Thank you to all who commented on last night’s post, wherein I sought your opinions on a midcentury-modern-style couch – or, as we used to call it, “chesterfield” – that I’ve got my eye on for the Manse’s living room. One comment in particular, though, from reader GG, made me laugh as it brought back memories from the era of my childhood here at the Manse. As it happens, it was about a phenomenon that now seems about as quaint and old-fashioned as is using the word “chesterfield” for a couch.
It is, of course, the practice of covering all your upholstery in stiff plastic. Do you remember that?
My mum never tried it at the Manse, probably figuring that with four little kids who spent a lot of their free time playing in the dirt in the yard, the upholstery never stood a chance from the start no matter what she did. But lots of other households that we visited – and when you’re the local minister‘s family, you are invited to dinner and whatnot at a lot of households – did have that stiff clear plastic over their chesterfields and easy chairs and even the seats of their dinette sets. (“Dinette sets!” That’s a great midcentury term, is it not?)
The idea, of course, was to protect the upholstery from spills and dirt and wear and tear. All sensible enough, except for two rather major drawbacks:
- It made the furniture look terrible.
- It made the furniture hideously uncomfortable to sit on. And being able to sit on a couch, or a chair, is pretty much the point of the whole couch or chair exercise, right?
But still, people did it. And now they don’t. Or at least I don’t think they do. It’s been so long since I encountered plastic-covered upholstery that when I saw the chair featured in the photo atop this post (about a year ago, I believe in the lobby of a restaurant in Belleville) that I was quite taken aback. And of course had to document it photographically.
However, GG has helpfully taken the trouble to ascertain for us all that one can still buy those plastic covers. Here’s a screen shot from the website:
Great news, and thanks, GG! Our new Manse chesterfield can be safe from all harm.
There’s only one thing: neither we not anyone else will want to sit on it.