So You’re Ready To Buy Some Grown-Up Furniture

Maybe you have come into money, like that dream where you’re wandering around your apartment and you find a door you never knew was there and it leads to a whole new room, only the room is full of dollar bills. Maybe you’ve been saving up. Maybe you got a bonus. Or maybe your couch is beige and busted and birth-marked with breast-milk stains, and you got it used from Housing Works years ago, and now whenever you look at it, you simply think, It’s time.

Whatever the reason, congratulations! You’re ready to buy some grown-up furniture, specifically, a sleeper sofa to replace your current combination of sagging love-seat and patched-up air mattress. The question is, how?

STEP 1: DON’T PANIC. Breathe in. Remind yourself that grown-up furniture often costs grown-up sums of money, and that’s okay. Breathe out. Breathe in. Say, “You get what you pay for.” Breathe out. Repeat as necessary ’til the room stops spinning.

STEP 2: Consider shopping in person. Laugh yourself silly and then fire up the old Internets.

STEP 3: Resist the urge to visit Ikea.com. IKEA is what got you into this mess; it will not save you. You’re a grown-up, dammit — your furniture will no longer be made of equal parts plywood and particle board and spit.

STEP 4: Consult Apartment Therapy. See that, lo and behold, they list an IKEA sofa bed as an acceptable option.

STEP 5: No! No IKEA. You’re not outfitting a hostel; you want furniture that’s going to last, furniture from which guests won’t feel the need to tactfully avert their eyes. (“This place will look so good once you have some real furniture!” was how your sister-in-law described your apartment, when you first showed it to her.)

Besides, the IKEA couch is too big for the space.

What else does AT recommend besides a $2600 sofa from Room & Board and a “comfort sleeper” from American Leather that’s so costly they don’t even list the price? Well, there’s something from Urban Outfitters that looks like it was plucked from a turn-of-the-century bordello. There are a bunch of things called “luxe” or “select,” which you know better than to even click on, and a La-Z-Boy, which, OK, that company needs some rebranding if you’re going to take it seriously.

STEP 6: Is it possible you can’t get away with spending less than $1200 for a decent sleeper sofa? Despair.

STEP 7: Wait, don’t despair! Repeat STEP 1.

STEP 8: Check the comments section. AT has good info in the comments.

STEP 9: Sure enough, the comments direct you to a site you’ve never heard of before called Sleepers In Seattle. That’s a cute name. You can’t go wrong with a Nora Ephron reference or supporting a well-regarded small business, and besides, a lot of their couches are Made In The USA, like this one. You can feel better about spending four figures if a) the sofa is on sale, and b) you’re supporting domestic labor. Right?

STEP 10: With your significant other, agree on a couch that’s the perfect size for your space. It’s sturdy yet attractive; it looks like it’s built to last. The reviews are glowing and the price is right, or at least, you’ve become resigned to spending around $1,000 on a single item — after all, you’ll see and use it every day, and you’re a grown-ass woman who can pay a grown-ass woman amount for something functional.

Repeat STEP 1 again as needed.

STEP 11: Make fabric choices. Examine color swatches. Break into a sweat. Maybe you should have done this in person. Does this brown look more gray? Does this green look more brown? Which color will play best with the motley array of other furniture in the room?

STEP 12: Consider other websites, every single other website given a thumbs up by some random commenter on an AT thread. Find nothing better than what you’ve already chosen. Return to Sleepers in Seattle feeling that, at least, you’ve done your due diligence.

STEP 13: Click “buy.”

STEP 14: Celebrate! Congratulate each other on a momentous purchase. Exhale happily. At last move on to something else.

five minutes later

STEP 15: “Hm,” says your significant other. “I think the gray we chose is actually more brown. Does it look brown to you?”

Of course it looks brown. Did it look gray before? It is a Metamorphmagus? Did we realize its true colors too late? Are we stuck with a brown couch? Is a brown couch bad? Question everything. Panic. (Don’t panic.)

STEP 16: Leave a voice mail message for the good people at Sleepers in Seattle, in which you attempt to sound reasonable and not like a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to buy a couch only to finally make a decision and then regret it. Or has this been an extraordinary amount of time? How much time is the right about of time to spend on a four-figure decision, a decision that will sit in your living room for the foreseeable future? Maybe it’s normal to spend days, weeks even.

STEP 17: Decide that the gray-that-is-brown is a fine color after all. It’s a neutral! It’ll hide stains!

STEP 18: Go to bed. Have broken dreams.

STEP 19: Consider the question anew in the fresh light of morning. A gray-that-is-brown couch sounds fine. When the good people of Sleepers in Seattle call your significant other back, tell him to tell them thanks, but you’re almost positive your original choice still stands.

STEP 20: Wonder how old and rich you have to be before buying a piece of furniture doesn’t throw you into an emotional tailspin.

STEP 21: As ads from every sofa website you visited and some you didn’t stalk you all over the Internets, try to resist the impulse to keep shopping. Choose your choice. Choose it over and over again. After all, the money’s gone. The transaction is over. Replay that scene from Empire Records in your head: “Joe, the money’s gone.” “I know the money’s gone. Where’s it gone to?” “Atlantic City.” “What’s it doing in Atlantic City?” “Recirculating.”

Repeat STEP 1 again as needed.

STEP 22: Wait.