A few years back we happened upon a beat-up Ercol Studio Couch in the wilds of Canada … specifically, in an antique-and-junk filled barn in northern Ontario. When I say we, I mean my mother-in-law Sharon and me. The frame of the couch was in rough shape, with its original finish coming off in our hands, so we ended up stripping it down for a more nordic look to suit the family lake cottage where it would live. I’m happy to report the couch is complete. And I finally have photos to show it off a bit.
I’ve been mulling over how to re-do our living room for while now. With the new year, it’s high time to pull some triggers. I’ve narrowed my search down to a few top candidates, and I’ll be honest: I need some backup on this one. Help!
Here are the contenders:
Tufted, deep, with a definite nod to mid-century thanks to the tapered legs. I really like the fact that the legs are shiny brass. Very much in my ‘good-weird’ category. I discovered this particular sofa through Homepolish, one of my favourite places to find inspiration. Here it is in an NYC apartment:
What I like about this sofa is that it’s refined, but not too opulent. I think the neutral fabric would fit with the more earthy and relaxed feel I want.
This has been my dream sofa for a very long time. I love the big cushions and low-slung, deep seat. I just want to dive into this thing and never leave. The hitch: Jardan Furniture is in Australia. (I blame Inside Out magazine for this impossible dream of mine. The interiors they feature are really playful and fresh, and so well-suited to California living.) I have even gone as far as getting a quote, but getting a sofa shipped across the Pacific Ocean is probably too crazy, even for me. The picture above doesn’t entirely do it justice, so here’s a taste:
Oh, that yellow penguin chair and Jieldé lamp aren’t hurting either. You can also feast your eyes here. Then come back and commiserate with me. Maybe we can move to Australia together.
On the more local and attainable front (HD Buttercup is in San Francisco): nice tufting, simple with a mid-century feel and cute cylindrical bolsters. I’ve been keeping an eye out for this sofa in the wild, and spotted it over at Smitten Studio, where it appears to be doing quite nicely in Sarah’s amazing space:
My main issue: charcoal or ivory? I love both. Charcoal is more practical, given that we have a canine friend living with us too, and it’s actually a neat herringbone pattern as I noticed when taking a look up close in the shop.
I checked this one out at HD Buttercup’s showroom as well and loved the quality. The design reminds me a lot of the classic Florence Knoll sofa:
The Spencer sofa is well made, but I’m worried that it may be too stark for the feel I’m going for in our home. The light grey is great. It’s even more stunning in some of the darker fabrics they carry. And Gus* Modern hails from my home and native land of Canada, so I might be feeling a tad biased.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
This is not a sponsored post.
This is a long post, friends. Please grab yourself a comfy seat and a cup of tea. We’ve got a furniture restoration project on our hands!
Just last week, my husband and I made our almost yearly trek up to visit family in Canada. This includes a stay in the wilderness known as cottage country in northern Ontario. I’ll post more about the cottage soon, but what you need to know is that one of my favourite non-nature-y activities while at the cottage is visiting antique stores and junk shops. Some of which are quite literally junk shops. Hello, Seguin Township dump store!
On one of these outings, my mother-in-law Sharon drove us to a favourite shop in Parry Sound, which includes a proper furniture store in addition to barns filled with all manner of antiques, knick-knacks, and old household wares. It’s probably the stuff of nightmares for a fire marshal.
In one of the barns, I spotted what I thought was a possibly mid-century style bed frame:
We asked the shop owner for a price ($100 CDN) and where it came from (England). Then we hauled it out, checked that it was sufficiently sturdy, and decided that it was a project we could not resist. It would be perfect as a daybed under one of the big picture windows overlooking the lake at my inlaws’ cottage. Lucky them!
Thanks to the wisdom of my Instagram friends, we learned that this is an Ercol sofa and indeed made in England. Specifically, it’s the Ercol Studio couch which was designed in the 1950s by the company’s founder, Lucian Ercolani.
Look how cute:
They’re still being produced and are rather pricey. I’m quite pleased that my eye for quality mid-century junk is in good working order!
So, back to our sofa:
We took the sofa back to the cottage with us where I gave it a rub-down with mild soap to see what sort of condition the finish was in.
The original stain is really neat. The darkened areas accent the back and the spindles of the arm rests. Sadly, it was badly damaged in a number of areas along the arms and back, so we decided to strip and refinish it completely. The plan is to achieve that nice and bright honey-toned look like the sofas above.
As an aside: I think I’m really bad at vacations.
After the cleaning, we removed the original webbing, which we learned is a very high-quality rubberized webbing made by Pirelli. (Sound familiar? They make tires.) Each strap was originally held in place with wooden dowels on either end.
In its previous life, someone had tightened up the webbing by cutting it shorter and stapling it on one side. We’ll try to get a whole new set of webs and dowels so it can be restored to its proper state.
Our main accomplishment was stripping off the finish. Pro tip: instead of using steel wool to remove the paint stripper, we used those green scrubber pads used for washing dishes. Their main attribute is that they’re super cheap, yet effective and gentle enough to not damage wood. The best part is that you can buy an armload and just toss them out as they fill up with gunk.
The stripper only went so far in the areas where the original finish was very dark, leaving some really dark stains. So I started to sand: 100-grit, followed by some ‘medium’ grit sponge, and finally 220-grit. I love the grain and the surf-board shape of the back rest, but it still needs a LOT of work.
Here are a few close-ups of where I sanded. You can see the contrast between the residual stain and the bare wood.
I sanded the first three spindles and half of the bottom frame (on the left) and the corresponding top of the arm rest. The wood is so nice and bright. The frame is solid beech and the back is a single board of elm.
And that’s as far as we got. I would have loved to have a few more weeks, even days, to work on it.
In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with looking at other Ercol sofas online, restored and styled in cute ways. Sharon and I are figuring out the webbing situation and what the seat cushion will look like, leaning toward something simple and in the neutral gray-to-greige spectrum. I can’t wait for this project to be finished.
Oh my heavens. This is quite possibly the most beautifully geeky piece of furniture I have ever seen.
The RPR Float Table is by Rock Paper Robot, a company founded by Jessica Banks, a roboticist and product designer with a MSc in Computer Science (MIT AI Lab!), and Mihae Mukaida, a Parsons design school alumna. My kind of people.
The table is composed of wooden cubes held together by thin wires, with an arrangement of magnets embedded in them, causing the cubes to repel each other. The execution of this as a piece of furniture is gorgeous. Seeing the table react to being pushed and touched is almost … unnerving.
It’s beautiful (look at that wood grain!) and so bizarre (it looks like it’s being tickled in the video). And you know how much I like to anthropomorphize furniture. Yes.
Hi there, friends. I realize it’s been a bit quiet around here since my living wall update and there’s a good reason for that, trust me. I can’t really disclose too much except to say this side-project has me doing a LOT of research. The best kind: furniture research. Squeee!
And it has somehow lead me to a piece that I bet a few of you know well and which I recall from my great-aunt’s house: the telephone chair.
Edit: For those of you who are much too young to remember (you know who you are), a telephone chair is a little bench/chair with an elevated part upon which you set your rotary dial phone and in which you probably kept your address book.
In particular, I’m looking at telephone chairs with some midcentury sass and finding some amazingness:
Ugh. Crazy, right? Right.
I know what I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for at the next antiques mall or flea. Thrifting this weekend, anyone?
A few months back, I posted about a certain settee and how it looked like an anime monster. I only recently noticed that I was getting hits to my blog from searches for terms like “miyazaki furniture” and was a bit puzzled as to why.
After digging around, I was pleased to discover that Miyazaki Chair Factory is a furniture maker in Japan. And even more pleased to discover that their stuff is A-MAZING. For the chair-obsessed, like me, these images may be a little too exciting. Miyazaki’s chairs look handmade and gorgeous and I want to touch ALL of them.
|From top: Hata, Kuku / Kuku Muku, and Pepe
I am in awe of the craftsmanship that goes into these. You’ve got to love a company that talks about its team of craftsworkers, who use machines as their “extended hands” and are continually honing their skills. It’s definitely reflected in a product that shows how carefully and beautifully it was made.
While the adorable cantilevered Kuku (in the second and third pictures above) comes in at a close second, the DC09 might be my favourite of all:
A number of the recent chairs at Miyazaki, like the DC09, are by design firm Inoda+Sveje, a Japanese and Danish design duo. I love this blend of design sensibilities which seems to be best embodied by the DC09. It’s so reminiscent of Danish v-leg chairs but with a more refined, sculptural quality. Denmark meets Japan.
Inoda+Sveje’s work also includes the IS sofa. I am trying to imagine it in person, and it’s making my brain tingle.
Yes. This thing exists and is a real sofa. For real.
I think of all of these pieces as works of art. Indeed they are quite pricey. But then, maybe you’re in the market for an investment chair or two? If so, let’s get together and discuss over lunch, please!
Regardless, if you’d like to see more of these beauties, check out Miyazaki Chair Factory, whose site includes a very charming description of each chair and the story behind it plus a peek into their manufacturing process.