Storing my sofa feels silly and expensive, but I can’t decide what to do
January 26, 2015 8:59 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I moved in together last year and we are lucky enough to each have room of our own in addition to our master bedroom. We decided to add a built-in Murphy bed and bookshelves to my room (for guests) as it had the better layout for that. I use my room as a home office and it’s perfect for that purpose.

My partner uses the other room as a TV/reading room. Right now my sofa -- from my previous house -- is in there. It is (to my mind) a lovely sofa. I had it custom made to my specifications with a solid hardwood frame and some really nice fabric. The cushions are foam core with a down-and-feather wrap. It was intended to be sofa I could recover for many years. As crazy as it sounds, I love this sofa!

It sounds comfortable, but it’s actually fairly firm. It’s also a bit shorter than most sofas -- it was made to fit a smaller room. One can’t really lie down on it. (I can, but I am pretty short.)

My partner wants to get a new sofa for the TV/reading room. A longer and more cushy sofa. I am on board with that. My old sofa is not exactly a plop-down piece of furniture -- it’s a bit more formal with angular lines.

But my old sofa won’t fit in my office, given the longest wall houses the built-in bed and shelves. There is no room for it in the living room. It could fit in the bedroom, but not in a spot that makes any sense -- nor would it get used there at all.

I am torn. On one hand, I’m thinking I should try and sell it, but I don’t think I’d get much for it. To me it’s a special thing, but to others it’s just a used sofa. On the other hand, I want to put it into storage, but that gets expensive fast -- and in about 4-5 years I’d have paid enough to get a new one made.

What would you do? Sell it/give it away? Store it? Or something else? I need some sense talked into me. It's just a sofa, right?
posted by Lescha to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would keep it. You're not going to live there forever, right? Eventually you're going to need a formal sofa. It sounds gorgeous and it's important to you.

Maybe you have a friend who could use it for a while?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unless you have plans to move to a place where the sofa can be of use in the next year or two, I would sell it/give it away.

When you move to a new place, you can have a new one made that fits that space.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:05 AM on January 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

Put it in the bedroom. It can be the couch that you lie seductively on, Greta Garbo style, while you wait for your partner to get out of the shower.

Alternatively, you can do what I would do and use it to stack clean laundry on when you're too lazy to put it away.

Alternatively, you could build up a wooden shelf type thing around it to kind of hide the unused couch while also using that space.

What I definitely wouldn't do is pay to put it in storage if it fit in my house.
posted by phunniemee at 9:06 AM on January 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

If I had a sofa that I loved, and it fit, I'd put it at the foot of my bed. Sure, no one would ever sit on it (except a cat), but I would admire it, and put pretty pillows on it, and buy a duvet that matched it, and slide my maribu slippers on while I daintily sat upon it. I might even put a little table in front of it so that I could sip my morning coffee while contemplating my day upon it.

If you know that it won't work in the bedroom and if you feel super-convicted about it, let a friend hold it for you in a seldom used room, as St. Peepsburg suggests.

If you're on the fence, realize that it was a lovely piece of furniture and it served you well. Should such of its like be required in the future you can always buy another.

There's no wrong answer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:12 AM on January 26, 2015 [11 favorites]

I'd sell it, but I'm a practical sort of gal. I wouldn't want it taking up space in the bedroom for example if it's just going to be a decoration. I understand you love it more than most people love their couches, but I think that's part of sharing space with someone, sacrifice is bound to happen.
posted by Aranquis at 9:20 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think there is one wrong answer, which is putting it in storage. When you reach the point of having paid enough in storage to have bought a whole new sofa--one that actually meets whatever the new requirements of your next place are, which this one might not--you'll really feel like you made yourself a sucker to the sunk cost fallacy.

Personally, I'd sell it. You won't get anything like what you paid for it, no, but you free yourself of what sounds like a bit of a problem piece. If there is somewhere you can put it in your house that won't actually have you (or, more importantly, your partner) stubbing your toes or cursing its inconvenience then that's o.k. Lending it to a friend is also workable, but you need to ask yourself if, in four or five years' time, you'll really want to front up at that friend's place and say "hey, sorry, I've come to repo your sofa." And will you really feel o.k. when the friend tells you that "oops, we spilt half a bottle of wine on it" or what have you?
posted by yoink at 9:20 AM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm confused as to why this is such a special sofa if it isn't that comfortable to sit on and doesn't work in your home at all, even in a spare room or as incidental furniture. "I spent a lot of money on this sofa which is still in perfectly good condition" isn't the same thing as being special. You don't mention that it's beautiful, or that you love sitting on it, or that you have any particular emotional attachment to it. It's just something that once represented a significant expense.

The only way I would store this sofa is if you picture yourself moving soon to a home that this sofa will fit into. If the house you just moved into is a long term home for you, I would just sell the sofa.

FWIW furniture is one of those things that just doesn't retain value well at all. All used furniture is just Used Furniture unless it's a sought-after antique. And even then, people drastically overestimate the value of all but the rarest antique furniture. It's kind of a sunk cost. I could see being perturbed about getting rid of this expensive sofa if you'd just bought it last year, or you ordered it two months ago for the specific purpose of using it in your partner's TV room, and now they don't want it. But assuming you bought this couch several years ago for a different use in a different home that is never coming back, just get rid of it already.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2015 [7 favorites]

I agree with the two year time horizon-- if you will be moving or remodeling within that, then pay to store it. Otherwise sell it and save towards getting something you like just as much but that works for your current needs.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:22 AM on January 26, 2015

One more thought -- my stepmother has a sofa that is a lot like the one you describe. It's a beautiful piece, and it really suits her aesthetic and the aesthetic of the home she was living in before she and my dad moved in together. But it's small, and not good for lounging, and it doesn't fit in any of the traditional loungey parts of the house, or my stepmother's office. I don't know if it was custom made, but it's a unique enough piece that it can't have been cheap. It spent a year moving around to different parts of their house, finally ending up in the kitchen of all places. Where it works surprisingly well.

Could you maybe come up with a more unorthodox solution for this sofa beyond just "for sitting on in a room where people tend to do a lot of sitting"?
posted by Sara C. at 9:29 AM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Before giving my answer, let me tell you about myself. I have moved cross country multiple times within the past few years, and I expect I'll have to move cross country again in another month or so. Some of those moves, I took my couches with me. Others, I threw away my couch and got a new one. I also get ridiculously attached to inanimate objects: until recently, we had two couches that were about 20 years old, were ripped to shreds, and were vaguely broken, and I cried when we threw them away.

So, with that said. My advice is this: get rid of the couches. The couch isn't improving the quality of your life and there's a good chance it won't in the future.

If you live in your house for a long time, that couch is just going to continue being in the way. And I've lived in places where there was a lot of cluttered furniture. You often don't notice how cluttered it is -- you get used to the whole feeling of being in a room where the furniture doesn't quite fit. But it leads to the room feeling less welcoming, less pleasant. When I moved from my overly-cluttered home to my perfect-sized-for-my-furniture home, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was like when you sit in an uncomfortable position for too long a time, and then when you get to shift, you suddenly notice just how uncomfortable you were and get this wave of relief. Having that couch take up space where it doesn't fit right is going to continuously lower the pleasantness of your living space, even if you don't notice at the time. The love you feel for that couch, I bet, does not come close to the pleasurable comfort you'd feel in a room without that couch imperfectly wedged in.

If, on the other hand, you sell your house soon, then you might end up in a place where the couch fits. Or you might not. You could specifically look for a house where the couch would have a spot, but... Is that really how you're going to house-shop? Putting highest priority on getting a couch to fit in it right? No, I doubt it. So, you'll stand a reasonable chance of ending up in another house where the couch doesn't fit. And having the same problem, again: keep it, store it, or get rid of it? You'll be back to where you are, right now.

So, I advise selling it. Although you love the couch, it likely is leading you to a lower comfort level in your home because it is less pleasant being in a space with more furniture than can fit. There is also low probability that you'll magically find a new house where the couch fits wonderfully, so storing it just means putting off the decision to a later point, and paying monthly for it. Sell the couch; make yourself comfortable in the house you have now; free yourself from having to deal with this question again in the future.

Life's too short to keep uncomfortable couches you don't regularly use and can't comfortable fit in your house.
posted by meese at 9:35 AM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

I've been the solution to this problem for a friend. Ask around if anyone wants a long term loan of a nice, small sofa. Perhaps someone you know has the perfect space for it, but isn't ready to buy an expensive piece of furniture. Of course, you should only do this if you'll be okay if their house burns down and you never see it again, otherwise you're going to worry if they're taking good enough care of it.
posted by lab.beetle at 9:45 AM on January 26, 2015

Would your sofa fit in your living room in place of furniture that would be easier to part with (or to move into one of the other rooms)? It sounds like the TV/reading room is where you both do your most slouchy/comfy sofa-sitting anyway, so your sofa might be a better fit in the (typically) more formal living room.

Otherwise, I'd move it into the bedroom for a set period (say, three months), rearranging the floor plan so it "makes more sense" in there if possible. If you find that it's pleasant/useful, keep it there until a move or another solution presents itself. If not, I agree that you should either lend it or sell it. (If you bought it locally, the sofa-maker might be able to assist in the lending/selling/reusing/recycling.)
posted by argonauta at 9:45 AM on January 26, 2015

I would sell it. Keeping in mind that I'm one of those "I'm not using it right now and it's taking up precious space, so it goes" types. I certainly wouldn't pay to store it because it MIGHT be usuable in a few years time in a different space.

A few months ago I wanted to get rid of my old couch. I bought it for $100 a few years ago, so it was a great deal. It was in perfect condition, aesthetically pleasing, and suited the colours in my living room. It was also hard as a rock and definitely not flop-down-after-a-hard-days-work comfy. Guests always chose the other couch to sit on if at all possible.

But I still had a hard time deciding to give it away. I could have moved it to our spare room but that wasn't going to make it any more comfortable and inviting, no matter how much I enjoyed looking at it. I ended up giving it away to a friend and buying a new one that is soft and cozy and fits the room perfectly.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:47 AM on January 26, 2015

Sell it or give it away. When you're tempted to hang onto something you don't actually need at the moment, the best thing to ask yourself is not, "Could this possibly be useful someday?" (because the answer is always yes) but "What's the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?"

There seem to be two possible "worst things." You might someday have to spend the money to buy an equivalent sofa or you might feel recurrent sadness at the loss of your beloved sofa. The first one doesn't seem important enough to make it worth keeping the sofa. Sure, you'll be annoyed if you get rid of it and then a year from now you find yourself moving into a place where you could really use it, but it will be equally annoying if you hold onto it for ten years and it's in the way the whole time. I'm guessing the extra expense if you have to buy a new one will be manageable for you. If you were able to afford a custom sofa like this when you were younger, you'll probably be even more able to afford it in the future. Probably you'll end up with one you like even better!

Only you can decide how sad you will be if you give up the sofa, but I bet you'll be able to take it in stride. If you really, really miss it you can console yourself with plans to buy an even better one someday when you have space for it. Maybe you'd feel better about parting with it if it went to someone else who would really love it or someone who really needed it. You could really make someone's day by putting this excellent sofa outside with a "free" sign on it.
posted by Redstart at 9:51 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd sell it and move on. Life is full of beautiful couches that are perfect for the house you are in right now.

Also, regarding keeping it because it's good enough to recover: reupholstering is shockingly expensive, even if you do it yourself. The cost of materials (fabric & stuff/padding) really adds up. We just went through this in my home: much beloved sofa that was super comfy and just right for the space but was badly in need of reupholstering (stupid cats). While I know how to reupholster and was willing to take on the project, pricing out the fabric came out to be more expensive than buying a similar sofa new and that wasn't accounting for the 25-some hours I would have to find in my schedule to do the job. I ended up finding another lovely, super comfy and just right for the space sofa on Craigslist for a fraction of the cost of the fabric alone.
posted by jamaro at 10:02 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

In addition to the option to sell it, loan it to a friend (with the understanding that this might be selling it) or storing it in a self-storage place, you might consider whether anyone you know has the kind of storage space where it could be kept long term for a much lower price than self-storage. Someone with a basement might be willing to let it sit in a corner of the storage room under a sheet for $50 a year or something like that.

I'm proposing that as another alternative, though. I really tend to think you should probably just sell it or give it away to a friend you know will value and use it unless you think it's really likely that you'll make another move to somewhere you can use it in the next few years. It sounds like a lovely piece of furniture, but if it doesn't fit your lifestyle, it should be lovely somewhere else.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2015

I had a chaise like that. It was delicate and really not that comfortable to sit on, but it looked amazing and I loved it. When I bought it it worked perfectly with my decor, but over time my style changed a lot and while I still loved that particular piece as much as ever it no longer fit with anything else I owned. (And it was upholstered with red and gold brocade, so it wasn't really a piece that could blend in.) It lived in the guest room for a while, where it never got sat on, but I still enjoyed looking at it. Then it sat in the garage for a year or two before I could finally bring myself to sell it. Now it has a very happy (as far as I know) home with the owner of an art gallery in Pittsburgh. I think if you have the space in your current place you could hang onto it for a while and see if it will fit wherever you move next. (And if it doesn't, sell it.) But don't take it to the next place if it won't work there either and definitely don't pay to store it anywhere.
posted by MsMolly at 10:09 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can understand feeling attached to it. You researched and hunted and deliberated and decided on every feature of it - it's you in that couch! It's totally you, no one else even fits it :) You made it at a time when you were working towards realizing a certain vision for your life. I think I get it.

I think if you're not ready to let it go, there's no harm in hanging onto it if you can make it fit in one of the ways people have suggested, or in a kind of arms-length way by "loaning" it to a good friend or family member (with the understanding you probably won't get it back, but can visit it sometimes). Eventually you'll tire of it and will want to build or buy a new special thing with your partner, and that will happen in a different way. So yes, I too am in favour of keeping it in the bedroom until you can't bear it anymore, and sending it off with love when it's time.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:14 AM on January 26, 2015

If you have a couple extra rooms, I'm going to assume you're not starving or heavily in debt.

So, pay someone to make your couch longer and more comfortable. Yeah, it's way more expensive, but, why not?

Just don't keep it as-is.
posted by flimflam at 10:52 AM on January 26, 2015

Would it fit in front of the murphy bed while it's up, to be moved aside when someone's in residence? How often are there guests? I do very much like having a non-desk, comfortable spot in my office.
posted by mimi at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

The way I look at these decisions is that it actually costs money to keep things that you own. Storage costs, depreciation costs, opportunity costs from having capital tied up, emotional costs, dissonance costs and so on.

If it isn't great right now then get rid of it and get something that is or enjoy the freed up capital.
posted by srboisvert at 12:25 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you decide to part with your sofa, take pictures first. It is easier to part with objects to which we are emotionally attached if we've got images of them. Odd but true. A tip picked up from a professional organiser. It has helped me enormously over the years. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:06 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but my sofa is always in front of my bookshelves. There are a few feet between so that I can get books out and clean, but I see no reason for a sofa to occupy a wall instead of being out in a room.
posted by xyzzy at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2015

I have a sofa exactly like this. Right down to the down cushions, can't-really-lay-down length, not really plop down quality, etc. I love how it looks, people who come in to my house love how it looks. I've gotten plenty of compliments on it and i just generally really like it. If i wanted another similar one i'd probably have to pay quite a bit of money.

...But it's just not comfortable, and it's really the type of thing that two people can't really both occupy in a totally comfortable great way, or even that one person can completely relax on. It's not the same style, it's one of those ridiculous victorian style couches and actually old, but more tastefully subdued than a lot of those.

I'm in exactly the same place with my partner, who wants the same things your partner does. I want to keep it because i like it and dammit it looks cool.

The options were basically put it somewhere in her parents house, or sell it. The conclusion was just to sell it.

I can't actually remember any things i truly regret selling. Maybe once or twice after i did, but not anymore. Keeping it around will become an albatross.

Don't ever get a storage unit unless you have a clear end date. It's a black hole, you'll never get rid of it. My parents got one "until they didn't need it anymore" in 2007 and still have one for ??? reasons because it's a huge mess to deal with. The rent has added up to almost 20 grand over 8 years. Even if you only have it for two years, and get a tiny storage unit that's only $80, that's still $2000. Is the couch REALLY worth $2000?
posted by emptythought at 3:22 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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