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The English Sofa: A Story of Up-cycling & Re-discovery


At Sonya Sapru Designs, our work is grounded in sustainable principles. We firmly believe in and advocate for upcycling – the notion that nothing should be wasted and that everything can be used and reused in some way, and that when you can’t think of what to do with something, you should give your creativity a go! That’s why we loved Yashvee’s story about an upcycled “proper english sofa” from her childhood – it’s a story of re-discovery and new meanings.

But first, a brief introduction to Yashvee:

If marigold would be a person – that would be Yashvee. She’s sensitive and compassionate. The way that she looks at and engages with the world is inspiring and full of joy. Yashvee is based in Banbury, UK, where she lives with her mother, two brothers and sister.

The English Sofa:

“Growing up, our home always had a fabric sofa.They were the obvious choice, because there were lots of us kids and we were always playing – jumping and running around, inevitably spilling stuff.

Yashvee and her grandmother, with their cloth sofa


When my grandmother (bibi) gave my parents her savings, sometime in 1999 – jars of coins she’d saved up – my parents invested in a new red leather sofa. I was a child and I wanted to sit on a comfortable couch. This new sofa was a proper English leather sofa. Bibi used to wax it to keep it looking new. It squeaked, and it was uncomfortable and annoying. With time, we got used to it but it was never like the fabric sofas we had before.

Yashvee with her mother & siblings


A few years later, in 2006 we moved homes and relegated the English sofa to the cellar. Seven years passed and our fabric sofa broke. We were looking for a replacement, and stumbled across the English leather sofa. My siblings complained that it had lost its lustre, and looked woe-begone and dishevelled. We took the call, and pulled it up anyway – after all many of bibi’s jars of jingling pennies had brought it into our childhood.

Today, the distinguished English sofa is one of my favourite pieces of furniture. It reminds me of bibi and smells like my childhood. The vintage piece has found itself a place of honour in our home.”

Yashvee’s story inspires us. It exemplifies the manner in which something previously dismissed can be re-discovered and re-used and can evolve to hold meaning. The treasures in our lives are not static objects, they are living, breathing representations of who we are and how we choose to live.

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