Sunday, February 24, 2008

Downsizing: Sofa King Fun!

Personal downsizing - we all do it at one time or another. When the kids grow up and move out on their own, we think about relocating into a smaller dwelling. Around that time, we might also decide that we no longer need the van that carted countless children to sporting events and weekend outings, so we start looking to downsize to a smaller vehicle. My aunt has decided to do some downsizing of her own.

The call for help came in on Friday afternoon. It was my cousin Barb in need of a couple of men and a power tool, in hopes that they could provide a solution to her dilemma. Barb's mother moved here from Montreal several years ago and lives about five minutes from my house. Over the past few years, she has probably acquired a few new electronic devices, kitchen gadgets and decor-enhancers, but her basic furniture has pretty much remained the same as the day she moved in. Lately she's finding that some of the discomforts of aging have caught up to her, and has decided that she'd be better off living in the seniors' residence across the road from her current apartment.

Such a nearby move might sound simple at first thought, but as with most things, problems arise from time to time. My aunt's four-seat sofa is too large to bring with her into her new dwelling and so she decided to sell it. She had a buyer who was willing to take it, and all seemed well until they attempted remove it from her seventh floor apartment. They squeezed it through her doorway without much difficulty, but when it came time to place it in the elevator, it just would not fit. This very same piece of furniture was moved into her apartment without issue several years earlier, but sometime during the course of her occupancy, there had been some renovations done to the building. This included new elevators. New, smaller elevators. This sofa was not going to fit. So back to the apartment it went, which is probably when the above mentioned call for help came in.

My son Jeffrey was in town this past week, and since Frank was also visiting, and we just happened to have a circular saw, we offered to see what we could do. Armed with a few tools, army-issue gloves and protective eye gear which Jeffrey purchased especially for the occasion, we headed over to my aunt's apartment and proceeded to destroy her thirty year-old sofa.

(You can click on each of the images for a larger view.)
This is the victim. A custom-made four-seater which served hundreds of bottoms well over the years. As you can see, it was still in very good condition which made it particularly heartbreaking to destroy. But the little boys in these two men prevailed over sentiment. They had tools and they were here to use them.

Frank and Jeffrey tipped the couch over on its front, and after making a small cut, began to remove the first layer from beneath the couch. Sofa so good!

After deciding where to go from there, they returned the sofa to its upright position and cut into the material to reveal the frame and springs beneath. The wire near the top frame spans the length of the sofa, and needed to be removed before they could safely saw into the wood.

Unfortunately, wire cutters were not among the tools that we brought. Frank located these vice grips in a storage room, and Jeffrey noticed that if placed just right, they could be used to cut through the wire.

Having successfully removed the main wire, Jeffrey cut into the base of the sofa to reveal the frame. My aunt watched and joked around at various intervals that she had changed her mind.

Here's where the little boy bubbled to the surface of my son. Prepare to destroy!

The blade cut through the surface of the wood, and then stopped abruptly with a screech...

A couple of screws were in the way. They needed to be removed the old-fashioned way.

Once all of the outer framework had been cut, there was a smaller, inner frame that was in an awkward spot. The men determined that it was hidden too deeply to access it with the circular saw.

Frank could approach it more easily from his side and he worked away at it until Jeffrey decided that a karate-like kick would work just as well, and a lot sooner.

A few snips, cuts, kicks and grunts later, the sofa was separated. When placed side by side, both parts fit into the elevator quite easily this time. They were brought downstairs and placed into the dumpster along with the accompanying cushions. I vacuumed the remaining mess and our mission was accomplished. One sofa successfully downsized.

My aunt offered us the opportunity to take anything that might have interested us from cartons of unwanted items. Among them was a box with near-full bottles of vodka and and whiskey. I think we'll drink a toast to my aunt, and bid her a smooth, stress-free move next week.


Frank Baron said...

That whiskey was purchased 38 years ago.

It mellowed very nicely indeed - reward aplenty. :)

david mcmahon said...

Sounds like a fun job. Well done, all of you.

Hope the move goes smoothly.

Jo said...

That was a little painful to watch...the sofa had such a nice, mod-Dutch feel to it. It's always fun watching men destroy things---at least they didn't totally give in & set it on fire or blow it up with bottlerockets!

I hope your aunt enjoys her new home :)

photowannabe said...

That was quite a search and destroy mission. Too bad the buyer didn't get his sofa. Great story Hilary.
I loved your response to my picture...pier why didn't I think of that?

katydidnot said...

good grief, maybe a grenade would've been easier. i'm sad though, that's a fabulous retro couch. good work, all!

g-man said...

I had a similar sofa story, except I had to put it back together, which I am happy to say I was able to do. It was a bit of a franken-couch but it was in the basement. When we moved I destroyed it to get it out of the basement.

Boys with power tools, nothing more manlier than breaking something! :)

awannabe said...

You're amazing... Make a photo op out of everything, dontcha? LOL

The couch fabric actually looks sort of like the hand me down my sis gave to me when I got married, cept it was
country blue with flowers.

david mcmahon said...

G'day Hilary, while I join you in toasting your aunt I must say I enjoyed your comment on my post about the Queen and the swans.

By the way my next novel is set in Muskoka, in your neck of the woods!

Hilary said...

• Frank I doubt it will last 38 days now that it's in your hands. ;)

• Thanks, David. :)

• Thanks Jo. It was indeed painful... but fun. ;) And Jeffrey did mention something about explosives. Military men.. sheesh! ;)

• Thanks so much Photowannabe. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• I agree Katydidnot. There were mixed feelings for sure. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Hi G-man. I'm glad your story had a happier ending.

Hilary said...

• Awannabe, yes. They roll their eyes when the camera comes out but.. ;)

• I'm glad you enjoyed the comment, David. Muskoka is a bit north of my neck of the woods but close enough, eh? :) Best of luck with it. Thanks, and please keep us posted.

Reb said...

What a sad story! I hate to see good furniture destroyed, but sometimes there is just no choice. Good thing you took pictures of the process.

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...

so fa(r), so good!!!! :dDD

Hilary said...

• I agree, Reb, but I think the fun factor outweighed the sentimental stuff for the guys especially.

• Moi, you've been sucked into the pun vortex! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, a graphic depiction of a couch dissection--you could start your own reality channel! Each week you could take your "team" to someone's house and have them hack something to pieces. I'd watch!

Great pics. Sorry, ol' couch, but that was cool.

Anonymous said...

Tee hee...I like the idea of making it into a reality show. Boys and their toys. I'm glad they had a bit of fun out of it.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Crabby. Gee ok you pitch the concept to one of the big networks.


• Susan has come up with a great working title although I think that "Boys & Their Toys" might have just made my StatCounter go through the roof!

Thanks to both of you for stopping by :)

Kappa no He said...

How long did it take? Talk about a well built (and beautiful) sofa! They don't make stuff like that anymore.

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady still hasn't seen the photos (dial-up, blah, blah, blah), but the descriptions are great!
Um, wasn't there a balcony? Wouldn't it have just been easier to toss it over? Nowhere near as much fun, of course.

Hilary said...

• Kappa, it took just about an hour, and you're right about the quality of the piece. This one was custom-made by her brother-in-law. Sadly (and with glee from the demolition group), there were no options.

• Baggie, doh! The balcony! (smacks forehead).. we could have.... Nah, just kidding. There was no balcony.. just a solarium with small sliding windows. ;)

Shammickite said...

Well, that was fun, watching your two chaps having fun destroying the sofa. They certainly built them well back then didn't they. (the sofa, not the men....). Shame it had to be taken downstairs in pieces.
Did they find any long lost money down behind the cushions?
But I suppose the whiskey and vodka was reward enough.
R.I.P. Mr Sofa.

Hilary said...

No lost change located, ex-S, but true enough that the bottles were a reward for the well-built men (and me). ;)

The Merry said...

I probably would have jumped on the sofa a couple of times first... there's a solution, let some toddlers loose and watch them destroy it! Oh wait, you did. (Big toddlers)

Hilary said...

Too true, Merry. Little boys never fully grow up. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Pendullum said...

They do not make couches like that everyday...
My goodness it was made to last!

Hilary said...

You're right, they sure don't make them like that anymore.. at least not the affordable ones. Thanks for swinging by, Penudllum. ;)

Seema B Menon said...

Awwww! Poor sofa :( looks like a dissected frog!

Hilary said...

Hi Seemu. I don't think biology class was ever this much fun. Thanks for the visit. :)