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  • The Red Sofa

    November 16, 2009

    About 14 years ago, I bought a huge, down-filled, ridiculously expensive Henredon sofa. I had it made in this exquisite blood red damask fabric and it was a vision of beauty for all who laid eyes or butts upon it.

    Luckily, I bought the sofa before I met AD because he would never authorize that kind of spending.  Not so lucky is that it never occurred to me that once you spend that kind of money on a sofa, you are loath to ever get rid of it. And trust me on this:  There is not a sofa on the planet that you will want to keep your entire life.

    Well why not just get it recovered you might ask? And that is a reasonable question. The problem is that I could buy a brand new sofa and maybe even a few other things for what it will cost me to have it recovered.  It will require a substantial outlay of cash and outlaying of cash is just not in our immediate or foreseeable future.

    So then, right now I have a formerly glorious red sofa that has turned a sad shade of pink from the sun and suffers a terminal case of thread rot. And if I may be honest, the giant expensive, formerly glorious, now ugly sofa is really getting on my nerves.  Every time I walk through my living room, it pains me to look at it.  It is the Norma Desmond of the sofa world.

    Last week, as I was pulling into the neighborhood I saw a Thomasville truck in front of my neighbor’s house and two men were hauling in a houseful of brand new furniture. I slowed to gawk at the spectacle of it all.  And I may have pressed my nose against the car window and drooled just a little.  I coveted. Oh yes I did. I coveted with a vengeance.

    With a heart drenched in envy, I continued around the block towards home, driving past the house of a woman whom I only knew in passing. But she doesn’t live there anymore. She lost her battle to cancer about this time last year leaving behind a husband and a ten-year-old boy.

    Maybe she left behind a really nice sofa.  Or maybe hers had thread rot too. I don’t know.  But either way, it didn’t matter.  She left it all behind.

    * * *

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matthew 6:19~21


    1. Viki says:

      I remember reading that post about the woman that passed by your house and it stuck with me for a long time. I’m sorry she didn’t make it.

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:09 am

    2. WendyP says:

      I covet a new sofa too. I feel ya. At least yours has good bones, being a Henredon. How about a nice slip cover until Thomasville becomes a possibility?

      Me, I am stuck with a sorry, ugly, enormous, cheap sectional that has “potholes” from being used so much. It hasn’t lasted 5 years. And a slip cover won’t help. We’re talking plywood to prop people up, people.

      Anyway, it is good to know what is really important. Family is what matters.

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    3. zoom says:

      The Norma Desmond of sofa’s cracked me up. Girl, you can turn a phrase as my Mimi used to say!

      I love the idea of a slip cover. Recently, I had my sofa recovered and it was not too bad. Two men from Garland, Bert and Ralph, loaded it up on the back of a pick up and hauled it off to recover it… that part was a little dicey. But, the finale product was great.

      Just so you know, I looked at that sucker for about 3 years before we did acutally get around to recovering it.

      * * *

      You know, this thing has needed to be recovered for about 7 years now. It’s just one of those things that every time I shop for fabric and go to spend the money, I flinch. I’ve thought about slip covers but the sofa is about 7ft long and has deep loose cushions, so the slip covers would have to be custom made and that would be almost as expensive as reupholstering.

      At any rate, lately when I look at that sofa it’s less of a pain and more a reminder that I have everything that really matters.

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    4. MNStacey says:

      How true, we can’t take it with us, and when you really think about these ‘things’ we want, they really don’t matter at all.

      November 16th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    5. Glennon says:

      thanks, antique mommy.

      just trying to be grateful i have somewhere to sit today, and people to sit with me.

      thanks for the reminder.

      * * *
      Stated with simple beauty Glennon. Lovely. Thank you.

      November 16th, 2009 at 11:20 am

    6. Donna W says:

      You’ve indeed put the whole thing in proper perspective. Now, about a different sofa: You need to check Craigslist; you’d be surprised what nice furniture you’ll see there sometimes.

      November 16th, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    7. MarathonMom says:

      I like what Glennon said!

      November 16th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    8. The Nester says:

      beautiful post.

      November 16th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    9. Karen Lewis says:

      Were you spying on me last Friday as I drove past Ashley Furniture’s huge tent sale and found myself drooling over the new sofas??? (Mine is 14 years old as well! – but I DID recover it about 4 years ago)…I promptly forgot about it once I got home and remembered that I am not a millionaire, sadly. 🙂

      However, I must say – I’d rather have my treasures in Heaven – even if that means they have to sit on ratty furniture here on Earth. 🙂

      * * *
      LoveloveLOVE your comment Karen.

      November 16th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    10. Rebecca says:

      Although I love beautiful furniture, I detached myself from home decor in the hope that I could achieve a more nomadic lifestyle. I’m not quite there yet, but my latest obsession is with mobile technology and I have been driving myself crazy for months – including the last couple of hours – trying to find the perfect lightweight laptop for my needs. I’ve recently acquired my dream phone and the laptop is the last piece of my wished for road warrior arsenal.

      Thank you for reminding me that I can’t take it with me, and shifting my perspective back to the importance of counting the blessings I already have.

      November 16th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    11. Rebecca in Colorado says:

      so many truths here! Don’t know which one to comment on…but my Aztec-designed sofa (yeah, just guess how many years old that one is!) is clashing horribly with some hand-me-down floral chairs and a multi-colored brick, full-wall fireplace hearth. No Better Homes and Gardens photo shoots coming to my house, but my church Life Group does happily meet here every other week and nobody complains about my decor.

      Wendy needs to know: you can have cushions re-stuffed to turn them into amazingly firm seats again. I just sat on someone’s last weekend! They went to a mattress store. If the sofa is otherwise stylish and fabric in good condition, it might be worth looking into it…?

      November 16th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    12. Janmary, N Ireland says:

      Beautiful post, and wise words.

      Although I follow your blog through a Reader, I don’t drop by often enough and comment.

      Hope all is well with you and yours


      November 16th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    13. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      That’ll preach.

      The older I get, the more I’m learning: It’s all about attitude. And our attitude is greatly shaped by our perspective.

      November 16th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    14. Shannon says:

      My aunt used to throw a white sheet on her ratty sofa and say it was her “summer shabby chic” look. Whenever I tried it on mine it just looked like a bunched-up sheet on a ratty sofa.

      I will say that for only a few hundred dollars we got a fantastic sofa from ikea (and I am in a love-hate relationship with them, mostly hate). It has removable slipcovers, and I got an extra set for $75. It is one of the most comfy couches we have ever owned, and it still looks great after almost 5 years.

      I bet your pink sofa looks really nice, though, when you think of all the money you’re saving! (Is that looking through rose-colored glasses? haha!)

      * * *
      It looks great as long as I keep the lights on low.

      November 16th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    15. mythoughtsonthat says:

      Really wonderful.


      November 16th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    16. Meg says:

      I have a similar problem! Only mine is light colored and the arm rests??? They are disgusting….I keep trying to figure out a way to clean them so that I can live with the sofa I can no longer stand!
      But you are right…things are no important. Tomorrow is a funeral for a local woman, 47 years old who died from complicatons of pneumonia.

      November 16th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    17. Cyndi says:

      Thank you for the reminder – as we happily move into our new home (without a buyer for our old, egad!), our family is focusing on the important things and opting out of all the new-fangled. Amazing how excited they are to have more time with us and old toys 😉

      November 16th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    18. Lucy says:

      I’d love to have a wonderful red sofa. I finally found one at …I don’t know..Crate and Barrel or some place like that and it was $3,000.


      November 16th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    19. rrmama says:

      How very true. It’s just stuff! And like you I have sofa envy. Only my current one is plaid, faded, riped, restitched by my own hands, and in need of retirement. I REALLY LOVE the leather one my friends got last year…sigh…sigh…sigh.

      November 16th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    20. happy geek says:

      We’ve always been second hand sofa people. Basically, we will take what anyone is giving away.
      I used to cringe every time I looked at my velour couch with it’s brown and orange fruit till I realized that hey, it’s paid for.
      By someone else.
      Looked a lot better in that light.

      * * *
      I would love to sit on that brown velour sofa with orange fruit and chat and drink tea or coffee with you and your lovely friends Chrissy and Henrietta. And maybe eat some Smarties. 😉

      November 16th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    21. Shelly W. says:

      Count me in with the sofa-coveters. And with the I’m-not-getting-a-new-sofa-anytime-soon group too. Loved this post.

      November 16th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    22. Liz says:

      LOVE THIS POST! I’m convicted, challenged and encouraged. Thank you.

      November 16th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    23. Marty says:

      When my dad died in a nursing home, I realized that all that was left of his possessions could fit into a couple of cardboard boxes. That seemed sad at the time, probably because I was using the wrong measuring stick for significance, even though I knew better. It doesn’t seem so sad anymore. Francis Schaeffer said that everything we own will ultimately wind up in the city dump, regardless of its present value. Only that which has real value lasts – and in Scripture, I think that’s God’s Word and the souls of men. But I’m also sitting here thinking I “need” a new sofa.

      November 16th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    24. cindykay says:

      We lived for 26 years with a hand-me-down green sectional couch, that was already 15 years old when we got it. At some point I began praying that we would be able to find a replacement for the poor thing whenever it would finally die. A couple of years ago I replaced the foam in the cushions, but that didn’t last long.

      Then last summer I received some unexpected money, and I knew it was for a new couch, and I found one on the internet that was the right size to fit our little space and was on super sale for only $550, with free shipping. (It was faux leather office furniture.)

      All that to say this: when the time comes when you really do need a replacement, God will manage it for you!

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    25. Carrie says:

      Oh, wow, what a tangible reminder of what really matters in life – thanks for sharing.

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    26. Laurie says:

      Thank you AM for this piece of wisdom. I have been coveting this fall more than I ever have – the enemy at work… You encouraged me!

      November 16th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    27. Adrian says:

      What a great post. I wish everyone could learn that lesson. It’s funny, I was just looking at my own ruined sofa. I finally got a sofa with flowers on it (a first, DH hates them) and three months later, we got a pair of kittens. I can’t bear to declaw them, so of course, they have shredded my nice couch. I looked at the shredded couch and was a little sad, but then I looked at the now-grown cats napping on the back of it and figured it was a pretty good trade for all the fun and snuggles they have brought into our lives.

      November 17th, 2009 at 12:52 am

    28. Rita says:

      So often God uses your words to nudge me toward an attitude “adjustment”…thanks!I noticed that you’re even receiving comments from North Ireland! -“it’s a small world, after all.” 😉

      November 17th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    29. Maria says:

      I too have an old red sofa which I’d love to replace.But I also have young children so a new one would soon look old anyway.

      I tell myself, better an old sofa with beautiful new little people on it, than a pristine but empty seat.

      Thanks for the a lovely post.

      November 17th, 2009 at 6:25 am

    30. Tara says:

      When we moved here one year ago my husband insisted on taking our old hand me down hand me down furniture to the basement toy room and buying brand new (store I’ll let be nameless) furniture for the living room.

      He curses that decision on a regular basis. The customer service was terrible, the shopping experience was nearly a nightmare, the pillows took forever and a day to get here and I feel like I can’t let the kids *live* in our living room.

      While I’m thankful to have nice new furniture that does hold up our seats well, I’d almost trade you for your well loved pinkish couch just so I can relax.

      November 17th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    31. edj says:

      Just start moving round the world! It’s cheaper to buy new wherever you are (w/in reason of course) than to ship! I currently own a 6 month old sofa that I LOVE! It’s also the only new sofa I’ve ever bought… but I hope it lasts years and that I get to enjoy it so long I get sick of it!

      November 17th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    32. Roxanne says:

      Straight to the heart, girl. Straight.

      November 17th, 2009 at 9:54 am

    33. Amy says:

      Beautifully said. Thanks for yet another challenging post.

      November 17th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    34. Steffj89 says:

      ahhh i am from a different camp…be thankful for your old and threadwarn comfy couch. I had coveted and longed for so long this time last year I put a couch in layaway. it is a red sectional. In less than a year it has holes where the buttons were sewn on funny and now I cant dig the buttons out of the back of the sofa without causeing more issues. it is so uncomfortable to sit on long term we used it in the main lving room for about 5 months and moved it to the playroom….
      thankfully my mom has disposable income to spare and is the type who has to redo everything in her house about every 3 years and she was in the mood for new furniture and passed the most recent set down to us.

      November 17th, 2009 at 11:39 am

    35. gretchen from lifenut says:

      Fantastic post.

      I loathe our sofa. It looks like the sofa of people with seven children, which I should see as a blessing. I frequently moan to my husband that we will never have nice things again, but we do.

      Oh boy, we do.

      November 17th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    36. Jenny-Jenny says:

      We have a sofa we bought 2nd hand about 18 years ago. It’s plaidish and ratty but it is the most comfortable thing EVER. It is kind of embarrassing sometimes especially when someone looked at a picture of my 19 year old as a toddler and said, “Whoa, is that the same couch?”

      Where your treasure is!!

      November 17th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    37. Jenn A. says:

      I bet our pink and green sofas would look lovely next to each other. 😉

      I have simply embraced the ugliness of my sofa for now. Maybe if/when we have babies, the sofas will be perfect for that situation as I will not care if they become ruined by a spill or whathaveyou.

      Anything is better than making payments on furniture, though. (Or spending money that would be wiser to save) I will keep my ugly, old, huge, and comfortable sofas. 🙂

      November 17th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    38. Dee from Tennessee says:

      Superb & stirring post….touches the ?strings and makes one pause. And offers prayers of thanksgiving.

      (I love my second-hand red couch/sofa….love it 10 millions times more than the new one when had purchased umpteen years ago ….14ish yrs I think. But anyhoo, I didn’t want it to end up pink due to the sunlight, so I keep two inexpensive {insert CHEAP puffy & poly} quilts over it….I’m the only one who knows that there is a really pretty red couch/sofa sitting in my!)

      November 17th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    39. Nelson's Mama says:

      Last winter we replaced the couch & loveseat in our family room.

      Although they were only ten years old, they had served as this insomniac’s bed, a place for the infirm to recuperate, had been peed on, puked on and had provided a place for two dogs and three cats to snuggle. Many movies were enjoyed on those stinky, worn pieces of furniture.

      I cried when our church Parish Nursing drove away with them…how crazy is that?

      November 18th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    40. Lysa TerKeurst says:

      Well said sweet friend… well said.

      November 18th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    41. Great-Granny Grandma says:

      A change in perspective sure does have a way of changing our outlook, doesn’t it?

      November 19th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    42. MM says:

      We have been sitting on a Cargo sofa and loveseat that I’ve had since 1990. YES…it’s almost 20 years old and still kicking! The cushions are still comfy and solid, the frame will last till Armageddon, although the fabric is a bit outdated. I’ve had a decorator (spinner) friend that has had many clients reupholster good old furniture before buying new, even though the cost is the same. Good bones on new furniture is hard to find nowadays. I say spend the money on getting it reupholstered.

      November 19th, 2009 at 10:59 am

    43. Amy says:

      Oh, I get you on this one. We are still sitting on a denim sofa from my single years that is about twelve years old. Problem is that the kids love it because it has a fold out sofa bed underneath. They call it the “bedsprings”, and I wrote about it briefly here.

      Another great post AM!


      November 23rd, 2009 at 6:11 pm

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