Flirting with sofas

Dot writes: the builder has officially finished and gone, leaving a couple of items of clothing behind him (a fleece and a long-sleeved top, before you get worried. And we do mean to return them). We have paid him and now have €60 in our savings account. So we need to get some furniture on minimal money. This means freecycle, jumbletown and

I love looking at these websites. In practice it’s amazingly hard to get things from the free websites, because whenever anything one might actually want comes up forty people always reply to the advert within ten seconds of posting. If you’re the person posting it turns out that thirty of the forty don’t mean to collect and it takes three weeks to get rid of the item, but if you’re trying to get hold of something then you have to be very quick indeed. So we usually end up using gumtree, because being prepared to pay for things makes one a little bit more likely to acquire them; but I love the idea of exchanging things for free. It is such an elegant and sensible solution to the problem of the throwaway society, not to mention the problem of furniture being extremely expensive.

Sofas come up surprisingly often. The other thing we want is a dining table, preferably extendable and with chairs, and tables are quite rare on the free sites; but the internet fairly swarms with sad, unloved sofas looking for new homes. We are not quite ready to adopt one: it would be a good idea to get the living room painted first and, even more, to get the floor sanded and polished. But I have been warming up, as it were, by looking at what’s out there. Now, you can’t be fussy when getting things cheaply or for free; throws or re-covering are the order of the day. But it is astonishing how nasty some of these sofas are. Horrible fussy patterns from the eighties. Queasily bulging leather sofas in segments like biker caterpillars. Vast corner sofas that would leave most urban homes with only two square feet of usable floor. Thin uncomfortable futons suitable for neither sitting nor sleep. All these poor ugly, rejected sofas, hoping for someone to appreciate their unlikely charms. And, given that you can easily spend over €1000 on a new sofa, doubtless they will indeed find homes, and perhaps one of them will shortly be living with us.

In fact one of the things I like about buying things second-hand or freecycling is, oddly enough, having less choice. I find fretting over exact decisions about shape and colour quite stressful, especially as Ken and I often pull in opposite directions over such matters; but we can both enjoy a bargain and accept it as it comes to us. Choice is dreadfully overrated, don’t you agree?


2 thoughts on “Flirting with sofas

  1. I do agree, about the whole choice being overrated thing. It is. Science tells us that it is. The experiments have been done. People tend to like things rather less when they have chosen them from a large array than when they have chosen them from a small one. (So, for example, after participating in some other experiment, students were given a chocolate, which they picked from either a small tray or a large one. It was the same choc both times, but they said it was more delicious when the array from which it was selected was small.)

    Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why non-vegetarians who think they couldn’t enjoy food without meat are, as a matter of fact, mistaken. You actually enjoy it more when, rather than spending minutes together thinking about things that you ultimately aren’t going to pick, you go into the restaurant, look at the menu, and think: “Oh well, looks like I’ll be having the red onion tart then. And look, it comes with goat cheese.” (In fancier places, you may have to substitute ‘risotto’ for ‘red onion tart’, and ‘truffle oil’ for ‘goat cheese’, but the principle is the same.)

  2. kenanddot

    It may be that meat dishes suffer because you pick them out from a big selection, but that’s a small diminution of a large initial yumminess rating. Vegetarian portions may gain from their lack of competitors but not enough to overcome the yumminess differential (in my opinion anyway).

    I solve the problem of choice by being a) conservative in my habits, and b) never buying anything regularly on the menu at home. So there are fewer options to choose from.


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