We need a sofa.
The current incarnation of our family room's central piece of furniture has become the equivalent of the ripped jeans you were sent home from school for wearing. When it was purchased, roughly fifteen years ago, the couch was a state-of-the-art, and expensive, furnishing. It was such a lovely rich plum colour. At and six-and-a-half feet long, it is also modular, meaning the side are four separate pieces which can be easily removed to transform the couch into a single bed. Did I mention there is also a matching (and modular!) chair?
Fifteen years - and two kids - later, it is faded plum, and was tearing at the seams until we discovered a product which allows you to iron-on matching fabric to patch any holes. The result is a faded sofa with peeling patches, and burn marks from an iron used on a high-heat setting and kept in place too long. We fear a deep steam cleaning, since that would surely only reveal the gross collection of milk, coffee, tea, beer, wine, olive oil (I'm a big salad guy), perspiration, and the remains from leaky diapers which have by now molecularly bonded to the foam and fibre (isn't there a breakfast cereal by that name?).
So the hunt is on. We've been to some designer stores; even if we were willing to spend that amount of money on a sofa (with chaise longue!), the consideration is also what it will be subjected to once it becomes the movie-watching domain of a six and four year-old. Granted, the kids are growing up; the spills will become fewer, and trampoline games less a fabric of their daily routine. But, the couch in my basement growing up didn't have much of an easier time of it as we became teenagers. We had more friends over more regularly, we were all heavier, and instead of warm milk in sippy cups, it was pizza delivery and soft drinks. In my current home, we have also evolved to include an "adult" living room, separate from the den, which is already home to a sofa purchased last year at a boutique in the furniture district - at a boutique price. The priorities for the new piece are definitely: functionality and cost first, with sleek and fashionable a distant second and third.
In my opinion, no store does functional and cost effective better than the famous Swiss box store. Although now that I am married with children, not only has the way I shop changed, but what I notice going on around me has also changed, especially where IKEA is concerned. As a reckless youth, the majority of my experiences at IKEA involved shopping alone for my own room or apartment. I would, typical of young single men, follow the arrows quickly through the different departments (sometimes even understanding how to negotiate one of their infamous shortcuts), to the appropriate showroom, usually bedroom or kitchen furniture, spend about fifteen minutes scanning the selection, jot down the item number on that tiny piece of paper with that infuriatingly tiny pencil, head to the cash, and await delivery. This would be followed a short time later with the six-hour stress test IKEA refers to as "self-assembly". But, ultimately, I would settle into my new POÄNG, happy as a pig in self-assembled s&%t.
Now that I'm married, I share everything. IKEA visits are now a much more involved outing. We no longer make bee-lines to the couch section because we're focused on looking for a couch. The 4.5 kilometer long meandering path the Swede's have constructed from the entrance to the living room furniture is now an opportunity to peruse the AKURUMs, HOPEN's, TROFASTs, and FLÄTAs. Of course, being a couple on a budget, we don't really plan on buying anything - except maybe an eventual KARLSTAD - but we discuss the possibility of eventually adding one of these items to our home decor.
My wife and I are on pretty equal footing where major purchases are concerned; there are no transactions without consensus. True representation by population. Of course, when one party feels very strongly about an item, some concession is in order. Similarly, when there are strong objections, we go home with nothing. Overall, though, I notice a trend among couples also shopping at this IKEA outlet. While moving through (as quickly as possible while conceding perusal time) the departments which separate me from my potential KARLSTAD, I hear several renditions of the classic line delivered by husbands worn down after being in a department store thirty minutes past their Best Before dates: "Sure, Honey."
In any relationship, whether personal or business, there are thousands of decisions to be made. In order to achieve peace over the long term, concessions and compromise are absolute necessities. This means at some point realizing that this thing in front of me at this moment, is not important enough to fight for...thus: "Sure, Honey."
Among men, there is a saying: "Happy wife, happy life." These may seem words spoken by someone who has no strength of their own, or no opinion or position worth fighting for, but it is, rather, a reaffirmation that to attain a life of balance and co-existence one must realize there are some things more important to her than to him. For many men this list includes the colour of a KIVIK. Of course, one must be careful not to show too much capitulation, lest we insult our partner with our apparent disinterest.
Fortunately, with "Sure, Honey" echoing around us, my wife and I came to a unanimous conclusion: none of the sofas in this particular outlet seemed as though it would withstand the punishment of milk-drinking, trampoline-practicing, peach-eating kids, nor those of tea-drinking, salad-chomping, potato chip-scarfing parents.
So after two hours of wandering through the store, stopping to peruse most of the departments, and availing ourselves of the child-sitting and excellent cafeteria services, we left with the only purchase we could agree upon: a bag of yummy KÖTTBULLAR. Swedish meatball? "Sure, Honey."