Discover Vintage America - NOVEMBER 2018
An estate sale sofa's story
Soon after we moved into our 1920s era home back in 1995 my wife purchased an old sofa at an estate sale in Mission Hills, KS, the tony suburb of Kansas City. The upholstery was faded and somewhat broken down, but it was still serviceable.
I enlisted a friend to help bring it home in my pickup truck and actually lugged it upstairs to a bedroom, which we had converted to a TV room. It was heaaavy! That's when we saw the label affixed to the bottom of the sofa – Henredon. Wow! One of the top quality American manufacturers of upholstered furniture. Not a bad estate sale find at $25. Sometimes you can get lucky.
It fit perfectly in our TV room, and was just long enough for me to stretch out on entirely. I fell asleep on it many a night.
We eventually decided to have it re-upholstered, hiring the artisans of Décor Upholstery of Kansas City. They did a great job and transformed that old faded red sofa into a "new" lush green affair covered in textured cotton cut velvet. It was beautiful, firmer and more comfortable than ever. The "bones" of that sofa, first built of American hardwood in the 1930s seemed stronger than ever and just as heavy.
For the first few years of the sofa's second incarnation I made sure that my shoes never touched the fabric, and kept those pesky dogs off it too. But as the years progressed, it became more familiar. The dogs eased themselves on to it more and more. I sometimes forgot to slip off my shoes before dozing. And lo and behold I wore that fabric out as I couch-potatoed into the new millennium as the cushions took on the outlines of my bulk.
So, it was time to call Décor Upholstery again. They came and picked it up and hauled it off to their workshop in Waldo. A few weeks later they returned with what seems like a whole new sofa. Now it's light shade of blue velvet. The cushions fit perfectly again.
Instead of furnishing the upstairs TV room, this time the sofa was headed for a starring role as the anchor in our living room. I am not allowed to approach the sofa with my shoes on and have to undergo an inspection before I can even sit down on it. Dogs aren't allowed to come anywhere near it.
Which it to say if you come over to visit, you will be welcome to sit or even laze upon it. You will want to.
All this is just to emphasize that high-quality vintage furniture can live on. This sofa was important to the family that first owned it when it was red, and to my wife and I when it was green and then blue. One day we will have a great estate sale and I wish the next owner many nights dozing in front to the TV, whatever color it may become.
Leigh Elmore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leigh Elmore's Refurbished Thoughts Archive past columns