This is the story of Jen’s “new” sofa.
On first glance, we hoped it would be THE sofa. However, when it comes to Craig’s List, the bottom line is, “Buyer Beware.” Once I saw the sofa in person, my heart sank. The frame was offensively flimsy, as were the springs. There was no way this piece would hold up in Jen’s busy home. I told her, regretfully, that I couldn’t encourage her to spend money on it. The cost of materials alone would likely exceed its value. I assured her that there was a good sofa out there, this just wasn’t it. . . .
Jen’s ideal candidate was something clean and simple, a mid-century design that would feel appropriate in her 1950’s home. It would have low arms and a deep deck, well-suited for afternoon naps without making the modest living room feel crowded.
My ideal candidate would be at least 40 years old with a hardwood frame and a coil-sprung deck – Jen’s sofa needed to be a workhorse in her busy living room. And I told her that our max budget was $50 – we were looking for a sturdy older frame, which would likely be covered in ugly, dated fabric and priced accordingly.
We wanted a diamond in the rough, and eventually, we got lucky.
Walking through Saver’s one evening, I spotted a sofa that was everything we’d discussed. Boy howdy, was it dated and ugly. But it had a huge deck and a lean frame. It had coil springs and a $20 price tag. I sat down and furiously texted Jen, doing my best to look scary and possessive in order to ward off other would-be treasure hunters. She responded enthusiastically, and I claimed our prize with a twenty dollar bill.
After tearing back the fabric and getting a good look at the foundation, we made minor repairs and improvements. I’m disappointed to say that the webbing was stapled instead of nailed, and had sagged considerably. However, since the hand-tying was in good shape, we reinforced with a second layer of webbing and the appropriate nails. I also did some minor work to the frame burlap and padding. All it all, it was in excellent shape.
Once we got to the cushions, Jen and I had several conversations about potential changes. No matter what, we planned to replace the inserts – not only were they grungy and sad, one cushion had been hilariously repaired with packing peanuts. So it was no problem to change the number or style of cushions at the same time.
Here is where the internet is an upholstery client’s best friend. We googled pictures like crazy. We decided that two seat cushions would be better than three. Three cushions is perfect if you anticipate three people actually sitting. However, when you anticipate two people lounging or one person sprawling, two cushions might be a better solution.
At last, at last, Jen’s sofa was ready to go home!
When I stopped by to visit, her kids were happily breaking it in.
In most homes, the sofa is the most used piece of furniture we own. This goes double in a not-so-big home. A poorly made sofa will almost always disappoint in a hurry. Jen’s sofa needs to WORK.
In the end, this sofa was a $2,000 investment (prices vary greatly from project to project, shop to shop, and region to region.) That may seem like a lot, but most design blogs will tell you that a good quality NEW sofa costs between $4,000 and $10,000. I’m all about a good value, and this sofa gets two thumbs up. It is a great example of WHEN and WHAT to reupholster.
While nothing is indestructible, I have confidence that this piece will age exceptionally well in Jen’s comfortably functional home. 🙂