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A Helpful Guide for Buying a Vintage Sofa

A Helpful Guide for Buying a Vintage Sofa
Hailing primarily from the 18th and 19th century, vintage sofas have a part-traditional, part-modern feel about them. And they are back with a bang! Here's how you should pick one for your home.
Puja Lalwani
Last Updated: Jan 28, 2019
VINTAGE Sofa? Come again?
The term vintage specifically refers to the year or place in which wine, esp. wine of high quality, was produced. However, it is colloquially used to denote anything that is or looks a little traditional.
They take you to an era you have never known; they blend seamlessly with modern furniture; they help you portray your eclectic side; and some of them provide comfort like you have never known before. They add charm and they look elegant; vintage sofas are increasingly being seen in houses where different decorating styles (even pure modern) rule the roost.
So, you have decided to buy a vintage sofa too. And why not? But investing in one can be expensive, so before you go ahead, here's a helpful guide for you to buy a vintage sofa.
Bringing Home the Vintage Sofa in Style
Grandma's favorite couch is back in vogue, and it can be yours after you critically study the piece to ensure that you don't end up with a rickety wobbler that you spend more time maintaining than enjoying. Let's start with the basics and move on to the more intricate details.
Like How it Looks?
types of vintage sofas
The first thing about a vintage sofa that charms us is its timeless appeal.
While some are plain ugly, there are others that look quite glamorous in a modest home or even a professionally designed one. So, before you buy one, take a look at some of the pretty vintage sofas that are available out there.
There are many more styles to choose from out there, these (particularly the Chesterfield) are those that fit very well into any type of décor.
Now, before we move on, note that many a decorating enthusiast has suffered a heartbreak when he/she found the sofa of their dreams, brought it home, and slowly discovered its many flaws within a few months of using it. Which is why, it's not just the appearance, it's the workmanship that has to be looked into, too.
Is it Sturdy?
Most vintage sofas have aged wooden frames, and if you are buying a used one, you must check its sturdiness. Now, sitting on the sofa and getting up is not enough. Regular use demands much more from a vintage sofa, so maybe, you should apply some more weight on it and see.
It should be able to withstand use by you, your kids, your guests, and anyone else who wishes to grace it. Check for cracks in joints, make sure it isn't wobbly, and inspect it thoroughly. Also, look at the legs of the sofa. Sometimes, legs don't match because they have been replaced.
While the match may be close and not very noticeable, ensure that you factor this detail into the costing of the sofa. Finally, check for tiny holes in the frame, which are indicative of a woodworm infestation. If you spot these, flee!
Like the Fabric?
red vintage sofa
Some use velvet, some use heavily patterned brocade, and others have silk or leather on them. Either way, the upholstery on the sofa is going to be worn out from regular use. Look for rips and tears or tiny spots where the fabric may be damaged.
Look at the way the sofa has been upholstered. Does it have welts and trim?
  • Welt is a fabric covered cord stitched to the seams of sofa cushions to strengthen and decorate them.
  • Trim is the exposed portion of the sofa (barring the legs). It is part of the frame and may have decorative detail.
Is this your style? Or would you prefer a sofa without all these extras? Maybe the fabric is not suited to your taste or to the décor of the room you intend to place it in. You could consider reupholstering it in such a case (increased expense alert!).
Comfortable on it?
man reading book
Beauty is only skin deep. So, while you may have fallen for the shape and the lovely fabric that encases the foam within, you need to ensure that it is comfortable for regular use.
Is the foam worn out? Can you rest your back on the sofa comfortably? Do you have to sit at odd angles to really fit into the sofa? If you sense even a moment of discomfort on the sofa, leave it and move on to the next one. Or, get creative and see if you can re-cushion the uncomfortable areas, and make the design work for you.
Think it'll Look Good in Your Home?
sofa in living room
Will it fit into the space you want to keep it in? Is it going to be the center of attention or a piece kept separately, away from the central space? And will it fit into that space?
The scale should be proportionate to the size of the room and the other elements in the room. It shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb in that space.
Got the Budget for it?
A vintage sofa can be a steep expense, but if you're lucky, you can find a steal. Remember that sometimes, you may have to restuff the cushions, reupholster the sofa, and get the frame refinished and strengthened.
All these extras can escalate the cost of a vintage sofa quickly. Even then, if it is still cheaper than a new sofa (i.e., a reproduction), you are in luck!
A vintage sofa may belong to any era and may be called by a variety of names, but in the end, it is the comfort and the value for money you get that matters when you invest in one. Not only does it lend timeless appeal to your room, it also speaks volumes about your personality, and your innate ability to flawlessly blend the traditional with the modern.