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January 8th, 2006

There are times in everyone’s life when they have to open their eyes and admit a mistake. You can’t keep plunging on in the wrong direction, blundering around and waiting for a miracle.

It’s like that with me and the couch.

When the kids were little, we invested in a set of This End Up living room furniture. A reliable chain, with easily exchangeable covers and cushions. Family furniture built to last. My dream was to renew and recover and renovate as long as possible.

A few things came between me and the dream. The chain of stores going bankrupt kind of put a crimp in it. But I’m “handy.” I used to sew for a living. If you can cover actresses and belly dancers, recovering a couch is no big deal. Couches complain less, for one thing. And you can’t use a staple gun on an actress.

So, with or without the help of the This End Up company, the set has been through two reupholsterings.

But, lately, the frame is going. As we sit, our knees have been getting closer and closer to our chins. It’s hard enough to get off the couch at the end of the day. But now that the webbing is shot, suddenly you have brown Dacron quicksand, sucking your ass towards the floor.

I had a solution. A couple of years ago, I found an upholstery store that had the most wonderful furniture findings. Did I mention that I’m “handy”? I saw some chair frames and fell instantly in love.

But I didn’t need a chair. I needed a couch. But, with a keyhole saw, and a little enthusiasm, I figured I could take 3 chair frames, saw off some legs, bracket the pieces together and have a one-of-kind designer Greek revival couch.

In short, I was insane.

But it really was going pretty well. I got to the point where there was a 7 foot long, cherry stained couch frame with the beginnings of moss green sculpted velour upholstery.

And then, I snapped out of it and realized what I’d done.

I have large portions of summer off to start projects like this. And then, the school year rolls around and I go back to work. If I’m walking away from a half-finished sweater, I can throw it in the sewing room and close the door.

A half-finished novel is in the computer and totally invisible to guests.

A half-finished, 7 foot long couch is a little harder to ignore.
But we’re managing. The powers of self delusion in my family are pretty impressive. The thing has been setting in the dining room for a year and a half, and although we stack coats and backpacks on it, we don’t discuss it. The coats might as well be hanging in mid air. And I am not totally sure it’s possible to get it out of the house, since I built it inside without measuring the exits. If I want to move it, a saw might be necessary.

Better just not look in that corner.

But this week, the real couch went critical. The youngest and lightest member of the family sat on it Thursday, there was a clunk, and he handed me a corner brace covered with protruding stripped screws.

OK. In the stages of death, we need to move quickly from denial to acceptance.

I heard an ad for a “going out of business” sale at a furniture store. No reasonable offer refused. We went on Saturday.

I will have to try again in a month when they’re willing to accept unreasonable offers. The cheapest thing there was almost $900 and looked like it could repel our two cats, great big dog and assorted teen-agers through the sheer hideousness of its upholstery. Given a choice between this sofa and the floor? The un-carpeted hardwood is looking more appealing all the time.

And there was a red velvet sofa that I found strangely attractive. It was 60’s mod, as low as the thing we have now (the one that’s about to collapse) and covered in real Mohair (which the clerk told us was more expensive than leather). Since we have a cat named Mohawk. We are already upholstering in “Mo”-hair. This sofa would feel right at home.

In a brothel. The thing was a near occasion of sin. Red velvet, low slung, and covered in white fur pillows. It would have been a crime against nature not to get a gold chandelier. Or at least a lava lamp and some Montovanni records. Take the couch home, and send the kids to military school. Pull the curtains and pour the wine…

Ok. Something more practical. I need practical. And cheap. Pet proof. Something that won’t make me cry when I find squashed pizza under the cushions.

Ikea has a sofa with machine washing instructions. The DH says washing a couch might result in an uneven load.

I’m willing to risk it. And I can get it in green, which will match the living room.

But if it doesn’t match? I can reupholster…