I Chose Style Over Comfort When Decorating My Apartment And I Never Looked Back

I flat-out refuse to own a sofa that makes me feel like a fat couch potato or that will turn me into one by permanently sinking me into its pillowy folds.
Publish date:
January 2, 2013

I’ve never been a fan of the traditional bulky sofa. Even the word “sofa” makes me cringe for some reason. But every living room needs one, right?

When I moved into my first one bedroom apartment, I went on a mission to find stylish, unsofa-like seating. Don’t get me wrong, my dream sofa would be the perfect marriage of style and comfort, natch. But seeing as I’m on a limited budget, comfort gets thrown out the window immediately in my world. I flat-out refuse to own a sofa that makes me feel like a fat couch potato or that will turn me into one by permanently sinking me into its pillowy folds.

I know there are comfort-obsessed people out there who would disagree with me, but I’d rather lovingly admire my "Mad Men"-esque living room while my friends shift around on firm squeaky pleather “cushions” than be judged as an owner of a La-Z-Boy eyesore.

Basically, I apply the rules of fashion to my household.

Would you walk around in the world wearing sweatpants that say Juicy on the ass, or do you wear heels and a miniskirt in the dead of winter? I choose the latter, and my sofa would do the same.

Eventually I scored an original mid-century sofa for about $400 with delivery on Craigslist. (Bonus: It’s so light that moving it in was a cinch.)

If you’re jealous and want to copy my style without subjecting yourself to the sketchy wrath of Craigslist, it’s kind of similar to this one from Urban Outfitters (yes, you can get nice affordable furniture from Urbz -- you’re welcome), which I used to own:

This one has reviews like, “Looks good, feels terrible,” and, “For looks only,” which pretty much guarantees that you’ll have a style-worthy sofa on your hands.

As I see it, there is only one major downside to my uncomfortable mid-century sofa, and that has been where to put overnight guests.

My solution? Don’t have any.

I’m not joking. This genius method for getting the most enjoyment out of my sofa has worked out pretty well, except on one occasion when a friend of mine announced she was gonna have to crash at my place after a night of boozing. So I grumblingly offered my full-size bed to share. All night, I tossed and turned while she slept like a little jerk baby. I even tried counting sheep, but instead I kept seeing little La-Z-Boys jumping over a fence, taunting me.

More recently, I offered to help out another friend in need during Hurricane Sandy, because I am trying hard to be decent to other people these days.

It was one of those situations where you have to offer but secretly hope your kind deed doesn’t come true, but she took me up on it. However, she insisted she would be fine on the couch, and the next morning this awesome buddy announced that she’d had a fabulous night’s sleep. Of course, she’s European and has more travel/couch surfing experience than my more spoiled friend. If I ever get stuck with friend #1 (or anyone else for that matter) asking to stay over again, my plan is to guilt trip her with this story to avoid any more sleepless nights.

I grew up in a stylish household, so I’ve been practicing this "style trumps comfort" lifestyle from the time I was born. I learned all there is to learn about interior design from my mom, whose decorating style I would describe as Future Russian.

My parents’ living room and dining room. The proof is in the pudding. (photo credit: Mom).

Even my starter studio apartment, which literally only had a mattress on top of a boxspring on the floor in the center of the room and a cheesy “antique” mirror from Bed Bath & Beyond above the bed, was my failed attempt at stylish minimalism. It turned out looking more like a crack den, but I assure you that comfort was never a concern in my first adventures in decorating.

These days, my bed setup is a lot more comfy, I must admit. But it’s basically just a mattress slab on a platform bed frame (I LOVE lowrider beds). I’ve always had a full-size bed, which isn’t ideal for boyfriends or overnight guests, but it saves a little bit of space.

And another thing! I can’t stand ergonomic office chairs, they remind me of my depressing cubicle at my day job. I live in a small two-room apartment and there’s no place to hide an unsightly office, so it’s gotta look good. I keep a sleek-looking desk (from Tarjay) and an anti-office chair in the living room adjacent to my prized sofa.

I scored this orange 1970s seat from the annual Housing Works Design on a Dime benefit and I’ve never looked back. So what if it feels like it was stuffed with a handful of Kleenex tissues? This fabulous chair makes my workspace look less “office-y” and I feel pretty good about that.*

*Full disclosure: I am admiring the view of my killer workspace from the comfort of my bed as I write this.