Sofas

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GETTING TO KNOW YOUR VINTAGE SOFA STYLES

If you’re in the market for a vintage sofa, you know how the term “couch surfing” takes on a whole new meaning—and not necessarily a relaxing one. When it comes to vintage sofas, options abound—one vintage sofa touts itself as a tuxedo model, while another a camelback. Not sure of the difference? Trust us, you’re not alone! To help, we’ve broken down some of the most common types of vintage sofas. Whether you’re into sleek, timeless vintage sofas or plump, traditional sofas covered in chintz, get ready to meet your match!

TUXEDO SOFA

As its name suggests, the tuxedo sofa is a luxurious, black tie-ready sofa that personifies city cool. Originating in the 1920s (in none other than Tuxedo Park, New York), this vintage sofa is defined by its boxy silhouette, which is created by panel-like arms that are the same height as the sofa’s back. The other hallmark of this vintage sofa? Deep, pucker-up tufting on the back rest. While the straight-backed nature of the tuxedo sofa perhaps makes it better suited to formal living rooms than romp-y family rooms, a linen or cotton upholstery can downplay this vintage sofa’s glamorous Gatsby vibe. On the contrary, a cushy velvet will make it a champagne and caviar-ready dream.

CAMELBACK SOFA

If you’re aiming to make a traditional but subtly sexy statement, you can’t do better than a used camelback sofa. A confidently structured sofa, with just a hint of romance (thanks to its meandering back), the camelback is believed to have originated from a Thomas Chippendale design. In fact, if you recall a Chippendale chair or armoire, it’s apparent that a camelback sofa shares many of the same traits, including claw-footed, cabriole legs and scrolled arms. While modern day designers have taken many liberties with the camelback’s form, the center arch—or hump—is integral to making a sofa a camelback as opposed to a settee. While we’ll admit that this used sofa can come off as overly prim and proper, a cheeky printed upholstery can freshen things right up.

CHESTERFIELD SOFA

A Brit by birth, the chesterfield sofa is something of an anomaly. One minute this used sofa can feel grandly traditional, while the next it can read as unexpectedly funky. What gives? Well, we think it’s the way this vintage sofa’s boxy silhouette—similar to the tuxedo sofa’s in that it features a leveled back and arms—is contrasted by playful details like scrolled arm caps and all-over tufting. Yes, this sofa will read as masculine when upholstered in cognac leather and placed in a lodge setting, but when swathed in a pretty pastel velvet it’ll feel whimsical and feminine. And cloaked in an uproarious red leather? Well, it will feel delightfully offbeat. In fact, the only thing mandatory for this used sofa is a large room, since thanks to a deep seat, it packs one colossal footprint.

ENGLISH ROLL ARM SOFA

If you’re looking to give your space a sophisticated yet frolicsome note, try an English roll arm sofa. In congruency with its name, this used sofa showcases abbreviated, bun-like arms paired with plush, sink-in-and-stay-awhile cushions and turned spindle legs. While the roll arms don’t run the length of the entire sofa seat, they are amply cushioned, making them a keystone of the design (and allowing them the ability to buoy your head during mid-afternoon nap sessions). Among our favorite things about the English roll arm sofa is its ability to feel simultaneously refined and casual. Stylistically, this used sofa is the equivalent of white jeans—elegant and easy, even if it’s upholstered in dark charcoal linen.

MID-CENTURY SOFA

Sometimes you want a sofa that’s just that—a sofa. One with no bells and whistles to get in the way of some deep R and R. That sofa? A Mid-Century sofa. Featuring a low, skimming profile, the Mid-Century sofa us an ode to functional simplicity. Even further upping its game? Mid-Century are typically outfitted in durable fabrics like twill, wool, or cotton—fabrics that fight stains in spades. With credentials like these, we deem these used sofas qualified for everything from family rooms to playrooms. Even better is the fact that these sofas can pack a small footprint, making them perfect for tucking into compact spaces. No, these sofas aren’t the kind you’ll likely be napping on for hours, but for little ones—in the words of Goldilocks—they’re just right.

TRACK ARM SOFA

Need a used sofa that allows you to multitask? By which we mean, a used sofa that allows you to comfortably sit while shooting off an email and catching up on The Bachelor? If so, then try a track arm sofa! Just as its name suggests, this used sofa features wide, spacious arms. The extra wide girth makes this sofa’s arms perfect for balancing a laptop, remote, and maybe even a container of ramen (you know, for those nights when at-the-table is simply not an option). In addition to the arms, this sofa showcases a blocky, rectangular silhouette that feels perfectly modern. Find a used sofa with a track arm shape you love, but upholstery that’s struggling? Lucky for you, used track arm sofas are often the perfect shape for slipcovers.