Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What is it about couches?

My friend RPW is looking for a couch. She is trying to decide whether or not to buy a particular couch that is very comfy, but not the look she wants. She's gotten lots of feedback and it's gotten me thinking about furniture and our houses.

What is it that makes a couch such a big decision? Is it the fact that a couch often sets the tone for a room? The price?

My current couch is the most expensive purchase we've ever made aside from a house or car. We looked for months and sat on hundreds of sofas. We finally drove to the town of Berne, 45 miles south of us, to look at the huge selection of Smith Brothers sofas at Habegger's. We sat on couches until we found the right combination of good looks and comfort. Then we started looking at their hundreds of fabrics. We were lucky to find one we liked relatively quickly. All of this took over two months, Lots of shopping. And a pile of cash.

The funny thing about all of this is, I don't spend money on furniture.

I'm not meaning I don't buy expensive furniture. I'm meaning that, with few exceptions, I don't buy furniture. I've lived for almost 22 years with a bedroom set that I loathe, but it was a hand-me-down (to be abbreviated HMD for soon-to-be-obvious reasons) and it is roomy and sturdy. Our house is full of furniture that used to be someone else's. Kitchen table? HMD. Dining room set? HMD. Hutch, roll-top desk, boys dressers? HMDs. Living room chairs and dressing table for Bethany? Purchased, but for $25 from grandparents' auction.

We have so much handed-down or secondhand furniture that it even fills our garage.

We have bought a bit of other new furniture over the years, but most of it was a mistake. So we were VERY careful in choosing our couch. But why? What is it about a couch?

RPW? Anyone?


The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I suppose the answer to that is "what do you expect out of your living room?"

My family spends 90% of its waking time in there...95% if you count the fact that where we eat is just an extention of it. We watch t.v. there, we talk there, we read together there, and we pray there. Our family life happens there. The couch is the centerpiece. It takes the most amount of space. It is also where our bodies are planted the most when at conscious rest. I cuddle with my honey there. I hold my kids there. Either the couch or the recliner (another HMD that is 21 years old, and is ready to go with the couch we currently have) was where I have held and nursed my children the most. Love is doled out there. The couch shapes the entire room, even more than the t.v. or anything else. It is miserable to have an uncomfortable living room.

I am like you. My table was bought for us by my mother right after I had Chris. It's where we homeschool, and I have no fondness for it...its just your typical pine table that is in every Oak Mart ad. I am thankful for it, and it takes abuse and takes it well. I have no desire to replace it, either. Well, very little, anyway.

My bedroom furniture and my son's are Ikea furniture. Cheap and does the job. My daughter has her great grandmother's antique bedroom set, but again, simply the issue that it was free and kind of small for us. Most everything else was HMD in one way or another. But I can deal with that because where I spend the next most amount of time I am not conscious.

It has nothing to do with the price. The HMD that I had before the one I have now was a Thomasville. A worthy name, even if it was free. But it was miserable. The one that I have now is a LaZBoy, and it was great until the foam died and the upholstery is falling off of the frame (I REALLY need a new couch!) I think it is worth it for it to be the 3rd most expensive thing we own because it plays such a role in our lives.

Jane said...

Yep. That's pretty much what I think, too. :)

Marie N. said...

I think you covered it-- when sofa or couch shopping, one will be spending a sizable amount of money on something one will have to live with, use, and look at every day. You want it to look good and remain comfortable for a long time. The emotional factors RPW mentions significantly raise the stakes.

Kim said...

I think it depends on your lifestyle. We have a cheap Ikea loveseat that serves us well. It's small, I can wash and change the cover, and it fits in our tiny living room. The only people who sit on it are our kids. We have 3 HMD Ikea chairs that I love so that's where I sit. A full-sized couch just wouldn't fit in our room so it doesn't hold any of the emotional factor RPW mentions. None of us can cuddle in the space we have so it's not an issue. It will be no great loss when the lovesea dies and I don't plan on replacing it so we will be a house without a couch of any sort :)

Jane said...

Better no couch than an ugly one. :)

We didn't have a couch for the first several years of our marriage because we were living in tiny places. We had an HMD loveseat.

I am firmly of the belief that houses and furniture are to serve our needs, not to fit someone else's ideas about what we should have. :)

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Yeah, but something Ikea is usually better than nothing at all.

I heart Ikea.