slenderness of a real vintage piece, and the arms were still a little narrow. The West Elm Lorimer came really close, but I worried about the quality.
Then I walked into Lily's Upholstery in Honor (about 12 miles west of Traverse City), and everything changed.
No one has to extol the virtues of vintage furniture to me, but the guys at Lily's can give you a thousand reasons not to buy new. I said, "Sure, I'd love a vintage sofa but I can't find what I want." I drew exactly what I was looking for, complete with measurements, and a couple of weeks later I got an email from Greg at Lily's with a picture of my dream sofa:
This is the part where you look past the ugly fabric and see the lines. It was on Craigslist, in a town 170 miles away. Greg handled the purchase and the hauling, took it straight to the shop and meticulously recovered it. About 5 weeks later the sofa showed up in my living room, looking handsome after shedding its floral damask in favor of the nubby gray fabric I chose. The cool gray with hints of taupe picks up the hues in the slate tile on my fireplace.
Here's my 1950s Kroehler sofa, built like a tank, spiffed up like new. I eliminated one row of buttons but otherwise stayed true to its original upholstery lines. Greg firmed up the cushions and the arms, but the coil springs were in great shape, even at age 60. I couldn't be happier. And I hope I'm still sitting on it when I'm 60.
I'm playing with pillow patterns against the fabric, which is Robert Allen Loft in Glacier. Here's a graphic leaf pattern inspired by Ekelund Weavers (thrifted) and a tree-ring silk I just snagged from a West Elm clearance sale.
I found the right chairs, too… a pair of 70s Milo Baughman tub chairs. They still need to be reupholstered. The original buttery velvet works surprisingly well for now (I'm not much for yellow). I'll probably stick with velvet but go for a textured weave in a deeper color. For updates on the chairs (coming this summer), follow Dwelement on Facebook.
Do you have a beautiful vintage sofa or chair that's been improved with reupholstery? Send me a photo or share it on my Facebook page. Need help choosing fabric for your reupholstery project? I can help. One hour of my time could make all the difference in the success of your project. Just email me. —Diane Kolak
TAGS: vintage kroehler sofa krohler kroler chair furniture 1950s 50s 1960s 60s mcm midcentury modern couch reupholster reupholstery lily's upholstery traverse city interlochen honor michigan mi robert allen loft glacier roommates textures modern nubby fabric
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