My Tail of Cat & Mouse: A Search for the Perfect Sofa

Image from Lonny Magazine

A few weeks ago I was listening to This American Life podcast #309 entitled: Cat and Mouse that described one man’s desperate search for the perfect sofa.  He searched high and low, near and far for about 20 years.  Yes, 20 years! All the meanwhile sitting on a painfully uncomfortable hand-me-down.  His sofa search was even the cause for many relationships split.

At one point Eric asks: “Do I hold out for one that really knocks me out or do I just settle for something that is– that I can live with, but really doesn’t knock me out?”  I’ve definitely heard myself say something along those lines more than once, also in account of my sofa, well actually, my entire apartment.  Further more, one part of this podcast that I which really felt a connection was where the reasoning behind his search for perfection is explained.

David Segal explains,

“One thing that’s interesting about the tale of Eric’s nonstop sofa safari– which I’ve heard him tell more than a few times– is that it ticks off nearly as many people as it amuses. Some are actually angry when he’s done with the story. And I think I know why. Two radically different world views are clashing here, one in which life is all about seeking perfection, and the other in which you make normal compromises and settle for good instead of great. The settlers consider the perfection people to be babies and whiners. The perfection people see the settlers as strangely hostile milquetoasts who’ve given up, who aren’t striving for greatness, who’ve been cowed into lowering their standards.

Personally, I know that part of me wants to tell Eric, don’t yield. Do not surrender. Hold fast. Wait for that trans-formative moment, even if it means you’re alone and drooling on a frat house futon for the rest of your life. And another part of me wants to tell him exactly what a former girlfriend once told him, and I quote, “Just buy a fucking couch.”

The Chocolate Box @ Its Best

You may be asking, what does this really have to do with me?  Well on a much smaller scale I’ve been searching for the perfect couch.  I currently have a Housing Works find (it was new- a floor sample, still wrapped in plastic) that even though it’s a sofa bed, has great lines, and is of good quality is . . .  dark BROWN.  It’s likes a giant chocolate bar in the center of my living room.

The Contenders - Pleaes note: The blue color would be different, I'm going for a neutral look.

Some days I’ve decided that my dream couch would a be a tufted, chesterfield style number that would also be a convertible.  For a while, I thought such a sofa did not exist.  Until I discovered the Carlyle company (queue the music).  Carlyle sofas are amazingly well made, custom and all available as sofa beds!  Of course they come with a price tag of $5k plus! (Music halts to a stop)

The large price tag forced me to reconsider my dream couch.  I begin to think about the proportions of chesterfields and how although larger than the last place, my Co-op is still an NYC one-bedroom apartment. And chesterfields are big and often bulky.  In order to look proportionally correct, they need to be long, too long for my place.

The Finalist

With that in mind, I’m leaning towards purchasing a the more delicate take on a chesterfield sofa.  The silhouette would be a tuxedo style, but the interior cushions would all be tufted.  This kind of sofa is definitely more formal, and not readily available as a sofa bed.  I think I could have a custom one constructed by Carlyle, but again the price tag would be awfully high.

My last option and very least favorite could be to re-upholster my current sofa.  The big downfall to doing that however is that I would be spending nearly $3k on a couch that is not the best quality, which is never recommended.  Are you beginning to understand my dilemma? I know, some of you may be thinking about the podcast thinking that my quest for perfection is actually whining.  But I’m simply not going to settle for something less than perfect, especially mediocre.

What do I do now, I’ll just wait and do more research.  I think I’ve found my match or mouse for that matter.  I’ll only know for sure when can afford to drop the load of money that I’ll be spending on the sucker.

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