How I Turned My Ikea Couch Into an $11,000 Designer Sofa

I don't believe you grow out of Ikea past the age of 25. I love the Swedish brand's minimalist aesthetic. And since I like to mix things up, the price point works for a design commitment-phobe like me. Despite my Ikea love, after three years, my Karlstad sofa started to look a bit sad. Since the low-profile sofa fit perfectly in my open living room, I decided to give it a designer-couch makeover instead of replacing it.

This Raleigh Sectional from Design Within Reach (pictured above) served as my inspiration. The walnut frame matched the midcentury vibe I strive for, and the light fabric color would add to the airy look in my bright living space. That sofa retails for as much as $11,000. I knew I could DIY the look for less. Read on for how I did it.

I started with a Karlstad sectional couch that came with classic Ikea birch legs and a gray cover. The version of the couch that I have isn't available, but the newer model is close. The sofa starts at $399.

POPSUGAR Photography | Annie Gabillet

After three years, my Ikea couch looked a bit tired. The covers had faded and the cushions were slouching. The profile fit my living room well, so I didn't want to start from scratch.

POPSUGAR Photography | Annie Gabillet

In two simple steps I transformed my basic Ikea couch into something with a designer look.

POPSUGAR Photography | Annie Gabillet

First, I swapped out the birch legs with solid walnut legs from Uncle Bob's workshop ($14.50 each). Having a solid, natural material gave it a similar feel to the walnut frame of the high-end sofa. Plus, removing the iconic birch legs mean this piece no longer screams Ikea.

POPSUGAR Photography | Annie Gabillet

Next, I substituted the basic Ikea cover for a custom cover from Bemz, a Swedish company that specializes in high-end Ikea slipcovers. I chose the Porridge Linara by Romo, and got the Karlstad three seater sofa cover ($439, originally $549) and chaise add on cover ($223, originally $279).

Choosing a slipcover for an Ikea piece comes with many practical benefits. For one, they're machine washable — so I could feel good about that light color. Bemz also produces their custom covers on demand, which helps cut down on waste, making them eco-friendly. In addition, the company uses quality, natural fabrics, like linens and cotton. "We think our products are extremely affordable for something that is custom made," founder Lesley Pennington tells us. They have 300 fabrics to choose from.

POPSUGAR Photography | Annie Gabillet

To achieve this look, I spent about two hours with my husband swapping out the covers and legs. I had to unscrew the pieces of the couch and then put it all back together once I was done. It takes similar elbow grease as your typical Ikea assembly, but just make sure you're prepared.

The project gave me a chance to bring new life to my sofa. Even just moving around and fluffing up the cushions as I changed the covers made it feel fresh. The overall finished product is luxurious. I especially love how soft the new fabric is. Instead of splurging $11,000 on a new couch, this refresh cost $899 total for the legs and covers (based on prices at the time). Well worth it for a living room makeover!

(Note: Bemz provided the cover samples I chose free of charge.)