As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, our home renovation story was a long, meandering tale, with its fair share of expected (and unexpected) setbacks and detours. Counting among the more traumatic episodes – luckily with a happy ending – is what I call “The sectional sofa: a drama in two acts”. At the end of it, we were left with a re-designed family room, not to mention a different basement (style-wise) than the one we originally envisioned. Not surprisingly, the process involved some heated discussions, a lot of heavy lifting, and maybe a few tears. [What?! Third trimester’s a bitch, let me tell you.] Here’s what happened.

As with most things that involve yours truly, our renovation odyssey started with a budget. Unless you’re a candidate for Million Dollar Decorators, I can’t stress the importance of preparing one before you undertake any significant home project, particularly a do-it-yourself-er. Things can quickly spiral out of control otherwise, and the shock to your bank account can be worse than any unexpected plumbing fiasco you might encounter along the way. [Speaking of which, always build in a solid contingency into your renovation budget. Because something will always come up – and it might be a stinker.] One of the ways in which my husband and I decided to keep our costs on the basement reno under control was by shopping smart for the new furniture we’d need for our brand new space. Enter Kijiji.

Now, I know some people will probably be turned off by the idea of using a stranger’s discarded furniture (and, yes, the idea of a used mattress does squick me out a bit), but I see it as no different from buying clothes at a consignment store, or driving a second-hand car. It’s good for the wallet, and it’s good for the environment; and unless, like me, you decide to tell everyone, no one will be any the wiser. 
Case in point: our microfiber sectional sofa. 
I knew that I wanted something big and comfy for the basement, since it would end up being our family’s entertainment/recreation area and new home of our relocated big screen TV. A sectional made the most sense, offering plenty of seating, the right comfort level, and the “presence” needed to fill a big space. [Our 500 square foot basement is essentially one big room, plus a 4-piece bath.] After a few unsuccessful trips to various furniture stores, I was unimpressed with both the selection and the prices available; the cheapest option we saw was still over $1,000. That’s when I decided to turn to Kijiji. Sure enough, amid a variety of over-priced sofas, I found something that fit the bill – a fairly new (less than a year old), well maintained, neutral colour microfiber sectional for $500. The seller was even happy to deliver it for $20 … good thing since, at 7 feet long and half as wide, the two component pieces positively dwarfed our car. 

Since we were, at that time, a few weeks (actually, as it turned out, months) away from finishing our basement, we decided to jump on the good deal and store the sofa in our garage in the meantime. So we did. Fast forward a couple of months later … With the framing and drywall finally up, we were starting to see some light at the end of the renovation tunnel; naturally, our thoughts began to turn again to the “fun” part of the project – the decorating. This is where things started to go off the rails, quickly. Although we had measured the sofa before buying, to make sure it would fit our basement family room, we had tragically failed to take into consideration once crucial aspect: getting it down there. Putting up the new walls and ceiling on the staircase to the basement resulted in the loss of crucial inches of height; this compounded the difficulty presented by the sharp bend in the staircase itself, which makes the space a tight squeeze at the best of times. Simply put, there was no way to get our sofa into the basement. [The windows down there being far too small as well.] Oh, we tried. And tried. And made a big hole in our brand new drywall. And failed.

There were only two options left. One, try to re-sell the sofa. I was disinclined from doing this for a variety of reasons. It’s much easier to buy than sell on Kijiji; in this case, the aggravation would be worse since we would have no way to deliver the pieces (thus limiting our buyers’ pool further) and we would most likely have to take a hit on the price, even though we’d never used the darn piece at all. Plus, we’d still be left needing to buy a new sofa – and, at this point, we were skeptical about the likelihood of getting anything bigger than a Chihuahua down the basement stairs. 

The second option was to re-purpose our sofa. Given its size, the only feasible plan was to move it into the upstairs family room/library. At this juncture, I came across an unexpected obstacle – my husband. Although I had been largely responsible for decorating that room (not always to my husband’s immediate delight), he had, over a number of weeks, grown fond of its overall “feel”. As one of the only fully “finished” rooms in our house at that point, he was also really reluctant to starting messing with its decor again. However, after much grumbling, he agreed to give it a shot. Minus the built-ins, a couple of lamps and a chair, everything in the room went out, and the sofa came in. The good news was that it fit – up the stairs and into the room. The bad news was that my husband absolutely hated how it looked in there. 

Admittedly, it took some getting used to. The sectional had a completely different style and vibe than our much-loved IKEA couch (and all the old pieces that went along with it) and, because of its sheer size, it totally dominated the room like a giant brown mushroom. But I knew we could make it work; we just had to – I was not about to admit defeat. So I set to work on the design, for the second time; back I went to the drawing board for new accent pieces. Given that this was my second pass at “finishing” the space, my budget was pretty tight. Luckily, I found some great deals at IKEA, HomeSense and Jysk, and was able to complete the transformation for under $200: new coffee tables ($7.99 each), throw pillows ($45), decorative vases ($43), and picture shelf ($30).
Here, as a comparison, is a photo of our bonus room as it was under its previous owner’s occupation:

And, as a reminder, are a couple of “Before” pics, taken after our first round of renovations:

And here is the “After”:

We both ended up loving our new (new) space. My husband had planned all along to add a projector in this room, and the new sofa will make his much anticipated movie/sports nights all the more cozy. The room is also a little less cluttered, which will come in handy once Junior starts needing more floor space. And I love the bright colours and eclectic vibe.  So our “sectional drama” ended up with a win all around. As an added bonus, our old family room furniture will now grace the basement, making it a much more stylish space than we had originally planned. 

And, yes, we did get the IKEA sofa all the way down the basement stairs.

1 Comment on New beginnings, part 2

  1. I love that title The Sectional Sofa: A drama in two acts.

    My home improvement story may be “Paint Wars Episode V: The Homeowners Strike Back.”

    Glad your sofa made it down the stairs. The end result is fantastic!