A Woman Obsessed: Couches & William Morris

I like used furniture. Most of the time, I won’t even consider buying something new. I walk into a furniture store and find myself knocking on bed frames and dressers wondering what  they are made of, and deciding it definitely cannot be wood. I prefer to troll Craigslist for people who have money to waste, and like redecorating their homes. (It’s important to zero in on certain zip codes to make this work.) But after years of sitting on couches with mysterious origins, and covering them with slipcovers and blankets, I have become obsessed with the idea of finding and buying a couch I actually like.

This is harder than it sounds. 

For a while I thought I wanted a couch with a chaise, but then someone gave me an ottoman. I set it up with my existing couch to mimic a chaise. As it turns out, that’s not an ideal configuration for my living room. Now I have my heart set on a corner sectional. I found one on Craigslist just a few miles from my house that perfectly fit the bill, but we could not get it out of the house.

For quite some time I had my heart set on microfiber in a neutral color. It’s easy to clean. But then I started thinking about slipcovers. Then there’s the style question to contend with. Traditional? Contemporary? Big, hideous, overstuffed arms? How formal is too formal? These are the great questions of our sofa searching age.

Luckily there is one factor to rule them all: Price. When you toss all those considerations into a blender you end up with something that looks like this:


Ahhhhhhh IKEA… what would we do without it? But a big purchase like this makes me nervous, so I started consulting the internet. There are tons of bloggers out there writing rave reviews of IKEA couches–especially the white ones (apparently bleachability is important to a lot of people). I came across one post, though, that introduced me to the William Morris Challenge.

I’ve done a lot of purging over the years. In my apartment dwelling days I was constantly getting rid of things. I moved to a series of smaller and smaller apartments, and I was always rustling through my closets and cabinets, getting rid of anything that seemed unnecessary. I’m pretty confident that there are only two spaces in my house where you might find things that are not useful–my office and the closet in the guest room. These are the last stops for things that need to be donated or sold. (And, in fact, most of them are only still here because I’m trying to decide whether or not to have a tag sale for them.)

But  it’s only been within the last few years that “beautiful” was an option for me. Sometimes I feel silly worrying about what my house looks like. Curtain concerns, and my desire for a kitchen island seem pretty trivial in comparison to…well…everything. I’ve got a roof over my head, and walls to keep me warm (which seems especially important as the weathermen are forecasting a blizzard). But people all over the world take pride in their homes–trying to make the best out of whatever space they have. And from the beginning of time, people have turned to art–to beautiful things–to make their world a better, brighter place.

I like to travel as much as the next person, but I also love the feeling of walking through my door when I get home. I love curling up in my bed on a cold day, and sitting on my couch with a cuppa tea and watching the snow fall outside. In the summer, I love pulling into my driveway and seeing the over abundance of flowers and vegetables. Your home should be a place where you can relax in relative comfort, and be surrounded by the people and things you love–and considering my home is also my office, this seems especially important. I spend more time here than anywhere else in the world and it seems only logical that it should be a place that helps keep my happy and healthy.

I’ve decided to participate in this William Morris Challenge in my own edited way. I’m still finishing up my book — which is why I haven’t been blogging much — and so I can’t devote much time to redecorating, but I do have a few projects in mind that I’d like to get done this year. Quite a few of these projects will have to wait until the Spring, when I can drag furniture outside to paint. So I’m listing my few remaining projects here, and will update you all accordingly.

  • Finally make a couch decision
  • Paint the $30 Goodwill kitchen island
  • Touch-up the paint on my blue dresser
  • Paint the bookshelf/TV stand
  • Fix the wall in the back room
  • Find an organization solution for the back room
  • Declutter the office
  • Get rid of stuff in the guest closet–then put in shelves


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