Sofa saga: update and happy ending

10:55 AM

If you have been following this blog regularly, you know that we moved to a new flat 2 weeks ago, and that our sofa had a bit of trouble in the process. My old death trap of a flat was kind of holding it hostage.

It was that crazy mystery we will never ever solve. The sofa went in through two narrow hallways and a sharp 90 degrees turn just fine in 2012 when we moved into the flat we kissed goodbye this last April.
Yet, the sofa simply wouldn't fit in the doorway or could negotiate that super sharp turn and two narrow hallways when it was time to get out of said flat.
We tried every positions, we attempted to flip, turn and pivot, and 4 packers and movers plus 2 sofa makers later we just about gave up getting this freaking sofa out in one piece.

The sofa makers suggested we get the sofa out at all cost, even if it meant temporarily breaking the frame, and then they would re-upholster it and deliver it to our new home.

The leather was mostly pure leather, as in the front part was, the back and sides were a fake leatherette my cat had a blast shredding over the past two years (and no she never tried her claws on the actual, real leather part).
All in all, that sofa was already look old and shabby before we got to hack it to bits to get it out.

The sofa makers brought a few samples of vinyl leatherette fabric thinking we would want the same type of finish on it. Which we kind of considered for a brief instant. But, upon inspection, all the samples were flimsy, and there was no way in hell they would stand a chance for more than 2 minutes against Mittens.
So, I asked them if they could show us fabric samples, possibly the closest to a microfiber suede as they could.

At this point, remember that I did train as a sofa maker and soft-furnishing decorator in my youth. I know from countless stories from my customers in Geneva that cats tend to leave certain fabrics alone among them suede, microfiber, or the brand name Alcantara. They also tend to leave glossy short velvet alone.

Our sofa makers came back an hour later with many sample books fitting my request and we ended up deciding to not only upholster in velvet, but also go for a much bolder look for a boring marroon/marsala sofa :

That's right! We opted for a shiny peacock blue velvet! That type of velvet was by far the most sturdy and glossy they brought.

It's from the D'Decor brand of upholstery fabric and on top of being glossy, it is also a short hair, dense velvet with a very high "Martindale test" result. Martindale being a friction test run on fabric to see how much friction the fabric can withstand before it starts changing appearance or braking appart.

For upholstery fabric, the recommended test result should be at least in the 25k - 30k rotations range for a domestic grade fabric, and usually anything above 30k rotations is considered "Commercial grade".
This velvet falls in the commercial range, with a Martindale test result of 45, it means that it can withstand a lot of "abuse before breaking.

And guess what? My cat hasn't tried her claws on it yet. It's been a little over a week and she completely ignores it.
Something I knew would happen, but it's nice to witness it.

Because it is also tightly woven velvet, it also wipes clean, we had a spill on it, and all it took was a damp cloth to get it off, easy peasy.

To refresh your memory, this is how the sofa looked before :

And it was before the cat lacerated the sides, but already a couple of years of the deep burgundy color fading to a reddish brown on the real leather part.

Notice how the small purple cushions almost blend with the sofa color, and now look how all my cushions pop out on the new peacock blue version :

Considering that the frame and foam padding of this sofa was still in great shape, 7 years after buying it, re-upholstering was a great solution.

When we bought it in 2010, we paid close to 60k for what was advertised as a "pure leather sofa" which we found out a few years later was far from being the case as only the sitting area (aka cushions and armrests) were made of leather.
We found out when the real leather started ageing the way real leather age : with the dye colour getting lighter. We were suddenly seeing the front turning red while the sides remained as dark as when the sofa was brand new.

The total cost to re-upholster it, fabric, labor and taxes included was 15k rupees. And the labor included our two guys having to chop an armrest off to simply get it out of the flat in the first place.
To the former professional in the field that I am, the most amazing part was that they got the whole job done in a week time.
Making the sofa is not what takes the longer, my boss and I did re-upholster similar sofas in less than a week, but what was truly amazing is how fast they got such a big yardage of fabric so quickly.
In Switzerland ordering fabric and get it delivered often took 5-10 days, if all went well.

The biggest challenge is keeping my dog off the sofa now, she will not damage the fabric, but she has greasy hair that leave stains easily, and unlike Mittens, she is showing an interest in our new upholstery. 

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  1. Velvet wears like iron.
    We had velvet sofas in a deep 70's olive green in my house as a child. (With bright tomato red. saffron orange, and black patterned carpet. The black was some sort of curlicue latticed Spanish design- our whole house was like some psychedelic Spanish villa/Las Vegas lounge in the 70's complete with black vinyl beanbag chair. My dad designed restaurants in California in the 70's & our house too.) Anywho, the upholstery on those sofas never EVER wore out.

    Loving the peacock blue too, it's dark enough not to show every scuff but bright enough not to be depressingly dull and predictable.

    This morning's maid drama-
    I caught the maid using the dirty water from the mop bucket to soak our dishes. She poured the entire bucket of filthy, dirty mop water from just cleaning the floor into the basin with the dirty dishes in it. Yes, I know she used dish soap to clean them. And she rinsed them with water straight from the tap. And we mop the floor with Lizol. But come on, she mops around the kitty litter box - Ugh I do not even want to think about it. No wonder she gets typhoid every 8 months.

    1. My parents had dinning chairs with an olive velvet on it, bought un the 70's that goes without saying. We had them until the late 90's. By then my mom could not stand the sight of them anymore, but that green velvet was still intact.

      Ewwwwww on the maid! I would have thrown a fit of epic proportions

  2. Anonymous6:31 PM

    The sofa looks gorgeously comfy and glossy too. I think the surface is too glossy for anything to have a firm grip thereby reducing friction.

    Our sofa was hurriedly purchased from someone who was moving out, when we shifted to a bigger government accommodation. My mother insisted that our sixties style three seater would look tiny in the big dining room and reflect badly on our family prestige. She was actually quiet alarmed. So, the huge wooden sofa came along with two throne like chairs.

    It came with rexin which wore off. Since then it has seen three upholstery changes with cloth. I wish somebody had told us about velvet. Is it expensive? The next time we overhaul the sofa, we might give velvet a look.


    1. The price depends of the quality and material used to make the velvet, since velvet is a weaving technique. We needed 10 meters of it on our sofa.

      What you need to look at on fabric samples is the Martindale test score. As I said a sturdy upholstery fabric for domestic use should have a minimum of a 25000 score. 30k and above is considered commercial grade and is even more resistant to abrasion and friction. So the higher the test score the longer your fabric will withstand regular every day use.

      In the long haul it pays to go for the best fabric quality you can get with upholstery that is used daily.

  3. Hey! I won't lie to you, I've been going through your blog and old posts and I just love it! I'm an 18 year old who was born in India but now live in London (since I was 5) but I always miss India so much. I'm considering moving to Mumbai after my studies are over so I was just going through a few expat blogs. I really can't decide whether I'll like it! It feels so much like home, and so close to family and tradition and much more colourful and fun than how dreary it is in London. But then I think of dirt and bribery and I'm so unsure! But whilst I'm here, I often just look out of the window and wish I could be in India again. I just wanted to ask if you ever feel nostalgic like that, and have a deep longing to go back home?

    1. Hi Meg!
      Thanks for leaving a comment :-)

      I am one of the odd one when it comes to home sickness, in a way that I really really don't want to go back to Switzerland.
      More than the climate, the thing I dislike the most about my homeland is this obsessive and compulsive collective need to just fit in a box, to blend in, to be in the norm, to not outshine anybody, to not step in the spotlight.
      It's hard to explain to people who don't know Switzerland from the inside and it's something that most of my compatriots do not really see as a big deal. But I have always been a free spirit, from childhood.
      So the whole "you gotta fit in" gig was never much of my thing, and as an adult I resented the fact that people would frown upon it.

      Interestingly it took me years of living in India to really be ok with the fact that it was ok to stand out. Not that I had a choice, I stand out no matter what in India. But the Swiss mentality and ways alter you even if you were already a rebel of sorts. A bit like the chained elephant who remains docile after the chains come off.

      I love India and its chaos, colours, and the fact that it's ok not to blend in. There will still be the craziest that will tell me to "go back home", and yes there is dirt, pollution, and I am not a fan of the Summer heat. But I still love it, and I reached a point at which the quiet and order of Switzerland, or Europe for that matter unsettles me a little :-)


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