Ask the [Seattle/Furniture] HiveMind: Buying a couch.

[covert-ops] question mark (forest)TL; DR: I am interested in buying a new couch. I would like to be able to search / browse online (marginally optional), and then sit on / lay on / poke at the couch (required) before shelling out money. The vendor must deliver to my home, preferably into my home. I live in the Seattle area, on the Eastside. Where should I go to find a new couch?

Where do couches come from these days? (The three of you out there who have experienced the couch that lurks downstairs in the home G and I share, particularly after its cross-country move, know why I’m asking!)

My Couch Acquisition History

  • Current couch: downstairs. Jenn and Jim were rearranging all the things, and got new furniture, and so had to get rid of old furniture. This has been a tried-and-true furniture acquisition method for me for quite some time (ask me about my dining room set!), but I don’t think it’s going to work in this particular case.
  • Current couch: upstairs. Gift from G’s parents.
  • Past couch: blue sectional of infinite pieces. I actually don’t remember where this couch came from. I think it just showed up in the house one day.
  • Past couch: long, brown couch. G’s couch, predating my intrusion into his life.
  • Past couch: Horribly busy pattern of brown and green leaves (I think?) with matching loveseat. Salvation Army in Annandale, Virginia. These may have been two of the ugliest pieces of furniture ever created, but they were actually remarkably comfortable. They would have been almost perfect if the couch was a bit longer, so I could sleep with my legs straight. Well, and if packet1 had never been allowed to go near them. I believe that these were forcibly transferred into huey’s possession when I went to move in with G.
  • Past couch: Comfy brown thing. I think this may have been the only new couch purchase of which I have ever been a part. (Not to say that I paid for it. I didn’t. Clayton did. And the couch was our second choice, because our first choice would not fit into our apartment.2
  • Past couch: Blue and white stripes. This is digging way back into the memory banks. I am fairly certainly the only reason I remember this couch is because it appears in many photos in my possession. I believe it came into my possession in Hawaii, during my junior year of college, and I think it moved with us to Portland, and I have no earthly clue where it came from. It’s possible my parents left it when they moved to Japan. Or one of my parents’ friends gave it to us. Or the couch fairy got bored and shoved it into our living room.
  • Past couch: Kaneohe apartments: I know there was at least one couch, and possibly more. That is the sum total of my recollection of the subject.
  • Past couch: Old Pali apartment: Hah! This is a trick! There was no couch!3
  • All the couches before that: I blame my parents. More accurately, I believe my mother was mostly responsible for couch selection. There were a couple of remarkable ones that I recall, including the very slippery gold one in Hawaii and the bright red fuzzy one4 in… Denver, I think.

My point being: I have extremely limited couch buying experience. It is not something that I would put on my résumé. As you can see, throughout my college years, and for many years thereafter, couches (like milk crates) were things that just kind of materialized out of thin air to support cassette tapes (and later, CDs), roleplaying manuals, packs of cigarettes, a bizarre assortment of throw pillows,5, and people.

Stepping into the couch buying world is kind of scary! I feel like I’m getting ready to select a recruiting firm and then offer one of their stable of couches6 an in-house job. (Heh.)

Do you want sell me a couch?

  • You are not sketchy. You do not leave me feeling like I should go bathe. You will not sell used goods as new. You will not be a cash-only business. You will not leave me wondering out of how many trucks your collected inventory fell.7
  • If you have don’t have an online catalog of your in-store products, it is unlikely you will get my business. If you do have such a site, and if your online catalog provides things like picturse, measurements, and fabric/color options increase, your odds considerably.
  • You really need to have a showroom / warehouse / $BUILDLING8 where I can go and actually sit on (or even lay on) their products before making a decision.
  • You must deliver to my house in Redmond, Washington. Actually, if you’d deliver to my (downstairs) family room, that would be fantastic.
  • Hauling away the old couch will give you bonus points. (I’m not allowed to move most furniture, but am definitely forbidden from moving couches.9

Characteristics of the Ideal Couch

  • It should be long enough to sleep on without any of the people likely to be sleeping on it needing to go through painful leg-shortening procedures.
  • It should be generously deep (so I don’t feel like I’m sitting on a bench, and so I can sleep on it without rolling off).
  • It should be squishy. Adequate squishiness is definitely a factor. Sitting on hard surfaces for too angers the myriad of meri-problems. On the other hand, I don’t want to feel like I’ve been slowly sinking into a marshmallow. Something in between the two extremes would be good.
  • It should not be a short (as in close to the ground) couch. Ideally, I can put my feet (with or without shoes (I never wear heels) flat on the floor while sitting, and my thighs are more or less perpendicular to the ground, not pointing upwards.
  • It is preferably not upholstered in smooth leather, though suede and suede-like fabrics are acceptable. Couches meant to be used with slipcovers are totally ok. Fabric that can be pre-treated (or already is pre-treated) with a stain guard gets bonus points.
  • If there must be a pattern, it cannot be busy.
  • There must be armrests, and they must be friendly. The angle and height of the armrest should be such that it can be used as part of the “propping one’s self up to read or watch TV” process, and nothing that simply provides a backstop to same. One should, if one so desires, be able to throw one’s legs over (or at least upon) the armrest comfortably.
  • Cushion covers should be removable and washable.
  • Cushions themselves (once uncovered) should be able to be addressed as single units. Whether this means foam or casings stuffed with filling is up to the manufacturer, but I should not have to deal with loose filling.
  • Couches with two seat cushions will have a slight advantage over couches with three seat cushions. This is not to say I am looking for a loveseat. As stated, I am looking for a full-length couch. However, it’s vanishingly rare for us to have to sit three people on our couch at once, which is the only reasonable excuse for having three cushions across the length of the couch that I can think of. Two cushions is much more comfy for our situation.
  • No futons. (Folding beds / sleeper beds will be considered, but the “separate (generally fairly dense) mattress that sits on top of a folding frame” thing is right out. Also, no couches comprised of multiple pieces of foam sewn into a connected series of cloth covers that, when folded just so, make a couch. There should be a frame. It should be able to be free-standing.
  • No recliners. We have four cats.
  • Couches are made to be used. Reading, watching TV, overnight sleeping… providing a comfortable place for these activities should be the couch’s primary function. I am not looking for formal sitting room furniture.
  • Though costing less is preferable, I would say that the upper end of my budget for this is a little bit less than ½ of 1% of a single day of Tuvalu’s GDP for 2014, as reported by the IMF. Or, you know, just over $1,000.
  • Finally, unlikely many other already-unreasonable demands out there, the couch does not have to come with a pony.10

But, meri. Surely you’ve had to shop for furniture before.11

I’ve looked around our house, trying to figure out where our furniture came from, and I’ve come to a few realizations:

  • We really don’t have a lot of furniture. This becomes especially true if you are willing to exclude desks, bookshelves, and cat trees from the total count.
  • A lot of what we do have was given to us, either when Jenn was redecorating / rearranging one room or another in her house (as mentioned), or as a present from G’s parents (as mentioned).
  • Excluding the aforementioned items, most of the furniture in our house came from:
    1. IKEA12, and unless they have drastically changed their designs in the past… well, ok, 13 years or so, I’m going to say IKEA couches fail to meet several of my requirements. If you have an IKEA couch that you think qualifies, please do provide me with a link. Or at least the cute little IKEA name, so I have some hope finding out more. Otherwise, I’m just going to be poking Google with things like  IKEA 2008 2009 2010 armrests blue square cushions , and really, no good can come of that.
    2. The Container Store, who does not, to the best of my knowledge, sell couches. But I am now going to lose several minutes this afternoon imagining they did.
    3. Costco, which might have actually been a good place to look, but I think we just missed couch season. (No, really. To everything, there is a season, and if memory serves “right around Labor Day” is couch season at Costco.)
    4. CAN-AM. (Yes, I still have these. Yes, they’re still heavy.)

After that, I got nothing. I suppose I could just start randomly searching furniture stores. That seems so… imprecise. And I am more or less opposed to ordering an untested couch off of the Internet. Can you imagine me taking it to the post office to return? “Excuse me? Do you have any bigger ‘if it fits, it ships’ boxes?” There’s always Craigslist, but… I am not enthused.

Educate me, wise and wonderful people of the HiveMind.

Help me sit more comfortably! (Actually, again, my spot on the couch is just fine, and said spot is on a sectional piece that is in reasonably good shape. “Help G, Jenn, and any other guests who visit the house sit more comfortably!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.) Admittedly, the total pool of people likely to need the services of this couch is not particularly large, but if they’ve made it as far as the downstairs couch, chances are good I’m very fond of them, and would to provide them with a comfortable place to sit.



  1. If you do not yet know of packet, it’s too long of a story to relate here. Suffice it to say that she was an evil cat who used urine to express… just about everything.
  2. Amusingly, the couch that G and I inherited from Jenn and Jim (that is, the one we’re looking to replace now) is the too-big-for-our-apartment couch that Clayton and I really wanted to get. Well, probably not the exact same unit, but definitely the same design, and color.
  3. This was an incredibly odd living space, and I don’t know where would have put a couch even if we’d had one. Perhaps in the room outside the bathroom, upstairs? Dunno.
  4. Huh.
  5. College students of the early 90s — or at least those in Hawaii — did not buy throw pillows. Like couches, they were magical creatures. It was believed at the time that the appearance rate of throw pillows was directly proportional to the length (in inches) of cassette tape that you had lost to players and/or heat over time.
  6. There’s an image.
  7. Anyone here from the DC area? Have you ever been to Marlo Furniture? Don’t be Marlo.
  8. Though, I suppose if it were one of those weird side of the road, “Hey! We have couches!” people, that would work, too. (Is that strictly an east coast thing? I haven’t seen any pop-up roadside couch sales since I’ve moved.
  9. We have absolutely no way to prove (or disprove) any correlation between the two events, but G and I had just finished moving couches between floors of our house about 20 minutes before my heart attack in 2010.
  10. I was originally going to say that I’m not a picky person when it comes to couches, but it seems that this is not the case. I suppose it makes sense. I spend a lot of time on the couch. Of course, my part of the couch (it’s a sectional) isn’t falling apart, so maybe I could keep that, and we could just replace the other part of the couch. Perhaps G doesn’t have quite as many requirements as I do about couches.
  11. Of course I have. And don’t call me Shirley.
  12. At this point, Annalivia will be giggling.


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