We’ve had a couch in our kitchen ever since we renovated ten years ago. The one before the one we have now was a loveseat from Ikea my husband still had from his first apartment, back during his university days – probably already ten years old itself by that time. It had a horribly dated navy/green/red Tex-Mex pattern all over it that killed your eyes to look at, so I bought a bolt of sage-y green cotton something-something fabric, and had it sewn into a slip cover.
After a million washings, it was time to let the whole faded thing go, and we bought another Ikea couch about a year and a half ago to replace it, for it’s simplicity and for it’s price. I chose the white one.
I have friends who have kids, who also have white couches… make no mistake – these couches are never pristine, and that’s totally okay – I don’t relish the pressure of keeping them as such, either. They’re just couches – they’re still just for sitting on. And it’s not the hardest thing in the world to keep one semi-clean, since we don’t usually wear shoes in the house, and kids aren’t jumping on them IN THEIR SHOES all the livelong day.
There’s a little table they eat at in front of said couch, so they’re not eating tomato soup in their laps while watching TV. Nor are they pouring themselves glasses of grape juice and casually tossing cups of it at each other. (They don’t eat tomato soup, and I don’t buy grape juice, anyway.) And I have a fairly strict “no cheezies” policy, for obvious reasons. And children must never bounce their faces into the couch, over and over again, after eating peanut butter or tacos, and please don’t try to open that pomegranate over there by yourself.
The slipcover on this new couch is not easy to remove. Sure, I can unzip the cushion covers and toss them in the wash (which I do from time to time) but the part on the body of the couch, though adhered underneath the structure with Velcro for a taut look, needs all kinds of furniture-turning-over and unscrewing of armrests and stuff, and then no one can sit on your couch while it’s in a bunch of pieces and being washed all day… it’s a pain in the ass, and I still haven’t done it.
So, since we are a dark-wash jeans wearing family, and come summertime, the soles of little feet are forever black with filth that comes from I’m-not-sure-where, there’s a certain amount of grime on the white couch that we come by naturally. And yes, there have been a couple of small drips and spills. And those tiny shards of chocolate that fall off the bar, or stray chocolate chips fallen from cookies or other baked things end up melting with one’s body heat and turn into suspicious-looking streaks now and again. It all comes out in the wash eventually.
Yesterday, Madame just begged and pleaded for me to let her paint, which I was reluctant to let her do, only because we’d just finished painting a wall in the kitchen, and I had just put all the accoutrement away. The house was looking tidy, and I just didn’t feel like hauling out all the paper, paints, and other junk for her.
I’ve also got a fairly strict “no paint” policy going on at home a lot of the time – not because of the white couch, but because we’re just lacking room and space to leave artwork like that to dry, especially when it’s about an hour before dinner time, and really… just… please, not today.
But then my tutu-wearing kid with a play-crown on her head just bugged me and bugged me about it, so I gave in. Because I’ve been in a horrible mood lately, and I just didn’t want to say NO to her anymore, and hell, it’s just paint. But I said she needed to change her clothes first, and I went to the basement to change up the laundry.
When I got back, she’d pulled the stuff out herself and had begun. She pulled on a pair of jeans over her striped tights, but had neglected to change her shirt, telling me it’s fine… I’m being careful… I rolled up the sleeves of her new shirt, and tried not to hover.
And while I wasn’t hovering, and went back to the basement for laundry duty, I returned to find she’d abandoned the paint brushes, and opted to paint with her fingers instead…
Ho. Lee. Crap.
“AVA SCARLETT! What the… holy… ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW??!“
Splattered paint everywhere. Her shirt was ruined. Flecks of brick-red all over the white TV stand and on the screen itself. And all over the floor. Dots on the newly-painted fireplace wall.
And the couch.
“Are YOU…? Wha… how’d the… shiiiiiit, girl!“
I snatched her up and put her in the bathtub, and angrily shucked her out of her mess of a shirt, and bit my tongue until I was sure I’d taste blood. I put the shirt into a basin of water and started agitating the paint spots, which didn’t help one iota. I knew from that action that the couch could not be helped.
(It’s all fine now with the child – they make mistakes – she felt bad, I felt bad, I won’t send her to boarding school after all, and everything is okay again.)
And in looking at the couch after the fact, it’s not the worst. The floors got the brunt of it all, and I managed to clean up the fireplace wall without incident. Thanks to the smooth, lacquered finish of the TV stand, that was easy, too. Surfaces can be wipes. Stuff can be washed. But garden-variety red acrylic paint is a whole other ball of cheese.
The spots are small – maybe thirty or forty tiny Pollack-esque dots, and they only cover parts of the seats, but the cushions were already turned out to their “good” sides. I guess I’ll be going to Ikea soon. At least I can replace the cover easily, and for not a lot of monies.
And yes, I’ll get another white one. I love the way it looks, even with a bit of grime. It’s not as if I’d be any happier had this happened on a grey couch, or a yellow one, or any other colour. (If you know anything about me, you’ll know that a patterned couch isn’t likely to find its way into my house, either.) I’m not being persnickety because I don’t want paint on my furniture. I mean, really.
Perhaps I’ll just keep the paint projects in the capable hands of the preschool people from now on. Because that’s precisely what preschool is for. Ack.
Ever had a mishap with kids and couches?