The Legend of the Norma Costa Sofa
This sounds really corny but I feel like sometimes things find me. I have what we will call "specific" taste. That's a polite way of summarizing the myriad of adjectives that others have used to describe it - gaudy, eclectic, whorehouse chic, bad, eccentric, unconventional, WTF, etc.
So my dear friend Kathy and her husband run the auction in town and she understands my very specific taste, so she lets me know when something "special" is coming up for auction. It’s nice to have a friend who indulges your bad habits!
A few months ago I was visiting with her and she told me that they had this couch that was coming up at the auction and that she thought it would be perfect for our house.
She brought in the auction flyer and I knew immediately that it was the perfect sofa for our parlor!
It's this elegant crushed velvet that is a very light orange/gold color with carved wood around the base and on the sides of the headrests.
We had been looking for some funky chairs or something really different for the parlor since it is such a unique room. It has these old built-ins and the original black carved marble fireplace. And a cow border... which I’m pretty sure is the same border that is used on the gates of hell. The parlor is currently full of everything that should belong in our kitchen but here are a few images of the parlor so you get an idea of the space.
We went to the auction preview the night before to test out the couch and measure it to be sure that it would actually fit in the parlor. And I still had to convince Gary that the sofa was this magical gift from the heavens that we couldn’t pass upl!
How often does a rounded floral sofa come up for auction? Apparently never! He sometimes leans a little more traditional/conservative when it comes to furniture so I was shocked at how quickly he was sold on the idea of an 11' sofa with flowers and crushed velvet!
A few people joked while we were there that nobody would bid on it because it was a little too specific and that the couch may have possibly been from Hugh Hefner’s garage sale (which really isn’t that far fetched)! We were hopeful it would be ours! I love the idea of a bold sofa. I’ve always been obsessed with the Lee Radziwill (Jackie O’s sister) tiger sofa that she had in her NYC apartment. I think it is brilliant. But I also think that flowers will always be better than tigers.
The day of the auction we left the trailer at home for good luck. We figured if we brought the trailer, someone would outbid us and we wouldn't get our gorgeous sofa!
I anxiously waited for our lot to come up. Meanwhile, people kept sitting on my couch during the auction! At one point some lady was even drinking coffee on it. Heifer.
The couch finally came up and some random lady came out of nowhere to try and outbid us! She decided at the last minute that it would go great in her farmhouse. Which… it is an auction so completely fair… but come ON, lady! This is clearly my couch. I don’t care what her farmhouse looks like, it doesn’t go with this sofa. This sofa found me. In even more shocking news, Gary went all crazy and got into a fierce bidding war! He knew that I really wanted it. I even gave him the “we can probably quit bidding now because this is getting slightly out of budget” look but he was not having it. Needless to say, we won. And now the sofa is my Christmas, birthday and Hanukkah present for the next 8 years.
After the auction, the family of the person that owned the sofa came up to visit us. They wanted to know if we were going to reupholster it and what we were planning on doing with it. I told them I loved it and that we were certainly not changing it. It was going home to our parlor and that was the end of that.
They told me that couch had belonged to their aunt, Norma Costa, who purchased it in Modesto, California in 1972 for her formal living room and she brought it with her to Iowa. Nobody was ever allowed to sit on the couch. Which explains its mint condition! Her family was so sweet to us. They also gave us the coffee table and side tables that match the couch. I didn't love the tables at first sight but once we got them home, I think they are really fun. They are kind of Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace meets baby prostitute chic.
I don’t mind our current neon yellow walls with the sofa but I think we will end up going with a creamy white color and make the rest of the room pretty minimal since the sofa is clearly the star of the show.
I’ve also decided it will always be referred to as the “Norma Costa Sofa.” I know my people when I spot one.