the one time of year when I nest + adventures in couch buying

January 13, 2014 |  Category:   home life


This is the one time of year when I get a bit obsessive about the apartment. And when I say obsessive, I’m talking about major procrastination on everything else in my life, including work, just so that I can rearrange some knick-knacks on a shelf, stand back, mull it over, and rearrange the stuff on the shelves some more. I re-pot and move plants, put them back, organize drawers, shuffle books, pillows and maybe even the art on the walls. I’ll spend hours looking at old interior magazines and furniture websites and start bookmarking things – I’m talking Pinterest, people! And I’m not even a Pinterest user AT ALL.


I don’t give the apartment too much thought the rest of the year, but when January rolls around this weird nesting compulsion comes along like Pow! So I run with it because it just might mean that I’ll actually be motivated to get things done around here. I’m not a home decor addict or a resourceful DIY wizard who can Ikea hack a HEMMA cord set into a chandelier, so it’s always a bit surprising when I get this consumed by home projects. I think it’s the combination of taking down the Christmas tree right after New Year’s and all the furniture sales that happen in January that triggers it. After a month or so of fussing around, the interest fades.
I like to live in a nicely decorated home and I try to do the best with what we have, but our apartment is never going to be magazine feature-worthy or anything (oh wait…remember in 2009 when Mia was on the cover of a Japanese lifestyle magazine photographed in our kitchen, the one area of the apartment I like the least, of all places?) I always say, give me a decent budget and I’ll show you what I can do, but I’m definitely not under any illusion that I’m an interior designer; one design discipline doesn’t necessarily translate to another.
But I do have a strategy when it comes to decorating the house. I usually update one big thing at a time every year to keep it affordable and less overwhelming (although this year we’ve tackled 2 projects with the girls’ room, it’s true). Some rooms are taking longer than others (never mind the fact that we’ve been living here for nearly 9 years, yikes). Our bedroom, for example, is perfectly fine, but it was never really styled or designed to begin with and is the least of our priorities. The office is another room that has never been properly thought out. It’s functional, but it’s a mashup up random furniture discarded from other rooms over the years. I’m about the most indecisive person when it comes to things house-related, so the slow process of updating things room by room, piece by piece is a necessary way to prevent indecision insanity. We were without a kitchen faucet for 2 months last year because I couldn’t decide which one to get. We washed dishes from a little trickle that came out of a hose in the sink for those 2 months until I finally bit the bullet and made a decision. Likewise, it took me nearly 2 years of searching until I found a dining room table I liked. I would be an absolute mess if I had to undergo a home renovation. The decisions!

Which brings us to the couch.
A scenario that goes down in our house everyday involves the girls racing to the couch with one girl plopping herself in the coveted end seat while the other begrudgingly accepts that she has to sit in the middle. Everyone acknowledges that I have a permanent spot on the end of the sofa by the window, so much so that even when I’m not there, the girls will respect my spot as if there’s an imaginary barrier that’s off limits (even if I’m not on the couch, my computer is often parked on my spot). Fact is, now that the girls are bigger, we need a bigger couch. I’m betting on the speculation that if we had a bigger sofa, our quality of life would improve immensely, if only because we would avoid the skirmishes around who will sit where everyday.
I never thought we would consider a sectional in our apartment because initially I didn’t think we were sectional-types, but the more I thought about our seating needs, the more it made sense. But just like when we had the rather unexpected addition of the piano a few years ago, I’ve been walking around with my tape measure trying to figure out how a sectional might fit. Ironically, it’s the piano that is making this challenging. Without it, space wouldn’t be such an issue and we could get the largest sectional that would allow everyone to spread out, but the piano is making the fit challenging in the space that we have.

A sofa is a big commitment. Currently, I have about 35 swatches from various stores spread out on my coffee table. Like paint chips, it’s hard to visualize the color impact a couch might make from a little 3×3 inch swatch. I’ve dragged the girls to half a dozen stores, sometimes revisiting them twice in the last 2 weeks. I have as many photos of them slumped on various sofas, their body language bored and uninterested. Just pick a sofa, they say impatiently. And sometimes when I step back and look at myself, I do have to laugh at the way I’ve fussed over a particular arrangement on a bookshelf or agonized over a purchase, especially because there may only be a handful of people who might ever come over. We don’t entertain much, mostly because our work schedules make it difficult to do so. Home decor isn’t blog fodder either, so why all the fuss? Who is it for? But it’s true that saying, home is where the soul is. We make our homes cozy and nice, not for other people but ourselves. That’s what counts anyway.

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  • Janine January 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Oh how this all sounds so familiar! Today my daughter is sick so I am off work. To assuage my guilt at staying in bed with her til midday I decided to sort out the shelves in our living room. We moved in 5 months ago and my husband dumped everything on them – we haven’t touched them since. Well they look a bit better but they don’t look nice like on Apartment Therapy 🙁 My home decorating thing is to look at magazines and Apartment Therapy even more than usual, procrastinating and then end up rushing and making the wrong choice. Although I like the shape of my sofa I hate the fabric – why didn’t i spend more time looking at swatches!!! oh wait, I did! It’s beyond me how anyone can enjoy the whole process. However, I think your apartment looks fantastic (and tidy!) Good luck with the decision making.

  • Janine January 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Oh and you should have seen me with carpet samples for our stairs in the summer. 200 shades of beige. My final choice is ok but very ‘meh”. And to think I could have chosen any carpet under the sun!

    • Jenna January 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      who knew there could be 200 shades of beige?? Picking out upholstered furniture is such a daunting task.

  • Alenka January 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Nice that I see that I am not the only person in the word who have problems with buying new things.
    After 3 years we finally buy a new couch. Now I have big problems with new coffee table.
    Happy bloging and best regards,

    • Jenna January 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      oh yeah…I didn’t even get into our coffee table dilemma as we’ll most likely have to get a new one. Our current one is very long so won’t fit if we get a sectional. I’ve been casually looking, but I can’t even wrap my mind on that one right now…couch first.

  • Paule January 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I think that when you work from home it also adds up.. you spend so much time there. You have to love your environment! It has to feel good if you want to be happy and motivated in it. 🙂

    • Jenna January 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      That is true. I spend A LOT of time at home!

  • jen January 13, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    this post sounded a little bit too familiar. we finally bought a sectional for our family room! we had a very old futon that only seated two people so as a family, we could never sit on the couch together. someone was always on the floor or on the bean bag. we ended up getting an ikea sectional. in dark gray and we absolutely love it! not only can we all sit together we can even all lie down on it since it’s a nice deep sofa. it only took us a year and half to find it and it was only because i saw it in the showroom one day. i would have never bought it looking at it from the catalog. so yeah, it takes me forever to find a piece of furniture and then forever to actually buy it!

    • Jenna January 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      I’m glad you found a sectional you love, Jen!

  • j January 13, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Same here with the indecisiveness and taking time with furniture purchases. My living room is fairly small. It’s also our family room. It’s where we watch tv, play the piano, and lounge. We had a sectional for about 8 years and I could never really do much with my living room because of the piano and the sectional. In order for us to make things work, we had to get rid of one and the piano was not about to go. Although the sofa was in good condition, I made the decision to purchase a regular size sofa (87 inches wide, I think). It took many visits to various furniture stores and 2 returns. Yes, I’m that person! But we found a piece we liked. It’s comfortable. The color (light grey) works with any paint we choose for the walls and it’s stain resistant! What I then did was purchase 2 additional seats (with a coffee table in between them). Now, whenever I feel the need to change things up and rearrange, I can. And the room doesn’t feel so stuffy and crowded like it did before. Hope this helps:) Can’t wait to see what you got!

    • Jenna January 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      Its’ funny that we’re going the opposite direction as you. Our couch now is 87 and we do have a few chairs. Everyone just wants to sit on the couch though!

  • Pink Ronnie January 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Love the fact that the girls respect your spot even when you’re not there! Maybe something I need to teach my boys… 🙂
    In Australia, I think we’re a bit less spoilt for choice which actually makes choosing couches a lot easier. Make sure you keep us posted with your final couch decision!
    Ronnie xo

  • Lakshmi January 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I need to buy a new couch as well. Our current one (and the matching love seat) is a little saggy. I want the new one to be more supportive (literally), sturdy and good for the back. Looking for suggestions.

  • Jen January 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    This is funny. Going through this too. And with various shades of gray in mind. We’ve been looking for a couch for the last few weeks since we currently have no couch thanks to a moving snafu. Our space will only allow for a sectional or a small two-seater. The problem is that the things we want – hello Ecobalanza – are out of our budget range. But we want our home to be comfortable and reflect our personality (on a budget). Good luck on your search.

  • Kathi January 15, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    have been in your place so many times! it is all so hard to choose and so pricey that it is even harder because who wants something less than wonderful when it costs that much! our current couch is white and I love it but have no children living at home and we actually rarely sit on it. good luck

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag January 16, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I’m obsessed with my house. It’s my second kid! My home decor board on Pinterest is my biggest board by far….and I’m a book blogger. I think it is perfectly normal and wise and a good use of your time to spend so much thought and attention to something as important as a sofa, and I’m not even joking. 🙂 It took me 2 years to buy a tiny little table for my kitchen! Oh the agonizing. I feel so so fortunate that my stepdad gifted us with his hand me down pair of sofas (which are far nicer than we would ever ever be able to get on our own), otherwise I too would have been tearing out my hair trying to decide on sofa fabrics……can’t wait to see what you get, i hope you share when something you choose comes to live in your home! xo

  • j January 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    either way, I’m sure whatever you get will look wonderful in your space:)

  • Sara Jensen January 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I think that I should really have the final say on the couch, since I plan on sitting on it next to you this summer when I come and visit.

    • Jenna January 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

      just pick a couch for me, ok?

  • Lisa April 29, 2014 at 8:33 am

    So have you picked your dream sofa?! I’m so curious to see what you got!

    • Jenna April 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      We did buy a sofa! it’s the Younger Miller Sectional.