Our Couches, Ourselves


For years, I surveyed my living room from a Danish modern knockoff, long and low as a boat, which I picked up for $100 at a used furniture store. When one of the legs broke, I tucked some books underneath and favored the good side. It seemed like a practical solution. Couches take heaps of abuse (mine do, anyway): absorbing spills, collecting pet hair, doubling as beds for stray friends. In the fleet of living room furniture, they are family vehicles. Why spend a fortune on a Caravan?

There are those who would argue that a great piece of seating lasts a lifetime, but who wants to make that kind of commitment to a couch? Is it going to be passed down to successive generations? You never hear children fighting over who gets the sectional.

The Times’s Home & Garden section is all about couches today, looking at how to choose a couch, one woman’s dream couch, and how to give your couch a makeover.

I chose my couch by going to Crate & Barrel to look at couches and sit on them (and because I once read on Apartment Therapy that the couches at Crate & Barrel are pretty good for their money). I found a model I liked that had a price tag of $1,200, and then went on Craigslist and found the same one, barely used for $300 because its owner was relocating and selling everything at low prices to get rid of all of her stuff. I’m happy with the couch. I’d do the same thing all over again if I needed to get it replaced.

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24 Comments / Post A Comment

eagerber (#1,958)

My couch was my ex’s sister’s; she was going to toss it but I was moving for grad school and gladly took it from her four years ago. It was practically brand new. It’s bright red, from IKEA I think, because many people who come over say they have the same couch. I love the color and it survived bed begs two years ago. I plan to hold on to this for as long as possible, although I AM envious of C&B couches, but ultimately would feel pretty indecisive (and sad!) if I had to buy a new one.

chevyvan (#2,956)

I love this solution! I am in the market for a couch, but I don’t want it to eat up my entire tax return, soooo…I want to pay <$1000 for it. But then while shopping for a new couch my boyfriend (who I’m moving in with this summer and who is 6’5″) declares that he needs a deep couch to be comfortable…so maybe under $1000 is not possible if I buy new. Plus I’m thinking that if I’m going to invest in a new couch it has to be a color/fabric/comfort level that I’m super stoked about. This is getting very complicated very fast! Anybody with any opinions on couch shopping in Chicago please advise!

chevyvan (#2,956)

@chevyvan Also, I have to add that I love this episode of Friends. PIVOT! PIVOT!

ellabella (#1,480)

@chevyvan Sadly, I think for couches less than $1000 is not really an “investment,” so if you want something nicer on a budget, I think Craigslist is really the way to go.

Sloane (#675)

I bought my couch at an estate sale for $30. My mother was with me and recognized the as a reputable furniture manufacturer. It was a hideous floral, so I bought a $100 slip-cover for it. That lasted about 4 years. Then, a couple of years ago, I spent about $600 to re-upholster it. I love my couch because it has a shallow seat – I’m short, so I don’t like those sofas that are as deep as a bed and I feel like Alice in Wonderland sitting on them.

highjump (#39)

I don’t know if I will ever have the money to do this, but I would feel truly rich if I could go into a store like West Elm, pick out a significant piece of furniture and pay for it (plus the delivery) without serious anxiety. Someday. Perhaps.

Lily Rowan (#70)

Logistical question: How do you get a sofa home from Craigslist? Rent a van?

ismymiddlename (#3,365)

@Lily Rowan

Yup! My housemate and I just got two couches off of Craigslist, and we rented a cargo van from Zipcar. You could also do one of those Uhaul ones, I’m sure. One of the couches is a gorgeous eight-and-a-half foot long midcentury modern deal, and it fit in the van just fine (up the stairs to our apartment was another adventure). We (two twenty-something ladies) also managed to move them ourselves, despite not inconsiderable skepticism on the part of the older gentleman selling them to us, but in my city at least there are lots of folks on Craigslist offering flat-rate deliveries/help with moving.

Mike Dang (#2)

@Lily Rowan I hired a “man with a van” and I convinced the Craigslister to deduct the cost of that from the price of buying her couch.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Mike Dang You are the best negotiator ever.

Fig. 1 (#632)

A couch is the second investment thing you should get after buying a new mattress once you have a decent job. Unless you are of that inscrutable class of people who don’t use couches. Or you have a bachelor apartment, in which case a table and chairs is #2.

fadingembers (#3,366)

My boyfriend and I shared an apartment with another couple for 2 years – the other couple provided the living room couches. When we moved into a place for just us, his mom bought us a queen-sized bed for our new, bigger bedroom. This meant we had a new apartment, no couches, and 2 beds. Solution: pile a bunch of $5 Target pillows all over older full-sized bed and put in living room. Very comfy and requires no folding out when friends stay over.

ATF@twitter (#1,471)

I’ve bought two couches in my life. The first one was when I moved into Boston for grad. school back in 2004. It was $500-$600ish, from Jordan’s Furniture, and too big to go up the stairs, so it came in through a window. It barely lasted three years. By the end of the first, it was so saggy that you tipped in when you sat on it. By the end of the 3rd year the cushions were flat as pancakes. Never again will I buy a couch from Jordan’s furniture.

My next couch came from Boston Interiors. There’s a great story involved on how my mom browbeat their corporate headquarters into giving me the sales tax off without losing my place in line for said sofa. I’ve had it since the summer of 2008 and it’s still going strong. Only now have the cushions started to break down a bit. It’ll come with me when I move this summer and I hope to get at least a few more years out of it.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

I don’t have one yet because it’s been very low on my priority list (have other financial priorities, it’s just a thing that I don’t need). I know exactly what I’m going to get though.

readyornot (#816)

“my couch is green.”
My couch is orange! I totally related to the first rich person’s acknowledgement that moving up in income translated into buying a piece of furniture from Room & Board. But even with the extra income, we couldn’t bring ourselves to actually do the thing, so my parents ended up giving us the couch of our dreams. Also recommended from Apartment Therapy! Large fixed costs really get me, though, I have a hard time following through on any purchase over $500.

I think I’ve bought one couch, ever for $5 online. The rest have all been freebies. They were all crappy, but I didn’t care. We’re going travelling for the rest of the year from May, so we’ll be getting rid of some of our furniture, including our free couches (hopefully the people who gave them to us, in this case family, will take them back…)

chic noir (#713)

I don’t have a problem with buying a used sofa because it’s been used but I am terrified of getting a used sofa that has bed begs.

* shudders*

Maladydee (#909)

@chic noir that is my big fear too. I was all about 2ndhand non-mattress furniture until bed bugs became such a big concern.

chic noir (#713)

@Maladydee yeah I just loved coming across neat pieces of furniture on the sidewalk. In NYC, it gave you bragging rights when you find nice things on the curb but for me, those days are over.

Maladydee (#909)

My couch is at least 3rd hand, and I’m pretty sure it was one of the couches in my friends’ frat house. It’s in pretty good shape, considering. As long as I have extra cushions on it, it’s pretty comfy. I wish I knew more about where it’s from since its held up so well.

chic noir (#713)
chic noir (#713)

@chic noir Of course I would have to wait until my cat passed on to kitty heaven.

ThatJenn (#916)

I had this truly incredible couch in college: it was a sectional and it was ugly as anything (I am not sure whether it was originally green or brown, but it was kind of both by the time I had it), and a friend of a friend of a friend had rescued it just as its owners were taking it down to the curb in Seattle eight years earlier. It had lived in a college apartment for years as the residents turned over, and when the lease finally ended, it came to my house. Sadly, when I moved away it ended up in my college’s student union because everyone who planned to take it flaked, which was not a nice place but rather a place where couches go to be peed on and die (I went to Reed, if the Reed SU means anything to anyone). But the thing about this couch: it was incredibly comfortable. If you were highly-caffeinated and alert and lay down on it for just a few seconds, you would fall asleep. (Perhaps I am wrong and it was actually covered in chloroform?)

I moved cross country after college and my mother bought me a nice convertible couch – almost as comfortable – in blue microsuede for a graduation present. It was about $800, I think. I still have it, though barely: when my boyfriend and I were moving it back into my house just a few short months after we started dating (after he had spent weeks scrubbing my ex’s filth out of the house and generally gone above and beyond in the boyfriend duties already), the bed part was falling out of the bottom and it got stuck partway through the front door. He actually turned to me and said, “Is it too late to reconsider whether I want a girlfriend or not?” He’s said he actually considered leaving me there with the couch stuck halfway through the door, he was so frustrated with the thing. (I decided that was not the right time to mention that I’d just remembered the other door was 3 inches wider – he probably WOULD have dumped me.) Anyway, we got it in, but it is never moving again, ever.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

Mr TARDIStime and I are going couch shopping on Thursday! RELEVANCE: thanks!

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