Goldilocks has nothing on Norma

For the past month or so we’ve been on a quest to find a new recliner for my mother. Her old one is, well, old, and to top it off, a spring plunked upon the floor beneath her just the other night. I’d say it’s time.

But here’s the thing. My mother is particular. I have no problem with that because I’m quite picky, myself. Finding the perfect recliner has turned into a needle-in-the-haystack kind of experience. Mom wants . . .

Mom in recliner
Norma, aka Goldilocks, finds one recliner that’s almost right.
  • A wing back chair design
  • A seat that isn’t too deep, since she’s quite short and doesn’t want her legs dangling like a toddler’s
  • A seat that isn’t too high for the same reason
  • A lever or buttons to manage the reclining action since some chairs are hard for her to push back, or worse yet, slam back into submission after reclining
  • The footrest needs to be comfortable and not too short (she doesn’t like her heels suspended in midair)
  • The back should recline a bit; no full-on horizontal as if she’s a frat boy settling in for an afternoon of college bowl games
  • The fabric needs to be pretty and complement the existing living room furniture: since the couch and matching gigantic armchair and ottoman (my dad’s manly choice a number of years ago) are a dark, burgundy leather, it cannot be another leather piece or a solid color. Flowers and/or plaid are the preferred patterns.

I think that about covers it. We started, logically enough, at La-Z-Boy sometime in late May. After sitting in at least a dozen chairs and finally finding one that was suitable, if not exactly Love at First Sight, we adjourned to the design center in the middle of the store to look at 5,492 fabric samples. Again, we finally found something that was okay, but not To Die For. That’s right. All those samples and nothing fabulous that screamed I AM NORMA.

Mom still was about ready at this point to settle for “nice” when the salesman started adding up the extra cost for the selected fabric and the motor to work the buttons and Scotchgard and the delivery and . . . the chair was going to cost more than $2,000 after tax!

Now, Mom may have been tempted if this was going to be the most beautiful, comfortable chair she’d ever seen, but wisely, she decided it was not worth the money. We all have our HELL NO point. That was hers.

We put the chair search on hold after that very long and disappointing experience until last weekend. Chris was joining us for Sunday lunch and with no special plans for the rest of the afternoon, he suggested we look at more recliners.

This is when the Goldilocks syndrome really kicked in.

brown chair
This chair, while the style was wrong, had a LIFT feature to kind of tip you up and out of the chair. The salesman said elderly people get indignant when he suggests it. I want one.

After sitting in chairs that were either too big, too deep, reclined too drastically, or were just plain ugly, we decided that Levin Furniture wasn’t going to have the answer.

We hopped back in the car and traveled about a half mile to take a shot at Kronheim’s. Bob, the salesman, was very helpful and success almost seemed within reach. We even examined all the fabrics available for one chair that, while not a wing back, could have been okay. The fabrics were all part of a family of textile designs called “Metro.” Well, my mother is not a “metro” kind of gal. Actually, I find it hard to imagine anyone saying, “Oh, I LOVE that one!” to ANY of the patterns. I am guessing that anyone who chose that chair either stuck with a solid color (the charcoal gray on display in the store was attractive enough) or settled for whichever weird and/or lackluster design would be least offensive when introduced to their other furniture.

Bird recliner
This recliner, but not with birds, and preferably with a wing back. Close, but no cigar.

Discouraged, we returned my very tired mother to her home in Madison, but Chris and I decided (independently) to search for the perfect chair on line. I eventually found this chair with birds that I thought was right up her alley, but she quickly reminded me that she doesn’t like birds.

What? Who doesn’t like birds? Then I thought, well – I don’t like flowers. Who am I to judge? Oh, I love real flowers, but I don’t want to sit on them. Floral upholstery just seems, well, old lady-ish. If I were to win the lottery and decided to buy a second home in the Cotswolds I’d go all chintz with cabbage roses and toile, but that’s the only circumstance where I can see myself sitting on flowers. Here’s a picture of two of my favorite chairs that I’ve had for umpteen years now.

These chairs are my style. Plus they match Micky.

The good news about the bird chair is that we agreed that it is awfully close to the style she’d like, so I started looking for similar chairs to check out the brands. Lo and behold, Sheraton Furniture, which is less than a mile from my home in Willoughby, carries two of the brands that look like good possibilities for Mom. We’re going on Sunday. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Fingers crossed that our Goldilocks finds a chair that is JUST RIGHT.



10 thoughts on “Goldilocks has nothing on Norma

  1. This made me laugh out loud starting with “My mother is particular.” And then the list of requirements. I can’t wait for the sequel. Save this for your son in 25 years, okay.

  2. Oh, how I hate looking for furniture that I know in my head shoud exist, only to discover that it doeesn’t! I shopped for a new couch when I was very pregnant. It was January in the Midwest. Getting up and sitting down a million times in dry weather gave me a very chapped ass!

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