February 17, 2010

Mini couch make over

Most of you probably know these sites - Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge and there are quite a few more like that on the net. No need to list them, you probably know them better than I do. I visit these sites too. I even have a couple of them in my reader. To make sure I get the updates - what? 4 times, or is it 6 or 7 times a day. And sure enough, I like what I see - not always, but quite often. However, visiting these sites often leaves me frustrated as well.

Why don't I have a place like that? Who lives in these places? Or better: Does anyone actually live in these places? They probably don't have kids running around who like to move around stuff and just drop it whenever and wherever they grow tired of it. Why can't I ever see a crumb on the floor or dust building up on top of that nice vintage drawer? Or piles of laundry and dirty socks on the floor? Why don't I see pink tooth paste spills in the bathroom sink, the towels on the floor? Oh, and also: no unmade beds, unless it suits the picture. Because that does the trick, a little bit of clever nonchalance, helps to sell the stuff.
No stacks of paper or clutter waiting to get filed in those homes, because, hey, they are right on top of everything. These people obviously know how to organize their homes and their lives.

Everything looks neat and clean on those sites and well... you know what I mean.

No matter how hard I try, my place doesn't look like that at all. Our apartment is small to start with. Too small, but this is Paris. We lack square footage and storage. Not all of our belongings are assorted because we moved a couple of times too many, and because we each had our lives before we met and we like to hold on to things - the wrong things. It looks unfinished too, because who knows when we might be moving again. So, yes we still have bare light bulbs after two-and-a-half years here, and no we don't have curtains yet (which I actually don't consider a necessity when you live on the 9th floor and don't have direct vis-à-vis from neighbors). The walls look like they could use a little paint, once white but now with dirty hands all over them and the remains of penciled but erased graffiti in the hall way.

So, most likely the above picture won't make it onto Design*Sponge nor Apartment Therapy or any other of these sites, but this doesn't make me less happy with our leather couch's mini make over.

We have a history of bad choices when it comes to buying couches. Luckily, we moved a couple of times, crossing the Atlantic, and the high overseas shipping rates were a reasonably good excuse for leaving behind whatever we didn't like, including sofa's. When we landed at our new home, here in Paris, we tried to buy the ultimate, perfect couch. And yet again, we managed to get one which this time was too small to sit four, too high to sit comfortably leg-wise and too low in the back. We didn't like our IKEA leather couch a single bit, except for the design maybe. According to K. it was the perfect waiting room sofa. So after a while we ended up buying yet another one, at a big department store sale and the IKEA one has been moved around quite a bit ever since (not that we have that much room to move around things like a couch, but let's say it saw every corner of the place).
Last week, I was doing some major clean-up (my stuff!) in what we call "our studio" - this sounds so Design*Sponge - Apartment Therapy-ish, it makes me smile every time I use the word. "The studio", as part of the double séjour used to be the dining room but at one of our last extreme make-overs, we decided to concentrate all of our hobby related stuff in that area of the apartment and so far we love it that way. One of the things that also ended up there was the leather sofa we didn't like. It was hardly ever used to sit in, just to hold things (boxes, books, unfolded laundry, ...), or as a trampoline (little H.) whenever the aforementioned stuff wasn't taking up the seats. A shame really. And that's why, last week, I decided to give the thing one last chance. I moved it to the other side of the room again - the living-room/dining-room area (we're just talking about a couple of square meters, just so you know), to make a real sitting area. It cost me about an entire afternoon of shifting, pushing and moving around things - and a sore back - but the result looked nice. Except for the difference in height between both couches, that is. And that's exactly what was wrong with it all the time: a conceptual imbalance - it never looked right, it never sat right because of the height of its legs.

Well, you might have guessed it already, I took care of that as well. For my mini couch make over, I simply replaced the long metal legs with shorter wooden ones. Not only does it look better now, esthetically, it sits so much better now too - the angle at knee level finally feels right. You can actually sit in it now. It's the perfect spot to sit down with the laptop and a cup of coffee, drooling over the latest posts at ... Design*Sponge and...
Oh, yes, you bet!
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