On Linens and Life: The Blank Canvas

March 06, 2014


Carlisle Upholstered Sofa

Because furniture is expensive, it makes sense to buy pieces with classic lines in neutral colors.  The rationale, of course, is that if they aren't trendy, they resist becoming outdated quickly.  To this end, I recently purchased Pottery Barn's Grand Carlisle sofa.  I've been eyeing it for a long time.  With its English roll arms, deep seat and low back, it's the ideal sofa for relaxing and because it's a classic, I only need to update accessories to keep it looking fresh.  

By virtue of the same logic,  I chose a cream color.  It seemed a sensible color because it can survive changes in wall color, pillows, throws, blankets and rugs. As rational as this is to me, I don't appear to be with the majority on this one.  Guests have eyed our essentially off-white couch, our three children and our new puppy  and then turned to me with a look that says, "You did what?"

White, it would seem, is for show homes, tv shows and retirees.  To sit on a white couch, you have to have clean hands, clean clothes and not be carrying food.  You need to be over the age of 20, in both human and dog years, own a furniture shop or be independently wealthy.   None of these conditions is guaranteed in our house.  So why did I get the couch?

I concede that it may be a tad impractical but so was the alternative. The cranberry velvet couches I bought on a whim in 2010 aren't going to be a lifelong possession either.  They looked beautiful in the catalogue but they're velvet and, well, they're cranberry. The microsuede Downtown sectional was loaded into the moving van with three pieces and emerged as only two.  We still don't know the answer to that one.  (Is a sectional that's missing a piece, still considered a sectional?)  There was that green love seat that was so amazingly comfortable and I would have kept it forever, except for the fact that I don't actually like green furniture.  

So many of the furnishings we bring home should really have stayed in the store.  Just because it looks nice on the page or in the vignette, doesn't mean it should make it past your front gate.  New furnishings have to go with the things you already own but most of all, you have to love them enough that the next glossy photo spread won't steal your fickle heart away.  And that kind of love isn't borne of practicality.  All the stain-hiding attributes in the world won't make you covet your grandmother's plaid chesterfield.  All the added functionality won't encourage you to fill your house with futon couch/beds.  

I stand by my beautiful Grand Carlisle sofa, with the English roll arms and pristine white cushions, just the way she is, come what may.