We are finally going to be getting new couches! At least, new to us. Hopefully.
We got two new couches when we first got married nine years ago – one that we won in a bridal show, and one that we bought at a bargain basement furniture shop. The burgundy leather couch from the bridal show arrived with a rip underneath one of the arms, and even the furniture shop’s “repair” didn’t really fix it, so it just got worse. It was never our style, either. We sold it to college students in Pittsburgh before we moved back to Michigan. The bargain basement khaki green couch, literally found in the basement of Art Van, was only $300 and remains in our living room to this day. It is comfortable, but it has holes where the staples (!) that hold the particleboard frame together are coming out and puncturing the fabric. It is not an heirloom couch, and it looks awful.
We’re not going to be able to spend thousands of dollars on new sofas, though. We want something sturdy enough for a while, either in wipe-clean leather or washable slipcovers. Leather is more expensive, but the clean up is just about as easy as it gets: baby spits up, mom takes a clean rag and wipes it up. Slipcovers involve removing fabric, washing, line drying, and stuffing the cushion back in. Not horrible, but not easy, either.
We’re thinking of two matching couches to frame the fireplace. Because of the layout of our house, it doesn’t really work to have one couch and chairs. Plus, with a family of six, it would be nice if we all could sit in the living room at once, which two sofas would allow us to do.
My first choice, of course, is to look for a sturdy vintage couch. I’ve been hunting Craigslist for months, but finding even one good vintage sofa is tough, much less two that match. I’m looking for mid-century, with wooden legs, so that I can replace the cushions with the material and fabric of my choosing and avoid the carcinogenic flame retardants that modern couches are treated with.
Because buying vintage has been so tough, I’m also hunting new. That brings me to IKEA, where not only are they affordable, but they also don’t treat their furniture with PBDE, a very toxic flame retardant that is still used in just about everything you bring into your home (especially conventional mattresses and furniture). Of course, to meet federal flammability requirements, IKEA treats their stuff with other flame retardants, but they are less toxic. We cannot afford organic couches, though I’d love to be able to.
To the pictures. Here’s an old pic of our living room. That big blank wall is now filled with five white bookshelves. The fireplace is painted white, with a black wood stove insert. The couches will go perpendicular to the fireplace wall, framing the fireplace, probably with a coffee table in between. The wall color is a little brighter and creamier than in this pic, but this is the best I’ve got right now:
Here are the sofas (couches? What do you call them?) that we are considering. Keep in mind that our living room is a creamy golden yellow.
We love the clean lines and look of the Karlstad sofa. The base model, with a white slipcover, is only $399:
For the same price, we could get it with the long slipcover instead:
While I’m reassured that the slipcovers are washable, and we don’t eat in the living room, white still makes me nervous. (Even though, aesthetically, white is my favorite. I love the way it’s such a clean slate for decorating. I could get over the nerves, I think.) So I’m also considering a set in green ($499/ea):
I think that white is my top choice, followed by green and brown. Or maybe one each of blue and green? Would that look dumb? I like color, but I don’t want a circus. Brown or white give me the most options, should we decide to re-paint or re-decorate in another scheme. Throw pillows and blankets will also change the look of any colored sofa we buy. And because IKEA rocks, we can buy new slipcovers at any time to change the look.
For leather options, there isn’t much. About the only one we can afford that I don’t mind is the Ektorp, priced at $699 for dark brown leather:
(I’ve also been hounding Craigslist for used leather sofas, which have less of the squick factor that usually comes with a used sofa, since they’re wipe-clean. But they’re either very 80′s looking, or way overpriced.)
Hm. What do you think? Slipcovers or leather? (Leather is so dark, and the living room area is already pretty dark. Which is why I’m leaning toward white slipcovers. But oh, how easy leather is to clean!)