Karlstad hack- a mid century sofa for less than $200

Remember when I mentioned that my little ol blog might start looking like a DIY blog in the next few months? Well, that time has come!

Ok, so when Topher and I first started talking about a sofa for the new place- he desperately wanted a sectional. And I….well, desperately didn’t. I don’t have anything against sectionals- they are crazy comfortable. They’re just not very versatile… they are the kind of piece you buy very specifically for the space you have and then when you move them chances are they won’t fit that space well at all, thus leaving you needing something new. So while we are very excited about our new townhouse we are also extremely aware that we will likely outgrow it in a year or two. It is a 2 bedroom, 2 and a half bath and which leaves one bedroom for our family and one bedroom for my office- our little guy Phoenix is going to need his own room at some point (unless he wants to sleep in our bed until he’s 10 which I would be totally fine with ;-)). So we love it for now, but I really don’t want to purchase anything that we can’t repurpose easily in another space. This townhouse has a huge living space, so a sectional could have definitely worked- but I talked Topher out of it. Sorry my love.

I really like the look of pretty much anything mid-century modern, but a new mid-century sofa  is $$$$ and for that matter reupholstering an old one is also $$$$. So we needed to get creative. I have heard SO many good things about the Karlstad from Ikea out there in the blogosphere- everyone had nothing but great things to say in terms of looks and comfort. I was definitely digging the look too…

karlstad ikea hack

I can’t say I love that fabric- looks a little blue jeanish, but as far as the shape it was the perfect starting off point. The only problem was the price and the legs. Now I’ll be the first to say that this is not an expensive sofa AT ALL…but when you are trying to buy enough furniture to fill a space twice as big as your current apartment in just a few short months even $500 starts to seem outlandish. So I got to hunting around on craigslist to see if I could find a used one.

Luck would have it that I easily found a used three seater karlstad for $100. It was bright orange and I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture of it- but just trust me this thing was ugly! We snatched it up a few months back and immediately took it to my parent’s house to store it. My dad saw it and immediately was thrilled that we had purchased an orange sofa and started into a nostalgic tale of how him and my mother’s very first grown up sofa was also orange. I almost didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was absolutely no way this thing was staying in orange. You see, the great thing about Ikea is that their covers are interchangeable- they just zip on and off. So we were able to literally unzip all of the ick factor away and off of this used sofa leaving us with a perfect Karlstad frame at a fraction of the price. My initial idea was to buy a cover from here– they have all kind of different fabric options that are a little more custom looking than the Ikea options…but ultimately I was most drawn to the white covers- which were all $300+ and Ikea happens to sell a white cover for $50. I know what you are thinking- “Jennifer, you have a baby and dogs why on earth would you get a white sofa?!?”. I know. You are probably right…but I can’t help it, I love how they look. Plus my dog Petey has white hair and sheds more than you can imagine (really) so anything darker than white immediately becomes a Petey magnet. And like I said the cover unzips so it’s washable which is awesome and we can always do some cushion flipping if we need to…plus if worse comes to worse and it gets disgusting- it was only $50…I won’t cry into my pillow over $50 like I would have over one of those $300 ones.

So at this point all I have is a white Karlstad- which I know is not really an Ikea hack, but that brings me to the second problem with the Karlstad… those legs. They are really ugly. A little googling around led me to Uncle Bob’s Workshop through Etsy. He makes custom mid-century styled legs specifically for the Karlstad. And they are SO pretty. There is a little bit of a waiting list at his shop- I think we waited about a month and a half for ours, but it was worth it. They are awesome (you can pick your stain color) and they just screw in, couldn’t have been easier. So here’s what we currently have in our new place- for a grand total of $185.

karlstad ikea hack

I’m sorry for the terrible picture that totally doesn’t do the legs justice. But they do look great and make the whole sofa look really sleek and way more modern. I also found a button tufting tutorial which I would love to try if I ever get around to it. And here we are with a little pillow action.

karlstad ikea hack3

I use so many pillows I’m not sure the button tufting would even be noticeable though. This room is still pretty bare as we work on unpacking and I am still deciding on the layout of the room. Do I push the sofa over and center it with the wall so we can do something above it, thus leaving a large empty area to one side of the room…or do I center it in the room (the way it is in the pictures) and deal with the weird window placement. Help!


  1. Carol says

    Can’t wait to see it in person. Weird rooms are always a dilemma but I’m sure there is no better person to figure it out than you! :)

  2. Ki says

    Great job. I’m on the hunt for a used Karlstad now!
    If there’s room in front – try floating the sofa away from the window and wall and put a narrow bookcase behind it to the left to balance with the window :)


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