June. Ahhh, the month we’ll be at the cottage more! And this year will mark the first summer we won’t be avoiding our couch. That’s because it’s long gone … or maybe still sitting at Goodwill Industries?
The piece was so unattractive, I’m 100 percent sure it could win first place in the world’s ugliest couch contest. Really! Here’s how I know.
The story begins when we purchased our northern Michigan cottage a few years back. It came with all of its furnishings, including a couple of couches. One in particular was an eyesore, but beyond its hideous exterior of oranges, golds, greens — and I’m not sure what the other colors would be called — its bones were good, strong, and solid. We didn’t have a couch for the room it was in at the time, so we decided to keep it. We had it professionally cleaned, twice, but the cleanings didn’t make one iota of a difference. It was, simply, ugly. Oh, how my sons laughed at that couch! And every time I walked into the room, I thought, “I must buy a new couch soon!”
Because a brand-new couch wasn’t in the budget that year, I purchased a navy Sure Fit cover. We tucked the cover into various crevices, pulled and yanked to get it just right, tied the sides beneath the arms, and stuffed the back of it between the wall and the backside of the couch. That’s about the best we could do. If you vacuumed around the couch, or disturbed it ever so slightly, or actually sat on it, you’d surely see a bright pop of orange and gold, a streak of avocado green, a glimpse of the sad material and pattern beneath. I was constantly readjusting that slipcover. (To be fair to the slipcover company, the oddly shaped sofa was the reason it wasn’t a, well, sure fit).
I held out hope that perhaps I could get the cover to work better. Back to the directions I went, and something on the packaging immediately caught my eye — the company was running a competition for its annual Ugly Couch contest. The winner would receive thousands of dollars and a newly designed room, and the finalists would be flown to New York City to appear on a major network’s morning show.
All I had to do was snap some photos of the couch and submit them online, along with some other information. Immediately I dreamed that I’d win; I could just imagine a really great room at our lakeside cottage, replete with cozy sofas, wood floors, expensive window treatments, and more. I entered the contest on the very last day, and almost at the last hour.
A few weeks went by and I checked the company’s website to see if they had posted anything about the Ugly Couch contest.
And there it was, in all its orangey, ’70s-patchwork glory! My heart stopped. The loser couch had won! I yelled to my husband, “Look at my computer screen, now!” We laughed and laughed as we gazed at what was becoming more endearing to us. I imagined myself on stage, in New York, talking to the morning show’s hosts about the couch (and starting to feel bad about making fun of it; after all, someone designed it and built it, and someone else purchased it). We looked at my screen again, grinning at the couch and high-fiving each other.
Then I wondered why I hadn’t received an email from the company alerting me of my win. That’s when my live-in detective noted something: “We have windows on both sides of the couch,” he said to me. “Yes?” I asked. “This photo has only one window.” My heart sank. “It’s not ours, but it’s the same couch!” I yelled. “I’m calling the contest people now!”
The company’s representative was more than kind, and explained that, indeed, it was the same couch (and even mentioned, I think, that the judges had laughed — like, could there really be two of these out there?), but my entry was submitted after the other entry, so they had to go with the earlier entry. (Lesson learned: The early bird really does get the worm!)
So we lived with the couch, and actually learned to make the slipcover look quite good. Then, last summer, we joyously said our goodbyes. Watching the super-strong Goodwill staffer haul it into the store, we snapped a few farewell photos.
Enter a cream-colored, comfortable leather sofa. Happily, this one will never be an ugly-couch contender.