With a borrowed pickup truck parked on our front lawn, my husband and I moved our new couch up the porch and through the front door as our dog looked on, his head tilted in confusion.
“This is for you buddy,” I told our big Golden–Lab mix, GhostBuster, my voice competing against that of our outraged Terrier mix, Marshmallow (a known escape artist who I’d shut in the bedroom before propping the front door open).
As my husband and I maneuvered the new couch — well, loveseat — into our already overstuffed living room, I told GhostBuster repeatedly what a lucky boy he was, but I’m sure he would have realized this even if I hadn’t pointed it out. After all, this was the second time we’d carried a couch into this room specifically for him.
Our first dog, GhostBuster was adopted as an adult back in 2014. A much bigger mutt than I had imagined we would get, I wasted no time telling him he was not allowed on our then brand-new living room furniture, and GhostBuster dutifully obeyed (unless, of course, I was out of the room or closed my eyes).
At the time, our arrangement looked just like it had in the furniture store. Our “goldenrod” sofa and loveseat were flanked by matching yellow lamps on coordinating side tables. The coffee table sat on top of a green rug that tied the whole room together (and was later removed because GhostBuster is allergic to it). My living room was a lovely, grown-up space decorated with two adults and a couple of cats in mind.
Had I known GhostBuster (not to mention our second dog, Marshmallow, and then a human baby who might as well be a vomit canon) would be entering our lives so soon after we purchased the furniture, I would have chosen differently.
The destruction of my carefully curated living room started on GhostBuster’s first Thanksgiving with us. My husband must’ve been in the giving spirit or maybe all the turkey turned him into a softie. Either way, he decided that before we could settle down and binge watch Twin Peaks, we needed to bring an ugly leather couch up from the basement so that GhostBuster could cuddle up with us.
I tried to protest. I told him the leather couch wouldn’t fit in our living room. Our house was built in the ’50s, and while it’s probably too big to be featured on Tiny House Hunters, it would definitely be considered tiny by anyone on regular House Hunters — adding another couch to the living room would make it seem even smaller. I complained that the ugly, beige, dentist’s office couch didn’t match my aesthetic, but my husband and GhostBuster both looked at me with adorable brown eyes and the next thing I knew we were all cuddled up on the ugliest piece of furniture we own. My pretty couches were pushed to the side.
Over the next year or so, I tried to make that couch work for GhostBuster’s sake. The off-white, scratched, and scuffed leather attracted dirt like crazy, and the couch looked gross most of the time. I bought slipcover after slipcover — but because the leather monstrosity was all one piece, it had no separate cushions to tuck the fabric into. The slipcovers would shift every time GhostBuster got on or off the couch, and they always looked sloppy.
I started to obsess over couches that were made to be slipcovered. Google led me to believe the many mommy bloggers who swore by all-white, totally bleachable Pottery Barn slipcover sofas, but they all cost more than my car — even secondhand. My husband suggested I consider Ikea’s Ektorp, which was similar and would allow us to upgrade GhostBuster’s couch but still send our son to college some day.
The night we had planned to buy GhostBuster his very own Ikea Ektorp, I happened to be online and saw a listing for a gently used loveseat version of the very same sofa. It wouldn’t be as long as the couch GhostBuster was used to, but picking it up locally would save us the three-hour round trip to the nearest Ikea. My husband borrowed a truck, went to the ATM, and picked up the new, washable, way-less-ugly couch — all so our dog could be comfortably elevated while Netflixing.
The hideous leather monster went back to the basement where it belongs, and GhostBuster, Marshmallow, and one human can sit comfortably on the smaller Ektorp. I still think three couches is one too many for our small living room, but really, GhostBuster’s comfort is more important than aesthetics.