once i moved away to university, i entered — like most people — a transient living state. i lived in residence for first year, then moved into a beautiful 1800s house with a few friends (and have the scars from wooden window frames slamming down on my wrists to prove it), then to an apartment with my boyfriend, which was only supposed to be for a year. (the apartment, not the boyfriend.) at some point, it looked like we might stay in that apartment longer than a year (we ended up staying three and a half) and, as i looked around at our collection of uni furniture and well-intentioned hand-me-downs, i decided we needed to upgrade. upgrade, at that time, meant ikea furniture and some craigslist finds, and i had very little idea of what i wanted or liked. also, there was still a transient feeling to things. we were renting a one-bedroom, after all, and, while i didn’t know where or when or how, i had some idea that we might buy a house at some point, or at least move to a bigger place. i also still suffered a little bit from wanting things to be finished right away. it’s a common affliction, though i’m much better now.
this is essentially how i ended up buying an ikea sater sofa one evening, without pierre and without consultation. he’d sent me to ikea with his credit card and that’s the first and last time he’s done that. now, he barely lets me go to ikea unaccompanied, let alone armed with his credit card. and since i, of course, could not manage to bring a couch home on my own, and was way too cheap to pay for delivery, pierre, prince that he is, returned to ikea the next day, wedged the sofa into the back of my parents’ suv, and hauled it up twelve flights and into our living room. so you can understand why i have been reticent to replace this sofa, even though we’re now in a non-transient living situation and there are better sofas for our very permanent living room. but it’s been bugging me lately (see above, want things finished) and i’m pretty sure what’s wrong is: the colour, the material, and the size. so that’s a lot of things wrong. but what’s right is: it’s not ripped or damaged in any way, and my husband nearly died bringing it home for me. (it’s true — the driving situation was less than safe.)
i’m convinced that a softer (fabric) and smaller (by about 8″) sofa would work much better centred under our living room window. between the teak shelving unit, the teak table, the hardwood floors, and the massive walnut dining table, there’s just a lot of big and brown happening right when you walk through our front door. that’s not to say the sater is a bad couch. in fact, i’ve recognized it a number of times in photos of other peoples’ houses and it works for them.
neither of these rooms would look out of place in our house, so maybe the couch isn’t the problem. (actually, this couch is definitely not a problem — clearly i have no problems if i’m hemming about a couch being too brown. just alerting you all to my self-awareness before someone calls me out on being a brat.) anyways, i tried to make it work. the $20 reupholstery job did not hold up in a pretty magnificent way. so i ordered teak legs from uncle bob’s in texas (“we make custom ikea sofa legs!”), waited four months for them to arrive, put them on the couch and still hated the couch. the teak legs made the couch more brown (duh) and more squat (shorter). boo. so then i added a mac ausland’s woollen mills wool blanket (pei), which i bought in thornbury for the purpose of covering the couch.
and i still hated the couch. i really just wanted it out of my life (and my living room). so, lesson number two, sometimes if you try to remake something you don’t like into something you like, you might end up with something you hate. so i put the whole shebang on craigslist and it sold for full price the next day. (i kept the blanket.) oh, craigslist: magical undoer of mistakes. and i got what i really wanted all along, instead.
i had started to see the söderhamn sofa around and i really liked it. as with the karlstad that we put in our basement, i was surprised to find out it was an ikea couch. but glad — because if i’m going to change my mind about my sofa every five years that sofa should be $500 and not $5,000.
so here it is in our living room! i actually liked all of the colours that it came in, but the dark yellow matched our teak cabinet perfectly. it fits perfectly under the window and i even like the legs — no need to call up uncle bob! i love that it has no arms; your sight lights aren’t obstructed by the sofa right when you walk through the door anymore. since the söderhamn is modular, i was able to buy a “3 seat section” instead of the sofa proper; this is meant to be part of a larger couch configuration, which is why it doesn’t have the arms. it was cheaper, too!
the foyer door was painted this same dark yellow, too — but now there was just too much yellow. so instead of painting the foyer door for a fourth time, i chucked the whole thing? baby out with the bathwater. but i was trying to learn from the sater situation. i didn’t like our foyer door too much because it was the only remaining “new” door in the house and it had this faux brass inlay and a tacky handle. so rather than painting the whole thing (including the inlay) and buying a less tacky door handle (which are minimum $40 for something halfway decent), i went over to the restore on carlaw to see if they had any neat 31.25″ wide doors i could cart home on a quiet december morning. they had dozens that would’ve worked; i had a hard time choosing! but way more on that later; this was by far the “hardest” door we’ve ever worked with… and i’m not nearly done restoring it. (plus i damaged a lot of trim in the hanging, and need to buy some replacement pieces.)