Couch Potato

About a year ago, I started looking for a couch. Among other stores, I’ve been to Ballard, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, Sundance, Bassett, Ashley, Haverty, and Crate & Barrel. And I’m consistently finding that everything I like comes out to around $4,000. Keep in mind that these are couches I like, not couches I love. I’d prefer something quirky and traditional; these are more standard, though some are attractive enough.

I’ve tried the lower-end stores, trying to get the price down. Yes, some such places are cheaper. But the quality is not as high, the couches tend toward large, modern sectionals, and few are customizable. The ones that are offer a very narrow range of colors and fabrics, most of which I hate.

I’ve scoured online listings, and have managed to find some couches that might do. But all the online companies require you to order, sight-unseen; I can’t find a single one with a showroom I can actually visit. I don’t want to order a couch without knowing if it’s comfortable.

Until a few weeks ago, I had avoided used furniture stores. I had visions of bedbugs and mysterious smells. But I don’t want to pay $4,000. So now I’m looking at antique shops and used furniture stores, too, including the Habitat For Humanity reStore, which has almost entirely enormous, squashy, neutral-colored sectionals. Every one of those four terms is on my list of Qualities To Be Avoided in a Couch. Buying used means I will almost certainly have to have the couch reupholstered.

And this week, I found some. I stopped by my favorite local used furniture store. I’ve stopped by there many times, and this is the first time I saw any couches I liked. And there were THREE! That was Monday. I went back Tuesday, to show Bob. And by then I had ruled out one of the three. But a new couch had come in, and it’s gorgeous.

I would like to say that I found the perfect one, paid, and am awaiting delivery. Alas, that is not the case. I emailed an upholsterer I’ve used before, to get a ballpark figure for doing a couch of this size. I sent a photo of the couch that was the forerunner at the time, with measurements. He emailed back that upholstering would come to about $1,800, but that does not include the fabric. The price will depend on what I choose, but he says most are $50 to $70 a yard, and I’ll need 16 to 18 yards. That’s more than I was anticipating. I really like his work, but I was hoping to get the cost down. So I got a quote from another upholsterer. $1,300, plus fabric. But he charges for picking up and delivering, and that will bring them to about the same. In other words, I have learned that even if I buy used, my total costs can still reach that $4,000 mark.

So, what to do? Here are the three I’m considering.

This one was my first choice for a while. It’s pretty standard, but has a lovely carved wooden detail along the front. Of course, it needs reupholstering. The red will not do, and it’s badly worn. But it’s expensive enough that I don’t feel I can afford to buy it and have it reupholstered.

This Duncan Phyfe style couch is interesting. I like the traditional shape, the obvious antique-ness of it, the fluted wood trim, and the nailhead details. it is the least expensive of the three, by quite a bit, and probably the only one I could have reupholstered without raising my costs above my budget. The upholstery is in quite bad shape, and the wrong colors. The wood trim, especially along the bottom, could also use refinishing, but I would probably just spruce it up with polish and some of those furniture scratch-filling crayons, and live with that.

This one is in gorgeous, pristine condition and has been newly reupholstered. Unfortunately, I hate beige, and it doesn’t go with the room. This is the most expensive of the three, or I would buy it and plan to have it reupholstered. The price and upholstery costs would bring this on a par with the new couches I can’t pay $4,000 for. But this one has so much more style. And without reupholstering it, it’s actually the least expensive option. Hence, my dilemma. Do I buy it, throw a few pillows on it in more acceptable colors, live with the beige for now, and resolve to reupholster in a year or two?

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