Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

5.21.2008

Seeing Sofas in a New Light


Somewhere along the line, English and Early American camelback sofas became associated with attorneys’ offices and doctors’ waiting rooms. In terms of glamour, curvy French settees and deeply tufted Hollywood Regency sofas got all the credit.

But included in the May issue of Southern Accents is the best quote from antiques dealer E. A. Mack that frames the camelback in a fresh light "It has to have grace; it can't be a stumpy elephant's foot of a piece," he says. "I want that camelback to be as sexy and gutsy as they come."

Mack goes on to explain how important it is to seek out a sofa with a truly elegant serpentine curve. Shown here is a mahogany Chippendale. See page 64 of the magazine for more tips.

21 comments:

erika - urban grace interiors said...

brilliant! i missed this - or maybe my subscription has run out!? i am in love with an ole camelback these days... "sexy and gutsy"... i love it!

Style Court said...

erika,
when i read those words, i also thought brilliant! really the perfect way to describe these.

erika - urban grace interiors said...

i linked to this post, i couldn't help myself... i have a recent obsession with camel back sofas.

Jessica N. Condatore said...

I'm currently on the hunt for one myself. I want to upholster it in white cotton duck. Any suggestions on finding one reasonably priced?

ps - your blog has given me so much inspiration in decorating my new place! thanks :)

Style Court said...

Hi Jessica!

I'm so glad, thanks!

Erika over at http://urbangraceinteriors.typepad.com/the_blog/2008/05/humpback-of-the.html

recently posted a bunch of examples. I think vintage stores are still a good source to find one with graceful lines.

Let me look around. Please check back here in the comments.

Style Court said...

Jessica,

Ethan Allen makes a Chippendale-style sofa starting at $1400

http://www.ethanallen.com

For a bigger budget Baker furniture's Milling Road collection is always worth a look.

Style Court said...

Also try the Maxwell at http://www.calicocorners.com

less than $2,000

Karin said...

I found a down filled camelback sofa with mahogany chippendale legs for $75 at our local Thrift Town. My best bargain ever! I think the brand is Sherril, maybe? It's currently covered in a hideous floral, but soon to be reupholstered. Thanks for the heads up about this article. It's just what I need!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I was so glad to see this. I inherited a great camelback from my grandparents and reupholstered it in a beige-ish brushed cotton. It's held up really well to two children who love to play on it (and a dog. Anyway, sometimes I need someone with authority to say they like something and then I'm able to feel good about it again. I'm thinking I'm going to have to make some new pillows for it though-- something with a wild, modern print. Something "gutsy and sexy"!

Style Court said...

Anon,

I love stories like this! Wonderful that you inherited it. Bold fresh pillows on the neutral sound great.

Style Court said...

Karin -- what a find!

The Peak of Chic said...

It's such a classic sofa, and it's nice to see that people are still enthusiastic about this style. Of course, I love your sofa Courtney!

Style Court said...

Oh thanks for remembering Jennifer! I wonder if Mr. Mack would find mine less graceful the the dramatic version here? Mine is not an antique; it's a Hickory Chair loveseat that came to me free so I gladly took it :)

visual vamp said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling my attention to this issue. I have a $50. thrift store camel back with the same legs, and I am about to embark on having it re-done and have been told it will cost me nearly $1K which is daunting for a $50. sofa, and my budget, and it's giving me pause. I am seeing that this classic is getting harder to find, and I also always like to recycle by buying vintage and antiques, using them, and re-using them...

Style Court said...

VV-

I think if your frame is in good condition and you can swing it, definitely invest in recovering the sofa. You will still come out ahead compared to buying a new piece. $1,000 is pretty standard I think as a minimum price for upholstering a sofa.

Just know that the type of fabric you choose, how many yards are needed and so forth, may raise that quote. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the one with the inherited sofa in brushed cotton. I paid a little over a thousand for recovering it about 6 years ago, but the good news for visual vamp is that cotton duck is not only one of the greatest looking choices, but also the cheapest. It holds up well (I have other pieces with it)and ALWAYS looks stylish, so you won't have to pay for it again for a long time! So if you think about it that way, it's not very much for a good "investment piece" that you'll have with you forever. One thing I would do, though, (speaking from experience here) is WAIT until you can afford to cover it with what you truly love and don't settle for a cheap alternative you like a lot less just so you can do it now. That's going to end up meaning you have to pay for it to be recovered twice! Also, remember that ebay has some INCREDIBLE fabric bargains is one more way to reuse...

pve design said...

did you see the banquette in trad. home that looks like they cut it in 2 - very clever.
my kids would think they were for sliding down.
fun!

Style Court said...

PVE,

I missed that one!

magnaverde said...

And for everyone who's got a beauty of a camelback sofa in a beast of a fabric, and who doesn't want to hide those voluptous curves in a baggy mumu of a slipcover while he or she saves up for a first-class upholstery job, there is another alternative...

http://boards.hgtv.com/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=1084078532&f=1634079532&m=4281044763&r=2561039763#2561039763

Lauren said...

your post has pushed me over the edge- have a camelback I scored for $75 (in storage at my dad's house) and have been debating whether or not to reupholster & make it mine. -- excited to go ahead with it-- thanks!! :)

Style Court said...

Oh that's great Lauren! What a steal!