In Defense of Uncomfortable Furniture

Because beauty, as the saying goes, is pain, buy the furniture you want for a change and forget everyone’s alleged comfort needs.

By Sandra Bazzarelli

 

You are in the furniture store when you spot a dining room set that would look just right in your dining room. It's modern, and it's perfect. You decide to have a seat to test out one of the chairs. You lean back and feel nothing but pressure and pain. Is something actually stabbing you in the back? Who designed this chair? Brutus? Immediately, the steel chair back, with its complicated funnel cake design, fails the comfort test. It pokes at your skin, presses against your spine. But, dear God, you love the look of it. So, you sit up straight. Much better. Within seconds you decide that if you can sit up straight, then so can everyone else who sits at your dining room table in one of these chairs. And besides, too much sitting isn't good for you. Better to stand, right? You suddenly realize that your kids won't soon be slouching in them and, somehow, you like these chairs even more. Turns out a little discomfort begets benefits you may not have anticipated, but will welcome just the same. 

 

A Better Investment

You buy the dining set. You have it sitting in your dining room for five years, and it still looks brand new. Why? Because it's uncomfortable! And, wouldn't you know it, the best investment in furniture you ever made. Practicality be damned. There is longevity in furniture that is literally a pain. On a personal note, and one I am sure many of you can relate to, I spent many a summer with the backs of my sweaty summer thighs stuck to my grandmother’s plastic covered sofa cushions. All I wanted to do was sit in that living room and watch TV, but I was so uncomfortable that I had no choice but to go outside and play. Think about it. Have you ever been able to be both lazy and uncomfortable? Only recently did my grandmother unsheathe her sofa of its protective plastic skin. And, of course, it was perfect underneath. I'm convinced that sofa is 50 years old, but you would never know it. Its uncomfortableness has kept it brand new. People think plastic covers are intended to keep your sofa stain-free, but they aren’t. They are intended to keep your sofa people-free. I mean, if you can’t even sit on the sofa to watch TV, are you really going to sit on it with a cherry popsicle? That sofa may not have been crafted to be the worst seat in the house, but the genius of my grandmother’s plastic covers recast it as such. And she never had to buy another sofa again. Talk about getting more bang for your buck!    

 

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Behold! Beauty

I’m just going to say it. Your giant brown couch is hideous. It’s like a big bear hug sitting in the middle of your living room. Your dogs love it. Your kids love it. Your husband and his football buddies love it. It’s the cozy catchall that everyone throws themselves on without giving it a second thought. You bought it with your family sprawl in mind. And it’s the ugliest thing you own.

 

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The fact is, the most beautiful and interesting designs are the ones that don't take you or your family into consideration. The last thing a furniture designer of note is thinking about is the lounging habits of your pets. No, the furniture they put forth is art, something to drink in with the eyes, not some throwaway idea of furniture that gets chewed up and spit out. You see, if furniture were food, your couch would be a burger. No lettuce or tomato, just the patty in the bun. And not even a sesame seed bun. Comforting, sure, but not much to appreciate aesthetically. That burger might feed you, but it certainly won’t nourish you or your soul. That’s why investing in an Art Deco or French Provincial sofa, for example, makes art sense. Beauty inspires beauty, after all. You’ll soon find that your furniture can set the tone, not just for your interior design style, but also for your lifestyle.

 

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Manners and Health

Full disclosure: my furniture is uncomfortable. My chairs and my sofa absolutely require that you sit on them politely or not sit on them at all. Some call my furniture unwelcoming. I prefer to call it invulnerable. I literally greet people at the door with, “Come in and make yourselves somewhat comfortable.” Such furniture maintains the look of the space and dictates decorum at the same time. Sitting up straight is a virtue most ballerinas understand; why not adopt it? Not only is it good for your spine and digestion, it also gives you a longer, more attractive line. Hence, your uncomfortable dining room chair is really doing you, your family, and your guests a terrific service. Plus, with uncomfortable furniture, no one is going to fall asleep in front of the TV after Thanksgiving dinner. People will have no choice but to be civil to one another because they will be forced to sit up straight or stand. It really is easier to engage people in conversation when you are, you know, awake. Also, as most already know, the longer you sit at the table, the more you eat. Therefore, uncomfortable furniture will help you to be fitter, not fatter. It’s (im)practically a miracle worker!

 

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Hence, the next time you go furniture shopping, set aside your concerns over practicality for a moment and ask yourself this question: Do I like to look at this? If the answer is no, then forget it. I don’t care if that sofa is as comfortable as one would imagine a cloud to be. If you can’t stand to look at it in the showroom, why give it center stage in your living room? People are highly adaptable, kids especially. Is there really any harm in making their existence a little less cushy? Because beauty, as the saying goes, is pain, buy the furniture you want for a change and forget everyone’s alleged comfort needs.

 

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