Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kroehler Furniture Co. Couches (1958-1959)

Good morning! If you love color (and I know that you do), you're probably going to love this Lifesavers candy looking batch of ads I found for Kroehler furniture company.

Appearing in Life magazine for those two crucial mid century years, I have to say, if I ever find a freakin' sectional that looks like this, my current late sixties' living room furniture (which is kind of rocking a Louis XVI meets Graceland meets Needs-a-good-cleaning) is going out in the yard for all I care! Look how happy the woman on the teal sectional in her cheery mustard colored skirt and matching heels looks. That how happy I would look! Add a copy of Esquire, a big cup of coffee, and a Charles Aznavour record, and that's my dream living room!

According to this Napierville Historical Society pamphlet and this Chicago business encyclopedia article, Peter Edward Kroehler took over an existing furniture company in Napierville in the 1890's and went through many up's and down's (A tornado destroyed the original factory in the 'teens! 1920's revenues in the million dollar range! But then the Depression! But then by the 40's they were the number two furniture manufacturer in the US! But then WWII and material restrictions! A year long labor strike!) before his death in 1950. The mid-fifties' and sixties' were a good run for the Kroehler company, with revenues in the $100 million range, but it was back down again on this financial rollercoaster in the 70's and 80's. Two unrelated companies now manufacture furniture under the Kroehler name, but that's not what we're interested in.

We! Want! The Vintage! Stuff!

Ok, things to go gaga over in the above photo: trapezoidal shape of couch cushions with deliberately low-lying accent buttons. Wafer thin table top of coffee table, placed so far from the couch that you can't reach any of the faux fruits on said table. Linear perspective mural on the back wall, which looks like some trees and an Eames-y, Frank Lloyd Wright-style glass wall. Ceiling to floor white gauzy drapes, to stage right. Umph! This is good!

I'm not super impressed with this one, but I wanted to show you the crazy, two foot high lamp and the little be-ribboned poodle curled up to one side. I would name her "Cookie".

NOW we're talking. Why don't you ever see couches in this lipstick-fire-engine-red color? Every time I look for "red couch" on craiglist, I come up with sectionals in this blech Target-red. I'm nuts about the semi-winged armpieces, the gold tipped, atomic-angled legs, and the coordinating coal colored chair. SWA.GGER.

Poodles and the canary color seem to be a 1958-1959 theme here. The primary color palette is actually killing me with how cute it is. It's interesting how some of the ads feature this all-white background, negative space effect thing. I prefer to see the furniture already in a room so I'm not confronted with the nagging suspicion that you'd have to build the room around the furniture rather than vice versa. Until I see the pieces situated, sometimes it's hard to picture their size and scale in your own house.This is what keeps me from pulling the trigger on 90% of Craigslist vintage home goods that pique my interest...because dadgum it, when you take a picture of it sitting in your garage or so close-up you can't really make out what it is, how am I to imagine myself napping on a Saturday afternoon in it? Exactly.

Now this is more like it. All neatly arranged with wall hangings and everything! Doesn't the couch look like it just landed from outer space? I saw a chair and a couch along the same out-of-this-world lines once at a Hendersonville estate sale, but the color was a kind of weird mauve shot-through-with-silver that I wasn't nuts about, and the asking price was $475. That's on the high end of estate sale furniture.. again, my fresh-out-the-Andy-Griffith-Show-set-living-room-suite was $75 (I'm starting to wonder if that one steal-of-the-century transaction has poisoned all future estate sale dealing for me). I kept trying to offer them $250 (you can't keep a good dog down), but again, they had that look like "Is it that you don't realize how much it's worth or is it that you don't have the money?" ((stamps feet, tears hair)) You can't win 'em all.

Above: YESSSSSSSSS! Yes to the Danish modern entertainment center (I know there's a better word for that piece, but it eludes me). Yes to the spindly-thin dining room chairs! Yes to the wall mural! Yes to turquoise! I'll take the whole thing, kit and caboodle.

In spite of the fact that there's not a wall long enough in my house to provide a home for that wall-unit, I. WANT. IT. Look at the wasp-waisted woman in shirtwaist looking on like "Yes. I have achieved so much home decor. My work is through."

How do you like the to-one-side-and-not-centered mirror hanging above the vanity here? The hanging lights are too cute, too.

Dear chair, did I ever tell you your lines remind me of a Picasso sketch? Also, I want to be with you. I wish there was any available space in the house for a china hutch. Aren't they fabulous? I have a kind of metal baker's rack thing holding my Fiestaware pitchers (plural; of course that noun is plural) and Ben Siebel for whats-it-called serving dishes, but I wish they had an even more decorative setting!

Last but not least, one thing this room is not lacking in ....drama! Another thing? Atmosphere! I love how it looks like a set from early 60's, MGM, Rex Harrison-involved movie (you know how I feel about Rex Harrison, but there it is). The glowing yellow of it all, plus the I think painted-onto-the-wall Greek urns? High concept. Love it.

Which Kroehler piece is your favorite? Do you know any of the vintage brands behind your vintage furniture? Which overall room would you rather pick up, wholesale, and use in your own place of residence? Tell!

See you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. i want them!!!! i especially love the teal and yellow sectionals. DROOL!!!

  2. Beautiful examples! The frieze upholstery is so durable and unique, I wish the colors and styling would make a comeback.

  3. I'll take numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6, please - and a house to match! I dream of a coral-colored sofa and I think that if I'm really good this year, I will find one under the Christmas tree!

  4. Mmmm mmm, I love me some pretty furniture.

    We've got a three piece dark teal, almost minty, Kroehler Galaxy sectional (which I've got intentions to do a blog post on). It's suuuper soft fabric and actually surprisingly comfy. Goes well with the coral walls in our living room as well, so can't beat that!

    I'll continue drooling now....

  5. oh gosh that teal couch. so dreamy. and that poodle! gimme dat!

    i love the teal and white pillows on that yellow curved couch. and the lamp! i want some vintage lamps but when i see them in stores i can never imagine them in my house. that wall unit thing, my grandparents in florida have something like that in their den, but is it built in. it is amazing!

    your den is amazing! i love that cat pillow especially.

  6. My daughter just purchased a home in New Hampshire in which the living room has Kroehler Furniture (sofa and two chairs) in excellent condition. Does anyone know how we can place a value on this furniture?


  7. I have a beautiful kroehler dining room set. I love it...

  8. I have a beautiful kroehler dining room set. I love it...


  10. I have the top sectional in teal Trying to find out what I should charge to sell it

  11. I have the top sectional in teal Trying to find out what I should charge to sell it

  12. These people didn't realize how good they had it... I wish i was a 1950's house wife

  13. I am so glad you posted this! We have the Mauve version of the sofa you say looks like it just landed from outer space. The fabric has held up to where if the color wasn't a little faded you'd never guess it was old, but we would like something a little brighter so are having it recovered. I've been looking for more info on it and couldn't find anything but this! Was there any other information listed about it other than the brand? Thanks again for posting!

  14. I have a piece of Kroehler Galaxy I picked up for $20, it's an armless, chair sized section. I bought it from a store that's notorious for throwing out old things. It's an unappealing yellow, with that wonderful frieze fabric and buttons on it. Wish I could find the rest of the set though!

  15. Two unrelated companies now manufacture furniture under the Kroehler ...

  16. I can't comment and say everything I liked above because I did love so much of it! The lamps. The sectionals for sure. They definitely knew teal, didn't they? Nice. That color is in and so are these styles near as I can tell. Also, I think our cushions may be a bit more comfortable than I recall mid-century furniture feeling like. The fabrics a bit softer perhaps, too. So, I'll take the style and color with enough modern unseen technology to make it better. Also, $75 for one couch would seem good to me, were it in decent condition. An entire set really was a steal.

  17. I picked up an immaculate all original avant style Kroehler sofa,teal colorfor $65.00 at a thrift store. It even had the original arm covers.

    It looks like it just came off the showroom.

    1. Well DONE! These pieces really keep their style well over the years, too. I am jealous! :)

  18. The Danish modern "entertainment center" is a hutch, and I found one used and brought it home this past Sunday (it weighs the equivalent of a small car or teenage elephant) and now I am the happiest person in the world. It's perfect! Like new! So beautiful! And damn if it doesn't hold, like a million and a half things.



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