Happy Friday, everybody! Now that we’re back from our summer hiatus, it’s time to start spending our Fridays celebrating the hidden arts of homemaking–cooking, decorating, organizing, etc. But as you know, I’ve been off my feet for the past six weeks, so nothing of that sort has been happening around here. Instead, I’m going to ask you guys for help brainstorming what to do with my couch. Here’s our family room couch.
We bought it on sale at Art Van Furniture the week we got back from our honeymoon, 11 years ago. It was never my style, but it was cheap and neutral colored. My husband thinks it is comfortable. So do my kids, who usually roll around it until I want to scream with frustration because it almost always looks like this, plus a hundred toys:
Over the years, it has faded in the sun, had tea, spit-up, paint, leaky diapers, and random food rubbed into it, and most recently, my toddler decided to draw on every side of every cushion with a non-washable marker that somehow escaped the Great Marker Purge of last year (after an incident involving walls and other furniture). I even took a bunch of pictures to illustrate the state of various surfaces:
I think that pink stuff in the top center picture is strawberry milkshake from yesterday’s trip to In-n-Out. I’m not sure. I’m just the cripple sitting in the corner with my foot up who buys my kids fast food for dinner when I’ve forgotten to pull a casserole out of the freezer. The center pic is what happened after one cleaning attempt. Oh, and do you like the cording busting out and the way the top of the couch is literally coming apart? I’ve been saying for years, “The next time we move, we’re getting rid of this piece of junk!” Problem is, we’re moving this fall (more on that another time), and we don’t have money to buy a new couch, but we will be hosting a ton so can’t afford to lose any seating. And can we all agree that this couch, in its current state, is too yucky to move into a new house?
So here are my options. First, I buy a cheapo slipcover and just cover up the grossness. They do not make this couch anymore, nor do they make slipcovers for it (that I can find). My sister-in-law bought some generic ones for their couches that look not too bad. Problems with that solution: I grew up with slipcovers (my parents had the same problem with outdated couches and no money to replace them), I thought they always looked messy (not that I’m one to judge, see pictures above), and most of them are made with microfiber, which is a magnet for kid junk in our house. Also, and more importantly, the loose side and back pillows model of this particular couch wouldn’t work as well with a slipcover as a more traditional shape of couch. And I’ve tried draping a quilt over the worst stains when company comes, but see the photo above of how my couch usually looks, pillows askew and everything everywhere, so something non-fitted is not really a solution.
Second option, I reupholster it myself (I cannot afford to pay for it to be done for me). When Anna did this, I was in awe. It sounded so complicated and intense. But I’ve had a lot of time to sit and browse pinterest this past month, and I’m feeling optimistic that I can do it so that it’s mostly like a removeable slipcover. The cushions are all really straightforward, and I have done tons of quilting and garment sewing as well as a bit of home decor work. I can do it. I think. So this leads to options 2A, B, and C (are you still following me? I worked out this mental outline in my head in bed last night).
A) I use white canvas. Pros: It’s the cheapest fabric at JoAnns. I could probably do the whole couch for just over $100. Also, I read this blog post about how every mother of young children should have a white slipcover couch so that she can just wash and sun bleach the cushions every time they get dirty. Just the day before, I’d been discussing white couches with my college roomie, who said the same thing about washing and bleaching her white slipcovers. Cons: Judging from the state of aforementioned mom’s blog, she spends more time on her house than I do. In fact, her mention of slipcovers made me realize that our other, less-gross couch, has slipcovers that could be washed. In the seven years we’ve had that one, I’ve never thought to wash them, which tells you all you need to know about the state of my furniture care. Also, my roomie doesn’t have kids yet, so she said to take her experience with a grain of salt. I mean, back before I had kids, I dusted every week, and you could eat off my floor. I’m not sayin’ that kids necessarily make your standards of cleanliness drop, but for me, it’s true. I can just picture myself with a white couch that has lovely pink dry erase marker and splotches of chocolate ice cream ground into it, bugging me daily, but not enough to wash the whole thing.
B) You may ask why I don’t just do another cheap plain color, because JoAnns has about 10 of them. Part of it is the whole moving-to-a-new-house thing. The other neutral colors available would clash with the walls of our new place. Maybe I could get away with cream, but I have to look at our paint chips again. To make a long story short, I had to pick from a limited palate, I can’t repaint the walls, and this couch will be up against a wall. And I feel like bright and/or dark colors would show just as much dirt and be harder to clean because I can’t bleach them. Also, we’ll be getting direct sun in almost all day, and my one piece of furniture that was once a nice chocolate brown has been bleached into ugliness by way less sun exposure, so I’m afraid to go dark and bold again.
C) I upholster with a print. I’m especially fond of the French General Blue collection of upholstery fabric. Pros: I like these prints better. I’d feel like my family room was more personalized. A pattern hides a lot more stains than a plain color, so I wouldn’t have to wash as often. I am most excited about this option! Cons: This stuff costs a lot more. I priced it out at JoAnn’s with the current sales (because like Kohls and other places of that ilk, everything there is perpetually on sale), and my favorite print would be upwards of $250 with the yardage I think I’ll need. Yikes. That’s cheaper than a new couch, but more than I’d been hoping to spend. And what if I totally botch the whole thing and end up wasting 2-3 times what the other options cost? Double yikes.
So, dear readers, if you have made it this far, what do you think I should do? Do any of you have a funky loose cushioned couch like mine that worked with a pre-made slipcover (choice 1)? Any of you moms-of-littles have a white couch (choice 2a)? How clean does it actually look most of the time? Or do any of you have, say, a solid navy blue couch (2b) that doesn’t show dirt or is easy to clean and hasn’t been bleached out by sitting in the sun all day? Or anyone have an idea where I can raise a quick $250+ to do choice 2c, the one I want to do but probably can’t afford? I’m holding a garage sale as soon as my foot heals, but my garage sales usually bring in less than $50. Or do you want to help me convince myself and my husband that this old couch, reupholstered in a print I love, is a higher budget priority than new window coverings for the new house? Or anyone have a super secret source of cute upholstery fabric for under $5/yard so I can do it all and stay in budget? Basically, if you were in my shoes, what would you do? Channel your inner Edith Schaeffer (who once used scraps of leather to recover furniture!) and help me out!
By the way, it’s Anna’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Anna!
In other news, I know I’m always mentioning Rachel Jankovic, but her most recent post, The Receiving Department, is such a refreshing antidote to those horrific videos we’re all seeing. Go read it! And have a great weekend, secure in the knowledge that you are not lounging on the world’s grossest couch…I am!