An Iconic Vintage Sofa Gets a Makeover

Vintage Edward Wormley gondola sofa reupholstered by Revitaliste

Evie Simon knows a thing or two about collecting covetable objects. Co-owner of Simon Breitbard Fine Arts, an uber stylish gallery in San Francisco's Jackson Square neighborhood, Evie is an avid collector of both art and vintage furnishings. We were thrilled when she turned to Revitaliste to restore an iconic sofa for her art-filled home. 



Evie and her husband had been searching for the perfect sofa to create an inviting seating area in the large front hall space of their home. As lovers of great design, they had long been drawn to the clean, timeless designs of mid century masters like Edward Wormley and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Aside from the provenance of iconic pieces, they're drawn to the sense of history and soulfulness that vintage pieces lend their new, modern home. 

During a late night web-surfing session, Evie stumbled upon a gem; an Edward Wormely Gondola sofa that was not only the perfect size (slightly smaller than the standard 110" Gondola sofa) but also in her ideal condition–meaning it had not been touched in years. Because the sofa had yet to be restored, the price was reasonable AND Evie could redesign it to perfectly suit her aesthetic. Parfait!  

Dunbar sofa restoration

Revitalization Checklist

  • Fabric: reupholster. While the blue fabric was pretty, it had extensive (ahem) mystery stains, fading and fraying.

  • Foam cushion: time for an upgrade. The sofa had not been reupholstered in nearly two decades.

  • Wood base: leave as-is, it has a great vintage patina.

  • Frame: masterfully crafted and in structurally excellent condition.

Vintage Edward Wormley sofa reupholstery San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Design Decisions

Evie worked with interior designer Elizabeth Cooper (read our post about this talented interior designer HERE) to select a sophisticated yet cozy fabric in a light neutral color that would pop against the dark walnut walls. Because the entrance to the home faces south and has a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, the fabric needed to withstand intense Evie's three children and frequent red-wine sipping guests. A tall order, perhaps, but Evie and Elizabeth settled on a subtly textured upholstery fabric, "Melody" in tenor color way from Holly Hunt. 

To show off the Gondola's gorgeous curves, they chose to outline the frame and seat cushion in a chic navy leather welt (piping) from Samuel & Sons. Through the reupholstery process, they maintained the original button layout and opted to cover the buttons in the Holly Hunt fabric (rather than navy leather) to keep the focus on the lines of the sofa while honoring its original design. 

Vintage furniture restoration specialists San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Adding a contrast welt (piping) is a great way to draw attention to the lines of a piece. The contrast can be bold, like Evie's dark welt with light fabric, or it can be subtle, like tone-on-tone fabrics with very different textures (our favorite is a silky welt with a richly textured fabric).

  • When an upholstered piece has not been revitalized in 15+ years, it's prudent to upgrade the cushion inserts when reupholstering. While new foam increases the price tag, you certainly don't want the foam to wear out before the new fabric!

  • In the world of mass-market mid century furniture knock-offs, consider maintaining some of a piece's vintage patina as a nod to its rich history and authenticity.


Want to reupholster a Dunbar sofa or other collectible sofa?

Our master upholsterers and refinishers can restore iconic furniture from any era–antique, vintage or nearly-new...quality guaranteed! 


Photograpy by Brian Byllesby