The Sensational Guide to Vintage Sectionals
The furniture equivalent of Sunday morning loungewear, the vintage sectional sofa hasn’t always maintained the best esteem. While universally acknowledged as being comfy with a capital C, their profiles tend to be large—some verging on monumental—and their tailoring can be a bit less than meticulous.
Yet with an astute eye, the vintage sectional sofa needn’t resign itself to rooms with a subterranean vibe. In fact, a number of vintage sectional sofas are straight-up glamorous. Just look at Ligne Roset’s voluptuous Togo sectional or Roche Bobois’s cushiony Mah Jong (more on those later). Covered in plushy velvets and buttery leathers, these are seriously chic sectionals—a far cry from football and delivery pizza’s usual partner in crime.
For those on the hunt for a used sectional that stylishly inspires, we’ve broken down some secondhand sectional basics, including traditional shapes to consider, followed by our all time favorite vintage designer sectionals. A word to the wise: contain your side tables, these are sofas they’re likely to get very excited about.
Most used sectionals showcase an L-shape. Easily achievable by merging two benches at a 90-degree angle, or setting a bench perpendicular to a chaise, the L is ideal for most spaces. It can easily hug two walls or define a more intimate conversation area within a larger space (like an open living room-dining room combo). Something to keep in mind: when shopping for a vintage L-shape sectional, terms like right arm-facing or left arm-facing will be used to define specifics like what side the sectional’s chaise is located on. In example, if an item is tagged “Right arm-facing,” it means that when you are standing in front of the sofa, facing it directly, the arm is on your right side.
If scoring the corner horseshoe-shaped booth at your favorite Italian joint fills you with joy, a U-shape sectional might be your best bet. Undeniably intimate, a U-shape sectional can consist of anything from an elegantly curved sofa, or a boxy, modular-like structure that features two 90-degree turns (or three rows of seating). Because both of these sofa types offer the option for two people to sit directly across from one another, they’re ideal for spaces where cultivating conversation is priority.
Let’s face it, a vintage sectional is an investment. It’s a piece you’ve likely considered long and hard, yet—for better or worse—that doesn’t mean you’ll never tire of it. Our solution? A modular sectional.
Consisting of soft blocks or cushions that can be shifted to create a series of formations, modular sofas are perfect for those who crave spontaneity. Indulge in a right-facing sectional one day and a left-facing the next. While modular furniture dates back as far as the early 20th Century, it’s American designer Harvey Probber who’s credited with introducing modular seating in the 1940s. Early prototypes of Probber’s featured flat, ottoman-like seats and rectangular block pillows that could be moved atop the ottomans to create backs and arms. When the 1970s ushered in an era of general bohemia mania, these floor-skimming models became the unquestionable poster child.
Our Favorite Vintage Sectionals
Mah Jong Sofa: Embrace your inner cat-napper with the Mah Jong sectional. A modular sectional which appears to be constructed solely of heavy-duty floor cushions, the Paris-based furniture manufacturer Roche Bobois introduced the Mah Jong in 1971. Designed by Hans Hopfer, the sectional is produced similar to a mattress—meaning that you know it’s got mad comfort sewed right into it. With virtually no distance between you and the floor, this one is made for early morning meditation sessions and lazy Sunday cat-napping.
Togo Sofa: While its prominent ruching has led to it being likened to both a newborn baby and a Shar-Pei, we like to think of Ligne Roset’s 1973 Togo sofa as an incredibly chic caterpillar caught mid-metamorphosis. Another modular sectional that’s composed of a series of molded seats (armless slipper seats, corner seats, chaises, and ottomans all exist), the Togo, with its daringly low profile, boldly embodies the freedom of the 1970s. It will effortlessly impart any space with a fashion-forward, lounge-like vibe.
Non Stop Sofa: In 1974 the Swiss manufacturer De Sede unveiled the DS-600 sectional, also known as the Nonstop Sofa. By zipping together dozens of narrow, modular components that resemble piano keys, the world’s longest sofa takes shape. Add as many sections as you want, keeping in mind that metal hinges will allow the piece to articulate once finished. The end result can be a fluid, serpentine s-curve or a traditional horseshoe. If it sounds dramatic it’s because, well, it so is.