>the function key

help! we need a new sofa — mid century style, please.

August 20th, 2010 · 39 Comments

Clockwise from top left: Blu Dot Clyde Sofa; Boston Interiors Giselle Sofa; Fashion4Home Chelsea Sofa; CB2 Parlour Sofa; CB2 Draper Sofa; Urban Outfitters Mid-Century Sofa; Rowe Furniture Dorset Sofa; 2BMod Bel-Air Sofa; Alphaville Design Robert Petrie Sofa; Steven Anthony Dupont Sofa (in tarragon)

We’re in the market for a new sofa. Our old sofa (a yellow slipcovered sectional from West Elm) could potentially last another two years if it weren’t for the shoddy slipcover, which West Elm conveniently no longer stocks. I actually found a replacement slipcover on eBay two years ago and for some reason decided not to buy it. Now, I’m kicking myself.

We’re not looking to spend a lot of money, which puts a limit on selection. But I think we can stick to our budget (around $800 or so) and find something that we really like — a long couch (84″), mid century style or mid-century (it’s amazing how leaving out a hyphen can change a search result). I’ve found a lot of couches that almost make the cut, but they’re always just slightly off the mark — too small (CB2’s Draper, CB2’s Parlour); too expensive (Blu Dot’s Clyde, Steven Anthony‘s Dupont, 2BMod’s Bel-Air — my favorite); I don’t like the shape of the legs, the make of the legs, the height of the legs — yes, I know, I’m picky; the cushions are too tufted (Rowe Furniture’s Dorset), the back is unfinished (Urban Outfitters Mid-Century Sofa (act surprised) — it’s true, check out this picture). 

So far my search has led to a budding education in furniture manufacturers that produce couches sold to mass retailers like Crate & Barrel, West Elm, etc., in an undetectable manner (the Alphaville Robert Petrie sofa is sold as Petrie Sofa at Crate and Barrel for about a $250 markup) but unfortunately not much more. Why can’t I just happen upon an actual vintage couch from the 1950s-1960s at a yard sale or flea market? I would run over to it and buy it without even finding out the price, and then when I did, it wouldn’t even matter because the piece would be absolutely perfect.

I’d love some help. Do you have connections to mid century couches? If you spot one that could feasibly find its way into our apartment, it would so super amazing to let us know. Although, I’m sure, by next year when our slipcover has worn itself into oblivion and Urban Outfitters has ruined everything by opening up a mid-century, rare gems pop-up shop, I’ll have forsaked practicality and be saving my money for the Lola Sofa from Shine by S.H.O. (below), which is what I really want anyway . . .

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Posted by: kimberly phillips · Tags: design · interiors · modern objects · trends

39 responses so far ↓

  • 1 kozkay // Aug 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    you should check out z gallerie. The soho looks a lot like what youre looking for, the dean is kinda similar but I personally like the Benny.

  • 2 Keyse // Aug 25, 2010 at 4:45 am

    you should check out my blog, often. Ari got a really nice couch,

    and so did this lady,

  • 3 kimberly phillips // Aug 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    i will do that! you always find the best stuff!!!

  • 4 kristi // Aug 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    i came across this blog because i am searching for the exact same type of sofa. we have several rowe pieces, and i love them (though now they are outdated with the rounded arms and i want an updated style), so i’m trying to figure out how to order the dorset online. but then i clicked the link for the petrie sofa you shared, and i LOVE that one. i’m curious as to whether you have found any reviews of the petrie and whether the furniture maker is known for quality furniture?

    it would be great to know what you decide! i am currently in love with the green couch (similar to the dorset) on mad men. it was on sale on ebay earlier this month. i can’t imagine actually owning it. would be so cool. but i would settle for something similar.

    really appreciate you doing all this research and then posting!

  • 5 kimberly phillips // Aug 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Kristi!

    So, I recently went to Crate and Barrel and sat on the Petrie Sofa and it’s really comfy and not too plush. The Petrie is made by Alphaville Design, a company that manufacturers a lot of contemporary pieces that are sold to big retailers. I did a little bit of research and people seem to be happy overall with Alphaville. Just based on what I gather, Rowe Furniture is probably made better, but i think it’s also slightly more expensive. If you have access to a Crate and Barrel that carries furniture, I’d suggest stopping in and checking out the Petrie but I wouldn’t buy from there because they mark up the furniture a lot — that is unless you want a fabric that isn’t the gray, brown, or ivory that Alphaville offers. I’m not sure where you’re located but I checked out the Dorset (although it wasn’t in store) at Boston Interiors — and they offer a TON of different upholstery options for no extra charge. I think if you go to the Rowe Furniture Web site you can also search for retailers. We’ve put the couch search somewhat on the backburner for now and actually ended up getting a new mattress instead. Hah. After all that. Anyway, please let me know what you decide!! Thanks for reading!!


  • 6 ~gina // Nov 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm


    I stumbled across your blog in the midst of the same search you’ve been doing. I’ve been looking for the better part of the year and saw most of the couches on my list on your post here! (I must say you have excellent taste:) However, I hadn’t seen the fashion4home sofa and really like it. I was wondering if you know about their company… I’ve never heard of them and was wondering if you knew they were legit? Also, please tell – what sofa did you decide on??


  • 7 kimberly phillips // Nov 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Gina,

    Thanks for writing! I have no idea if they’re legit but I did request a fabric sample and it was sent to me promptly. They claim that prices are low because they sell directly and don’t deal with middle men. You’re never going to believe it, but we ended up getting . . . A MATTRESS!!!! Hah! Have you found your perfect sofa? Let me know when you do, I’d love to know what you decide on.


  • 8 ~gina // Nov 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks! Did you like the sample? Sorry you had to go the utilitarian route with the mattress! Better sleeping I suppose :) I am so picky in the sofa arena – I really like the fashion4home one, I am just a little scared to order without knowing for sure! We’ll see…. I will let you know! (we would order the dark grey color)…

  • 9 ~gina // Nov 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Oh, I also like the petrie sofa- but I like it in the grey as well and am not sure if you can get it cheap in that color.. (meaning not from crate and barrel-they have it in grey there)…

  • 10 Melanie // Nov 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I stumbled on this page looking for sofas similar to the Dorset. Lucky me! If you go back to your search on sofas, Macy’s has a few nice ones. There’s Corona, which looks similar to the Dupont above. I like the Sylvia better because it has lower arms, which makes for comfier naps, which I do a lot. :)

  • 11 kimberly phillips // Nov 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Gina: The sample was pretty nice. It’s kind of a nubby tweed. I got a sample of the coffee (which is more brown that it appears online) and the gray (which is kind of a slanted blue/gray/black tweed).

    I could have sworn I saw the Petrie in a grey option on one of those sites. Yes! Here, just click on option (http://www.dcgstores.com/robert-retro-modern-sofa.html).

    I must confess, last month I caved and bought a sofa at IKEA (Karlstad w/Isunda cover) because it looked fabulous in the showroom. It is actually a really great looking couch. And the price was really good. The cover is what really got me though. It’s this grey-blue tweedy plaid pattern and it’s very striking. I’m thinking of maybe switching out the legs to something more mid-century. Any idea where I might find some legs?

  • 12 kimberly phillips // Nov 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    oh here’s the link to the IKEA sofa: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S29875680

  • 13 kimberly phillips // Nov 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Melanie: I like the Corona (http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=485298&CategoryID=35365&LinkType=), it’s actually the same one as the Boston Interiors couch from my original post, not sure of the manufacturer. The Sylvia is really nice, too (http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=475548&CategoryID=35365&LinkType=#fn=FURNITURE_TYPE%3DSofa%26sp%3D1%26spc%3D180). And both are on sale! Have you seen them in person?

  • 14 Melanie // Nov 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    No, I haven’t seen them in person yet. That’s definitely on our to do list for the weekend, though, since we finally have our couch list narrowed down to a few.

    The Karlstad from IKEA has always been a favorite of mine, but the arms seem really narrow to me, like I could snap them off if I laid on them just right, if that makes sense.

    We were originally deciding between a few IKEA sofas:
    Karlstad (linked earlier)
    4-seater Klippan– http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S39830945
    and the new Kivik– http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89884808

    So, I’ve noticed a few things to help us on our search… I like tufting on the back; all the pillows seem to get tossed on the floor because everyone hates them, so if there are no back cushions, that’s a bonus; and I like low fat arms on the sofas. I’m definitely thinking Sylvia is pulling ahead on our search.

  • 15 kimberly phillips // Nov 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Yeah, I wouldn’t trust the arms of the Karlstad to hold any weight. My biggest worry now that we have this couch is that the cushions are going to turn to mush very quickly. Such a tough decision!

  • 16 kristi // Nov 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    hi kim,

    i just happened to check back here and saw your response. thank you so much!

    we still haven’t bought a couch. we bought a mattress instead too! :)

    i’m really still interested in the petrie, especially now that the price has been slashed so much.

    i have never thought about requesting a fabric swatch. i think i’m going to do that today.

    thanks again! and i’ll let you know if we pick one of the ones you have listed here. that bottom one (the lola) is to die for… :)

  • 17 will // Mar 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    There is a cool one on overstock called the Maxim. You may not like the legs but a few people said they bought it because they love mid-century design and the show madmen. A little pricey but check it out.


  • 18 scott // Aug 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Hi, I just purchased a Rowe Dorset today and I would totally recommend it as a NEW replacement to buying vintage. I previously had owned a Karpen streamlined sectional for almost 20 years and was looking for options like re upholstering or buying something new that looks MCM. So after visiting over 7 furniture stores in Milwaukee and not really feeling connection with anything we were seeing, alas…the Rowe Dorset was there. I knew immediatly from about 20 paces I wanted this. And after close inspection and a multitude of upholster options, we bought it outright. we purchased the floor model which was the smaller of the 3 styles of sofas you can buy. And one week from today we are going to order the long 89″ version which unfortunatly will take 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. But, at least we will have one to bide our time until the other arrives. I consider myself extremely picky and tend to stay with MCM furnishings, but Im getting older as well is my back and this was a slam dunk match to anything vintage 1950s I own.

  • 19 ken // Sep 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    where is your store located???? im in Toronto and im interested in a sofa.

  • 20 brooke // Oct 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    i want to let you know,, the couch that you LOVE is on sale on gilt.com right now! hurry, hurry, buy it!!!

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    Kimberly, if you are still in the market for 1950-60’s era couch I know where a couple are. There is also a chair, 2 tiered end table, & lamp. Contact me at my email ASAP if you are. I am helping a friend clear thing out so we have to hurry. We are in Colorado Springs,Co. Hope that is not an issue.

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    If you’re in the LA area, we’re selling our Dorset sofa by Rowe (Just like the one pictured) and matching chair! Check it out at:

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