Camelback Sofas Are Making A Comeback!
A Camelback sofa - sometimes also called a humpback sofa – takes its name from the animal it resembles. It is similar in style to a cabriole sofa but perhaps slightly more formal. The design of the sofa will have at least one arch, sometimes also called a hump or a serpentine back, on the rear of the seat. The height and exaggeration of the arches varies according to personal taste and the overall design of the piece.
Camelback sofas have other features which are part of this iconic design. Large and generously curved scrolled arms roll outwards and the whole piece usually sits on slim, tapered legs. The back cushion is typically one entire piece and not separated into two. Backs can be buttoned or plain.
The most common type of camelback sofa is the three-seater, but this classic is available in lots of different styles, colours and fabrics.
The history of the camelback sofa
The camelback sofa originated in Britain in the workshops of legendary furniture maker, Thomas Chippendale. Popular in the 18th and 19th century, the camelback sofa can take many forms and is currently a trending look for home interiors with a huge choice of colours, fabrics and styles.
Designs of camelback sofas
Always considered a classic piece, camelback sofas have never really gone out of fashion but like lots of designs that fade away for a few years, they are then re-discovered by the next generation of homeowners as the latest thing. Hugely versatile, there isn’t a room or interior that won’t suit this beautiful design. Here are just a few suggestions.
- Style your living room, den or office with a dark grey stylish camelback sofa. Elegant lines and a modest, ‘barely there’ curve on the back give this piece a sleek contemporary feel which is sophisticated and timeless
- For a hallway or period drawing room, opt for ab all out classic look with a leather camelback sofa in a rich, mahogany red and fancy button back. This is the quintessential 18th century style faithful to the original
- Endlessly versatile, choose a high-backed and curved camelback sofa which forms a gentle embrace around those sitting on it, perfect for a cosy corner in a large space. High arms with minimum scrolling work well with contemporary and on trend cream or grey linen, matched with traditional pad feet and piled high with plump, luxurious cushions
- Add the popular retro look from the 1960s and 1970s to your home with a sapphire blue A-line softly arched camelback sofa featuring a dark wood frame, plain cushions and arms and a gently buttoned back. This look recreates that Danish and Scandinavian design so beloved of mid last century and is versatile enough to work in either a classic, period setting or a modern, urban apartment
- Go all out with a Chenille rolled arm camelback sofa, classic and elegant with plush seating, this piece will add a touch of real luxury to any room with carved wood trim and a beautifully arched back, who wouldn’t want to sit on it?
What is the best material for a camelback sofa?
Camelback sofas are a popular design and so are readily available in range of fabrics, linens and leather. The actual choice of material will depend largely upon where the sofa is to go and how much usage it will get.
- Pick a pretty pastel fabric in dusty pink or baby blue for a two-seater camelback for a bedroom or ladies sitting room. This style adds a touch of glamour and is more practical and comfortable than a chaise longue
- Leather creates a wonderful look whether you opt for a button back Chesterfield design or a sleek chocolate brown angular and contemporary design. Leather is very hard wearing but is not so tolerant of claws if you have cats or dogs in the family as it will scratch
- In a small space, there is nothing more perfect than an opulent velvet two-seater camelback, idea for a pretty sitting room or period cottage, stylish yet cosy, eye-catching without being dominant. Pick a warm mustard or nature-inspired country sage green to match earth tones and terracotta and classic timber beams, or a cool blue for a seaside look
How to pick the best camelback sofa for your interior
- Work out where the sofa is going to go – this might involve moving other furniture around. If you are undecided on location then make sure you measure carefully then even if you have two or three possible options in mind, the sofa will still fit. Sometimes, its not until you get the piece into the room that it become apparent where it should go
- Think about the type of fabric before you look at colour and detail. A grainy, textured fabric which is slightly courser is much more forgiving of plenty of wear compared to a sleek satin or shiny leather. If the sofa is going to be high usage, then pick a fabric which cleans well and disguises marks and stains
- Colour depends upon whether you are matching the sofa with existing furniture or contrasting the piece with other soft furnishings and textiles
- Camelback sofas can have beautiful lines and make a perfect feature in an alcove or recess, arched area or bay window
- Choose a style which suits your interior, elegantly angular and minimalistic for uber modern settings and decorative and ornate for classic period rooms
- Some camelback sofas are less upholstered and clearly display the wooden frame, almost all show the feet and sometimes the legs. Think about the choice of wood and the colour and tone as this all adds to the statement
- Height is important, some camelback sofas are quite low and perfect for lounging on but if you want a sofa for guests in a dining area or dining room, then you might want something a little higher and with longer legs
- Straight back, gently sloping or a really slanting back is another choice you will need to make. Ironically, a very angled back is not always so comfortable for sitting – it can depend on how tall you are - but is perfect for lying down and sprawling
Reworking an old camelback sofa
This style of sofa doesn’t really date but you might just find that fabrics from 20 or 30 years ago completely spoil the look of the piece. So why not rework it and create a totally new look?
Here are some tips and suggestions to rework or refurbish an old camelback sofa, one that you love design of but that’s about it.
- Talk to an upholsterer about the seat cushions. These can be replaced with new materials like foam or a foam mix. A thicker cushion will provide extra support and height, a single cushion can be double layered
- If you like the wood trim on the sofa as it stands then there is no need to change this. If you dislike the colour, then consider stripping the wood and either painting or staining it. Contrast the colour with the new fabric you are planning and create a dramatic fresh look
- Choose a high-contrast fabric pattern with scrolls, leaves or flowers to make a real statement piece. Add detailing like a solid-coloured piping around the edges of the cushions and the back
- Opt for one solid trending colour and then contrast with cushions in a contrasting shade
- If the sofa has a skirt, then consider removing it and adding decorative legs and feet – this will totally alter the look of the sofa
- Finish the look with soft plump cushions and choose one with an unusual shape like triangular if you don’t want a completely uniform look
Reworking a tired sofa is about changing the fabric, the colour and the embellishments. If you are starting with a graceful and beautifully curved piece, then you can rework this almost endlessly to create different looks to drag the sofa into the 21st century.
A camelback sofa is the perfect combo piece in the home, stylish enough to entertain guests yet comfy enough for a daytime nap or afternoon in front of the TV – those outward rolled arms are just ideal for having forty winks or settling down to binge watch a box set.
The perfect blend of style and comfort, exposed trims and legs matched with rich upholstery provide a luxurious and opulent feel for a classic, period home. Shake up a modern or contemporary space with a tufted camelback sofa, pick one from a range of neutral colours, giving a fresh take on this timeless classic.
There are endless variations on this particular theme including camelback sofa beds and corner camelback sofas for the ultimate in style and usability. Such a versatile piece of furniture can work well in any home interior and be re-modelled and re-upholstered more than once to take account of new trends in colour and design.