I lived in the dorms for the first two years of college. After finals week each spring, furniture would pile up on the side of the road and in giant dumpsters outside of the dorm buildings — the pieces that wouldn’t be making their way home with students for the summer. I was helping one of my friends move their boxes when I spotted an avocado green and gold floral print couch with a tufted back on the curb. Thanks to the early years of Design*Sponge, I was obsessed with thrifting mid-century and vintage pieces and this couch had the perfect lines in my eyes. Since I was moving into my first apartment a few months later and needed to furnish it with the little money I had, I convinced my parents to let me take it home.
While the style of the sofa was beautiful to me, the upholstery wasn’t — and a 1970 couch that had lived in the dorms just felt due for new upholstery. I got an amazing deal on a bolt of upholstery fabric online (12 yards for $60!), bought this book and took a week off of work at the end of the summer and learned to reupholster it with my mother. We deconstructed the original upholstery and turned those pieces into patterns for the new fabric. The tufting on the back was the hardest part for us to DIY, but my mom was able to use an upholstery machine belonging to a stranger in a town 50 miles away. Thinking back on it, I can’t believe that we accomplished everything in that week. But we did, and I took my beautiful sofa to my apartment and every place I’ve lived since.
Ten years later, the couch is sitting in my guest room and it sadly won’t be staying with us much longer. We’ll be working on the guest room this month and making it more practical for me to work in, host people and get it ready for kiddos later on. The couch might not stay with me forever, but what it taught me will. I approach most projects and goals the way I took on the couch — I might not have everything I need or know everything I need to know, but if I want to make something work, I can figure it out with help. I’m so happy I took a chance on this curbside cutie. This is the piece that taught me that a small budget doesn’t mean limited options. –Lauren
Illustration by Layla Meyer
Scroll through to see my sweet sofa in almost every place I’ve lived over the last 10 years.
P.S. If you haven’t read the other essays about “That One Piece,” do so now!