Affordable and Fabulous: Lane Company Furniture from the Fifties and Sixties!

An intro from Swank Lighting's Doug Taylor about the historic Lane Company:

My knowledge of Lane Furniture used to be limited. Never really heard of it, much. I thought of the marque as the kind of furniture they gave away on game shows---you know, heavily upholstered sofas with an armrest in the middle and separate reclining backs, matching chair-and-a-half side chairs. Certainly nothing one would think of as an investment piece.  But about sixty years ago, Lane employed some young designers with talent.  Designers with surnames like McCobb and others, who had something to say. And the company produced some wonderful pieces of wood furniture. Their trademark was a two toned color achieved by the marrying of two different woods in one piece. Coffee tables and side tables, dining tables and chests. Check out Lane pieces from the fifties and sixties. They still have a great look, and you can buy these pieces for very little.  Why they have not skyrocketed in value beats me. They sure ought to, and probably will. For now, we’ll keep it our secret.

As anyone who’s ever chosen to invest in true, vintage Mid-Century furniture knows, it can be a bit pricey to pay for authenticity. As the styles from the 1950s and 1960s have slowly gained in popularity over the last few years, so have the prices. Hope still exists for those looking for vintage pieces while on a budget, however: there remains a few designers and companies, for whatever reason, whose prices haven’t yet soared like the bigger names of Alvar Aalto, Mies van der Rohe and others. Just don’t think these pieces aren’t as valuable or as beautiful, though! Today we bring you the story behind the Lane Company, whose impact to the world of furniture is immense, but whose background is still relatively unknown to most of the general public.

During the Mid-Century, few could compete with the quality and aesthetics of the Lane Company. Their case goods were well-known throughout the design world, and were treasured for their modern and comfortable appeal. Always adapting to trends and demand, their furniture designs often changed with the current styles. There were Lane furniture lines that featured rounded edges, thin tabletop profiles and modern-shaped legs. There were pieces that had sleek hardware, visible dovetail joinery or interesting shapes and shelves. Some lines combined painted and lacquered wood in bright pops of color. They explored such woods as rosewood, walnut, burlwood and sometimes mixed several woods together to create their signature two-toned wood pieces. They even had pieces that experimented with 3D relief patterns and hidden drawers. One of their best lines, the best selling “Acclaim” furniture line of 1963, was famous not just for the look and high-quality, but also for the wide variety of pieces available, ensuring they always covered your design needs. 

While today the Lane Company is known mostly for its assorted variety of recliners and other traditional affordable furnishings, its history is rich, and goes back to the year 1907, when the Lane family founded the city of Altavista, Virginia and opened a cedar box manufacturing company. The gorgeous furniture that Lane Company historically produced started in 1951 when the company decided to produce occasional tables. This simple business decision proved quite profitable and Lane began acquiring furniture companies like Bald Knob Furniture Company, Hickory Chair, Bruington Furniture and Clyde Pearson Inc. Most importantly, Lane branched out, making bedroom furniture, dining room furniture, record cabinets, wall units, sectional sofas, modular sofas, love seats, lounge chairs and other case goods. What made these forays into different furniture types so successful was Lane Company’s insistence on hiring talented designers to help produce one-of-a-kind looks, like Paul McCobb, Andre Bus, Warren C. Church, and many others.

In 1972, the Lane Company took a step towards turning the company into the business it is today by acquiring yet another company, Action Industries. Action brought with them the art of making recliners, and one of Lane Company’s biggest sellers was born. While some argue that this change marked a drop in the style that made Lane Company so famous, they still create tons of furniture enjoyed by home owners across the country. There really isn’t any clear answer as to why the vintage Lane pieces still floating around aren’t as expensive as other Mid-Century designers. Some think it’s because Lane Company employed many designers and experts to create their popular styles versus just one designer. Others believe it’s because of the difference between Lane’s current styles available and the great looks of the past. Finally, some people say it’s because Lane Company has always offered its furnishings at amazingly low prices, unlike other big name designers who were hard to afford even when they were contemporary. Whatever the case, you should cash in on the vintage Lane Furniture phenomenon and furnish your home with classic, great quality furniture pieces at amazingly low prices! Try internet searches, online vintage furniture websites and local vintage stores for Lane Company’s Mid-Century furniture items!

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