YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO VINTAGE BROYHILL FURNITURE
Ranking among the best-known furniture brands in America (seriously, it’s said to be recognized by more than 90% of consumers), Broyhill Furniture is beloved for its Mid-Century forays into globally-inspired furniture. Taking its cues from Scandinavia and—perhaps most famously—Brasilia, vintage Broyhill furniture blends jet-set locales with a sense of cosmic curiosity. Today, vintage Broyhill furniture is hunted by a legion of enthusiasts, most who devote themselves to a single collection—be it Sculptra, Saga, or Brasilia.
Still operating out of Lenoir, North Carolina where it was founded in 1926, Broyhill Furniture is by no means summed up by its Mid-Century offerings, but these pieces are—undeniably—the company’s pinnacle achievement. Theatrically-shaped and meticulously detailed, vintage Broyhill furniture is indicative not just of good design, but the far-reaching sprawls of the imagination. Inspired? Get to know our favorite Broyhill collections better, below.
Introduced in 1957 and produced until 1965, Broyhill’s Sculptra line was among the first offerings from Broyhill’s Premier line. Designed to appeal to Mid-Century American’s increasing taste for non-traditional design, the Premier line primarily focused on Danish-design furniture. The Sculptra line specifically, is composed of furniture with bonded sculpted moldings, gracefully arched leg stretchers, and cat’s eye-shaped drawer pulls. These vintage Broyhill chairs, tables, beds, and case pieces are primarily composed of walnut, and feature interior structural parts made of pecan and mahogany. During its production run, Sculptra tables and credenzas came with the option of being outfitted in colorlith tops, a reinforced cement sheet top treated for high chemical resistance (lab tables often came equipped with colorlith), but due to the rarity of colorlith-topped pieces on the market today, it appears that most opted to purchase their Sculptra pieces without. Other rare Broyhill pieces from the line? The Sculptra Canopy Bed. Featuring an abbreviated, awning-like canopy, this four-poster bed is made for the Mid-Century exhibitionist.
Take one look at this cosmically-inspired line, and we guarantee you’ll be gaga for Saga. Showcasing a darker wood tone than the Sculptra and Brasilia lines, the Saga Collection is composed of 40 pieces, including dining tables, chairs, beds, credenzas and desks. Each of these used Broyhill Premier pieces is simple in form—comparable to American of Martinsville’s pared-down case pieces—and features paneled door fronts dotted with staggered starburst carvings. Whether it be the paneled doors, the warm, hand-rubbed walnut finish, or twinkling stars, these used Broyhill pieces exude a cabin-y, North Country warmth. They’re pieces that feel easy to update with brass lamps, organic textiles, and abstract art. And our favorite piece? While we’ll admit the credenzas and nightstands are cute as a button, the bookshelf Saga headboard has us wishing upon a star that we’ll find one to score.
Broyhill had no reservations about disclosing the inspiration for their 1962 Brasilia line—the City of Brasilia, Brazil’s newly-minted capital city. Defined by its cache of futuristic buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the City of Brasilia awed the world with its massive, hyperboloid structures and use of towering, parabolic columns. Realizing the city’s architecture could be translated to furniture, Broyhill created the Brasilia collection. The Brasilia collection mimicked the swooping trajectories of the capital city on everything from cabinet fronts to headboards. But perhaps most outstanding about the collection was its sheer size (to give you a sense, it offered no less than seven dining table options). The pieces themselves feel like monuments in the miniature, with the epitome being the Cathedral Coffee Table. Showcasing a hyperboloid base and a circular tabletop inset with a glass porthole, the Cathedral Coffee Table is to put it simply: otherworldly.
For collectors, it’s worth pointing out that there are Brasilia I and Brasilia II collections. In late 1969, modifications were made to some pieces, and the entire line was stained darker. Collectively, this collection is known as Brailia II. These vintage and used Broyhill pieces aren’t collected with fervor of Brasilia I, but they are worth having on your radar if you are interested in used Broyhill Brasilia furniture in any capacity.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR VINTAGE BROYHILL FURNITURE
Make no mistake about it, vintage Broyhill furniture was built to last from one millennia into the next, but a few basic care rituals will ensure the years go over easy. To steal a few tips from the original Mid-Century Broyhill packaging, don’t let your vintage or used Broyhill furniture sit too close to a radiator (you know, just in case you still have one of those…) When you dust your vintage Broyhill tables and credenzas, use a cloth dampened with water and don’t bear down with force. If you use a polish, opt for Old English or Johnson’s (which is better known as Pledge now). Finally, should you have scored a vintage Broyhill piece, but it has some deep gouging, try a cleaner like Restor-A-Finish. A coat of this potent finish can lighten scratches in less time than it takes to apply your nightly moisturizer. Just be sure to apply it to the entire piece even if your scratch is only in one area—this stuff is seriously revitalizing.