Old Sofa, New Sofa

As we continue the saga of updating our house, I have learned to become less attached to things I love and be a little more honest with myself about them. I have also learned that no matter how DIY talented you are, there are times when it’s best to just throw some money at a project and get it done.

For example:

vintage sofa 1
This is our vintage family room sofa, purchased from a consignment shop. It has great bones, and weighs a ton–due both to the fact that it’s a solid-wood frame and also a stealth sleeper sofa. The shape is interesting without being over-the-top, and the piping and “curve” on the arms makes it stand out from your basic puffy sofa.

vintage sofa 2

However. It’s tired.  A tired sofa.  And it’s cream. And we have four children. Despite being steam cleaned once (a process I don’t recommend, ever since I read an article like this saying how steam cleaning will kill the dust mites it contacts, but will leave moisture for the non-dead mites to thrive, making an even bigger dust mite population where you maybe had a small one, and ewwww), we simply cannot keep it looking nice. I don’t know if it has magical dwarves in the fibers that cause dirt and stickiness to adhere to the upholstery, but man, it gets dirty and slouchy and sad-looking.

I submit into evidence:

vintage sofa dirt

See what I mean? It’s hideous. And it makes my husband so upset that I am convinced he has actually lost sleep over how filthy this sofa is. More than once. This was in our DEN, y’all. Where we invite GUESTS.

Plus! Like we needed a plus. It looks sad and lonely. Most of the time, we would dress it up with this tragic corduroy pillow from my husband’s bachelor past:

vintage sofa pillow tragedy

I know. You don’t have to say it.

I thought adding a quilt and some pillows would jazz up the old sofa, and maybe you wouldn’t notice the scuzz quite so much:

vintage sofa new pillows

I think it actually makes it worse. Like, the new pillows almost off-set the grunge and make the sofa look even dirtier. Sigh.

vintage sofa before

Worst part? I have that DIY disease, the one that tells you, “I can recover it/fix it/make it better/paint it/whathaveyou WHEN I GET AROUND TO IT.” But you never get around to it. So it sits on the back burner forever and ever. Something about the fact that you can DO IT YOURSELF means it doesn’t quite make it on the to-do list? What is that?? So weird. I don’t want to spend money I don’t want to spend, but I also haven’t made it super important to re-cover this sofa, either. Until I realized: I don’t have to. I can have SOMEONE ELSE do it.

So liberating. There have been a few things in this house where I finally just said, “You know what? This isn’t worth the time to me. Being able to say I did it myself isn’t worth the amount of money I’d save–I would rather have the time for other projects and farm this one out.” So we did. Sort of.

I present Exhibit B: Our New Sofa.

new sofa crate and barrel petrie

If you’re thinking this isn’t the same sofa, you’re right. It isn’t. To start with, I found a swatch of fabric that I loved–it only took three trips to the upholstery place and 18 different swatches brought home before I found The One, but it’s pretty amazing:

vintage sofa new swatch

It’s a wool/poly tweed–normally I wouldn’t do anything in a poly, but in this case, it will last a lot longer and wear better. This sofa gets a lot of use. Plus, this fabric is stain-resistant, which I am OVER THE MOON about. But when I thought about it on the existing sofa, something wasn’t right. It was the sofa’s actual length that really was the deal-breaker:

vintage sofa 1

The vintage sofa is 72″ long. That includes the two arms. Which means that my husband–who is 5’11” or so–can’t stretch out on this sofa. For that matter, neither can I. This is a one-person sofa. And we both would like to have, in our family room, a sofa that the family can use, you know, more than one person at a time.

new sofa 1

I love vintage, but a bigger sofa was in order. We found this sofa on Craig’s List, used, for about 1/3 what it cost new. It’s the Petrie from Crate and Barrel, and it measures a solid 12″ longer and 6″ deeper than our little vintage sofa, all without losing that mid-century look that we’re shooting for throughout the house. High off the floor, no skirt, long modern legs stained a dark espresso, tufted cushions on the seat and back, straight arms with a little perkiness.  It’s divine.  We bought it used from around the corner, had the upholsterer pick it up and take it to his shop, had him re-cover it and deliver it back to our house–all for a good deal less than it would have cost to buy the SAME sofa brand-new (and then not in a custom fabric).

And we loooooove the results:

new sofa above

This is a Statement Sofa, no doubt. It’s bright and inviting but it’s not neutral by any stretch of the imagination. It occupies a very public spot in the center of our home, and catches your eye as soon as you come in the door. We’re not afraid of color around here.

new sofa detail petrie c and b

I could have made a slip cover for the old sofa, for certain. But it was the DETAILS of that sofa that made it awesome, and those would have been challenging to execute in a slip cover. I have made piped cushions for slip covers and made slip covers that look like upholstery, but for this hard-wearing, high-traffic sofa, I opted to go with a professional upholstery job done in stain-resistant fabric rather than a washable slip cover. Same destination, different route.

petrie new sofa 3

Having this sent out and done for me left me more time to make slip covers for other pieces in our home–more on that tomorrow. In the meantime, I am soaking in the comfort of having a bigger sofa on which to watch movies with my man, and waiting for the day when the basement is finished so we can take our little vintage sofa downstairs and give it a new home. Lots more to do in this house, y’all, one fabric selection at a time.

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  • Tamie
    August 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    This is so pretty. I wish I could get someone in my house to go a little outside the box.

    • Deborah
      August 21, 2013 at 9:12 am

      Ha! Is it the color? I’m always reminded how many people really feel safer with neutral tones all over–paint, furniture, drapery–but those same people frequently love bright colors in OTHER people’s homes. My husband and I have a Pinterest board where we share pictures with one another–I can’t even believe how much easier it is to go bold once you’ve seen an inspiration photo.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    August 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Damn! That is a fine sofa. Good call.

    • Deborah
      August 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

      And it is 1000x more comfortable and better for snuggling and movie-watching. Huge improvement–glad you like! 🙂