Friday, 25 January 2013

My Midlife Decor Splurge

Recovering a Couch

Some women buy a red sports car. Some leave their husbands. Some go to Africa. In my mid-forties, I have recovered my couch, or chesterfield, as my dad used to call it.

Telfer recovered couch.

(This photo reveals our too-small sea grass rug.  I hope to replace it soon with two borderless ones sewn together.)

We bought this couch in 1996 with some of the money my mom left me. It was solid, made of kiln-dried wood and all those other good things, made in Vancouver and sold by a small company no longer in existence.  The maroon, vaguely William Morris-ish fabric lasted through babies, toddlers, preschoolers, children, and teenagers doing their damage to it. By that I mean four to six year olds running from the dining room and doing flying head stands onto it, their legs flopping over the rounded back.
My son, looking a bit younger, and the late beloved Beauty, with the old couch behind, and even the old ottoman; also, a picture that needs hanging!
Eventually though, the fabric started to fray and tear and the seats started to sag. In the picture above, you can see some tearing above the T.V. remote. It was still completely sturdy, though, and unlike some shorter-lived family room couches, was by no means at the end of its life. So we took it to Arbutus Tree Interiors in Sechelt, (where we had taken the ottoman, also in view here) and had it recovered in a green cotton velvet. Just to be clear, I did not do the actual work myself. It cost about as much as a cheap couch with a life span of five years would cost, but it looks better than ever and we could never afford such a good couch now.

It took years, however, to choose the colour.  When I look at photos of Miles Redd interiors, I can see what influenced me.

Miles Redd - House Beautiful

Miles Redd- Elle Decor
I loved these rooms before I knew who Miles Redd was or registered that the couches were green velvet (though more olive green than the green I chose, and probably silk velvet.) I was also captivated by Bunny Williams' Kips Bay Show House room.
Bunny Williams' Kips Bay Show Room - House Beautiful
You can't really see the colour of the couches from this angle but they are olive green. If she could use olive green with those bright turquoise walls, I thought, I could use green couches with the more muted and greyed GM Blue Grass.

Don't forget, also, the green sofa in the Keats drawing room.

If you have an older couch that is of solid construction, consider recovering it, both for environmental and budget reasons. Also, you will get exactly the couch you want, instead of whatever is in the storeroom. If you have a short-lived replacement couch near the end of its life, is it possible to save up for a kiln-dried frame couch that will last the rest of your life, with a few recoveries?

"After" couch with Robert Allen Silpada "willow" recovered cushions to match the ottoman.
You'll notice that I still like the rounded arms and back. In other words, mid-century modern is not what I want in a couch. Comfort is.

As midlife blowout purchases go, this one was pretty harmless. I'm happy, and so are the T.V. viewers of the house. I, in fact, am going to sit there tonight to watch Wuthering Heights. It's also a sweet place to sit in the morning with my lemon tea, and write in my journal, or to curl up and read at night. I feel very lucky to have such a beautiful and soft place to sit.

The only problem is that our new S.P.C.A. dog, Daisy, likes to sit there as well. We cover it with that plastic they used to put on carpet at open houses when we go out and bought her a new dog bed with white piping to go beside it, which she is happy to sleep on at night. Do you see my pre-photo dust-buster marks on the velvet?

Daisy wishing she were up on the couch.
Deborah Needleman, of The Perfectly Imperfect Home, which I seem to be quoting a lot, says that every room needs a bit of ugly. I consider beige ugly.  Does this apply to a beige dog bed in the living room?

In the west, a couch in the living room is as expected as a car in the garage. Money spent here is money not spent on travel.  If you are going to have a hulking mass of fabric and stuffing in your house, I say make it beautiful and comfortable. For me, that means asking for some down in the pillows and back and covering it in green velvet. (This green, incidentally, matches my kitchen chairs.)

Looking for new surroundings is supposedly a sign of a midlife crisis.  It is possible to have new surroundings by staying just where you are, and even with contributing little to the landfill. A renewed, velvety spot for me, my family and friends (but not my dog) to sit is enough to keep me calm.
No dogs allowed!


Grace Telfer said...

That is a beautiful couch and a very cute dog!

Susan Telfer said...

Why, thank you, honey. I agree.