Our new sofas have arrived!!! (A social history in soft furnishings.)

Interior design-wise, one key requirement of the Nottingham property has consistently eluded us: namely, the casual seating solutions for the sitting room. Over the past fifteen years, we have chomped our way through rather too many sofas for our own good, each successive purchase never quite managing to resolve the problems posed by its predecessor.

Shall I list them all, then? Shall I? Oh go on, shall I?

1. The Sofa That Smelt Like Fish.

Originally bought in 1987 for the house in Sherwood, its pale grey cover with the tiny gold and black Pollock Lite splodges fairly screamed Faux Yuppie Lawson Boom Tastelessness, whilst the slippery sheen of the material meant that the cushions were forever sliding from underneath us. Set amidst the marginally yet significantly ahead-of-its-time minimalism of the new property – all clean lines, clear surfaces and gleaming beech parquet – a re-covering was urgently required.

2. The Sofa That Smelt Like Fish (Re-covered, But Still Smelling Like Fish).

In the newly untucked, post-baggy early 1990s, loose covers were all the rage, possibly as a reaction to the uptight fitted-ness of the unmourned 1980s. The key looks of the day, at least to World of Interiors honeymoon period subscribers such as ourselves, were New England Beach Hut (shitty old bits of reclaimed wood from architectural salvage joints, all peeling paint and artfully placed scuff marks; wooden yachts in the downstairs loo) and English Country House In Gentle Decline, which basically meant covering everything in stripey mattress ticking.

Stripey mattress ticking it was, then; to be precise, a nice dusty blue stripe on an off-white, sorry sorry, écru background. (I take it that we all remember the sartorial tyranny of the écru linen layers?)

Unfortunately, when pressed by the loose cover makers as to whether, for a small extra cost, we wanted additional piping in a complementary shade of navy blue, we wobbled and said yes. Big Mistake, as the popular movie of the day had it – for the piping threw out the whole look. K sulked for days, as I vainly tried to see the positive side. Only one thing for it…

3. The Squidgy Plaid Two-Piece From Sofa Workshop.

By 1994, plaid was taking over – not least on my side of the walk-in closet, as the Ben Sherman Years began to kick off in earnest. For our first excursion into the realm of the matching two-piece, we chose a lovely red and blue check, with subtle accents of orange and yellow, in a durable matt fibre. Comfort was our watchword this time round, so we went for the squidgiest, most capacious numbers in the shop, perfect for sinking into during those heartily communal post-clubbing All Back To Ours sessions.

There was one significant drawback. The extreme squidginess meant that, even after five minutes of dainty perching, the entire f**king sofa needed re-plumping. And with those giant cushions to manhandle, re-plumping was no easy task. God, did we ever develop Plumping Fatigue. As well as a severe case of Plaid Burn Out, which struck as the decade drew to a close. Only one thing for it…

4. The Ruinously Expensive Italian Modular System.

Thanks to K’s little stroke of good business fortune in 2000, we found ourselves surfing a fresh wave of flushness, following a period of comparative frugality. This time round, we decided that the best way to solve the seating problem was to chuck heaps – heaps, I tell you! – of money at it.

Off we trolled to the swanky showroom in North London, whose Senior Sales Executive had us eating out of her hand in minutes. (Those glassy, awe-struck, all-this-can-be-ours smiles were a dead giveaway. Or maybe she just saw us coming.)

The Italian Modular System came in, what else, Seventies Retro Shit Brown, and incorporated elements of Chaise Longue and Sofa Classique. It came with an oversized footstool that doubled up as an extension to the Sofa Classique section, thus effectively converting the whole piece into a double day bed.

It dominated the room, ruining the flow and forcing us to watch telly in a position of advanced slumpedness, with nowhere to put our wine glasses (there being no remaining space for a coffee table). The stuffing soon sagged, the matted fabric developed smooth shiny areas where our arses had been, and the Shit Brown started fading to Guano Grey. An expensive aberration, whose prime purpose was to mock us for our pretensions to Bleeding Hedge 21st Century Urban Living. Only one thing for it…

5. The Rock Hard Leather Numbers.

Durable, firm, and with an understated elegance, the Leather Numbers (again in Seventies Retro Timeless Classic Shit Brown) promised to be our Sofas For Life. They looked smart, if a little on the dark side for a north-facing room with no direct sunlight, and their firmness meant that, at long last, we could sit up straight.

There’s a fine line between non-squidgy and rock hard. It’s not a line which can readily be detected in the furniture shop, where every sofa feels comfortable to the weary shopper – but within a couple of days of delivery, we both secretly knew that we’d boobed again.

With cosy sprawling off the agenda for four nights a week – hell, even holding hands presented problems, our bodies forced into prim Victorian side-by-sideness by the inflexible cow-hide – the comfy green Multiyork number in the cottage grew ever more tantalising by its absence. Only one thing for it…

6. The Perfect Multiyork Twinset.
(This morning – the end of time)

They’re roomy, but they don’t dominate; they’re sharp and contemporary, but they won’t look passé in five years time; they straddle the divide betwixt squidgy and supportive; and they’re ours for keeps.

No, really, they are.

No, I think you’ll find they are, actually.

Our quest is at an end. Let posterior joy be unbounded!

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