Restuffed: The Sofa Saga

Less than a year ago, we welcomed home a new-to-us sofa.  The upholstery looked great, and it appeared to be a quality piece of furniture, all-in-all, a good Craigslist bargain.  I quickly bonded with our new sofa, enjoying many long, pregnancy-fatigue induced naps on its cushions.  Unfortunately, after several months of use, we noticed that the sofa was getting uncomfortable.  The stuffing in the back was suffering from the effects of age and gravity.

For a few months, we used strategically placed pillows to make up for the sofa’s shortcomings, but the possibility of getting it restuffed surfaced in conversations.  Then one day, we noticed a bright orange powdery substance oozing from one of the buttons.  Apparently, the used sofa that seemed to be in such good condition only seemed to be in good condition because the previous owner never used it.  With regular use, the really old foam stuffing showed its true colors, rapidly disintegrating, first the back of the couch, and then the cushions.

Green solution?  Don’t get rid of a perfectly good piece of furniture – repair it!  In this case, that meant restuffing.  It sounded like a good, simple plan, until Matthew started calling around to get quotes, and we started hearing amounts greater than one thousand dollars.  While we were pretty sure we could not get a new couch of similar quality for less than that (even if we wanted to take that route), it was hard to think about shelling out that much money for a sofa that we bought on Craigslist for a couple hundred dollars.

Most places wanted to restuff (which we wanted) AND reupholster (which we didn’t want).  One place said they might be able to restuff and use the existing upholstery (which would make it considerably cheaper), but they wouldn’t know until they actually started taking it apart and could see what condition the upholstery was in, and by then we could owe them at least a couple hundred dollars by the time we paid for pick-up and the initial labor.  Gulp.

To further complicate things, my in-laws were offering us a newer used sofa for free.  It lacked the charm and character of our sofa, as well as the length that allowed Matthew to actually lie down and stretch out, but compared to the potential expense of getting our sofa back in shape . . . .

Enter serious procrastinating on my part, all while sitting on an increasingly uncomfortable sofa.  I might still be on the fence right now, except the prospect of exposing my newborn baby to some mysterious orange powder demanded action.

I reluctantly agreed to try the place that was willing to try to reuse the current upholstery.  After some deliberation, we also decided to have them restuff the cushions, instead of attempting it ourselves.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.  We waved goodbye to our sofa the second Saturday in October.  That Monday, we got the good news that they could work with the current upholstery, and, five days later, we hoisted the sofa back up our stairs and into the front room, where we’ve been enjoying it ever since.  Though it was hardly the bargain we thought we were getting, we plan to enjoy it for many more years, and I feel like we made a decent investment.

Trash vs. treasure

This post started as a comment on “The last antique” over at The Green Phone Booth.  It quickly grew to a length that seemed a bit cumbersome for a mere comment:

After reading the comments thus far, one thing that sticks out is want vs. need. Sure, holding out for that perfect piece of furniture (the one that looks nice, fits in your space, is good quality, at the right price) at an estate sale or on Craigslist can be frustrating, but do you really NEED it enough right now to settle for something that may not last, something made unsustainably?

The answer will be different for everyone and vary depending on the item in question and other specifics of the situation. However, it provides a good starting point for evaluating potential purchases. You may be able to find creative ways to do without for just a bit longer, giving you time to find what you really want in the quality used market.

We successfully used this method for our desk, and we’re currently keeping an eye out for a nice, new-to-us couch.  In the meantime, we’re holding on to our slightly uncomfortable, not so fashionable, but still sturdy, estate sale bought couch.