Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Erik and I moved into our house in July, 1999. In fact, after six years of drifting (through jobs, rentals, and our twenties) we married in 1998, bought a home in 1999, and had a baby in 2000. Fortunately, we didn't keep that pace up, as we are essentially underachievers and it was getting quite nerve-racking.

Where was I?

Oh yes. When we were moving into our new home, we bought two new couches at a proper schmancy furniture store. Although they were half off, the couches were still pricey, or so I remember thinking at the time...maybe $3500 for both? I mean, we weren't at Ethan Allen, obviously, but we were two people who were using their childhood dressers and the only other furniture we owned that we had actually purchased was an unfinished pine cabinet for our television. Oh, did I not mention that? We bought tvs, computers, cell phones, laptops, and every video game known to man, but we couldn't be bothered with a bed or a kitchen table.

Those couches were butter yellow denim. I mean, really? Even looking back I have no idea how that happened. We didn't have kids back then, but we had two dogs and three cats, and sometime before Scotty was born (2005) it became beyond clear that we had destroyed these couches.

By this time, I had already begun my shift from consumerism to conservatism, and although it would have been cheaper to just purchase a different set of couches (especially since my current tastes have come full circle back to hand-me-downs and retreads!), I didn't want to just chuck the old ones into the landfill. They were in absolutely no condition to donate, or pass along. It was a real conundrum! The only responsible thing to do, was to go through the expense of having them reupholstered. The couches, it turned out, were worth recovering, as they were sturdy and well - made (so there's that for spending a bit extra, in the beginning) but it wasn't cheap. I don't remember exactly, but maybe it was about $1500 to have them both done. We could have replaced them for less, but, again, I just couldn't bring myself to add them to landfill.

Because we are nothing if not dense, we covered them in chic chocolate brown crushed velvet. Everything held up for a time, but come on, the barrage of dog hair, spilt milk from sippy cups, yogurts...there's only so much crushed velvet can take. On any given day, the cookie and cracker crumbs alone nearly doubled the weight of either couch.

For some time (read: three years) we've known that we need to do something about the couches. We have one room in our house, and we have two couches to sit on. We've done just about the least we can, over the years, by draping the couches with throw blankets, or using those generic slipcovers. We've even had them steam cleaned!

It occurred to me last night, as I sat picking at...uh, something that was stuck to the cushion, that I could probably just take off the cushion covers and toss them in the washing machine. (Yes. I'm that smart.) So I did. I didn't want them to shrink, so I hung them on the clothesline this morning. It was just warm enough today and dry them through by early afternoon. Thank you, sun!

While the covers were drying, Scotty was busy making an indoor snowball arrangement.

Cleverly made from cushion batting.

I got the cushions put back together (and have you ever noticed, that things like that never seem to go back together quite right? You know it came out of there. Why won't it go back in there?) and I was just kicking myself, because yes, it did solve the biggest problem, which was that you just didn't even want to sit on these things. In fact, one of the couches was officially fine at this point. Three years isn't too long to figure this out, is it? Lie to me.

But the back of the other couch is pretty destroyed. I took this picture, which looks about 300% better than real-life, so I hope you can understand the full breadth of the horror. I can't just toss the whole couch in the washer!

I did have this slip cover, which I had purchased for around $30, but it never did fit right, and it was just very ordinary, for me. My personal style (and I think even the word "style" here connotes a level of intentionality far greater than anything I can claim to have) is a bit more...bohemian, I guess, if I had to pick an adjective. And this cover was just very pedestrian. And, as I stated, ill-fitting. (It was too small, actually.)

I cut it apart, and used some ultra suede patches in blue, red, and green (doesn't everybody have ultra suede patches lying around, waiting for just such an occasion?) that fairly well match (or at least accent) the colors in the material that I used for the throw pillows and the curtains.

I sewed them onto the reclaimed material in a patchwork-y fashion, rather randomly. Then I used some warm and natural batting, and made a little 'custom throw' for the back of the couch. It worked! Clean cushions to sit on, funky throw to lean against... crisis averted!

I used the same three-layer technique to create these grandma-esque throws for the arms of the couch, and we were officially cozied up on both couches tonight! (And much do I love those grandma-arm-cozies?)

We also have some new rules in effect...all snacks, meals, and drinks can happen at the kitchen table, the kitchen island, or the living room....floor. Let's see how long that lasts!

And now that I'm here, I do realize that the title to this post could very well have been Much Ado About Nothing! But I am very happy with my work-around, and it was well-worth the effort if we can eek out a few more years with these old couches.


  1. I hate throwing stuff out too. If I can't give it to somebody that'll use it I try and make it into something better........unique;) Good job!

  2. Thanks, Linda! When I look at your furniture, of course, I can't help but feel a twinge of (good-natured) envy, because I certainly recognize beauty when I see it...I just have to come to grips with the fact that I can't actually have it in my house!

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