Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sofa, so good

We bought our first house nearly thirty years ago. The couple we got it from were divorcing. Because neither of them had the room to house it, they bequeathed us a beaten-up old sofa. We were delighted. At the time any furniture at all was a bonus. When the kids subsequently came along the old sofa was put into one of their bedrooms. They jumped on it without mercy. Scores of over-stimulated little visitors would climb on its back. Its possibilities as a trampoline, bus and shire horse were explored with some rigour. We didn't mind because we hadn't paid for it. We deduced from the fact that we obtained it for nothing that it must be on its last legs. Kids were ill in it - and probably on it. They had stories read to them on it. I've lost count of the number of times we've fallen asleep on it with some spark-out child cutting off the circulation to an arm. It's been terribly mistreated and yet through all that it has remained the most comfortable item of furniture in the house and the house after that.

Until a couple of months ago we thought that was mere sentiment. Then we got an upholsterer round to examine our furniture and see what was worth improving. He looked at a few different sofas and eventually pointed at the old one. "That," he said, "is a very fine piece of furniture. If you could buy something like it today it would cost a lot of money." He explained all the design features that made it so comfortable. This was an unexpected bonus. It was like suddenly finding out that chocolate was good for you.

We paid for it be reupholstered. Today it came home, no longer to be covered in discarded shoes, empty cereal bowls and copies of Heat in an upstairs bedroom, but to take pride of place in the sitting room. It's expected to be receiving visitors in due course.


  1. When we first moved in, we bought a used, £40 space-race style settee (moulded plastic base, and maroon velvet velcro cushions - this is the brown leather version). After 10 years of wear and wallop, it was still just as comfy as the day we first flopped onto it...literally, two day after dismantling and feeding the chair into the corporation crusher - I saw one for sale at Spitalfields Market, a Ligne Roset apparently - and selling £1000 (this was 2001)

  2. But it's all over now, isn't it? Now it has become a thing of beauty, whereas it had for so long just been a beautiful thing. I'd get the neighbors round if I were you, and have a party with lots of red wine. Make sure there are some smokers, and hand out lots of oily fish. Maybe some tinned peaches. The sofa needs to get back in touch with itself, man. Right now it probably feels like Mickey Rourke at an awards ceremony.

  3. Our small town upholsterer had a violent past, though that was all behind him. But he did greet his customers holding his tack hammer, dressed only in skants.

  4. We recently disposed of the two most comfortable settees I've ever experienced, often easier to fall asleep on than the main bed of the house. They were starting to fray and needed to go, but I was gutted.

    Can I just add that the word verification is blank for me as I type this?

  5. Couch nostalgia, we are a nation of Andy Capps.
    We have shiny new leather setees (class giveaway there), are they as comfy as the old one, are they heck? Slippy as buggery and the missus insists we keep the living room in a permanent gloom as "sunlight fades leather".
    Tell that to the cows.