Throwback Month

Before and After: A 1950s Bamboo Furniture Set Rescued from Craigslist’s “Free” Section

published Apr 18, 2022
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In the 1950s, interior design was all about wood tones, from walls and furniture to floors and cabinetry — and often all at once. To get a visual idea, check out this 1950s cabin, this ranch, or this bungalow. Note the wood paneling, the bamboo and rattan furniture edges, and the warm-toned kitchens.

This vintage bamboo chair and sofa set, found by Stephanie Borjas on Craigslist for $0, is a relic from the ’50s that belongs in the same category. It’s eclectic, mid-century, and set in a warm golden-orange tone.

Stephanie was drawn to the furniture because of its retro shape and because its brass detailing was still intact. “I knew it could be brought back to life with a little love,” she says.

But when she first got it, the set was in “terribly rough shape,” she says. It was covered in what Stephanie describes as “a gooey residue” and had broken straps.

“The cushions were beyond salvageable, but the bones were there,” Stephanie says. When she brought the sofa and chair home, she threw away the cushions and got to work stripping back the set’s layers. “I discovered the set was vintage… made by Ficks Reed in the late ’50s,” Stephanie says.

She spent the next two weeks cleaning the furniture with warm soapy water, letting it dry completely between cleanings. She repeated this process until as much dirt and grime as possible were removed — in other words, until the water that rinsed off the furniture was clean.

“Once done, I wiped down all the bamboo with boiled linseed oil,” she says. “I let the bamboo absorb the oil and then repeated a second time.”

After the set was oiled, Stephanie strengthened the bindings and added new cushions. “Although I can sew, I chose to enlist my local upholstery shop to make new cushions to get the added detail I wanted,” she says. “The cushions are made out navy velvet.”

It cost $1,100 to have the cushions made, but because the furniture was completely free, that was pretty much her only cost for the set. “I love that it didn’t break the wallet,” she says. “I have a unique sofa set that would probably costs several thousand more if I had bought it already completed.”

Stephanie says that her vintage finds have become a conversation piece in her home when she has guests over, and she loves that she “was able to bring something back to life and save it from a landfill.”

“I am in love with the finished product,” she says.

This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!