I can’t promise this will be my last extreme home makeover post. But I hope so, for your sakes.
First, a brief Family Couch History:
1972, a $25 yard sale couch, one of those wooden frames with six cushions. I bought cheap cushion covers, ate a poisoned egg roll and threw up in the bags holding the covers all the way home. Now you know why decorating makes me queasy.
1975, bought a settee from Retired Mountain Lady for $1. Covered the holes with an old quilt. Also used an old Kansas church pew for seating.
1978, bought a brand new giant sectional that lasted forever and resisted ketchup, mustard and coffee. We loved that thing. It also doubled as a guest bed.
1993: new home, replaced the sectional with two loveseats.
1996: bought a big brown couch and a matching chair at a discount furniture’s parking lot sale for $400 because company was coming for a high school graduation and the faded, ripped love seats had pitch stains from an oversized Christmas tree.
2004: bought the aqua settee at a consignment store.
Please note: Banjo Man was never present when this stuff was purchased and, for better or worse, had no input into the decisions.
Tuesday night Banjo Man wanted to drive up to the Big Suburbs where the main road is lined with every box store and chain restaurant you can imagine. It’s about a 45 minute trip and there is always traffic, so it is usually something to be avoided unless you have a specific purchase in mind. But I had spent the previous three days working up furniture placement ideas on a website’s “2D Room Planner” and my husband figured we were ready to take the plunge.
In our 41 years together, Banjo Man has talked me into many, many things. Many, many, MANY THINGS.
His three failures have been (a) wanting to shave his head, (c) starting a gourmet mustard business and (c) convincing me to buy new furniture. The head-shaving thing was never going to happen again and he’d forgotten about the mustard, so he had accepted the losses and moved on.
But on the way to Shopping Mecca, his wife clutching room plans, he sensed victory at last.
Here is where the adventure began.
Nina, a lovely young woman, greeted us at the door. Banjo Man was thrilled–he now had an accomplice! “TELL HER–YOUR NAME IS NINA, RIGHT? TELL NINA WHAT WE WANT!!!”
“I’m going to look around…”
“YOU HAVE A LIST, DON’T YOU??? SHOW HER, SO NINA CAN FIND IT FOR US!!!!”
I clutched my list to my chest. “I want to wander around a little first.”
After all, the store was the size of three football fields. I sat down on a chocolate brown sofa that looked heavenly and yet wasn’t soft enough. I bounced. I frowned. I stood. Banjo Man hovered.
“What’s the matter with it? It’s nice! Why don’t we get that one?”
“It’s not very comfortable. Could you lower your voice?”
Banjo Man sat on the couch, pats the microfiber cushion, leaned back, pretended to watch football. “I think it’s comfortable.”
“It’s not your couch,” I muttered. He wasn’t even going to sit on our future couch. And he’s color blind and has a flat rear. Anything with foam feels good–he’s not exactly picky.
“Nothing.” I shrugged and moved to another mock-living room area hoping he’d get the hint and go in the opposite direction. After 40+ years, he should have known I need space and quiet in order to think and visualize.
He followed me. And we went through the same routine six more times, until he was so baffled by my refusal to buy any one of the surrounding sofas he just couldn’t stand it.
“WHAT are you LOOKING for?”
“Something wide. Something soft. Something I can curl up on.” I had started to get defensive. “My ass will know it when it feels it.”
He wisely refrained from making a comment.
I test-sat another sofa, a tan corduroy double reclining monster that had possibilities. I was all about the comfort. My husband was appalled.
“You’re not getting something like that, are you?”
“No,” I lied. But only because it wasn’t sink-into-comfy enough. I liked the idea of a sofa with cup holders and reading lights. “Why don’t you go ask Nina about chairs while I look around?”
The other part of tonight’s plan was for Banjo Man to buy his very first recliner so he could watch “Master Chef” (his favorite show) in style. He sighed and followed Nina to the Lazy Boy section–after I promised not to escape the store without him. Fifteen minutes later he found me again. He wasn’t sure about the recliners. There were chairs that rocked and reclined and chairs that reclined and swiveled, but only one that did all three. He absolutely needed to swivel, but balked at the size and the price tag of the leather beast that performed all three tricks.
So Banjo Man was once again on A Mission To Buy A Couch. Tonight. Before I could change my mind and decide to keep the red-striped chair. So we shopped.
He liked everything and I liked nothing. We snapped at each other and stayed ten feet apart, but he watched what I touched or sat upon or hesitated in front of. He was clearly ready to pounce on any encouraging sign from me. My hours of online research meant nothing–things I’d liked were discontinued or ugly or the wrong color or just plain uncomfortable. I was hot, thirsty and cranky. Extremely cranky.
We eventually circled the store and arrived back at the front doors, where Banjo Man became fixated on a dark greenish brown sectional. He sat down and prepared for battle. “What’s wrong with this? It has a chaise, like you wanted. The fabric’s soft, which you wanted. You can make it any size you want, see?”
He showed me the display card with twenty-seven different configurations and the measurements of each piece. I needed a magnifying glass. I also needed fresh air.
“I’ll take that paper home,” I said, sitting down next to him. “I can’t figure out how that would fit without doing the numbers.”
“Do them now.” He leaned back, rearranged the throw pillows. “We have time. That’s what we’re here for. Do you have a pen?”
“It’s comfortable,” I snapped, “but I don’t like the color.”
“You need to keep an open mind. All I’m asking is that you keep an open mind,” he repeated, patting the cushion. “This is nice. What’s wrong with the color? I like it.”
“It’s too dark.” My mind was closed. I know colors. I’m a quilter.
Nina explained we could order it in an array of fabrics, but it would take 8 weeks. Not what my husband wanted to hear. But he took the information sheet over to a lamp and called out the measurements of each piece for me to write down.
Way too much pressure for a woman whose only meal today had been a protein bar–12 hours ago. I shrieked: “I’m not writing anything down. I-have-to-do-this-at-home!”
It went downhill from there.
Banjo Man wouldn’t take no for an answer. Nina clearly thought I was a bitch. My blood sugar had dropped to my toes and I felt faint. I needed cheese. And yogurt. And beef. I needed time alone with graph paper so I wouldn’t make an expensive mistake and be stuck it with it for the rest of my life. I stalked off, past the entry doors to another display of Someone Else’s Perfect Living Room where I sat down and felt sorry for myself.
I felt guilty hating the perfectly nice “sage” sectional. I felt bad that I hadn’t fallen in love with any of the couches. Especially because I’d shoved all my old furniture into the dining and kitchen areas and Jeff and Angela were coming over to play Mexican Train dominoes this weekend and I wanted to do a Meet The Parents night with Nancy’s future in-laws this month and our house would either look as if it was about to be repossessed or we would have to move everything back the way it was before and they would think we were insane and—
Wait a minute. What am I sitting on? I love the color, like beach sand, sort of brown but with white. And it’s chenille—oooh, chenille, I like that. And the chaise part looks perfect. And maybe I can read the measurements on the info sheet…
My husband and Nina tiptoed over. Smiles were exchanged. We had a plan: I would take the measurements home and plug them into my room planner to see which pieces would work and I would return in the morning to order them. We would go next door to the Mexican restaurant (beef! cheese!), then stop at another store to look at recliners (where the salesman served me coffee that wasn’t decaff so I stayed up until 4:30 AM obsessing over furniture arrangements, measuring walls and outlining configurations with masking tape).
It all worked out. We’re going to sit happily-ever-after.
p.s. This furniture purchase was made possible by the folks at Toyota, who recalled certain years of Toyota trucks (like mine) and very, very generously reimbursed the owners (like me) whose truck frames had been made from defective steel. My husband thanks you, I thank you and my ass thanks you.