My nearly vacant living room has been depressing me. It’s all I see from my perch in front of the computer, which is all I use to amuse myself. So even though I am almost always on the computer if I am not making supper, and I have a great Ikea-knock-off chair if I do want to sit, I have been thinking about getting a couch just so my living room doesn’t look so dang empty.
Every couch my family has ever had has been secondhand. Some have come to us in better condition than others. Sometimes we get a new couch when the existing couch (or couches; we use three and can’t really seat everyone) still seem in good shape. More often, the freebie arrives as a long-overdue replacement for a disemboweled, diplapidated, and generally unthinkably abused couch. Before I got this apartment, I picked up one of the most recent replacements on the side of the road, a blue couch that is in good shape structurally. It had some dog odor, but use of an air purifier remedied that (not a spray that just adds perfume, one of those ionic jobs that blasts the air it circulates with different types of radiation).
In the months I have lived in this apartment, a serviceable free couch has not come to my attention. The idea of actually buying a couch has been creeping into my mind. But when I accompanied my grandmother to a furniture store–a backwater place that should be selling at the lowest rate for miles around–I did not like the idea of paying over a thousand dollars for a couch that was not impressive in style or substance.
I knew that most decent folks buy their furniture, but hand-me-down furniture seemed obvious enough to me that I didn’t realize exactly what it would sound like when I asked a coworker if she bought her furniture. When she laughed and said, “Nope, I steal all mine,” I realized that for many people the idea that you could get furniture any other way than by paying for it would seem strange. Except perhaps an heirloom piece, but for a lot of the same people furniture that is out of style is no good anyway, so unless you are getting priceless antiques you don’t want to be inheriting furniture.
My coworker named the same furniture store that remains very low on my list, a place I feel is hawking mediocre wares at trumped-up discounts. They had a lot of crossed-off prices and “ask for our price” items, which is to me a sucker routine. She also mentioned another store, but it was clear to me that I haven’t just been in all the wrong places; furniture is expensive. If you buy it.
Spending twelve to fifteen hundred dollars on something which can only be used for sitting upon bothers me, and all the more so when I do not sit much except on a cheap office chair. (That might actually be worth upgrading.) But the empty room continued to irk me, and I reasoned that eventually I will have use for a couch, and if I don’t sit on it much now it will last just fine until it is needed, so I might as well buy now and ease my discomfort.
Then it happened that on Sunday I went out walking, for enjoyment partly but also to locate the church I had “lost.” I started off in the wrong direction at first, on the right street but not paying enough attention to which way the house numbers were trending. I only went a block or so, because I knew there was some church off in that direction, but it was not where I meant to be going. And I happened to see a chair out on the curb. It had a bit of snow on it but seemed to be in good condition; not soaked, still firm, still a functional recliner.
So I brought it home, and tipped it up by a register to dry out the snowy patch, and indeed, it is a fully serviceable peice of furniture. It is not hard to imagine why the owners got rid of it. It is colored in a hideous hue between green and brown, a shade usually achieved by decaying vegetation. The colors in the living room are a couple of greens, cream, and white, so this chair could have gone quite well if it had been some more decent shade of green, or beige, or something, but as it is, well, it’s hideous. Some preliminary searching on the internet suggests that covers for armchairs run up close to $100 for materials that don’t please me, so I am waiting to see something better come along before I try to cover up the rotten color.
Along with the new floor lamp, the armchair actually balances out the room pretty well, along with a pair of decent looking dining room style chairs I picked up for $5 each last summer (I did go to one yard sale). There’s still a spot too empty along one wall, but it is not visible until you are in the room itself, so the constant sense of vacuum has been abated.
I still wonder why I want stuff I can hardly use, as it will only be a bother to me when eventually I move, but I am so pleased to have a “full” living room that such philosophical questions have little hold.