Learn how to find authentic, good quality midcentury couch
This Ligne Roset couch makes the perfect statement piece in the living room. Photo by Jim Brown.

You want your living room to have that perfect MCM look, so the first piece of furniture you need is a sofa. While you scour eBay, Etsy and the flea market for a great find, ask these questions before you click “buy” on that midcentury couch.

Who designed it?

Make sure you can find the designer, year and model on the couch—or that the online listing includes this information (and a picture of the label). This will help you identify the piece as authentic and be able to evaluate its worth. We’re all familiar with designers like Eames and Herman Miller, but don’t discount other midcentury furniture designers who are gaining more recognition, such as Finn Juhl, Harvey Probber and Ligne Roset.

Does it have the original upholstery?

This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. If a midcentury couch has seen 60 years of dust, dirt and crumbs, new upholstery will bring new life to the piece. However, the alteration will diminish its value. Not sure if this matters? Consider how you intend to use the piece. If the sofa will sit in a living room you rarely use, then a piece with original upholstery is a great option. But if you plan to use the sofa in your main seating area, it will see just as much use as it did before and new upholstery might be a plus.

Where has it lived?

The history of the piece will tell you much about its current condition, especially if the couch does have its original upholstery. Were any of its previous owners smokers or pet owners? If smoke or pet urine has seeped into the fabric, it will continue to emit an odor, even if you have the piece professionally cleaned. If this is the case, you may want to consider new upholstery or forego the purchase all together. Also beware of storage. Was the piece covered? Was the storage space dry or damp? If there was moisture in the air, the fabric or upholstery stuffing might have mildewed, and it will emit an odor when you place it in your closed living room.