Tag Archives: furniture

Home Money-Saving Tips


A couple of weeks ago I walked into my friend Carol’s house — she has kids roughly the same age as mine — and was struck by how grown-up her house looked. It was spotless. Her sofas looked normal, as if no one had ever puked on / spilled milk on / mashed food into / used them as a trampoline. The overall effect of walking into a clean, puke-free house was magical…and serene. When I walked back into my own house, the saggy, stained sofas that sit in our family room made me glum.

Though I entertained fantasies of a new beige-colored microfiber sectional with leather trim, that was out of the question. I asked the kids if they would continue to jump on / step over, build forts with / color near / sneak food on said hypothetical sofa and they answered yes. So, I set out to refurbish! A cursory call to reupholsterers, who would re-stuff my formerly down-filled cushions, yielded a quote of roughly a thousand dollars for the sofa. That included a wait time of a couple of weeks while the special feathers were ordered, and a period of time during which I’d have no cushions upon which to sit. Not good enough for my need for immediate gratification.
So I ended up shoving old, flat pillows of yore into my cushions. See the picture above — the cushion closest to us has been restored using my free-but-effective pillow stuffing method (I stuffed them into the bottom-facing part of the cushion so the unusual lumps wouldn’t show as much); the depressed cushion further away is the “before” sample. I happened to have a lot of old flat pillows, which included a variety of out-of-commission-bed pillows and accent pillows, all shoved breast-implant-style into any space I could find in the cushions (which were zippered, making things a lot easier than they might have been). I then set about removing stains by using a spray bottle filled with water and blottting with a cloth; grease stains I was able to get out by sprinkling corn starch over stains and letting sit for a couple of hours before vacuuming up. The result? To the right. Puke-free puffy sofa! (Well, mostly. I wasn’t able to get out the residue from a particular incident involving pink silly putty. Silly putty is the enemy. Don’t let it into your house.)
This transformation inspired me to look for other low-cost ways to reduce the offensiveness of my family room. Here’s what the wall opposite my sofa used to look like — it was basically a mishmash of cheap furniture that somehow migrated down from the playroom.
A visit to IKEA and investment in Expedit bookshelves, filled in with baskets I’d gotten from Target for the play room a couple of years ago, plus a coffee table spruced up the room in a remarkably low-risk fashion. While I’d like to be able to say that my house looks like this all the time, and not just every other Tuesday when a certain cleaning crew rolls in to save the day, I can’t. But it does look less bad.