Entries in reuse (1)


Everything old is new again 

I have a new couch.  Actually it’s a new old couch.  I had my sofa re-covered and I couldn’t be happier.  I am the Queen of Recycling.  Or is that Reusing?

I’ve had my couch for quite a few years and love it.  It’s super comfortable and fits perfectly into the alcove in my living room.  But yes, it’s seen its fair share of action (not that type of action) and was looking a little worse for wear.

Or as Soccer God noted, “Tan, no one is gonna want to sit on that couch anymore.”  Good call.

Friends tried to talk me out of getting it re-covered.   “Just buy a new one, you can afford it”, they scoffed at me.  “You work hard, you deserve something new.”  “If it’s not any cheaper, why don’t you just buy a new couch?”  On and on they went, trying to convince me that brand new was better than repurposed.  

I was determined to go down the recycling / reusing angle.  A friend has devoted her life to buying secondhand and runs Buy Nothing New Month. I’m not as dedicated as she is but I want to limit the footprint I leave on this earth if I can.  Off I went on my couch reupholstery journey. 

I received three quotes from different outlets.  Two were pretty much the same, with the third at least $800 more.  The “does more expensive mean better quality” question trolled through my head.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  $800 is a stack of cash.  That could also buy me some new second hand bedside tables. 

After a thorough research process (Google) I went with my first choice – and emailed to ask what happened next in the process.  A short email came back in broken English explaining that I needed to go to a local fabric wholesaler and choose the colour and material I wanted, then they’d recover my couch within three weeks.  Perfect.

I headed into said wholesaler a few days later and was overwhelmed to find rows and rows of fabric.  Around 3,000 samples at a rough glance.   Panic overtook me.  How would I choose something that would work for my space?

I have no idea what I’m doing here”, I said to the woman in the showroom.   She smiled and asked if I knew what colour I wanted as a starting point.  “Charcoal grey” I replied and she pointed to a wall of fabrics.  Much  better.  Only around 300 to go through. 

As I pulled sample after sample off the rack to check it out, it occurred to me that this is why a husband or boyfried would be handy.  I would have someone to discuss options with and if we didn’t agree, argue for a bit.  Then hopefully I’d get my own way (and have him confirm I’d made the right choice) and when the sofa arrived, stake my claim in its success (or his failure).  Doing this alone meant all the pressure was on me.  Don’t f*ck this up Tan, you do not want to be sitting on a $2,000 mistake for the next few years.

After a long time of deliberation and imagining the new colour and feel of my couch, I finally made a decision and off I went, a little bit pleased at myself, with swatches in hand.  This redecorating thing is a bit of fun.  

Three weeks later and I was still waiting for Mr Reupholstery to get back to me.  It seemed he had a nice Christmas break … and New Years break … followed by a Chinese New Year break.   Finally he confirmed he could collect my couch and we’d be underway.    “We come today”, he texted, “and you have back in three weeks.”  Okay, I can sit on the floor for a while.  I’ll just pretend I’m a minimalist.

Ten days later, Mr Reupholstery sends me a message: “Tanya, your couch ready. Bring $2100 cash and we deliver today”.

What?  I haven’t even seen the couch.  Two sweet Vietnamese men picked it up and lugged it down my staircase a week ago, but since then I’ve heard nothing.  What if this is a scam?  What if they’re going to come to my house, demand the cash and I’m poor, ripped off and couchless?  You see those stories on Today Tonight all the time and think “What an idiot”.  This will not be me.

“Hi there. Great.  Can you please send me photos too? Also I don’t have $2100 cash on me. Can I transfer into an account?”

“I will send photos.  Transfer $2310.”

Oh, right.  It’s all a little dodgy already.   GST he tells me.  Sure. 

“I can’t transfer the money until I see a photo so please send asap. Otherwise let’s do Monday. Thanks.”

The next day a shot of my supposedly newly covered couch arrives via text. It looks pretty good.  I scan the back of the picture looking for evidence of a hidden drug ring or other illegal activity.  Nope, just looks like a workshop.

It’s Saturday and I can’t bear the thought of sitting on my floor any longer.  My bum is numb.  I’ll transfer the money and pray someone delivers my couch today.

As I wait for Mr Reupholstery to arrive I check my watch.  He has $2,000 in his bank account and if he’s not here by 2pm, I’m calling the police.  I will not be on Today Tonight for my naivety and over trusting issues.

Suddenly my doorbell rings and two grinning middle aged Vietnamese men are carrying my couch up the stairs.  As they put it in place one remarks, ‘It’s like you had it specially made for this spot!” Exactly.  Tell that to my non-believing friends. 

Not only did Mr Reupholstery recover and add extra stuffing, he changed the cushions so they can now be rotated and cleaned (rather than stitching them all into place).  It’s a better couch than when I first bought it.  Hooray for recycling and reusing.  If only I could do that with people I know. 

(Note Asha the cat trying out the new couch ... for the first and last time.)