You know that new car smell that most people seem to like (but that makes me nauseous)? It turns out new furniture can have it, too.
Scott and I just moved into a new apartment. Because we sold most of our furniture before we went to Kazakhstan, there were a few pieces we needed to buy to be comfortable. One of those was something comfy to sit on in the living room.
We were originally talking about buying a second hand couch, but my parents told us about a great discount furniture store in town, and we ended up buying the few pieces we really needed from them. I was particularly excited about the couch. In terms of comfy living room furniture, Scott and I have had the following items in the past: a hand-me-down love seat, which we sold before spending a year in Jerusalem; a futon couch from Target that fell apart the first time we tried to move it to a new apartment; an Ikea wood frame chair with cushions that we sold before moving to Kazakhstan; and two hand-me-down easy chairs from my parents that we also sold before moving to Kazakhstan. You may be able to see the theme of hand-me-down pieces of furniture and furniture that appeals to the college student set. Picking out a couch--even from a furniture store that had somewhat limited selection--was a big deal, and I was happy with both the couch itself and the deal we got on it.
When our couch and other pieces of furniture were delivered, the delivery guys told me that they had had a new, unwrapped couch identical to the one we had tried out in the store, and that they had brought that one for us. I thought this was a nice gesture, and thanked them for it.
But then yesterday, I started to notice a chemical odor in the living room. This morning, I determined that it was definitely coming from the couch when I sat next to the couch sorting through a pile of books that were sitting by it. I probably should have known better and just taken the entire pile of books someplace else, but I convinced myself that it wasn't a big deal. I ended up nauseous, and spending a good part of the day in a coffee shop to get away--not an ideal situation when there are still boxes to unpack.
I looked this up on the internet, and the term people seem to use for this phenomenon is "off-gassing," which brings to mind all sorts of furniture fart jokes. Ironically, it sounds like I might have had less trouble if the delivery guys had brought the actual couch we had sat on in the store since it has had more time to air out. I'm sitting here with the balcony door open, letting in all the cold air, hoping the smell and my nausea go away soon. Maybe this is an ironic punishment for thinking that I might have some control over the color scheme or style of my surroundings. As lovely as the couch is, I'm thinking of surrendering to the thrift shop fates for any future furniture needs, no matter how many loud prints or 1970's colors I share my home with as a result.