20 January 2015

Big Girl Couch

We bought a new couch. Our first ever new couch.  Our old couch was a sappy old thing we'd purchased at a Salvation Army in Florida five and a half years ago for $99.

I didn't stage those pillows for added effect - this was the natural state of my old couch.

It's an oversized one-person couch or small two-person sofa, but since Matt and I are both pretty small and we were newlyweds, a cozy couch was a perfect fit. It was small enough to fit through doorways and light enough to carry up stairs, and so we carted it around through three states. It would make Matt proud for me to point out that a $99 couch over 5.5 years is $18 a year. That's $1.50/month that we paid for that couch. A good buy, to be sure.

But 5.5 years and three states later, our cozy little sofa just isn't cutting it. The whole family can't sit on the couch at the same time and it's raggedy appearance was making it embarrassing to invite people over. I wanted something less "We're broke!" and more "We're a young and growing family!"

So I researched and we saved up. I absolutely insisted on a new couch for two reasons:
1. Used couches carry a certain bed bug risk. I've had bed bugs before and the experience is definitely on my Top Five Worst Memories list.
2. I once saw an episode of The People's Court where the plaintiff and the defendant were trying to unload their used-but-in-great-condition couch on Craigslist. Someone had peed on it and despite the hiring of a professional upholstery cleaner and a black-light inspection pass, when the sun poured through the front windows and heated up the living room, their sofa still stank of urine.

No, thank you.

We checked out a few furniture store clearance centers and a few discount furniture stores, but I really found the best deals at Ikea. So we penciled in a visit.

While we eagerly anticipated the arrival of last Monday, we started researching new desk options, as our old $15 Craigslist purchase in Chicago was impossible to further baby-proof. Matt found a perfect fit on Ikea's website and we squeezed a new desk into the budget as well.

I really thought that upside-down banker's box was a pretty brilliant fix back when I first did it. Abigail thought it was too as it perfectly corralled all the electronics for her immanent destruction.

Going to Ikea is like taking a field trip as a child. You get to ride in a new vehicle (Matt's brother's truck, which we borrowed for the day), drive a long time (1.5 hours one-way), walk through exhibit after exhibit and it's all hands-on (in this case they were stages of living rooms, bed rooms, dining rooms), when you need to rest, you head over to the cafeteria, grab a tray, and load up with stuff you wouldn't normally eat at home. Ikea is a lot of fun. Matt and I wandering through walk-in closet display after walk-in closet display - "Look at this efficient use of space! Brilliant!" - and sitting in rows of dining room chairs - "This one is so plush and comfy!" We planned to a very exacting extent what our future house would look like, lingering over book cases and wall art like children stalling their bedtime.

After five, yes, five, hours, we drove home and assembled our new purchases.

Without further adieu...before: 


Yes, a chaise lounge! I really, really wanted a chaise lounge. Would you like another take?

Beautiful! We really like it. The instructions advised me to iron the slip cover before placing it, but HAHAHA. That wasn't going to happen. Also, if the chaise lounge cushion doesn't even itself out over the new few days, I'm going to take it out and try again. It is, I now realize, rather obvious that it's the first one I did. Now you probably noticed that it's a white couch, and you probably thought one of three things:

1. You have small children
2. You have white walls and white carpeting
3. You have a black cat

All me to respond.

1. I really like white furniture, but I did recognize the pending disaster that is a white couch and a growing family, so I decided against a white couch. But a month or so ago, a friend emailed me an article from a mom who preferred white couches because...white is bleachable. Adios stains; hello, white couch!

2. I really like white furniture and color on the walls and on the floor. I can't paint or rip up carpet and lay down hardwood in this shitty apartment, but if all goes according to plan, we'll own the couch longer than we'll live here.

3. Oh shit, I forgot I owned a cat. Just kidding. Thank you, Captain Obvious, but I so don't pick my furniture out around the color of my pets.

Now on to the desk...before:


It's a sharp little number that closes up completely, so we just need to add some child locks and it'll be totally Abigail-proof. It has a smaller footprint than our old desk, but actually has more storage space. I'm using it for the first time right now as I blog and I'm really loving it! Abigail can reach the top of our old desk and she was constantly pulling off our laptops when I wasn't paying close attention. But now, when Eleanor needs something or I get up to use the bathroom, I just slide my laptop back, put up the door and presto - all my stuff is safe!

It's so wonderful, being able to finally set up shop. Create a real home. Transition away from grad school furniture to stable life furniture.

Many times I feel like going to law school was like hitting the pause button on our economic advancement. Matt and I have talked about this before, so it's not like I'm alone in my observations. We spent money on Uhauls, books, and rent instead of buying a house and taking vacations. When we were surrounded by other students in law school or in the environment and space conscious city, no one cared or judged or demanded an explanation. It has been very frustrating for me since we moved "back home" to explain over and over again when we think we might buy a house, why we only have one car, and that, no, I don't have a Costco membership because there is no place in an apartment for six bottles of ranch dressing.

Every choice has consequences and we are glad we made the choice to go to law school, even though it has the consequences of renting, small couches, and sharing a car. But when I am surrounded by people who seem to have forgotten that we paid for law school (scholarships don't cover books, rent, food, clothes, obvious to me but not to everyone), the parts of OPEN HEART SURGERY ON AN INFANT that insurance didn't cover, and moved across the country three times, I find myself having to talk about the negative consequences ALL THE FREAKING TIME. It gets old, really, really damn old.

And so you guys, if you can believe it, understand more than my own relatives how much this couch means to me and how hard we worked for it. (A vast majority of my friends and relatives refuse to read my blog. I guess what they say about prophets and hometowns is true about everyone and hometowns). The road less traveled is definitely lonelier.

Anyway, the space isn't complete yet, we'd love to get some colorful pillows, a few small baskets for the desk cubbies, maybe sell the now over-sized coffee table and get something smaller, but good things come to those who wait. Like brand-new couches without monthly payments.

Nothing makes a black cat happier than a white couch.


Amelia Bentrup said...

Your space looks great (although I still think you're crazy for getting a white couch!).

And, I totally hear you on the pause on economic advancement. Only in our case, we were doing okay, decided to go to law school in our early 30's and now we're late 30's and still pretty bad off, economically. So, a new couch would be a MAJOR deal for us. MAJOR! Congratulations on your purchase!!

Amelia Bentrup said...

Your space looks great (although I still think you're crazy for getting a white couch!).

And, I totally hear you on the pause on economic advancement. Only in our case, we were doing okay, decided to go to law school in our early 30's and now we're late 30's and still pretty bad off, economically. So, a new couch would be a MAJOR deal for us. MAJOR! Congratulations on your purchase!!