Friday, December 2, 2005

The Right Couch-Part 2

In early September I wrote about our purchasing several cushy plump love seats with matching ottoman and club chair. That lead to an entirely new room--or combination of two parlors--which is now almost complete.

We did take the wall down (it can always be returned for preservation purists) and now have a lovely expanse of space approximately 17' x 35' with two fireplaces and a southwest view. The wall removal was only the start--my husband decided to get UV glass to replace all of the old window glass (for energy and sun reasons--we are saving the glass!). We have too many items that can fade or be otherwise damaged by the sun and as we don't like heavy drapes, that was not an option (I am having Federal style swags made for window treatments--simple and not too much fabric--the question right now is what color?). The walls were repapered in a yellow damask and the wood trim painted a mushroom brown. We found a perfect rug and my husband traded a tractor and some other items for it--the rug was "bombed" for moths and cleaned. Its red, faded rose areas, and blue tones pull the room together and lighten the wall trim and couch colors.

Meanwhile, there was an old club couch at the farm--a real behemoth of a thing that always sat under a portrait of Isaac Meeker along the longest, windowless wall in the living room. It came with my grandparents from New Jersey and was in my grandfather's Newark home before that. It has huge ball feet and is long enough for a grown man to nap comfortably upon it (my own grandfather used to at the end of a day in the garden). I have many memories of that couch: my grandfather watching Perry Mason and asking me to make chocolate chip cookies, our Irish setter Rusty dying in my mother's arms the first year we moved from Ohio (he was almost 13), watching TV with family or girlfriends or assorted dogs and cats all piled in together (it comfortably seats six grown people sitting upright). No one wanted the couch or had the room. We even considered leaving it for the next owners as we have an abundance of couches. But it kept cloying at me--I couldn't leave it behind, even if we had to store it in the barn here.

[When Paulette, who helps clean our house sometimes with her sister Carmen, heard that I was salvaging the couch and having it come here she blurted out: "I used to neck on that couch!" (during one of my aunt's legendary parties)]

So, amazingly, it has become "the right couch" for our new space. It will occupy, once reupholstered (a small investment) in a lovely chocolatey fabric with blue and yellow and rose highlights in an acanthus leave pattern (very William Morris-like), the southern wall beneath the two front windows. My husband had the brilliant idea to move the blue couch that was there to the southeast parlor and bring the Queen Victoria table (there is a story to this table, too, but it once belonged to the monarch) and center it in the room in front of the fireplace. And, we still have a wall space for the Yorkshire cupboard--a piece given to my husband's family from Cousin Bob Barton and Rachel Warren when they lived in Ireland--where the blue couch was going to go.

On one end of the room we have a cozy cluster of couches and our television, complete with new coffee table that my husband hates but already it has become a place for homework, game-playing, and dinner (besides, it is so low you hardly notice it when looking in the room) and on the other we have a more formal and open but equally comfortable area. There are several "conversation" areas now and we await the large couch to complete the ensemble.

The room is a blend of Federal taste and furniture and late Victorian design coupled with modern comfort. It also marries quite well some ancestral elements from our collective family backgrounds. Somehow, it all seems to work and amazingly, Temple and I agreed on everything (well, except that coffee table!). I'll post some photographs soon when the window treatments are completed and remaining furniture is in. In the meantime, we'll be putting our Christmas tree in the corner of the front area of the room where it has always been--at least for the past ten Christmases.

After a period of time of "unsettlement" in our family, as I like to call it now, we are really nesting here and it feels good, for all of us. I can finally hang my hat and say, "Ah, we're home..." Having a room like this just off the kitchen that we can enjoy as a family or share for entertaining--finally a large accessible room for dinner party overflow--makes us never want to leave. And that's "a good thing".