We needed a couch, one that could withstand growing people who flop rather than sit and a cat’s occasionally claw honing.
I kept going back to this and this; only, I knew this was going to be heavily used furniture and expensive, precious things have no place in our home for reasons shown in the photo below. This left me with an Ikea hack I’d wanted to try.
The couch- After deciding to do it, we bought a Karlstad couch from Ikea the next day. I normally wouldn’t like this couch very much because the cushions seem shapeless without actually being overstuffed or comfy; but I knew the tufting would add some structure.
Spending the day at Ikea was the hardest part of this project. I get that it has lots of quirky, affordable home furnishings, I just resent being herded through a labyrinth of Danish modern to pick up one thing. The intention is to weaken my resolve so that, by the time I reach the stairs, I’ll fill my cart with every throw pillow and fake potted plant I see. My first impulse was to stalk away without buying anything, shouting, “I’ll show you! I’ll make my own sofa from pallets!” However, the two hour drive to get there curbed any outrage. My son thinks it’s the Ross of home furnishings.
Button fabric- I picked up an extra throw pillow in the same fabric as the couch to use for covering the buttons. Set up was easy and I Scotch Guarded everything until the room was spinning.
The legs- On our way home from Ikea I ordered tapered, oak legs from Uncle Bob’s Workshop, which I’m hesitant to list because we waited so long for them to arrive. They were made to screw right into Ikea furniture, so no mounts were needed. I’ve since seen that Pretty Pegs offers Ikea replacement legs too, but at twice the price.
The actual tufting– If you decide to do this project and get some crazy $1000 quote for covering buttons and tufting your cushions from an upholsterer, just hang up; you don’t need them. Some upholsterers I called thought I wanted true diamond tufting, which would be impossible with these cushions. But another seemed offended that I wanted help with a small DIY project, not a big job. I did manage to find one upholsterer who said he’d cover the buttons for a few cents a piece and show me how to tuft them. I could have done these things myself, but I also needed some other furniture rebuilt and recovered, so I took the offer. He did a good job, but, again, it took months instead of the promised week or two, and he never did show me how to tuft.
At this point, my summer project was almost a winter project, so I took a morning to tuft the cushions last week. I used this tutorial, though there are others. I was a little nervous about running a needle through the upholstery, but after seeing my cat’s claws go into the new sofa one too many times, I’m thinking,”How can I do any more damage?” It is just Ikea furniture!
It wasn’t hard at all; just make sure you have more twine than you think you’ll need (maybe 20 in. of twine per button pair, or about 27 ft. total) for easy gripping. Once you’ve pulled the twine through and attached both buttons, don’t be timid about bringing them fairly close together. I was unsure if I was pulling too much, so I left the twine ends hanging from the knots until all of the tufting was done. This gave me the option to loosen or tighten, as needed, before snipping the ends. I opted out of tufting the seat cushions, though I love the look, because the upholsterer told me it doesn’t feel as good as it looks and the buttons get pulled off easily.
My guess on our total expense: around $751, compared to the $1400 – 1800 of a Room & Board sofa.
Edit 4/27/15- I have heard so many negative things about Uncle Bob’s service that I thought I should mention it here. Customers are waiting unusually long times for their sofa legs or aren’t receiving them at all, even after payment.
Ikea is also offering a tapered aluminum leg as an option, now.
Since posting this I’ve added Ikea-specific slip covers to my sofa now. The process and tutorial for tufting them is here. I had no problems with the original covers from Ikea, but these were velvet and my cat doesn’t claw them.