Mid-century modern sofas, chairs and accessories from Gus Modern


If you are looking to furnish your mid-century home, I’d almost always advise: Don’t be a dope, buy vintage. Big pieces — like dining room sets and bedroom sets and even kitchen dinettes are out there, made of excellent old-fashioned quality, and available at good prices relative to buying “new”. However, the one piece of furniture that it can be very difficult to source vintage is: A sofa.  Tip: Click first thumbnail, above, to launch slide show. Use the arrow below each image to move forward.
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Of course, vintage sofas can be wonderful, with their lines and original upholstery. But, they almost always need re-upholstering – the fabric gets worn, the stuffing gets hard, the smokers left their smell, etc. And honey, re-upholstering is going to cost you money. Probably more than buying one of these Gus Modern sofas new. I particularly like the tidy tufting and single cushion seat on the Spencer sofa, but there are other nice ones to choose from, as well. I also like the Carmichael chair — it looks like it’s not too big, not too small, just right. And, the extruded aluminum chair rails in 3′ and 5′ lengths — handy! — I think I need these for my office for all my inspirations (aka tchotchkes).

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The Gus Modern sofas are more than double the price of a Macy’s Corona sofa, another sofa choice we have collectively spotted and which many readers have reported purchasing on sale for around $700. I can’t speak for the quality difference as I have only seen them online. If you’re in the market — I think it’s well worth doing a personal comparison (and watching for a sale). Website: Gus Modern Furniture. Snaps to Apartment Therapy, where I first read about this brand.

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Comments

  1. Gavin Hastings says

    You are so right-
    I have only bought one piece of new “showroom” furniture. For casegoods, vintage/antique is the way to go.

    There are one million secondhand sofas and chairs out there- unfortunately the cost of re-upholstery usually exceeds the cost of buying new- and many otherwise great pieces have been ruined by a bad re-do.

    Many upholsterers routinely toss out the down cushions/horsehair and cotton batting and replace it with bounce-y foam. Older pieces are a bit more “solid and dense”. Finding a “craftsperson” is the key. A re-uphostered piece should not look like a re-upholstered piece- and that is a rarity.

    FYI- there is something called C.O.G…Customers Own Goods…so if you see a sofa or chair style you like, but not your choice of fabric…you can send the manufacturer your own fabric and they will make it up for you.

    I’m gonna change my moniker to Blah-Blah-Blah-Blah!

    • pam kueber says

      @Gavin, thanks for the tip on COG (also called COM for Materials, I think?) … Gus’ upholstery selections are pretty limited… kind of mainstream although still very nice. Would require a trip to Osgoods if I were ordering, at least to check out what else is available. In the “olden days”… our Moms had ONE SOFA FOR LIFE, and just kept reupholstering it. But I also did a post lord-knows-where-it-is that shows the calculation that back in the day the real cost of sofa — a solid, middle-class sofa — was like $5000 in today’s dollars! I think there were more craftsmen then, too, so reupholstering wasn’t so expensive relative to that upfront cost. The equation is flipped on its head today… even though that doesn’t seem so *right* from a sustainability standpoint. Maybe sofas today SHOULD be built to last forever, and that means the craftsmanship and materials into them SHOULD mean they cost $5000 upfront….

      • Gavin Hastings says

        OK…I’ll admit it.

        Last year my Mom was in the hospital for a few days. While picking up some of her clothes at her house, I actually got out a tape measure and recorded the size of her killer sofa- Henredon/1962/curved/ivory damask/tufted back.

        Call me the “bad” son.

  2. m in minnesota says

    Good advice to be well heeded. Anything we got that was new always looked odd in our 1958 house and has been given to a charity . All our furniture from the 30’s,40’s, 50’s, and even a library table from my husband’s great grandparent’s 1909 farmhouse work better and look better…

  3. says

    Oh, I am in LOVE with the Gus Modern Jane Bi-Sectional sofa. We were seriously thinking about getting it (well, saving up to get it), but decided to go with an another option from Macy’s, the Milano Leather Sectional. It’s in-between the Corona and the Gus Modern price-wise (at least on sale, wait for sales, we got it for $1799), and it has the durability of leather, plus great modern lines and the seat tufting that screams “mid-century modern”. I don’t think the website pictures do it justice, if you click through to my blog, you can see pictures of it in its “natural habitat”. Fair warning, our decor is not strictly mid-mod, but sort of a mix of mid-mod and modern.
    the milano: http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=251138&PseudoCat=se-xx-xx-xx.esn_results

    Anyway, yes the Gus’ are awesome, that would definitely be my first choice, but we thought that with two kids and two pets, leather was the way to go. Also, if I’d spent $3k on a sofa, I’d probably cry if something happened to it:) But one day, one day….

    • pam kueber says

      Julie, the sofa looks GREAT on your blog. I sent you an email to get pics to post, you are right, the ad doesn’t really do the sectional justice – but your blog does!

        • Julie says

          Cool! So glad you like yours still, we’ve only had ours 2 weeks. Your living room is gorgeous by the way!

      • Dan O. says

        Pam, you are right about the cost of refurbished vintage vs new, it’s hard to justify reupholstering a vintage piece unless 1) it exhibits exceptional build quality, 2) is by a big name designer, 3) is particularly unusual in shape. With that, there are some good choices out there these days as mid-century design works it’s way back into the mainstream. Recently I paid a visit to this place:

        http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/

        A bit pricey but lots of other good stuff not limited to sofas. They have several locations throughout the country, definitely worth a visit if you’re within driving distance of one.

        • sandy retroSpective says

          I didn’t know how easy it was 😉 I love Julie’s living room. I commented under ‘chartreuse not obtuse’. Sofa works great… but especially loved her curtains & the MCM table lamp. And she has a really cool wall unit.

  4. Jocelyn says

    You’re so right about the difficulties of vintage sofas, Pam.

    We have a big empty spot in our living room, and I’ve had my eye on Room & Board’s Anson sofa for a while now. It comes in leather as well, and there are chairs in the same style. While you wouldn’t mistake it for vintage, it has a definite 50s feel. You can choose from any R&B fabric, too – I have my eye on a tweedy straw/khakhi that looks more sturdy than the standard fabric. They’ll send you 10 fabric samples for free, too.

    And if I had the budget for it, I’d put a couple of these Jonathan Adler Mrs. Godfrey chairs with that sofa.

  5. C in Minnesota says

    Room and Board stores in the metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul also have a wonderful selection that is appropriate for mid-century. I had a few picked out but I luckily picked up a square 50s sofa sleeper with button back for $12 at auction that will do for the time being! Saved me up to $3000.

  6. Alison says

    I own two of Macy’s Corona sofas. They are fantastic. I paid $700 for the first one and was able to find the 2nd one on Craigslist for $400. It’s incredibly comfortable, which is nice considering most sofas with these lines are anything but comfy.

    Younger Furniture also has great mid-century looking sofas with more of a selection for fabrics. http://www.youngerfurniture.com/sofas.htm

    • Beth says

      Hey Alison – can you tell me where the Corona sofa was made? USA or China? I LOVE the look but the Macy’s website doesn’t specify country of manufacture.

      Thanks!
      Beth

  7. jkaye says

    Well, I keep griping about my house, but this post is making me realize that the real problem could be my furniture.

  8. TappanTrailerTami says

    These are nice, but…………………

    I’ll try and give some perspective on new vs. vintage and choosing to reupholster. The old saying is: you get what you pay for (most of the time). So, with that said:

    My uncle is a furniture store owner, and 10 years ago, much of what was in his store was built here in the USA, with Highpoint NC being the long time furniture making capital of the US.

    Fast forward today: Almost every piece of furniture is now made in China. This is why so many smaller furniture stores have gone under – in order to purchase goods from China, it takes a bulk order of many items, like 50 sofas at a whack – all pre-paid mind you in order to get delivery here. Furniture stores today have less room for profit simply because of the amount they have to pay to even get the stuff in their door, and all of them are trying to keep up with the retailer next door, hence why everyone is now buying in China.

    Now – there are still custom furniture makers here in the US to be sure, and you will pay handsomely if you purchase new from them – however, you can get it made to your taste, and I’m 250% sure that the quality will far surpass that of a Chinese made piece of furniture.

    Back to Vintage buys and reupholstering: As Gavin pointed out above, you do have to look for a “craftsman” and one who specializes in furniture and antique upholstery and restoration. It is WELL worth the money to do this. A) you are likely to find many more styles in Vintage land if you keep hunting on Craigslist, etc. B) You have control over the material used so it will suit your purpose as well as the style of furniture it will be placed upon C) Make no mistake that the foam used in 60’s and 70’s sofas was far superior to the stuff used today, even in higher end furniture. My mom had a Flexsteel sofa made in 1971, and the cushions were solid latex foam, which is very expensive now. But I assure everyone here, that sofa’s cushions lasted and lasted, and held their shape until I sold the sofa in 1994 or so. That’s a long time!

    In short, if you LOVE vintage, then stick with it. It is usually better to buy old and restore/reupholster, especially if you know that you will not be changing your decor style for years to come, even though you may pay more at the outset.

    That’s my .02 – signed the bought one brand new sofa Retro Reno reader – it was made by Lazy Boy two years ago, and it looks like crap already because the back cushions are shifting downward, seat cushions are not holding their shape, and I’ll never waste my money again that way. The sofa/chair/ottom cost my about $1800 for the three pieces. I wish I would have just spent $3k on a vintage piece to start with, and I would not be unhappy now.

    Oh, one other side note as far as shopping used / Vintage: If you don’t want to drive the cost of your reupholstery project sky high – stay with simpler pieces. Those sofas with diamond tufted backs or channel backs will definitely cost more in labor to reupholster than a simpler less fussy sofa.

    Have fun shopping!

    • Gavin Hastings says

      TTT-
      What a great post!

      Scroll down about 4 chapters…see that rose chair in my living room? The fabric is wrong side out and Schumacher no longer makes that material I had already purchased. The “Craftsman” told me “You didn’t TELL me what side of the fabric you wanted!” He still expected his $800.

      Come see my $2200 reupholstered silk sofa from another “master”….with diamond tufts placed haphazardly across the back….after the second try he said “What can I do to make this better?” I told him “Put it back in your truck and find yourself engulfed in flames halfway up the street!”

      There are headaches and heartaches all over soft furnishings; new or old.

      • TappanTrailerTami says

        Ouch! Gavin, that’s pretty horrifying, especially the sofa! At least the chair doesn’t look too inside out, at least from the picture.

        I guess I’ve been lucky, as I have had several old items reupholstered, including an antique channel back love seat and chair which turned out wonderful.

        I think my mom drummed into my every single detail to look for in a great upholstery job, so I think I can look at most people’s work and gauge fairly accurately whether they are worth investigating further nor not. There are tell tale signs of what kind of work they will do if one is careful. References are a must as well.

        • pam kueber says

          Tami, I wish you lived near me! I would have you oversee all my upholstery work – which came out ho hum or worse. Alas.

          • TappanTrailerTami says

            Aww – well, maybe I’ll throw my tips together and send them to you, could be another future write for RR readers.

            As long as they hold me harmless of course 🙂

      • sandy retroSpective says

        Oh my, Gavin, you’ve sure had some terrible experiences reupholstering. Tami gave some great tips. Now, here is mine: ask a couple of well-known interior designers in your area who they might recommend / who they use, for reupholstering furniture. My cousin worked in interior design / furniture stores for at least 20 years, is incredibly creative and a wonderful interior designer herself. She knows the kind of things to look for in furniture, to see whether or not it is well-made. She is also a perfectionist, and has the eye to see things most people miss. The guy who inlaid the marble within wood in her front entrance had to redo it because she didn’t accept the job.

        I think most interior designers are perfectionists… it goes with the territory. So, the upholsterer they choose to use is going to be top-notch. I have chosen a beautiful retro style fabric to refinish my slipper chair (from 4 fabric swatch books my cousin lent me), and next week or soon after, we are going to go to the upholsterer she recommends. I’ll post when it’s done, but it won’t be for a while.

  9. Jason says

    I was going to go with a Room & Board sofa and chairs. I even went to the showroom in Atlanta to check them out. I fell in love with an L shaped sectional that they had, but it just seemed too big for the living room. I scoured Ebay every day, then came across a Krohler 3 piece sectional just across the bay from Tampa, Fl where I live. I won it for only $800, but it had this atrocious green floral over white upholstery. Some people should be shot for their upholstery choices!!!! So, I had it reupholstered in a navy blue solid/textured materisl and it came out great!Yes, the fabric and labor was expensive, but I enjoy the sofa so much. To me, the lines, style of an original piece are important for the overall style/ambiance/atmosphere of the room. So, for me, I think I would rather re-do an original piece.

  10. bepsf says

    Gus sure looks nice – but guess what?
    It’s all Made in China – So who knows what’s really in there?

    There’s lots of quality, midrange upholstery still made in the USA (Room and Board, Mitchell Gold & Drexel Heritage for instance) – or as Gavin suggests, reupholstering vintage pieces is a great way to go if you have the patience and trust in a great local craftsman.

  11. Hugh says

    I saw a sofa in shop in SC worth writing home about’. Mint condition, being covered with plastic covers for 50+ years. I am going to try to send pictures I took.

  12. Nikki says

    I need help! I wonder if anyone is reading this old post? I am 27 and not rich but I’m slowly integrating mid century modern pecies into my condo (which is brand new, boo). I found a brasila dining set with china cabinet for a decent price and now I am tackling the couch. I’ve found many ranging from $1000-$5000!!! I just don’t want to over pay! Obviously the more expensive ones are already re-upholstered into a neutral fabric…but may be I didn’t want that fabric (but maybe I don’t know how to go about reupholstering …or the cost…either). ANy advice?

      • sandy retroSpective says

        (Pam, I see that this is an old post. If you want to take this info and put it in a newer one, go right ahead). Well, my favourite of those Gus Modern sofas is the James sleeper lounger — I love its simple lines, the angled back cushions, and the look of no arms.

        But, for those of you looking for decently priced MCM or retro furniture, have I got links for you! Both of these places are located in the city I live in (Winnipeg, Canada), but I assure you, I don’t work for either of them!

        The 1st is eq3. http://eq3.com/cat-eq3/scan/fi=products/st=db/co=yes/sf=inactive/tf=prodsort%2Csku/to=r/se=0/sf=category/se=sofas/ml=16.html

        They now have a few other centres across Canada and the US and I think a few in Latin America, but they did start here in Winnipeg. eq3 was originally started as an off-shoot of a more traditional furniture company in town, but eq3 was specifically trying to make reasonably-priced furniture for the younger, hip market… so prices were lower, and styles were simple, straightforward and clean lines; styles that would look good and hip in warehouse lofts and other hip environments.

        There are several things I love about the eq3 line: One is that there are several styles of sofas that have a ‘regular-sized’ sofa and a smaller-scaled ‘apartment-sized’ one (which is still considerably bigger than a loveseat). Many of us have smaller spaces, whether we live in smaller homes, apartments, or lofts, so these apartment-sized sofas are welcome. I also love that there are lots of fabric colours, patterns, and type of fabrics to choose from. I also really like that most sofas have a choice of legs, wooden or steel.

        Oh, my very favourite sofa is the Replay — I would love to get the REPLAY apartment sofa. Another very MCM-style sofa that I love is the BYRD sofa: I adore this one, also, so it would be a toss-up between the Byrd or Replay. I find the PEKOE sofa very retro-looking, too.

        Here is a link to my next suggestion for obviously retro-inspired furnishings, at incredibly reasonable prices. It is called Lunar Lounge, another local Winnipeg company:
        http://www.lunarloungedesign.com/category/products/

        I love the Havana loveseat and ottoman — especially in orange — and their McCobb-inspired credenza with grasscloth doors, the Leentu lounge chair.

      • sandy retroSpective says

        kijiji seems to be much more popular in the city I live in. Just wondering, can you give tips on how to best search for mid-century modern or retro furnishings on Craigslist or kijiji? Maybe you could even do a post, inviting people to give their search tips on these kind of sites, as well as tips of your own. Maybe it is just persistence and dogged determination to slog through all the furniture posts… but I never seem to have much luck looking on kijiji for retro furniture, and I would like to avoid going through all the stuff I know I am not going to want (like antiques, which often comes up if you search for ‘vintage’).

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