Karen Beaman of Lincoln, Nebraska, found herself single and mother to two children at the age of 22. Without a father in the house, it seemed as if the feeling of home was slipping away. Karen’s mother, Ann, swooped in to help her pick up the pieces. “Mom is always saying, when things fall apart, pay attention to routine,” Beaman said. So, together they created a new routine involving the children, then aged three and five.
Still, Beaman says, something was missing. Everything in the house was a symbol of brokenness. Then, she realized, the answer was to find a new symbol. She needed something fresh to represent the little family’s new view of home. It needed to provide comfort, togetherness, peace and even a little fun. With some thought, she came up with the answer: a new couch.
Beaman bought a couch that represented herself and the personalities of her children. The upholstery was printed with the colorful license plates of different eras and states. The design symbolized the trio’s sense of humor, creativity and quirky personalities. It also reflected Karen’s interest in vintage automobiles.
The couch was a futon that could be folded down on movie-watching night—a symbol of togetherness and relaxation. When the children’s friends came over, the couch held them as they laughed and played. When Karen’s mother visited, the couch became a place of philosophical and psychological introspection, where problems of the world—and problems of the family—were analyzed and solved.
Times were tough and there was not much other furniture in the house, but at its center was warmth, color, humor and the soft embrace of the couch. It was a symbol of home, both what it was then and what it could someday become.