Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mid-century MODern love

Rare are the things in my loft that were manufactured in the 21st century. I can literally count them on two hands: a plasma TV, a washer / dryer combo, a mattress, a cordless telephone and a microwave. Almost everything else pre dates 1975. Is this the antithesis of what Modernism is supposed to be? You could make a case for that.

Mid-century modern furniture exhibit at the Ford Museum in Detroit
Exploded view of the iconic Eames lounge chair

I think that one thing supersedes the notion that Mod equals Modern. That is the premise that Mods are about being hip and cool. Of course being cool is very subjective. I believe I should at least get an A for the effort.

When I moved into my loft, almost 4 years ago, I bought my first ever new piece of furniture. I thought that a classic leather L-shape couch would mix well with my vintage pieces in my rather large living room. Not exactly mid-century modern, I went for comfort over style. I chose the leather for the simple fact that fabric is a very powerful pet hair magnet. I was heartbroken when I gave away my funky 70s brown velvet love seat. The move was the perfect excuse to find something new. And with a cat and a dog in the home, it had to go.

The velvet love seat in my former apartment

Single at the time, I went with my sister in one of those generic, sterile, large surface furniture stores. I wanted a second opinion and my sister is not known for shying away from hers. I hate those places. I think I broke into hives as soon as I walked through the door. I considered going with Ikea but like a lot of modern inspired pieces, they are often not comfortable. So I settled for a safe but cozy dark brown leather 7-seater. On sale at $1500, I expected it to be part of my decor for at least the next 15 years.

A year only after my butt had first rested on its cushions, the leather started to split. And no, it had nothing to do with the size of said ass! A couple of years after the purchase, small tears would appear every month or so. My only remedy was putting a small piece of tape on the tear. I don't allow the dog on the couch and it's been a while since my last pillow fight. The only sensible explanation is that it's cheap and of poor quality. I take great pride in my home and to have a taped-up couch was unacceptable. I guess there's a thing to be said about the craftsmanship being much better in the past decades.

Bowling on his favorite spot on the couch, guarding the safe

So I started looking for a nice vintage, mid-century modern designer couch that had a nice patina to the leather. The only problem is that they're not easy to come by and they're bloody expensive. I had put the word out and once again, my mate Stéphane came through and sent me a link to a 70s L-shape couch he saw on an on-line classified ads site. It looked different and unique. At $100, how could I go wrong?

The very 70s black and rust couch with reversible cushions. Notice the attached end tables with ceramic inlays.

I contacted the nice lady that was selling it for her aging parents and set up an appointment. My friend Eve had warned me about buying used furniture, fearful that the dreaded bed bug might have elected to take up residence. So I was prepared to inspect every inch of it, unzipping cushions if necessary.

The couch looked great and seemed hardly used. It would make for a perfect transition sofa. As my girlfriend and I were testing the merchandise and considering making the purchase, we noticed a pristine 50s lime green sofa with matching chair across from us. I asked if they were also for sale and I was told that $100 takes both. We were now stuck with a dilemma. Which one would we leave with?

And the winner is...

What tipped the scale for us was the fact that it was a hide-a-bed with a storage compartment under the cushions. Yes! More space for my ever-expending record collection!

Until we find the mid-century modern couch of our dreams, I think I can deal with the pet hair and a $100 hole in my pocket. And my 4-year-old contemporary couch ended up in my sister's garage. I had no doubt she would like it.


  1. Love the couch! damn, I should of gone myself! lol

  2. Please bequest the sofa set to me when you die! ;)

  3. Loving this entry! Great blog :)

  4. You are trying way too hard. Your apartment looks like a 50s themed family eatery complete with tacky crap on the walls and irrelevant zaniness abounding.

    1. I guess that constructive criticism was to much to ask for coming from someone who's anonymous.

  5. I'm not certain if that is the way the photo is taken, or if your records are flat beneath the couch. If they're flat its probably too late for those guys, but for future knowledge, you're ruining your ever expanding record collection if that is the way you're storing them. Vinyl warps. But I think the look of the rest of the place is cute.

    1. You're right. They are stored flat. Luckily, the few that are, are dollar finds and nothing valuable. The ones that you see were there only for the photo.

      Let your comment be a warning to all of us.