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:
MCM Yellow Sofa

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.
MCM Orange Sofa

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.
Mid-Century Modern Sofa by Selig

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):

Mid Century Modern Sofa by Selig
Mid Century Modern Sofa by Selig – $3,400
Danish Modern Upholstered Sofa by Selig
Danish Modern Upholstered Sofa by Selig – $5,800

This next photo shows the rare and timeless Z Lounge Chair designed by Poul Jensen of Denmark for Selig:

Z Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Poul Jensen for Selig
Z Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Poul Jensen for Selig – $3,900

There were inherent risks in buying this Selig sofa.

Pros:
  • 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)
Cons:
  • 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.
Conclusion:
  • This is a perfect candidate for reupholstering but our skills are too modest for what’s required.

A closer look:
Selig Blue White Sofa

The owner took excellent care of this sofa. Original tags are still attached:
Selig Blue White Sofa Tags

Two packages of original fabric pieces stayed with it all these years:
Selig blue white extra fabric

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:
MCM Selig blue white sofa

Ann Marie and David

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Over the Moon Link Party

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9 Comments on Selig Mid-Century Modern Sofa Needs Reupholstering

  1. Eugenie
    September 6, 2016 at 5:29 pm (2 years ago)

    I greatly enjoyed reading this post and looking at the photos. You have an amazing taste and knowledge of furniture and decor! Now I am longing for a new sofa. I am not happy with my current one, it is a modern Polish piece, not really bad but… it is not as comfortable as could be so does not get much use. I am thrilled with what you have shown, especially the first one and the one you are currently offering. This leads me to the thought that I might want to look for vintage furniture locally.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      September 6, 2016 at 10:06 pm (2 years ago)

      Eugenie, what a lovely comment, although you offer too much praise. I encourage you to explore your vintage furniture scene. I never go to a sale specifically looking for a sofa. If I come across with a good design and price, I’ll take it (or make and offer and hope for the best). One weekend I offered bids on two sofas and got them both. Great, except that created a new problem: space. That’s the reason we rented a larger storage unit that very day. We knew we needed a larger one but the two sofas forced us to act.

      Reply
  2. Eugenie
    September 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Ending up with two sofas! I can imagine! This is what happens to me on ebay now and then with bags or shoes, but those are not as large as sofas (and even so, they take so much space!). Well, I will be paying more attention to vintage furniture from now on, thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  3. Mary-the boondocks blog
    September 7, 2016 at 11:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Ann Marie, This is a stunning piece. The lines are crisp and clear. And as you have done your research it must be a very solid piece of furniture indeed. I guess what your upholsterer has suggested makes a lot of sense. You can sell it as is and let the client decide if they want to make an investment and reupholster it. I certainly would be afraid to tamper with such a lovely piece. And to think that the fabric has been preserved all these years.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      September 7, 2016 at 11:15 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Mary. It’s a wonderful piece and I so hope someone will fall in love with it and decide to have a professional upholsterer create a lovely, lasting piece.

      Reply
  4. Keri
    September 9, 2016 at 3:15 am (2 years ago)

    This sofa looks so beautiful and how awesome that it’s from a highly valued company. I’m sure it’ll sell soon. I would just let the next owner make the decision on whether to reupholster it or not. Will it lose the value if it is reupholstered? I’ve reupholstered our couch but it was a pretty simple job.

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      September 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Keri — Thanks for your kind words about the Selig sofa. Structurally, this piece will last a few more generations. It’s the fabric and latex that are flawed. I’m convinced that it isn’t ready for a landfill. A good reupholstery job will add years to its life.

      Reply
  5. Cathy Lawdanski
    September 15, 2016 at 2:37 am (2 years ago)

    Looks wide enough to get really comfy for a nap! What luck to have those original fabric pieces. You are – furniture is not made today of that quality. Thanks for sharing with #overthemoon

    Reply
    • irisabbey
      September 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Cathy. We rearranged our booth yesterday and the sofa has a starring role.

      Reply

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