Mar 08, 2020

Is it a Couch, or is it an Island?

I remember the year well. We had gone through so many couches, over the years. Old, broken, dirty, over-used, over-loved, there was an array of reasons for a replacement.

My most favourite one was Italian. It was baby pink and oozed appeal. It was over-sized so having a nap was like lying down on a real bed. It was easy to catch ZZZZZ. Not that I did that often, run ragged absolutely, time management was always a priority otherwise things just didn’t get done. Time Management is my thing. I am a guru at it.

Couches are a funny thing. At Kings they are $10,000, yet you can get a replica at Ikea for under $2000, or you could go to a cheaper furniture chain and get its poor cousin for $500, and no one would know. You could go to the local charity or retro store and pick one up for under $100. You just need to have the skill set to be able to see it in your space. Or was it the withdrawal from the bank account that helped make the decision?

A couch tells a story; a story of its occupants.

If you look at the Chesterfields, they are grand and make a statement, but what they really are saying is don’t sit on me, I’m not that comfortable. However, in the right location, such as an office or a library, they command the room, almost like a General in the armed forces – in charge and everyone in the room knows it!

Or the good ol’ bean bag, is it really a bag? It’s comfy and you can wiggle around until you get it just right, but way too noisy for me. Plus, how does one get out of it? Once in the vortex of the bag is there a way out, or is that its real purpose – to make you sit for a while and contemplate how easy it was to get into it, not so easy to get out? Kind of like those skinny jeans you wore in your twenties.

Leather couches look good, but are cold in winter and you stick to them in the summer heat. Easy to clean, apart from the gorgeous white ones. They look fab in the showroom and then you must remind yourself that you have children and it’s not going to stay white for long. So, a black leather couch it is!

The over-sized armchair, now that’s a happy place for me. It’s so versatile, you can have a seat and enjoy a cuppa, or grab a good book and throw your legs over the side and zone out and get lost, until someone calls out “Mum, where are you?” Or even just hang out and chat to friends on the phone. My chair sat in the corner of my office covered in plastic for 2 years waiting for its new home – that’s a different story, but you get my point. Everyone needs a special chair, well I know I do.

Then there is the fabric couch, it comes in different sizes, different fabrics, and most definitely different price ranges. But ultimately does it matter? The answer is NO, of course not. What matters is that you love it, and it brings people together and that’s what’s important, not its price tag.

When I left the family home, I took a small couch. I should have left it behind. When we first moved out, we took the couch, and everyone kept saying that it smelt like pee. I took it outside, washed it down several times and nothing could shift that putrid smell. It was so bad that you wanted to vomit being close to it. We left it outside for weeks, hoping the sun would do its trick. We were all mad at the cat, how could he pee on the furniture? Bad kitty! In the end, we couldn’t stand the smell any longer, so I contacted the repairer from the shop where I had purchased the couch and when he came out, he made comment that it smelt like someone had had a party on it. Well it turns out he was right, not cat pee or dog pee, human pee and lots of it. Soaked through the leather onto the foam and internal wooden frame. The only place for this beautiful expensive couch was at the tip. I found out months later that the repairer had to wash out his truck with bleach to remove the smell. Who would do that? I guess I will never know, but I am kind of glad, as because of that stinky couch, the great wall of couch entered our lives.

Ikea here we come! The best part is that you can buy the pieces separately according to budget, the worst part was making it up. If you have ever purchased anything from Ikea, you know what I mean and a couch, OMG what was I thinking. I ended up calling in the cavalry and three grown men and 5 hours later, the great wall of couch came to life. It became our everything. Somewhere to read, somewhere to eat, somewhere to watch TV, or just somewhere to hang. It was large enough to host a small community, it became our island. After sitting on the floor for six months we loved the great wall. We loved it so much that we have lugged it from house to house, even when it didn’t fit in a room, we didn’t care, it was a place to land for no particular reason.

So why am I talking about couches today? Well, two reasons. I recently heard that some time back there was an advert of all our household furniture for sale. I spent a good part of 18 months, shop after shop trying to find the perfect couch to make my family happy. I guess it didn’t work. It made me realise that things don’t make you happy, people do and the people on my couch don’t care that it comes from Italy, they don’t care that it took 4 months and a large cheque to get it here. People on my couch just love what it represents.

Oh, the second reason, well, we needed a new couch. The great wall of couch is still in our life, but we have moved again, yes again! I thought we needed a little couch to fit our new space. To do all the things that the great wall has done for the past three years of our lives.

Will it be Italian? I don’t think so, not because of the price tag or what that represents, but because now when I buy a couch, I think of the memory and the moments that will be made on this new couch, comfy enough to lay down, comfy enough to read a book, comfy enough to fit everyone. So it’s not just a couch, it’s the hub of our community, plus the pressure is on, after all it’s got big shoes to fill!

You see, to my family it’s so much more than a couch. So the next time you head off to buy a new couch, don’t buy the first thing you see just to avoid the shops and the retail stress. Stop and think. Treat it like a new dress or a dinner out with friends: what’s the occasion, who is going to see it, how does it make you feel and does it fill up your cup?

Life is a journey. It’s not where you end up,​ but how you got there. Thanks for coming on mine.

P.S. The new couch arrived and its black and sexy and silky velvet, just what the doctor ordered!

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