So, this is kind of embarrassing to admit but we’ve actually bought two different sofas for our living room since we’ve lived here. The reason for my embarrassment is that when it comes to large pieces of furniture, I’m cheap. I like to make ’em work as long as possible and not be wasteful. So, it feels weird to be all, yeah, we’ve purchased two sofas because the first one didn’t work out. But mistakes happen and this is one that I definitely learned a ton from. So, I thought it might be a good experience to share.
Ya see, we started out with Big Green…
I bought him 8 years ago for my first apartment. He’d been through six (yes, six) moves with two being to third-floor apartments and he’d lasted like a champ. But it was time… Big Green had lived his life with us to the fullest and it was time to bring a new family joy. So, we began the hunt for a new sofa.
Now, I have to admit, I was at a huge loss when it came to our living room. It was smaller than our last living room and had a strange shape. No walls facing the TV were long enough for a sofa. And there was a weird four-foot-wall that was very close to our back door….
Now, we had our house built and chose our floor plan, so these issues shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. But they kind of did a little. When we were deciding on which floor plan to choose, this was a top runner because we liked that the living room was located in the back of the house. My one reservation was that the living room seemed kind of smallish (although the home that we toured was unfurnished, which tends to make rooms feel smaller anyways). The salesperson assured me that the room could fit a deceiving amount of furniture and he directed us to some online pics of the same floor plan furnished. The pics looked nice and spacious so we went for it. What we didn’t realize at the time, was that the furniture arrangement shown in these pics didn’t account for television placement (the wiring is above the fireplace), which made the arrangement impractical for our uses. Bummer.
So, after we moved in, I had absolutely no idea how to arrange the furniture to make the most of the space. I thought that placing the sofa against the four-foot wall would make the breakfast nook feel cramped and the other wall that faced the fireplace was too short for a sofa. So, that left floating the sofa parallel with the fireplace. This arrangement is shown in the first pic above as well as the pic below (Sorry for the quality of some of these pics. They were taken back in February before this blog was even a little gleam in my eye.)…
I wasn’t crazy about this setup as it made the living room feel small but I figured it was our only option so I just told myself to “deal” with the cramped feeling.
Because of this assumption regarding sofa placement and various decorating tips I’d read online, I erroneously concluded two things when it came to choosing a new sofa:
1. Anything larger than a standard sofa wouldn’t fit and/or would make the room feel too crowded
2. Because our floors are dark, we must have light furniture.
So, we hunted for a sofa. And hunted. I found that I was really attracted to charcoal-colored sofas (surprise!) but I’d convinced myself by this point that charcoal would be too dark with our floors. After weeks of shopping, we finally found a great sectional (in charcoal), that came in khaki-colored fabric and a sofa configuration. So, we ordered it sight unseen. We waited six weeks for it to arrive, and when it finally came….
We weren’t completely over the moon. For one, it was boxier than expected…. The square shape flattered the larger sectional version, but didn’t do the smaller sofa any favors. The fabric was yellower than we’d thought and had much more of a formal, lineny feel, which was definitely not us. We’re casual, curl-up-in-it sofa people. And this sofa didn’t exactly lend that feeling. Most importantly, it seemed a lot smaller than Big Green even though it was only an inch shorter. We felt like we were on top of each other whenever the three of us sat on it. I’m not sure why it seemed so different than Big Green in this way, but it did. I guess that’s the problem with sight-unseen-buys. You may be surprised by the issues you encounter.
Heck, I didn’t even name the darn thing. THAT should’ve told me something in itself.
For months we tried to make the sofa work. We tried different decor, throw blankets, etc. We figured that we’d made our
sofa bed, we must now lie in it (albeit, somewhat uncomfortably).
But the room just didn’t jive. It didn’t feel comfortable. To me the heart of the house is the living room. It’s the room where we spend the most time. So for me to love our home, I must be able to enjoy it. And I just didn’t. It felt claustrophobic and there were only small, awkward pockets of space for Lucas to play. My distaste went so far as to make me think we’d made a mistake choosing our floor plan. I disliked the room THAT much.
Then, on one fateful trip to Ikea we met Kivvy (ie: The Kivik loveseat and chaise lounge). And we positively salivated over him. I mean, check out his sexy lines…
Total beefcake, right??
We sat in his comfy, generously-sized cushions and said things like (well, I said things like) “I love him” and “He loves me” And “If only he’d fit on our living room”. And “Stupid living room”.
I’ll admit, I did worry that even if we purchased him, his quality would wane quickly. I mean, I’d never known anyone who owned an Ikea sofa. I just assumed they were of cheap quality.
But as if the Ikea gods had heard my doubts, that next week THREE different parties brought up Ikea sofas and how well they last. How they’re entirely slip-covered (even the arms and back), which I didn’t realize and that most of said slipcovers are machine-washable. I’d never heard anybody mention Ikea sofas EVER, but that week Ikea-sofa-talk was in the air. So weird how that happens. I liked the fact that since the sofas are slip-covered, if we ever wanted to change the color or the slipcover became damaged we could just buy a new slipcover. Not a new sofa. AND if we ever needed a smaller sofa at any point, we could just remove the chaise lounge. Total versatility.
I thought about Kivvy incessantly for the next few weeks. I daydreamed about his additional curl-up space and durable slipcovers. Until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. Over dinner, I admitted to Joey that I couldn’t stop thinking about Kivvy. He stared at me for a moment and stated “Me either!”. So, in a haze of determination, we spent that evening moving around our beige sofa to figure out any possible way to make Kivvy fit in the room. Cramp-feeling be damned! Which is how we ended up here….
The sofa is placed so that the right-facing side is where Kivvy would end. See that gap between the couch and the window in the top pic?? That’s how much bigger Kivvy would be. Turns out that our couch lined up with the four-foot wall with a table behind it didn’t cut off the breakfast nook at all. The table made all the difference. It made it feel light and airy rather than closed off and like you’re walking into the back of a sofa. In fact, it made both the living room and breakfast nook feel larger. AND because Kivvy has a lower profile (he’s five inches shorter than the beige couch), he would open up the space even more.
Good, huh? But wait, there’s more… We realized during this exercise that not only could the room accommodate Loveseat/Chaise Kivvy, it could accommodate his larger cousin Sofa/Chaise Kivvy. Wait… A much larger couch (over 3 feet more in length plus a chaise lounge) AND the room seemed LARGER??? And by larger, I mean ginormous difference. Shut the front door.
To be sure of our decision, we taped off the exact dimensions of Sofa/Chaise Kivvy on the floor with painters tape and stuck a leather ottoman within the lines to mimic the mass of the chaise. We stepped back and observed…. And we LOVED it.
It’s so crazy how something as simple as moving around a bit of furniture makes such a drastic difference in the feeling of a room. It felt open and welcoming like you wouldn’t believe.
And we rejoiced.
But then we remembered that we’d already purchased a sofa. (Doh!) And as much as we wish we’re made of money, we’re definitely not.
So, we listed our beige sofa on Craigslist for slightly more than we thought we’d get just to test the waters. And we were shocked when a lovely girl contacted us the next day saying she loved the sofa and could pick it up on Wednesday. You could’ve knocked us over with a feather. It. Was. Awesome.
So, we arranged a babysitter for Wednesday night. The lovely girl and her boyfriend arrived on time, paid us what we asked (without haggling) and happily left with our beige mistake. I stuck the cash in my pocket and we headed to Ikea right then so we could permanently make Sofa/Chaise Kivvy ours.
I’ll admit, we took a small loss on our beige sofa. It was mainly tax, delivery and the protection plan we’d purchased (which unfortunately was not transferable). But, since we’d sold Big Green for $200 bucks, we figured it all came out in the wash.
So, was this process worth it??? YES! We ADORE Kivvy. He’s so comfortable. The slipcover we chose is called Dansbo Dark Grey and it’s been durable and stain resistant. We haven’t had to wash it yet so we’ll see how that works when the time comes. He has a much more casual look and feel than our first sofa and there’s so much more room to stretch out. We have absolutely no complaints so far. Plus, I’ve learned a lot throughout this process, like…
1. Choose what you like… I was continually attracted to charcoal-colored sofas as we shopped, but I ignored this desire for fear that it would be too dark with our floors. Verdict. I was wrong. It’s not too dark at all. In fact, Kivvy looks MUCH better than the lighter sofa. Our light shag area rug is a nice contrast and serves to lighten up the room. Plus, the charcoal really flatters our pale grey wall color. I should’ve gone with my gut from the get-go instead of trying to make work what I THOUGHT was the right design decision.
2. Live in a space for a while before you buy. Had we spent more time playing around with the layout, moving around the furniture and deciding what we liked best before we shopped for a sofa, we probably wouldn’t have prematurely purchased a sofa we weren’t happy with.
3. But on the flip side, I probably wouldn’t have learned this lesson without having made this mistake.
4. Be comfortable in your home… I realized fast that the living room is my heart when it comes to our home. And we weren’t happy living in it with the first sofa. I’m not gonna lie, this process was a hassle. But a hassle that was well worth it in the end. Our sofa switcheroo made the difference between my doubting whether we had made a huge mistake building this floor plan and causing me to fall head-over-heels in love with our home.
And that’s the whole point of making your house your own in my eyes. I see decorating as making your four walls yours. Making it a place you’d want to live for a long haul. That reflects the people living in it. And that’s what makes me so passionate about all the changes and tweaks that we make on the house. Some may be big, some teeny, but each one makes our home feel more like us. And that’s what I love.
A few glamour shots (vogue!)….
And the obligatory, totally-not-staged (Wink! Wink!) “in use” shot…
So anyways, making mistakes can really be a good thing. I can tell ya, I definitely learned oodles from this one. What design mistakes have y’all made that were totally worth it in the end? Small or large, please share. 🙂