When I moved into my apartment, I purchased roughly one billion things that I absolutely needed and did not purchase the one thing I really needed at the time, which was a new sofa. The sofa that came with my apartment was comfortable at first, if only because it was different than the couch I used to have—an old IKEA number, model unknown, that was so wretched that anything else was a vast improvement. But after one full winter spent with my body enmeshed in the couch, it was clear that I needed another. But the decision to purchase a big-ticket furniture item of this nature is not one to be taken lightly.
A couch is a personal statement, much more so than any other piece of furniture in your home, and because of that, I found it nearly impossible to make a decision. Mid-century modernism’s chokehold on the affordable furniture market means that it is that much harder to find a couch that does not make my living room like like a dentist’s office. If I had unlimited resources, the couch of my dreams would be this enormous marshmallow from Leanne Ford’s Crate and Barrel collection, which is too big for my living room and also a magnet for cat hair. Yes, I understand this isn’t that expensive, as sofas can cost an arm and a leg, but I like my things to be free ninety-nine at most. This sofa communicates the kind of vibe I want my house to inhabit—comfortable, cozy, and rich, like the guest house in a lesser-known Nancy Meyers movie.
I’ve never liked the idea of spending big money on furniture, not because it seems like a waste, but because I don’t like spending big money. But a couch is a worthy investment because I sit on it all the time, and also, it is the one piece of furniture that I will have bought new, which means that it is the item that is the most representative of my taste. Therefore it had to be perfect, or as close to perfection as I could achieve for under $1,000. The answer was the Park sofa from Albany Park, a company I found on Instagram. It’s big, it’s green, and it’s a little more Mad Men than I prefer, but it’s also the perfect couch for me. The cat loves it. I love it. It screams “I have taste, I think?” which is all I want my house to convey. Truthfully, I don’t have taste. I just like what I like, and that, for the moment, is my new couch. -Megan Reynolds
In 2018, tired of New York City, the fact that I’d recently spent the worst years of my life riding the subway to chemo alone, and all the irrevocably broken relationships driving a lot of that misery, I ghosted my entire life by throwing a few things in a Toyota Camry in the middle of the night and moving to L.A., where until recently I lived quite amicably with my best friend. Those first few weeks in our Hollywood apartment, situated in a Ralph’s parking lot, we had two army cots and two camping chairs for furnishings. Starting over with nothing, I had no idea what my tastes were and the possibilities were so staggering I made my choices mostly at random. Eventually, I purchased myself all the trappings of an emotionally stunted woman’s bedroom: millennial pink dresser with mismatched Anthropologie knobs, a strange, old-ladyish bed I impulse bought from Macy’s. But the couch, a perfectly serviceable leather number from Ikea, belonged to my friend.
And so, when I finally moved, alone, to a grown lady bungalow in West Hollywood with my childish pink dresser and my octogenarian’s Macy’s bed, I had to find a sofa that split the difference between the two. My taste could best be described as curated weirdness: my wall decorations are antlers pilfered from my father’s garage, a rabbit pelt a drunk fur trapper once gave me in an Anaconda, Montana bar, and a framed portrait of Sonny and Cher. I needed my sofa to tie these elements together, fit in a small bungalow, and repel the cocker spaniel fur that hazes my entire life like snow. But most sofas suck? Why are they all the color of congealed oatmeal and shaped like clumps of sadness? My dream is a lurid, chartreuse velvet chesterfield, but luckily for anyone who has to look at my home, the dog fur and the fact that those don’t seem to exist saved you all.
What does exist is the Urban Outfitters “recycled leather” collection. I have no idea from whence they’ve cycled this leather, perhaps a drunken trapper gave it to them at a bar in Montana. My first love was Graham in cranberry, a color that is weirder than oatmeal but perhaps more charming than booger. Alas, Graham somehow lost his way to me due to shipping delays and after a month of pining for Graham, I accepted the hand of his brother Sydney, not as charming, sure, but willing to make his way to me within the week. It was a choice, as seems to fit my pattern, that I made in haste but ultimately has been non-catastrophic. Sydney and I are perfectly content in our union, even if I don’t quite love the looseness of his cushion skin, as I can nap comfortably, cleanly wipe away dog hair, and form some sort of bridge between my bizarre collection of depressing photographs and my cheerful floral curtains. Adulthood is about settling, and I’ve settled in with Sydney just fine. -Emily Alford