Tomorrow we sign the papers to buy the Babushka House. Three weeks from today, we move. Who’s freaking out? Not me.
In preparation for the big move, Scott and I have been making some tough choices about our belongings: pack, sell, donate, or pass on to friends. We’ve made a game of circling the apartment shouting, “You live! You die!” at our cowering furniture.
The big secret is: Unless you consider the backyard to be living space, our new house isn’t really that much bigger than our apartment.
Currently on Furniture Death Row: A matching set of massive, lumpy sleeper sofas*:
We bought these couches off Craigslist back when I was pregnant with our second child and living in a one-bedroom apartment; it made sense to be able to quickly turn our living room into a flophouse (at our peak, we had six people living there).
The couches are what you could politely call, “big-boned.” Come on, they can’t help it. Below their firm, ample seat cushions, each one of them is hiding an entire MATTRESS — queen and twin-sized, respectively.
We loved them not only for their sleeping capacity, but for their neutral, forgiving, booger-colored fabric. In fact, it’s hard to tell what percentage of the sofa is actual fabric and what is just dried baby snot and peanut butter.
The good news is that exactly one year ago, I found an amazing Mid-Century, bare bones couch in the alley behind our building. My totally rational fear of bed begs forced me to leave the (admittedly lovely and intact) couch cushions in the alley. With super-human strength fueled by the adrenaline that comes with a once-in-a-lifetime alley find, I carried the frame a half block back to our yard. In review: Those leaves on the ground? From 2013.
I couldn’t quite put an age on this couch — was it truly Mid-Century, or just a recent knockoff? The only clue was this:
Fans of the Western Balkans may remember that Yugoslavia is no longer a country. So we know it was manufactured between 1945 and 1992. (If it was branded “Kingdom of Yugoslavia,” we could say it was made between 1918 and 1944.**).
My next dark secret: This thing has been tilted on its side in a dark corner of our living room for an ENTIRE YEAR. Close friends may recognize this sign taped to it, which somehow actually kept any (mostly pre-literate) children from pulling it over:
So why a whole year of avoiding my dream couch? Even though the frame only needed a few minor repairs, the thought of making new couch cushions absolutely terrifies me. It plays on my biggest DIY weaknesses: Sewing, thinking in three dimensions and zippers.
Yesterday, I fixed the frame. Today I’m telling you about it. Pretty soon we’re gonna get rid of the big couches. Meaning: I’m now publicly, internetly on the hook to make new cushions, sometime before we move.
But first, let’s fix the frame:
I knew there must be something wrong with this frame, because it was in the trash. The initial diagnosis: Slightly wobbly backrest and two loose/bent legs.
First, get the patient bottom-side-up on the operating table (your dining table).
Off to the local hardware store to find the right screw and make jokes about Josip Tito, which – also not surprisingly – were met with blank stares from the Hardware Guy. “See, Yugoslavia, it says it right here on the leg!”
Next, I drilled out the inside of the leg even more to fit the new, thicker screw. Since this kind of screw (I already forget what it’s called), has no head, you have to painstakingly twist it in (pointy side down) using locking pliers.
Since both holes on the left side of the frame were stripped out, I had to drill two new holes – using two different drill bits because of the different screw sizes. I drilled them slightly closer to the outside edge of the frame, for better balance.
Although they look like your grandma’s mall-walking sneakers, it’s worth it to keep from scratching up my landlord’s hardwood floors right before I move out. That deposit money’s gonna buy a lot of primer and holy water.
* I’m using the terms “couch” and “sofa” interchangeably here, since a team of Home Seating Experts has found no substantial difference between the two, aside from cultural interpretations and possibly armrests.
** I have yet to find any couches made in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.