I appreciate the quality, character and provenance of old things. Not in a stuffy, serious way, but in a sentimental, stylish and practical way. So many pieces of mature furniture you stumble upon in an older relative’s home, thrift store or antique market are ripe to be refreshed by the recreational decorator. Not only can you often score these classics on the cheap (if not for free, for the cost of moving them), but they also have stories to tell and design features that have withstood the test of time.
We became the caretakers of two such furniture treasures when we bought our current home. The previous owner of the house, an elderly woman named Mary, left behind a sofa (measuring just under eight feet) and matching armchair that had clearly been in the house for many, many years. Their tattered and faded teal satiny fabric didn’t belie the quality of the pieces. Instead they spoke to us about the memories – the family gatherings, the Christmas mornings and Saturday evening cocktails (I have a good imagination).
Without hesitation we knew we wanted to integrate the set into our design plans for the living room. Not necessarily the least expensive option as the craft of upholstery is costly, but we felt that Mary’s pieces belonged in the house having lived here for so long already.
So off to our favourite upholsterers, Peter and Rob at Scarborough Interiors, the dusty two went. Stripped to the bones, the markings indicate the furniture was 1960s-era from the old Montreal Eaton’s. Thrilled with the workmanship of the solid walnut frames the guys enthused: “They don’t make them like this any more.”
We chose an elegant, understated simple grey twill fabric and colourful pillows to add some modern fun to the couple. Now Mary’s couch and chair sit in our living room where they’ve sat for more than half a century already.