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Reviving an Adrian Pearsall 1401-C lounge set

Adrian Pearsall for Craft Associates Model 1401-C lounge set AFTER (L) and BEFORE (R).

“They don’t make things like they used to” was once just a tired cliche to us. Then we launched a business finding, restoring and selling vintage mid-century modern furniture. That’s how we learned what well-made really means, what’s worth rescuing and what it takes to do it right.

Sometimes we alter or adapt pieces because they’re too compromised as found, from damaged or missing bases to ruined surfaces. Mostly we try to honor original designs and truly restore pieces using modern materials to achieve a close approximation of the designer’s intent.

This Adrian Pearsall for Craft Associates 1410-C chair and ottoman set deserved a true restoration. The original walnut frame was still in amazing structural condition. The quality of the wood was beyond reproach. But the finish was badly aged and even a bit dirty. The upholstery – well, look at the before picture (above right) – was barely hanging onto the frame.

We tackled the frame in our workshop, revisiting every joint and screw to ensure that it would be sturdy for another 60 years. The worn finish was removed and then we applied a multi-layer walnut oil finish.

This particular set was chosen by a customer in advance of the restoration, so he got to pick the fabric for reupholstery. After exploring several options – colors, textures, weaves – he made an excellent period-appropriate choice: a vibrant blue (Bayou), 100% wool fabric from Bernhardt Textiles by Christian Biecher purchased from Modern Fabrics.

The result speaks for itself. Once this set is delivered, we’ll be back in the workshop for another mid-century modern furniture revival.

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