Five years ago I dodged a huge bullet. I had just moved to a new apartment in a new country and my cursor was hovering over a sofa on the IKEA website as I wondered, "Could we be 'white couch' people"?
I was writing for Apartment Therapy and every day my eyes danced over images of clean, white sofas against clean, white walls punctuated by pops of color from bright pillows and bold, graphic art. Everything was so fresh and bright and clean. I found the style very appealing, but it also filled me with trepidation, and I was right to be afraid.
My husband and I are not "white couch" people. We are people who sit on the couch and eat pizza and spaghetti with red sauce and drink negronis and coffee. My husband, in particular, is extremely hard on sofas. He's single-handedly destroyed at least three of them in the past 15 years out of a combination of cluelessness and clumsiness. If sofas had families, my husband would be the monster sofa-parents told their sofa-children about.
That day, on the IKEA website, my more self-aware side took over and ordered the sofa in dark gray. When it was finally delivered, my husband spilled a cup of coffee on it before I'd even gotten the legs attached. I learned an important lesson that day: I should never listen to the little voice in my head that tells me to buy white sofas. Again, we are not "white couch" people. We are people who mess up couches, and I should recognize that.
When we moved back to the U.S., about a year ago, we needed a new sofa. I was leaning heavily towards a giant, dark purple Chesterfield sofa. (Hey, it wasn't white.) It was over the top and glamorous and a little bit ridiculous, which I like, but it also looked sturdy, and that dark purple color seemed forgiving. Before I placed the order, however, we got a flyer for a big sale at a local chain of furniture stores, called Kittles, and decided to check it out.
I wasn't particularly optimistic when we went into the store. Nothing was purple or ridiculous. Everything was very tasteful and respectable, which is probably a good market to focus on if you're intending to sell furniture to anyone who is not me. Among all the practical, comfy-looking overstuffed sofas was a nice-looking one in a dark gray leather. It wasn't particularly sleek or modern, but it had straight lines and wasn't fussy at all. It was astonishingly comfortable, and so inexpensive that another couple testing it out kept saying, "But what's wrong with it? It can't just be this cheap, right?"
My husband loves leather sofas, and I warmed up to the idea a lot when the saleswoman explained that leather is particularly easy to care for and resistant to stains. Then she said the words that sold me on the sofa forever.
"With the extended warranty, we'll fix or replace it if anything happens to it in five years," she explained.
Plenty of sofas have warranties where they'll be replaced if there's a defect or it was made incorrectly, but the saleswoman said the warranty covered anything that happened to the sofa. No matter what, they would send someone to fix it. If it couldn't be fixed, they'd replace the sofa.
The warranty covered anything that happened to the sofa.
I grilled that saleslady for 20 minutes on the specifics of the warranty.
"But what if something happens to the sofa that is explicitly our fault?" I said. "What if we spill coffee on the sofa?"
"That's covered," she said.
"What if we spill a big bowl of Moroccan chicken soup with harissa on it?" I asked, thinking fondly of our last sofa, and all the wonderful meals that were shared on it.
"That too — or nail polish remover, or nail polish," she explained.
I wracked my brain for other things we could possibly do to destroy a sofa, like dropping a flaming cocktail on it and lighting it on fire, but she was way ahead of me.
"If you sit down on it with a pen in your pocket and put a hole in it, that's covered," she said. "If you spill on it or tear it, it's covered."
We've had the sofa for more than a year now, and it still looks like new, although not through any of our doing. The sofa has been spilled on, jumped on, and slept on more times than I can count, but it still looks great. We might not even need that wildly generous extra warranty, but I'm glad it's there. Now we can just relax and enjoy life on the sofa without worrying about it.
Do you eat a lot of meals on your couch? Would a limitless five-year warranty like this be a huge selling point for you, too?