I painted my sofa because Jonathan Adler.

Jonathan Adler is a designer based in New York City with a storefront shop in the West Village on Greenwich Avenue. I have sort of a love-hate thing for this d00d because, well, I loooove many of his designs, and yet I haaaaate the stratospheric pricing.

First, the love. If I had to describe Adler’s overall aesthetic, I’d say midcentury-modern-meets-obnoxiously-opulent-whimsical-retro-pop-culture-plus-drugs. Yes, drugs.

Check out these decorative lucite pills for example, Adler’s “lustrous homages to fab pharmaceuticals.”


They come in multiple colors and three “dosages,” etched with 150 mg, 300 mg and 500 mg. What would I do with these objets, you might ask? Why, I’d pile them on the floor under my fab coffee table, of course. AS ONE DOES.


The problem? These beauties run $98 to $248 apiece. (And I don’t even want to know the price of that coffee table.)

And these canisters:


I would suggest storing your caffeinated coffee in the Uppers jar and decaf in the Quaaludes, but only if you’re fairly certain the NYPD will never raid your apartment white. Also, rich. Because those fucking canisters will run you $98 and $138, respectively. FFS.

And lookit these!


Secrets – Fibs – White Lies canisters
Perfect for storing all my Donald Trump speech transcripts!

And behold my latest obsession, throw pillows with “hand-sewn glass beads on luxe linen” spelling out LSD and Opium:


And I could have both for the low, low price of only $396!


As you might imagine, those are hardly the only pillows from Mr. Adler’s collections that have made it their mission in life to torture me.

These are the Talitha pillows, which range from $255 to $325


And of course the Aquatica Octopus Throw Pillow for $295:


Cephalopillow?! WANT.

But the pièces de résistance are Jonathan Adler’s sofas. I walk by his Greenwich Ave. store windows regularly, and when I do I covet the everloving shit out of every one I see.









(See also: Restoration Hardware:


…um, wow.
Also wow: $8,795.)

I moved to New York City more than 20 years ago carrying only a backpack, and if there is one grand lesson that living here has taught me, it is that I don’t need a lot of stuff. I buy my furniture at thrift shops, people. I am a really big fan of repurposing and recycling. I’ve hardly lived like a monk or anything, but I learned to value quality over quantity, durability over disposability, classics over trends and most of all, a serene and comfortable home over the chaos and clutter that characterize the streets outside. My home is like an impenetrable bubble, if you will, where I feel supremely safe and can recharge from the occasional ravages of life in this city—and from the occasional ravages of life, period.

That can take many forms, and look like many things. Like that one time I painted the inside of my cheap-ass little bathroom medicine cabinet with blue skies and white clouds and covered the glass shelves in faux leopard fur. Why? Because at the time I was on an amusing kick of asking myself regularly “WWDD?” (What Would Dalí Do? Highly recommended, BTW). And because I felt unmitigated joy every single time I opened that cabinet, as I knew I would.

Fortunately my partner enthusiastically encourages my creative endeavors, and generally trusts that they will make our shared home a happier place to live. Or maybe he just accepts that once I latch on to an idea, there is no talking me out of bringing it to fruition. In any case he’s used to this, and once it’s finished, he pretty much always loves what I’ve done. But he did raise an eyebrow when I mentioned I was planning on painting the sofa.


When we moved into this apartment together several years ago, we combined our existing furniture “just for now.” This meant that he brought out of storage a 2-piece sectional sofa he purchased in Soho more than fifteen years ago. I don’t know how much he paid for it, but it seems to be good quality. It’s deep and comfortable and essentially the size of two twin beds, which is nice for overnight guests. But! It is white. Or, I should say, it was white. After a few years of his teenage kids crashing on it, our drunk friends spilling on it, our own generous contributions of splattered coffee and Chinese takeout, plus an unfortunate stay in a leaky storage unit, the only way to describe the color of this sofa is “sad.”



We’ve tried cleaning it up using various solvents and methods (including a professional wet upholstery vacuum), and in the beginning these worked…sort of. It would stay clean-ish for a little while, but never very clean for very long. Dust, dirt and stains became set in, seemingly bonded to the microsuede fabric itself.  No amount of scrubbing, even with bleach, made any visible difference at all.

Those sofas in the windows on Greenwich Ave. started seriously taunting me, whispering things like “really, what’s four thousand dollars in the scheme of things? You can just pay it off…! …eventually…!”

Fuckers. But then I’d come home to this:


Really fucking SAD.

The sofas on Greenwich Ave. were getting louder and louder, belligerently  shouting at me to come inside and just sit down on one. “What’s the harm?!” they demanded.

“FOUR THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS, that’s what,” I shot back with a glare. They just stared back smugly.

And here’s the thing. We plan to move in early 2017, and the thought of taking the world’s saddest sofa with us was quickly becoming my hill to die on. As I saw it, my options were these:

  1.  I could buy a new sofa, maybe even a Jonathan Adler sofa (on sale!): $$$$
  2.  I could have ours reupholstered: not as bad as $$$$, but still $$$.
  3. I could keep surveilling the thrifts for something workable: $$ to $$$, depending.
  4.  I could google “how to paint a sofa.”

Believe it or not, I was not the only weirdo in the English speaking world to whom this preposterous idea has occurred.

Heidi did this:


Kristi did this:


Mandy did this:


And a brilliant DIY-er named Barbara painted a sad little microsuede chair, five different ways:


I was sold. If nothing else, I reasoned, it would be a drastically less expensive option than any of the others—and even if it turned out to be a disaster of biblical proportions, that would still not preclude options 1, 2 or 3. Sure, there were some logistics and details to work out, like the color (blue-gray base with white mottling), the formula (2:2:1 flat interior latex paint, textile medium and H2O), the technique (wet fabric thoroughly with water, brush on base coat, sea sponge for mottling coat, dry 24 hours, sand lightly), the cat who wants to “help” (work on each piece separately in the bedroom with the door shut, to a soundtrack of Whiny Kitty and the Scratches), and the OMFG WHAT AM I EVEN DOING (test first on one side of a pillow).

I went all in.




It was looking good.

I shopped online for pillows of different shades, different patterns and different textures. Inexpensive pillows. And now I have this:




I love my sofa!

Wait, and what is that…that one rather unusual pillow?


Wait…is it…


…is it a squirrel skull pillow, designed by Jonathan Adler Iris Vander Pluym and sold exclusively by Perry Street Palace?


YES. Yes it is. :D

You know what this means, don’t you? That means I now have the coolest fucking sofa in the West Village. Not to mention the coolest squirrel skull pillow in the entire world.

Tl;dr: fuck Jonathan Adler.

Have a nice day.



This entry was posted in art, joy, NYC by Iris Vander Pluym. Bookmark the permalink.

About Iris Vander Pluym

Iris Vander Pluym is an artist and activist in NYC (West Village), and an unapologetic, godless, feminist lefty. Raised to believe Nice Girls™ do not discuss politics, sex or religion, it turns out those are pretty much the only topics she ever wants to talk about.

One thought on “I painted my sofa because Jonathan Adler.

  1. I bow in unworthiness in your general direction, oh queen of painted sofas. Deliver multiple backpats to yourself forthwith!

    Srsly, that is an amazing job you did. That Adler d00d can stuff it.

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