The Great Couch Quest
Will We Find a Sofa or Sadness?
Some quest for El Dorado; some for the Fountain of Youth. Others seek world peace or an end to poverty. Well, good for them.
Handsome Hubby and I have our own noble quest. We search for something of beauty; something that will bring joy to family and friends. We seek a couch, comfy and chic.
We have pursued our noble quest for ten months so far, and so far, we have met only hardship, dashed hopes, scorn, and failure.
Seemingly simple you might think to buy a living room sofa, one that’s soothing and sleek … and somewhat affordable. And also, ideally, delivered before the End of Days or, at least, before the next round of holidays and birthday celebrations. But simple it is not.
And to complicate matters, sometimes we dare to dream bigger. We yearn for a charming chair and ottoman to match the couch. Oh, if only the furniture gods would grant such wishes!
Our quest began – as all great quests must – with a struggle against our internal demons and doubts. You see, we already possess two sofas. Surely, we foolishly thought when we first moved into our new home, one could fill the exalted, all-important space in our living room overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bay and the city of San Francisco.
Two Too Many
One couch belonged to Grandma Ida. It is 85-years-old, Victorian with ornate walnut-carved legs and curly-haired cupids. Admittedly it is uncomfortable, but we cannot get rid of it. What would Grandma say? So, it stays, looking elegantly out-of-place, in my home office.
Sofa No. 2 is a hulking 102″ behemoth. It has survived two decades of family life, the cuddles, the catastrophes, and the dropped ice cream cones. Now, alas, its cushions are lumpy; its embracing arms rumbled and dirty. And, sadly, it does not provide the chic we seek.
The Great Couch Quest Commences
So, braving the elements of a foggy, bone-chilling-winter-Northern California morning (57 degrees), Handsome Hubby and I officially launched the Great Couch Quest.
Armed with an advertising guide of top design stores, we bravely traversed the Bay Bridge and its accursed traffic and troll, I mean, toll booth. Our first stop: a well-Yelped, trendy furniture store. Alas, we found no couch to love. Some sofas were too narrow; some too wide. Most were too plush and too deep. Once we sunk into them, we of middle-aged creaky knees could not muster the strength to hoist ourselves up unaided. Who knew couch buying could be so physically demanding? Perhaps it should be a new Olympic sport?
Undaunted we pushed onward, barely surviving cars, trucks, pedestrians, and bicyclists-all seemingly hell-bent on killing us or themselves. Even brave Odysseus would have pondered abandoning hope against such dangers.
In one elegant store, we saw a beautiful couch. The price? “$17,000,” said the solicitous salesman. “Plus the cost of the fabric, of course.” Who knew fabric was optional? We left doubled over in giggles and to disapproving stares.
On the fourth floor of the fourth store, we did fall in sofa love. Style plus comfort plus good price. Ah, Nirvana.
We took turns on the matching chair and couch, wiggling our weary derrières to verify that the furniture truly passed the tush test.
Perilous Pricing Waters Ahead
Then we navigated the labyrinth of purchase options-all designed to confuse us as cunningly as the Sirens that had bedeviled Odysseus. There was the listed sale price; there was the 10% off coupon I clutched in my hand as tightly as if it was sword and shield, and then, there was the store credit card option. It took 40 minutes to wade through those perilous pricing options. Finally, transaction completed, we headed toward the door.
As an afterthought, I asked for a fabric swatch. Good thing! Once home, we saw the color would not work. It was a sort of grayish-gray. Egads! We “needed” a blackish-gray!
New Day, Same Store
The next day we returned to the shop to revise our order. Odysseus’ Penelope surely had an easier time undoing her weaving each night to delay her suitors than we had re-doing that accursed order. In fact, it could not be re-done. It had to be canceled and a new transaction processed. This ordeal took fifty-five minutes and when we crawled out of the store, we carried enough paperwork to have deforested large portions of the Amazon rainforest.
The couch would take three months to arrive, but the chair and ottoman came one week later. The ottoman’s fabric was mottled and well, weird. I called the shop. No problem, the manager assured me. They’d deliver a new one with the couch.
So, we waited. I ticked days off the calendar; Handsome Hubby, meanwhile, humbly explained to visitors that the très un-chic couch they sat upon was temporary.
The proverbial big day arrived. In came the ottoman. In came the couch. In came the chair. We were thrilled … for thirty seconds.
The fabric on the new ottoman was worse than the one already in the house. The material on the couch was even worse. It was so mottled, it looked like a pattern, an ugly one. We called the store. The manager agreed to take back the pieces, but, for reasons unclear, not on the “delivery” truck still parked in our driveway. A pick-up date was set for one week later. Meanwhile, for seven days the mottled mess (i.e. the furniture) emitted fumes so foul I feared we would wind up in the hospital ER.
After recovering from our disappointment-and the fumes, we quested anew.
Off we trekked to a multi-storied modern furniture store. Adopting a divan divide and conquer strategy, we separated and explored different floors.
Don’t Have a Cow
Eventually, we had a meeting of the minds-and bottoms-on a terrific brown leather couch and chair. Stylish. Comfortable. On sale. As if this was not enough, the salesman whispered those most rare and magical words, “Available for immediate delivery.” We turned our hearts-and credit card-over to that sainted salesman. A delivery date was set. A swatch provided (just in case) and home we went.
The swatch passed the color test. We lovingly fingered the tiny fabric square and cooed contentedly. Then our vegetarian daughter entered the room. She fondled the fabric for a second before dropping it like a hot, hot dog. “It’s leather,” she said disapprovingly and left the room.
So, like the respectful, doting idiots we are, we canceled the order. The salesman said in all his experience that was a first. He suggested telling our daughter that the cow had been killed long ago and that if we didn’t complete the purchase, the poor critter would have died in vain. We hung tough. No couch of leather for us.
Days passed. We took a respite from our labors. We traveled not to stores. We gazed not at design magazines.
Once More into the Fray
But now, spirits refreshed, we go a-questing again. We vow to shop till we drop … drop that is onto the one true couch.
And as we set forth, we pray. We pray that our journey through Furniture Hell will not last the 10 years it took Odysseus to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.