Downsizing: When It’s Time To Replace Furniture


My husband and I are about to buy a couch. This is our first major non-appliance purchase since we chose to downsize.

Downsizing was a terrific experience for us. We worked hard, going through our belongings, deciding what we wanted to keep, getting rid of the rest. Downsizing was a long, exhausting process that now feels like an instant in time.

We didn’t expect to need a new couch at this point. We weren’t planning on buying any new furniture for our house because we were happy with what we already had. We’re not buying the new couch for style or because we simply want something new. We’re buying a new couch because the old one aggravates my (admittedly touchy) back. I’ve had too many back spasms after watching a long TV show or movie to tolerate much more.

The simple answer might be to watch less TV. Instead, we’ve decided that we’ll invest in a new couch.

My husband acquired our current couch from his friend Mike, who bought it new and used it for five years, then wanted to change his decor. Bill used it for about nine years before we married. I liked the couch, so we kept it after we combined our households. We’ve been married for  12 years. You can do the math: the couch is 26 years old.

The average couch lasts 5 to 10 years. If a couch is well-made, it can last about 20 years. Some people say a high-quality leather sofa, as this one is, will last for generations. I suppose if we wanted to put the money into this piece, we could have it restructured in some way for better support, but I don’t know how long that will take or how expensive that will be. As I’ve said, the couch is 26 years old, and I’m not sure how much money we would want to put into it. Because we downsized, we have no other couches in the house to use as a replacement, even temporarily. With that in mind, we visited a local furniture store, thinking we should start looking around.

IMG_7771We sat on a lot of couches. I had some idea what I was looking for when we got there, but I was willing to sit on lots of types and styles to try them out. After all, you don’t buy a new couch every day, right? Traditional couches, highly decorative couches, reclining couches, fabric couches, leather couches, you name it, we sat on it.

IMG_7780After an hour and a half of sitting on couches, we had couch overload. We decided to go for lunch and talk it over. I thought again about what I originally wanted. What I originally wanted had to do with a bit of our history, and that’s what I discussed with Bill.

In 2009, I had to have shoulder surgery because my right shoulder ached constantly.  Surgery was scheduled for just a few days away when the doctor suggested that I sleep for the first few nights in a recliner instead of my bed.

We did not have a recliner.

We went to store after store, looking for a recliner that would work for me and that could be delivered in just a few days. Oh, and by the way, could it have controls on the left side of the chair since my right shoulder would be immobilized?


Ordering a chair takes about two weeks for delivery, the salespeople told us. If a store agreed to sell a model they had in-house, recliners on most stores’ sales floors had right-side controls.

Then we discovered Stressless Chairs, made by Ekornes. Stressless Chairs are not real recliners since the leg support was not built into the chairs we looked at. Instead, the chair responds to a shift in body position so that you can easily sit in it, recline, and then stand up.

Look, Ma, no hands!IMG_7755

We bought the floor model of the most comfortable one they had. After hearing our explanation, the company was willing to sell it to us, and it was light enough for Bill to pack in the car and take immediately. We bought an ottoman to match, and we were on our way.

Surgery went well. I recuperated in the Stressless chair.

I tell you this story because we still have that chair and I still feel lots of affection for it for the comfort it gave – and still gives – me. Apparently, we bonded. I can guarantee that I will fall asleep in it if I spend enough time there, even now.

So is it any surprise that I wanted an Ekornes couch to go with it?

IMG_7778The couch we chose was an Ekornes, but not a Stressless model. It’s a stationary, firm leather couch with great back support. We did choose to match the finish of the couch to the chair, so the photo is just the floor model they had. We ordered ours from the company. I believe they ship the parts from Norway and construct it in Morganton, North Carolina so it will take awhile.

Yes, we downsized to move into this house, but we still need a couch. We gave this purchase priority because the health of my back is involved. We have to balance comfort, cost, and how a new purchase fits into our “smaller” ethic. We believe that this particular couch will work out just fine.

The happy ending to this story is that we also found a new home for the current couch. A young man with a less touchy back will take it to his house and, hopefully, enjoy it for years to come.


This blog post is part of a series called Downsizing. It is the chronicle of moving from a 2475 square foot home to one approximately half its size during the first six months of 2016. It takes place in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.




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