Restoring Mid-Century Modern and Modern Upholstered Objects

MPF Conservation specializes in antique furniture restoration, furniture repair, antique upholstered furniture, and traditional woodworking.  This page documents various types of Mid-Century Modern upholstered items.

Art Deco MCM Swivel Chair
circa 1947, right.

Mid-century Modern (MCM) and Modern Classics are called that because of the time they were conceived and also their design intent; often these objects were designed by architects to use in their own modern buildings, where traditional pieces might seem out of place.

In most cases, upholstered items had a variation of the following performed on them. For the sake of brevity, we will only publish the differences in this list, under “Details”. Frames are often not completely disassembled due to issues in the frame or it is not necessary.

  • Excavated down to the frame
  • Cleaned all innards and set aside if they can be reused
  • Frame disassembled and joints repaired and re-glued
  • If wooden, tacking margins filled with hardwood pins
  • Historic finish amended/restored as appropriate
  • Seats traditionally upholstered in keeping with historical accuracy, and built-up with historic or appropriate fibers
  • Cotton batting topper
  • Muslin undercover encased entire object
  • New showcover

All items below are restored with cleaning in mind if possible. Hidden zippers with interior muslin tickings make it easy to remove the decorative covers and take them to a good dry cleaners. Leather cushions are fitted with a fabric back panel to allow air to escape when they are sat or rested upon.

Two Wassily Chairs circa 1925

A modern family heirloom circa 1925, these Wassily chairs have their original leather strapping. MPFC needed to repair the original leather, making them viable for another century! Designed by Marcel Breuer, Modernist Architect 1902-1981.

Art Deco Channel-Back Chair circa 1950

This modern chair from the fifties was covered in bright green vinyl; the new owners wanted something a little warmer to snuggle into, and this lovely chenille fit the bill. Mitchell restored the failing channels before re-upholstering.

American Mid-Century Modern Boomerang Shaped Bench Seat Sectional Sofa circa 1949


  • The clients were tall, and wanted to find a way to keep the integrity of the original piece without ruining its line.
  • The pieces were restored with solid latex slabs over spring construction, wrapped in cotton batting with muslin inner linings.
  • Mitchell found an inspired Decorators Walk show cover and Houlès looped fringe for the sectional.
  • We created a completely removable cotton batting and down-filled topper to give the lift the client’s needed without altering the historic seat elevation.

Above and below, before and after comparisons.
The addition of the pillows and the restored label is shown, below right.

The Crown Chair circa 1955

It was made in Los Angeles, California, in 1955 by the father of our client, an upholsterer at the Crown Company.

The frame was repaired and restored, and the original finish restored and polished. New upholstery needed a new buildup, and Mitchell found a showcover fabric that looked quite like the original showcover.

Some of the original fabric was intact; MPFC salvaged it to make Pillows for his son.

Egg Chair circa 1958

A modern family heirloom, this early Egg Chair was destroyed by an untrained upholsterer who drilled holes through the back and placed buttons to hold a thick polyester woven cream fabric in place.

MPFC restored the piece to its original condition using conservation techniques, appropriate materials, and approved upholstery. Arne Emil Jacobsen, Hon. FAIA, 1902 – 1971.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Eames Chair circa 1960

Many people now simply send their Eames chairs off to Herman Miller to be restored. That is fine if you have a newer chair, but the historic chairs used goose down and latex in their stuffings, and they “sit” differently than the modern chairs which do not use either. This chair was one of the originals, and so our client wanted it to keep its value with the original stuffings and “sit”.

MPFC disassembled the lovely old modern chair and ottoman, repaired its innards using the same stuffings originally utilized, and recreated the leather cushions, which our client and MPFC thought fitting.

In keeping with the original finish, we restored the finish using an oil varnish whose base was linseed oil infused with beeswax and honey, and added an earth pigment to bring it close to the original color.

The chrome was polished and the Eames Chair is good for many decades.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right and bottom,
before it was sent off to our client’s home..

Two Paulin Chairs, Ca 1965

The frame was inappropriately painted. We gently removed the paint and treated the wood to a natural appearance and polished (at our client’s request). The internal buildup was restored, and a new chenille showcover much like the original blue was used.

Pierre Paulin (1927-2009) grew up in France, under the inspiration of his two uncles, both designers and artists, Georges Paulin, and Freddy Stoll. Both were influential in his education, as were Ray and Charles Eames and George Nelson.

“Mr. Tooth” Chair, American, circa 1940

This is Mitchell’s nickname for this unknown mid-century chair, designer unknown.

The frame was restored and repaired, and the original finish conserved. Buildup restored with new horsehair over springs with new cotton batting and muslin toppers. A new period-appropriate showcover was used.

Steelcase Executive Chair circa 1947

Sentimental to our clients, this Steelcase chair was in poor condition but stable structurally. The chrome was badly damaged and instead of re-chroming, our clients wanted us to powder coat the frame. We gave it new life for their home office!

Solid latex buildup over coil springs with a muslin cover and cotton topper, and an inspired combination of fabrics.

We have three pages of Mid-Century Modern (MCM) and Modern Classic objects:

We also have a full range of Upholstered Objects listed in our drop down menu above, as well as Wooden Objects. Textiles are found in another section.