My parents owned one good set of furniture that lasted 40 years. After the first 20 years, my father had the couches recovered with leather so they would last longer. I didn’t have that same attachment to any sofa, and I’ve lost count of the good, bad, and ugly selections that have entered and departed my living room.
As with most newlyweds, my husband and I didn’t have extra money. We found an inexpensive fuzzy, green striped couch with a matching love seat at a big warehouse and brought them home in a borrowed pickup truck. We moved those bulky pieces several times over15 years, and the fabric endured multiple assaults from busy, messy children. (That sleepy baby in the photo now is married and has kids and couches of her own.)
When my two children were 10 and 12, I decorated the room with colorful furniture. I loved my custom-ordered, teal-green leather couch, and sadly learned years later that no one liked it. We eventually gave it away to a young couple who covered it with a blanket. Now, I cringe when I see those boring white walls that practically beg for paint or wallpaper and a creative spattering of art.
After my first child left for college, I went into my pristine, virginal white stage. Misguided by a young and eager interior decorator, I installed white wool carpet and christened the living room with elegant white furniture. No one would step into the room because it was too immaculate, and I finally sold the couch and table on consignment and gave away the chair. I lost the fabulous tapestry in a divorce.
My current couch is ten years old, and I moved it four times before finding my forever home. I’ve mixed sturdy leather furniture and wooden lamps and iron mirrors with colorful patterns in my favorite colors of red and gold beneath a tapestry of Portofino, Italy. There is a sanctuary corner on the left with a hand-carved statue of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel. I bought it in Bolzano, Italy when I was there during the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and couldn’t fly home. This room is safe for playing grandkids and elegant enough for adult soirees.
As I look at the couches of my life, I’m reminded of the significant events that occurred while I was busy setting up a home, working full-time, and raising children. Those scruffy early pieces were good enough for my babies. The teal monstrosity made me happy. The white mistakes were my reaction to divorced life and an attempt to make everything perfect again. And, my current leather couch symbolizes the comfort and stability of my present home. I’m grateful that I have a house with furniture, and I support charities that offer assistance to homeless families.
After moving 16 times during my adult life, I’m finally home. I encourage my friends and family to come inside, get cozy on the sofa, share a glass of wine, and give a toast to life. The furniture is replaceable, but the memories and good times last forever.