New couch!

9 minute read

May 29, 2016, 6:30 PM

Sometimes, you just have to go out with the old.  After fifteen years, I finally got rid of my old futon from college.  In other words, this:

The couch in my living room, photographed 2014

That’s where it spent the last nine years.  However, quite a few people probably remember it like this:

Same couch in Potomac Hall, photographed 2002

A lot of people have sat on this couch, and quite a few people have slept on it, too.  I’m pretty sure that Mom was my first overnight guest on the couch, and then Elyse was the last.  I used it as my bed full-time for about a month and a half starting when I moved to Maryland in May 2007 until I got my current bed in July.  And it did quite well, though it did begin to show its age after a while.  By 2008 or so, when it was in the “down” position, it was slightly higher on one side than the other.  It had become a little less solid by 2013 or so (a little bit of wobble to it), but still did the job well.  Additionally, the mattress started to have a bit of slouch to it on one side, sliding further down than it should have, and no amount of mattress-flipping would remedy that (the 2014 photo above shows this).  However, by 2016, it was noticeably down in the front, in that I-don’t-remember-it-being-this-low sort of way.  A quick look beneath settled that:

The couch, noticeably down in the middle

Things were not looking good.  It was noticeably lower in the middle, and one of the rails was starting to buckle.  I guess this goes to show that things don’t last forever.  I knew that it was low in the middle for some time, and would tend to sit at one end or another because it was at a more normal height.  However, the buckling was all I needed to know, i.e. that this piece of furniture was no longer safe.

That took care of that: time for a new couch.  And just as well, as it had been on my “replacement list”, i.e. the mental list that I kept of things that I wanted to upgrade, for some time.

I quickly found out one thing while digging around online: furniture is expensive.  And I didn’t just need a couch, either.  I needed a convertible sofa, i.e. something that would convert to a bed, since the new couch would also be the guest bed.  Not surprisingly, a trip to IKEA was in order.  I ended up going to the one in College Park with Melissa and her boyfriend Tim, and we tried out couches.

Much to my surprise, IKEA was a bit light on selection when it came to convertible sofas.  It came down to three different styles.

First, there was Himmene:


Then there was Holmsund:


And finally, there was Friheten:


Friheten also came in a chaise variant:


The way all of these converted was pretty simple: pull a handle up and towards you, which brings the seat part forward.  Then the back folds down to complete the bed.  The old futon was pretty simple to put up and down (and I got really good at it back in 2007 while I was using it as a bed full-time), but it required some strength to accomplish.  This new one is even easier.

All told, I quickly gravitated towards the Friheten model.  Himmene looked too casual – more casual than what I had already, and that was pretty casual.  Basically, it looked like something that was a bed that could fold into a couch, and I wanted a couch that could fold into a bed (note the difference).  Then as far as Holmsund went, it wasn’t a bad couch, but I just couldn’t get behind those pillows, which were integral to the couch’s design, and therefore had to be there.  Without the pillows, the back was too low.  So I chose Friheten.  Then the question came up: chaise or no chaise?  Of course, the chaise had two variants: left-hand and right-hand.  I would have had to go with the right-hand version to fit the room, but the chaise made the fold-out overly complicated, as things slid out and popped up and all of this, and in the process, heard some unpleasant sounds out of one of the display models.  That kind of took care of that, as I didn’t want to break it at home on account of an overly complicated design.  Plus I saw that chaise as taking up space unnecessarily.  So straight Friheten it was.  Now it was time for testing.  First, for me:

Yeah, I knew the position that I would end up in on this couch.

Yeah, I knew the position that I would end up in on this couch, so I might as well see how well it worked.  It worked quite well.  Then I got an opinion from people who would sit on the new couch:

Melissa and Tim take Friheten out for a spin

I think we had a winner.  Now fast forward about two weeks, and Elyse and I had planned a day around procuring this couch.  I rented a U-Haul to get it home, since the Soul would not be large enough to fit this beast, and off we went.  After an IKEA lunch, we got the couch.  This is what I got to take the couch home in:

Ford Transit!

That was a big van.  While I’ve driven much larger vehicles (articulated transit buses come to mind), this was one of the more challenging vehicles that I’ve driven as of late.  After all, I can sling a transit bus around with some level of finesse at this point.  But the visibility on this Ford Transit was terrible.  It was difficult, even with both flat and convex mirrors, to see along the van’s right side.  It got easier to drive, however, once I got into a certain mindset: bus.  Seriously, I drove it like I drive a bus.  Curb lane, right-side clearance, and even overhead mirror:

I used the rear-view mirror on this thing like I use the overhead mirror on the bus, i.e. to see out the right-side windows.

Yes, I used the rear-view mirror on this thing like I use the overhead mirror on the bus, i.e. to see out the right-side windows.  But it worked.

Getting the couch up the stairs was a challenge.  The couch came in two boxes: one for the top part, and one for everything else.  The top part could be carried by one person without much difficulty.  However, the box for everything else weighed almost 200 pounds.  And we had to take this beast up 21 steps.  We ended up destroying the box in the process, but somehow, we made it up the stairs without damaging the product.  As a point of reference, the average coffin weighs between 150 and 200 pounds.  So if you’re going to buy a “Friheten” couch from IKEA, get several pallbearers.  It will make things a lot easier to get it up the stairs to a third-floor apartment.

Oh, and we also got a photo from the rear-view camera:

Set parking brake, put van in reverse, and say cheese!

After we got the couch in, the next order of business was to return the van to Kemp Mill Beer, Wine, & Deli.  Much to my surprise, that turned out to be a very unpleasant experience.  This was not my first rodeo when it came to U-Haul.  I had rented one from the NoMa location in DC for business purposes back in 2013, and it was an extremely pleasant and painless process.  This clearly was the balancer for that pleasant experience.  The guy at the store made an error calculating my mileage through extremely sloppy work, trying to charge me for almost four times the mileage that I actually made.  This was a relatively new van, as it only had 266 miles when I got it.  I drove 25 miles from the rental location to IKEA to the house and back to the rental location.  I knew this, because when I’m paying by the mile, I will plan my entire trip out to use the most efficient route possible.  No weird detours when every click of the odometer costs me money.  So when the guy tried to charge me for 98 miles, I was like, “No way.”  I used my phone to calculate where I went and how much mileage it was, and I got what I expected: 25 miles.  What happened was that the man read the number of miles to empty, which was 364, rather than the 291 that the odometer read.  If the man had admitted his mistake and fixed it immediately, all would have been well.  However, the fact that he did not immediately own up to his mistake is where things started to get unpleasant.  He went into this whole “it is what it is” business.  I just said, “Okay, then.  I’m disputing the charge.”  Then I told Elyse that we were leaving.  Then the man had a change of heart, and we checked the mileage again.  Surprise: the van only had 25 additional miles on it.  He became very apologetic once he realized that he was busted, and tried to excuse his actions, saying that he was on the phone with his insurance company because someone hit his personal vehicle.  My thought was, I’m sorry, but what does that have to do with your overcharging me?  Note that he was perfectly content with overcharging me for the rental until he realized that a disputed charge would cost him the entire sale (i.e. I would get my money back).  I’m more or less convinced that this person knew what he was doing in overcharging me, as  other Yelp reviews for the place seem to confirm that the guy is a slimeball.

But whatever.  U-Haul got an earful from me about this guy, and he also got a well-deserved bad Yelp review.

Coming home, it was time to make some sense of the couch.  Melissa was coming over for dinner with us later, and she knew about the new couch and its going in.  Before we went out for dinner, however, I put the couch together.  That was an amusing time, as I was crawling around on the floor putting the back on the couch, while Elyse and Melissa were telling me that I should take my shirt off.  Okay, then.  It’s not like both of them have never seen me in a speedo before or anything, but nonetheless, that was a surprise.  But the couch was together.  In the middle of the living room.  Sitting on the plastic that it came in.

We went out for dinner later, and while I was out, I got the first selfie with my new “hipster” glasses:

For those keeping track, since I posted about glasses earlier, I ended up going with the first pair from Visionworks.

Melissa went home after we got back from dinner, and I got to work getting rid of the old couch.  The frame, without the mattress, was pretty light, so it went away first:

No more mattress

In the hallway

And into the dumpster!

Meanwhile, Elyse was doing this the whole time:

Out like a light.

I suppose that this was proof of concept that this was a good couch for napping on.  I’m jealous, though: I wanted to be the first one to take a nap on the new couch, but Elyse took the title before I could.  Of course, she didn’t get to sleep on it for very long, because I had to wake her up take her home.

Elyse came over again the next day, and we disposed of the mattress:

Elyse holds an end of the mattress on the stairs while I take a photo.

Despite what it looks like here, yes, we both carried it down together.

And with the old couch completely gone, here’s the final arrangement:

The new couch, in place

Not bad, if you ask me.  I think that it makes the place look a lot more adult with a real couch vs. a futon.  Plus the new couch is bigger, which makes the coffee table look more correctly sized.  I also could go closer to the wall with the new couch, since the space requirements for movement on the wall side were only about two inches, whereas the old futon required more than a foot of space from the wall in order to fully extend.  Plus I have a little more space, owing to the new couch’s orientation, even when you account for the coffee table’s being placed at a further distance than before.

So all in all, I’m pleased.  Meanwhile, I’m guessing that a parent will probably be the first overnight guest on the new couch, but we’ll see, I suppose.

Categories: Elyse, Furniture, Glasses, IKEA, Melissa