Ikea Sofa Hack

87

July 5, 2012 by honeybadgerhome

What we had:

Eight years of matching espresso “leather” sofas that endured two trans-atlantic PCSs and a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy… Time for a change.

The shark-toothed ginger brummie, Nahla.

Truly a thing of beauty –– posted on Craig’s List and left on the curb. Gone in 30 minutes!

What we want:

Crate and Barrel Petrie Sofa, $1,699

Thrive Tyler Sofa $2,069

What we can afford:

Oh snap. :-/

Karlstad Sofa, $599, Ikea. Meh.

And here is how we hacked the sofa to get the look we wanted for a whole lot less:

1st Step: Ditch ugly Ikea block legs

I ordered these mid-century style legs from Home Depot and stained them dark walnut. We love the metal bit at the bottom of the legs! Since it was 108F {you know, mild spring day in Arizona}, we stained indoors a la AC. {Liked the legs so much, we bought extra to put on our cream leather club chairs as well.}

Waddell 6″ round taper legs, $2.89 each, Home Depot

Dark Walnut Stain, $4.78, Home Depot

2nd Step: Convert non-metric legs

There were some issues regarding the conversion of these screw in legs {damn you  and your metric system, Sweden… and your socialized healthcare and mouth-watering meatballs}. Brett got sneaky smart and bought metric bolts, cut off the heads, and epoxied them into the Home Depot legs. I um… held up the sofa while he screwed them in place. UPDATE: This method didn’t really work. The legs were wobbly and unstable.

Mid-century legs!

SOLUTION: When we removed the Ikea legs, we found there were two holes, one of which was threaded. The other was for a wooden dowel. The latter was metric and Home Depot didn’t carry a precise match. Instead, Brett bought four 5/16-18 T-nuts {the kind with little metal claws}. They cost about $2 for a pack of four. He reached up through the gap in the wooden frame and put the T-nut in the top of the dowel hole and screwed the leg in using that hole. As you tighten the leg, the claws on the T-nut dig in and hold the leg securely. We basically bypassed the threaded hole completely. The end result is sofa legs that don’t wobble.

3rd Step: Short break

“If you’re not too busy… maybe rub my belly.”

Step 4: Tuft cushions

Tufting the cushions was the final step.

When we bought the Ikea sofa, we also bought an ottoman cover for $70 so that we’d have extra fabric for fabric covered buttons and possible replacement fabric as needed. {Hello, have you met our sofa lovin’ dogs?!}

Next I found a local upholsterer.

One day and $38 later, we had these sweet double-sided tufted cushions:

Lookin’ good!

Button!

Step 5: Tuh-Duh!!!

Helllloooooooo fabulous!

Total Cost: $727… approximately $1,000 saved.

Ikea Sofa: $600

Extra fabric: $70

Tufted cushions: $40

Sofa legs: $12

Stain: $5

If I wasn’t obsessed with Ikea before… I definitely am now.

Update:

Over time, we found the sofa legs became wobbly and the sofa felt unsteady on them. Brett tightened them periodically, but we weren’t satisfied.

Recently, we swapped them out for these Ladsun M-Series mid century legs:

We chose the white oak, which were $11.95 each. Then we stained them walnut and sealed them with a clear polyurethane coat.

We chose the white oak, which were $11.95 each. Then we stained them walnut and sealed them with a clear polyurethane coat.

Here is our sofa with its new, and much sturdier, legs!

IMG_4245

Stay tuned, as we are hacking this sofa once again… this time with a leather slipcover from Comfort Works!

87 thoughts on “Ikea Sofa Hack

  1. Kirsten says:

    Awesome job guys!!

  2. Kim Musselman says:

    Wow, great job on the sofa!! Gotta love Ikea…..and recession-induced ingenuity!

  3. Thanks ladies! This was a really fun, easy project! Recently found this cool website that has beautiful sofa covers made to fit most Ikea sofas. http://www.bemz.com/en-us/ Have a feeling this sofa will have a very, very long life!

  4. […] but we both got each other a little something This is my project today: revamping an IKEA couch. Inspired by this blogger. blogging Bag Bliss . The Fashion Row Reply With […]

  5. Jasmine says:

    Hi! I LOVE what you did, and I’m looking at getting the Karlstad – how is it holding up, and how comfortable do you think it is? I also came across this site, which has tons of cute slipcovers http://www.knesting.com/ikea-karlstad-3-seat-sofa-slipcover.html.

    • Jasmine! I’m sorry I missed your comment until now. Our sofa is holding up perfectly! I have to admit I’m a little surprised because we’d never modified a sofa before. But it’s a champ! No wobbling, no buttons popping off…knock on wood! ;) We often throw a blanket over it so the dogs can climb up for a snuggle, so it’s been tested under the weight of 2 adults and 2 big hounds — a little crowded but sturdy! Good luck with your hack! Would love to see a photo of your finished product.

  6. kristyn says:

    Which color of the Karlstad sofa is yours? Isunda gray? Awesome hack! Love it <3

  7. Ashley says:

    Love the couch and blog! Wondering how the 5/16-18 T-nuts have held up over time? Are the legs wobbly at all and does it seem sturdy? Do you think 6″ legs would work as well? Looking into doing this and I have heard mixed reviews on using a leg plate vs these types of screws vs getting them custom. Your method seems the most “doable” and helpful!

    • Yes, I am really happy to report the legs are holding up very well — not wobbly at all. The method explained in the blog was method #2 we attempted. The first method we tried was different and the result was very wobbly legs. Half a year later, we are still really satisfied with this hack — sturdy and attractive! Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I hope our method helps you and you enjoy your sofa too! Thanks for checking out our blog. Please share a link if you post your final product!!! :)

  8. Natasha says:

    This literally is exactly what I am planning to do next month! Only i’m buying it white, and planning to either dye (or paint) the cover a sunny yellow! I’ve been loving everywhere on how to replace the legs!

    • Awesome! Thanks for checking out our blog. Our legs are holding up faaaaaabulously!!!. Very stury, no wobbling! We tried more than one method with the legs, and the one I blogged about is the one that worked best for the sofa by far. I’d love to see your final product, if you post photos! :)

  9. Emily says:

    You made your Karlstad look so beautiful. Seriously, great job! We have the HUGE Karlstad sectiona and I want to update the look by adding the tufted cushions like you did. A few questions though; are the cushion covers still removeable and washable? Can you filp the cushion (if something stains on one side)? Also, did the one ottoman slipcover provide enough fabric to tuft both sofa back cushions? I am a HUGE advocate of tufting, but want to make sure the sofa slipcovers still remain washable (since our dogs ALSO love getting on it while we aren’t home).

    • Hi Emily! Thanks for the big compliment on the sofa. It’s super sweet of you! The sofa is holding up well, even with two sneaky sofa-loving hounds. :) once we had the back cushions tufted, we couldn’t remove the covers. The ottoman fabric covers buttons on both sides of the 2 cushions with lots and lots to spare! We had both sides tufted so if we get a bad stain we can flip them. The seat cushions aren’t tufted so those still go in the wash. The legs are extremely sturdy! If you update your sectional, I hope you’ll share photos. I’d love to see the final product. Thanks for sharing the slipcover link!!

      • ferndalemama says:

        Hi there! You mentioned that you put the seat covers in the wash. The instructions say dry-clean only. I really don’t want to pay to have them dry-cleaned but ours have gotten gross from the kids and the dog! Anything special you do when washing?

  10. mickicurrent says:

    I love, love, love your Ikea hack! I’m a big fan of the midcentury look and we have the Karlstad sectional. I would love to follow your DIY but I’m having trouble finding the legs. Do you have a link to the legs?? Thanks!

    • Hi! I’m so glad you like our Ikea hack. We’re really happy with it and it’s holding up great! We ordered our legs online. Here is a link to Waddell 6″ tapered legs. The metal ends are a silver color. http://www.hardwareandtools.com/Waddell-2506-6-Inch-Round-Taper-Table-Legs-6127419.html
      Would love to see your final product! Good luck with your hack. :)

      • Sabrina says:

        Hey there!
        Thanks for putting up this Karlstad hack, its amazing!
        Im planning to do mine in the next 2 weeks or so.
        I was wondering, do you have 8″ legs on your Karlstad, or the 6″ legs in the link you included above? :)

        Im having a hard time deciding whether to get 6″ or 8″.
        Dont want my couch to look like its on stilts :)

        Thanks so much!

      • Ha — yeah, Sabrina, that is a really valid concern! We went with 6″ and it took trial and error before we found the best way to attach the legs without them being really wobbly as a result. The method in my post is the final method we tried that really worked the best. Our 6″ legs are very stable and just the right height — any higher and I agree, it would look like stilts! Good luck with your project! If you have photos,,please share them. Would love to see your hack!

  11. tim says:

    I was looking into doing this hack and found that some of the places that make custom sofas will sell you a sofa base serparately. One of the bases that I found would make this Sofa look like the “Fillmore” sofa from Thrive Furniture. The base was about one hundred dollars. We ended up going with another sofa, but I thought someone out there might want to try this hack.

    • Wow… that is an awesome idea! I didn’t know you could order the frame — much more affordable. I will definitely file away that tip for my next sofa project. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. :)

  12. Lynnie says:

    Such a great job – easily my favourite Ikea hack. Hoping to attempt something similar myself in next few weeks (literally just ordering my legs in another tab) so this is really helpful!

    I realise this is going to sound completely nuts and there’s a good chance I’m overthinking things, but do you know what diameter the buttons are..? I’ve seen a few versions of the tufted Karlstad where the buttons look too big and some where the buttons look too small; yours look juuust right :)

    • Lynnie, I totally appreciate your attention to detail. The covered buttons are slightly larger than 3/4″ in diameter. So happy to hear we have the Goldilocks of covered buttons! :) Good luck with yours — would love it if you share a link to photos when you’ve finished.

  13. Leoma says:

    Great web site you have here.. It’s hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  14. What an amazing hack! We’re in need of a new sofa as well but we’re also on an IKEA budget. I’m definitely filing this away for later :)

    PS: Nice to see another Arizona blogger doing their thing! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one here haha

    • Caitlin — thanks for the note! I had to check out your blog too… LOVE your powder room. It’s just right — the mirror, the sink, the art. Perfection. I will be following you for inspiration! :)

  15. Amazing job! I love the transformation! We had looked at the exact same sofa, glad to hear it holds up to some puppy love!

  16. Megan says:

    We’re thinking about getting the Karlstad corner sofa with this fabric for the slipcovers… I noticed in a comment you said that you wash yours, but on the Ikea site it recommends that the covers be dry cleaned only! Can you give me more information on how you wash your slipcovers and if you’ve had any shrinkage/other issues? Thank you!!

  17. Nancy says:

    Love the couch! Going to do the same thing. You said your husband reached up in the gap in the Wooden frame, where is that gap? Ours looks like a solid box. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  18. Meg says:

    Love the tufting!! We are considering this sofa. How tall are the legs that came with the sofa?

  19. Jillynn says:

    Just found your blog while trying to find a way to tuft our Karlstad. Looked through the blog and subscribed! We too are fans of MCM and look forward to getting fun DIY ideas for our new Mid Century ranch. I am originally from a little Arizona Mexico border town (Yuma) and now live in my husbands rural hometown in Ohio :)

  20. Tiffany says:

    Love this project! I’m also from Arizona and getting ready to do a very similar project and was wondering who did your upholstery for the cushions? Thanks!

    • We had ours done locally… it was a “mom & pop” shop that doesn’t have a website. This type of job is VERY simple — any upholsterer can do the job for a small fee. Good luck with your project! :)

  21. Warren says:

    Love the couch! Have been thinking about doing it myself – I was wondering does the tufting help the back cushion keep its shape – I have had the karlstad for a few years and it’s notorious for their misshapen cushions

    • Thanks Warren! I think you should go for it! Tufting definitely improved the shape of the cushions. They never sag or lose their shape now that they are tufted. It seemed to tighten/firm them up — no excess space for sagging.

  22. susan murphy says:

    just quick question… if you ever got new covers then how would that work with the tufted cushions?… I am guessing that the tufting goes through them a bit.

    • You’re right! The tufting is front and back, goes into the cushions and can’t be removed for washing. Fortunately the back cushions don’t seem to get as dirty as the seat cushions (which are untufted & have been washed twice!). When the time comes to swap out the fabric, we’ll have to re-tuft the cushions. That hasn’t happened in over a year. The original tufting was under $40, so worth it, I think. :)

  23. ASHLEIGH says:

    Where did you f ind your round coffee table and for how much Exactly what I am looking 4
    Also great job on the sofa Did it hold up with the dogs after a year.

  24. Hi,
    Love this, and have been looking into doing it, but can’t decide on a cover colour. We have dogs very similar colour to your, so I am wondering how well it hinds the hair, or do you have to vacuum it everyday? Also how often do you have to wash them?

    • The slipcover is holding up well. Since it is a textured fabric with gray, white and black fibers in it, it seems to help disguise hair and dirt even better. However, we typically put a blanket over the couch before we invite the dogs up. They still manage to sneak up there when we aren’t looking, and it gets a bit hairy/dirty. Once a month, we unzip the bottom/seat covers, turn them inside out, and wash them on cold/delicate and dry them on low heat. Twice a month, I take a hand vacuum to the sofa (particularly the arms and tufted back cushions), which really helps. Finally, the tufted back cushions can’t be taken off, so we just vacuum them. (Eventually we’ll probably have to flip them, since they are tufted on both sides.) So far, it’s working for us… but eventually we’ll need to replace the cover! Hope that helps!

  25. […] case you haven’t stumbled upon our original Ikea sofa hack, here is our current sofa & living […]

  26. […] we came across their tufting hack blog post which helped them save a thousand bucks. Yes – […]

  27. kelly.r says:

    We are currently in the process of sexying up our IKEA couch! We were lucky and found a huge piece of matching fabric in the as-is section for only $5 (I love the as is section!). AND after watching some youtube videos I’m going to attempt to tuft the cushions myself…

  28. alanna says:

    This is incredible!!! We have been looking to have custom-made pegs.. never even thought HD would have such awesome looking ones. Turned out awesome! Gives me hope!

    • Thanks Alanna! :) We liked the HD legs initially, but found that because they are tall and skinny, the sofa started to feel wobbly after while; we had to turn the sofa over to tighten them frequently. So we switched to the shorter, round cone legs from Tablelegs.com, and we LOVE them. The are very stylish and also very sturdy. No wobbling and no tightening needed!

  29. Meredith says:

    Hi There,
    That sofa looks great! I’m thinking of getting the same one and love the updates you did! However, is the tufting only on the slipcover, or does it go through the pillow too? I was just wondering if doing that makes it impossible to remove and clean the slipcovers.
    Thanks!

    • Meredith, the tufting goes all the way through the cushions, which means you can’t take off the covers without having to retuft them. The good news is that it isn’t too difficult to do yourself, or an upholsterer will do it for about $20. We tufted both sides so that we could turn them over and get longer use before washing. The gray “islunda” fabric camaflauges dirtiness typical with lots of use, so by flipping them over we got a year out of the tufting, easily, even with our two sofa loving hounds. :)

  30. PhiPhi says:

    You are my new hero! i just got this sofa second hand on Craigslist so now i have to try your hack. i can’t believe the tufting was only $40 and the legs are great look exactly with what i want. i got a bit lost on the metric stuff so were the new legs easy to install? cheers & bravo!

    • Sounds like you made a great score! Yeah, I’ve gotta say, it takes very little work to make this little sofa look super cool. And the Ikea covers are washable (we even threw ours in the dryer with no problems) and cheap enough that you an buy a new one when you get bored of the old one. I’m excited for you and all the possibilities for this sofa in his second life. ;) We installed legs the hard way, converting non-metric to metric. Kind of a pain. This Website (Uncle Bob’s) offers sofa legs specifically for Ikea sofas (so they’re metric) that simplifies the process: http://www.unclebobsworkshop.com/product/furniture-legs/
      Good luck and thanks for checking out our blog! :) :)

  31. djbox says:

    Where did you find these “double-sided tufted cushions”? ~”One day and $38 later, we had these sweet double-sided tufted cushions”

    • We dropped the cushions and an extra swatch of fabric with a local upholsterer who made te fabric covered buttons and tufted te cushions for us for $38. We’ve since learned to do it ourselves – it’s fairly simple. For a tutorial check out our Comfort Works post. I’ve included a video tutorial from Comfort Works.

  32. kayla says:

    I LOVE this hack. Brilliant. I would like to do the same think with two kivik footstools to make a window bench. Can you tell me where you got the pillows and throw blankets (green and yellow)? They compliment the gray gorgeously.

    • A window bench sounds like a great hack for those ikea footstools! The blanket is the “favorite throw” ($29) from West Elm and the pillows are WE too. I check their website, and it looks like mine have sold out….but there are similar styles in shades of yellow and green. You might want to check out CB2.com, which also sells pillows in similar colors and includes inserts with all of their pillow covers. Good luck with you window bench! :)

      • kayla says:

        Thank you so much! I can’t wait for future posts from you. You definitely have a dedicated new follower. :)

  33. Kate says:

    Hi there! I have two dogs, one who decided to pee on our new couch. :(. We also have the gray color. The covers say dry clean only- sounds like you had luck washing them though? I’m so paranoid! :)

    • Yes! I spot treated as needed, turned them inside out, washed on cold, delicate cycle and dried on medium heat. They were just fine! If they sit in the dryer they get a bit wrinkled, but the wrinkles flatten once you stretch them back over the cushions. Just keep in mind if you tuft you’ll have to remove buttons and retuft after washing. We tufted both dies of back cushions so we could flip them and get twice the wear before washing. Good luck!

      • Kate says:

        Thank you very much for your response! Guess I’ll have to try! I did not want to have to pay the outrageous cost of dry cleaning this material unless necessary. I appreciate it!

  34. rachael says:

    Love this hack so much! We have this couch and have been debating the isunda gray cover. I was wondering, after you added the tufted buttons to the cushions were you still able to remove the cushion covers? i’m trying to figure out how that would work. thanks!

    • Hi Rachel! Thanks for the kind words. :) So, to remove and wash the covers, you’d have to remove the tufting. We only tufted the back cushions (not the seat), and we tufted both sides. We vacuumed and lint rolled and spot treated as needed. At around 6 months, we flipped them over. At one year, we pulled the buttons off, washed them, and then payed the local upholsterer to retuft them using the existing fabric covered buttons. And the retufting was $8. Worth it. :)

  35. Johanna says:

    When you bought the Ladsun-M legs did you go with the 4 inch or 6 inch legs?

  36. Marlo M says:

    Hi! I’m currently trying to find suitable legs for my Karlstad collection, I have 3 pieces, and a multitude of legs! I really like yours. I see that tablelegs sells mounting plates for their legs separately. Did you purchase your mounting plates through them? Or did you find them somewhere else? Also, when mounting them, did you have to pre-drill holes for the screws on the mounting plates? UncleBob’s legs are cheaper, but I’m worried they would become wobbly over time since they just have the center bolt, and don’t utilize the dowel like the original legs…

    • Hey Marlo! Sorry for the delayed reply. We recently moved from AZ to VA, so things have been a bit hectic. To answer your questions, we bought mounting plates and Home Depot and drilled the holes into the frame, bypassing the standard Ikea metric issues. ;) The first legs we used, the long skinny ones, became too wobbly and needed regular tightening. When we swapped them out for the 6″ Ladsun M-Series legs (see the update near the end of the post), it was a match made in heaven. The cone shape means a wider base and the shorter length was both more sturdy and aesthetically pleasing.
      I hope that helps! If you still have questions, shoot me an email: bamcgreg@gmail.com

  37. CouchlessInLaguna says:

    Hi. Since it’s been a couple years since you posted this, figured I’d ask…did the tufting help the cushions keep their shape? I hate the look of couch cushion sag and would love to know if this technique will help. Looks fab, too! Thanks.

    • Yep, they’ve totally kept their shape. They were fairly firm to begin with, so the tufting gave an added firmness. We LOVE the tufted look, still aren’t bored with it. I reeeeeeally dislike the look of saggy cushions — I’m all about clean, modern lines. The tufting does the job! :)

  38. Brittany says:

    Love the couch! Where did you buy that rug?

  39. Meegan says:

    Just found your post. I am almost POSITIVE that we have the same “leather” couches. Such a bummer. Love your new one!

    • Oh man! By that, do you mean you have the “dog chewed” sofas that we had? Sorry to hear it! Maybe it’s time for an IKEA hack for your family too? ;) I’m so glad you stumbled across our blog. Thanks for leaving a note! :)

  40. Josh Mohr says:

    We just bought our Karlstad this week and are beginning our own hack of the sofa. We did some lengthy research for the legs and came across this site. http://www.unclebobsworkshop.com/search/?searchstring=LEGS He mills the legs and installs the correct bolts so that they screw directly into the existing Karlstad hardware. We ordered the teak legs with satin brass caps in medium brown and can’t wait to get them. His legs work with other Ikea sofas beyond the Karlstad too. Check it out!

    • Hi! Thanks for the tip. We haven’t visited Uncle Bob’s website in awhile now. I’m curious to see if they’ve updated their selection of MCM legs. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for stopping by, Josh! :)

  41. […] is the Karlstad Sofa. A fan favourite of bloggers. But I hate the legs. Then I saw this image from Honey Badger Home about doing a little leg […]

  42. Jen says:

    Hi – great hack. I saw your note on the black and white rug but was curious where the brown rug is from? Thanks for sharing!

  43. […] a lot of people have hacked the Ikea Karlstad sofa to fit a more modern vibe (Here, here, & here). So, if others can do it, why can’t we? Like everyone else, we started with the standard […]

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