One of the cushions is torn up under that slipcover, but Ikea surprised me by scheduling to send us a new back cushion without us having to send anything back. After I heard that, I wasted no time and got right on putting that sucker together. Well actually, Navah was out playing softball, so I conned one of my friends into helping me. Team lifting, folks. Don't try to do this stuff by yourself. In truth, I probably could have, but it was so much more fun with a friend.
Even though the apartment is still a bit of a disaster zone in some areas, having a couch to sit on instantly makes it feel like a home instead of a really messy storage unit where we hang out on folding chairs. Choosing a couch, though? Yipes.
Neither Navah nor I had ever bought a real couch. Of course some may argue that an Ikea couch that you have to bolt together yourself and top with a velcro-attached slip cover is not really a couch, but to them I say "ppptthhhbb!" At any rate, when we merged apartments over two years ago, we each had a futon that we'd bought off Craigslist. We sold hers and kept my little wooden guy, and we hated it. Brilliant though they may be for their now-it's-a-couch-now-it's-a-bed utility, I challenge anyone to vouch for their comfort. Or their design elements, for that matter.
So, we were embarking on new territory. I've created a graphic to help you understand our experience.
Perhaps if you're a real adult and have purchased furniture, this is not news to you.
But it was definitely harder than I ever anticipated.
First, couches are expensive. Like, seriously expensive. Even cheap couches are expensive. I start to get queasy when I spend more than $200 or so on anything, and that, my friends, will not get you a couch. And let me get one thing out of the way here because I know at least one of you is wondering - why not buy a used couch? A few months ago I would've been with you. In fact, I was perusing Craigslist back in December. BUT, in January we had a bug-that-will-not-be-named-but-hangs-out-in-fabric-and-upholstered-materials scare (thank goodness it was only a scare) that wigged us out enough for us to rethink - at least for the moment - buying a used couch. I recognize that people do this all the time, but we needed some recovery time. So, new couch it was.
I had been perusing the interwebs for a while, so I felt like I had some sense of what was out there, and I knew that a lot of things that I really liked - hello, Room & Board and Crate & Barrel - were totally out of our price range. But I had seen some things at Macy's that seemed like contenders. I also knew, thanks to Young House Love, that there was a couch at Ikea with similar clean lines and wooden legs for
So, we headed out for some couch shopping, hitting Macy's, Ikea (twice), Ashley Home Furniture, and some sort of discount furniture store that I can't remember the name of because I've tried to block the entire experience of out my mind. Also, I will not discuss the part of our couch-buying adventure where, on the way home from our Ikea purchase, I looked out the window and saw a banner on the side of the Marlo furniture warehouse saying that they were having a 50-80% off liquidation sale. Nope. Will not discuss that.
Truthfully, it probably wouldn't have mattered. What I discovered is that it is shockingly difficult for two people to agree on a couch. We would each sit down on one side of the couch candidate. Press up against the back. Lean on the arm. Look at each other. Raise an eyebrow. Lean back again. Bounce around a little bit. Put our feet up on an imaginary coffee table and pretend to watch television. Look at each other.
"What do you think?"
"I don't know, what do you think?"
"Do you think it's more comfortable than that other one?"
"I can't remember."
"Should we go try out that one again?"
After sitting on a dozen couches, it was like a trip to the eye doctor. A or B? A or B? A or B? OH MY GOD I DON'T KNOW JUST MAKE IT STOP!!!
Okay, maybe that's a little bit extreme. (For the couch-shopping. That is exactly how I feel at the eye doctor.)
Part of the problem was that Navah and I have very different ideas about the requirements of a couch, as evidenced by my beautiful graphic. While I obviously want a couch to be comfortable, I'm equally concerned with the aesthetics. Navah, on the other hand, is a comfort lady. It's not that she likes ugly things, it's just that the primary factor for her is comfort. Her ideal couch would be a big squishy affair that she could sink into. I'm not inherently against a big comfy couch - I can lounge with the best of them - but our space is very small. We would have to find something sleek and minimal, but still easy on the tush.
Of course, even when we had narrowed ourselves down to more stream-lined seating, our comfort-aesthetics dichotomy was still at play. We found one that was perfect - comfortable, on the small side, straight arms, and a clean look. BUT it was beige. In our beige-carpeted, light green-walled apartment, it would've led to a color scheme that I could only call pukish. None of this was lost on Navah, but she was really pulled in by the comfort factor. We found a lot of options like this - great in one area, not so great in another. Super comfortable, but wrong color (and custom color requiring months of delay and/or additional expense). Perfect look that we both adored, but oddly springy. Great price but hard and borderline ugly. At the end of the day, compromises had to be made.
As you can tell, we went with the charcoal gray couch from Ikea, and I think we're all happy. It's comfortable enough (WAY more than the futon), and once I get the whole design put together, Navah's going to be just delighted. (Though she did laugh at me today for using the phrase color palette.)
I'm curious about the numbers out there: do you and your significant other agree on design elements (a la Young House Love, one of my favorite design blogs), or is every design decision in your home an opportunity to test your negotiating skills?