Best Couch for Our Budget: IKEA’s Karlstad

We bought a couch!!

What? Yeah, I am surprised too. :D  Our new Karlstad from IKEA is our first furniture purchase since buying our home two and a half years ago(!!!).

On break during work, Jim and I walk through Bellevue Square which has no shortage of extremely expensive couches on display. I’m talking $7500-$12000. Seriously, who spends that on a couch? That’s car territory.

But this got us talking about how we’d love a larger couch: one we can both stretch out on, and one that can accommodate a third person so we aren’t stuffed like sardines when Dad comes to visit.

So we went couch-hunting at My Home and a few other neighborhood stores. All of these stores wanted a lot of money for their couches, like $3000-$5000. I suppose I could *theoretically* spend that much on a couch, but I don’t want to. A couch isn’t worth that kind of money to me. My last one was $700 and it’s great, just too small.

Alas, this is when we realized that Jim and I like very different things in a couch. He wants something to sit on, something with support. I want a mushy bed to melt into. And we both dislike spending more than a thousand or so bucks on this. Realizing this, we shelved the idea again for a couple months.

Then we ended up at IKEA to return an unneeded desk leg.

We sat on some couches. We sat on Karlstad. It happened.


Couch nirvana.

Jim loves it. I love it.

We both love its price.

$900 for the whole thing? What? How is this possible, IKEA? Don’t you know stores 10 miles north in Bellevue want $7000 for an uncomfortable couch half this size? And that’s about when I realized that Young House Love has the exact same couch and raves about it regularly. SOLD!

Karlstad didn’t fit in the Subie so it’ll be delivered Saturday, plus we bought assembly for $39. I’ve never bought assembly of anything before (I even build my own computers!) but $39 seemed like a bargain when weighed against the misery of spending Saturday putting a couch together.

We bought a bookshelf to put together instead.


December 2013 update: We still adore our Karl couch!  The cushions have stayed firm and crisp, and the cushion covers still fit tightly.  If I have any complaint at all about our Karl couch, it’s that we both seem to spend more time on the couch now that we can both lay on it at the same time!

DIY Standing Desk: Planning and Building

My last workplace had a nice perk: a standing desk option! In the midst of layoff-day packing up, I grabbed a photo to help me remember how nice this setup was:

The question that’s been on my mind since then is, of course, How can I bring home the awesomeness of standing up all day?

Other/better articles have already covered in depth the benefits (and risks) of standing, but my motivation is simple: it just feels better. Sitting 8-10 hours makes my butt and legs sore, makes me have to exercise a lot more to feel tired by the end of the day, and just feels slouchy and lazy. I did not adapt to sitting again, so I set out to build my own DIY standing desk.

My Current Desk

My current desk is an IKEA GALANT, with two additional sections attached the left side to widen it. Someone already modded/IKEA-hacked this desk in its previous life, but this same desk plus extensions can still be found at IKEA as of 2013.

The simplest/most obvious solution to elevate this desk to standing height by swapping out its existing legs in favor of legs that would extend to at least 41”, which is the distance between the floor and my elbow. Fortunately, IKEA provides such legs, the VIKA BYSKE, which go to a maximum of 42”. (This max-height works for me, but not for my husband who will need a height of 47” in his own standing desk.)

Anyway, we picked up the 5 legs from IKEA for $30 each and got to work on attaching them.

Three Complications

  • VIKA BYSKE legs come with their own “bracket”, they don’t screw into a separate bracket like other legs of this style. This meant we had to remove the existing brackets from the table, even though they were IKEA and look exactly the same
  • IKEA has slightly changed the size/arrangement of screw holes on its leg brackets, so these new legs with their fused-on brackets couldn’t re-use the existing holes from the previous brackets
  • VIKA BYSKE legs are SUPER ANNOYING to extend. It took my husband and I about 20 minutes of wrist-agony to twist all five legs to 41”.

Some shots of the underside of the desk:


Attaching Longer Legs

We took everything off the desk and flipped it upside down to attach the legs.  Once the new legs were on and we stood it back up, several new problems were revealed:

  • My monitors are too low by at least 6 inches
  • The desk is WOBBLY 

I first took a trip to Staples where I was disappointed by their selection of monitor stands. They aren’t tall enough, and they didn’t seem robust enough the widescreens. Ultimately, just to make the desk usable in the meantime, I balanced a book shelf over four small paint cans and put the center monitor onto that. This disrupts my usual workflow, though, as using the other two monitors is rather unpleasant on my neck/upper back. But I think I could build or find something with a bit more looking, so I’m not particularly worried about this problem.

The wobbly feeling has me much more concerned.

We could attach more legs, but will it be enough? The one leg at left is definitely underpowered for the kind of support it needs to provide now.

Anchoring to the Wall 

I was wandering around Home Depot when inspiration struck: shelf brackets!  Two shelf brackets and a about 20 minutes of EZ-Anchors and drilling later, the desk was anchored to the wall and completely stabilized. I anchored it 1 inch off the wall to leave room for curtains and wires.  The desk is rock solid now, woohoo!



Project Cost

IKEA GALANT desktop – free (picked it up off the curb)
5 VIKA BYSKE legs – $125 ($25/each)
2 heavy duty shelf brackets – $12

TOTAL: $137

What’s Next?

With that resolved, it’s time to move onto a more challenging project.  Next up: I’m going to build one for my husband, who is 6’4” and too tall for the solution we used for mine.

Some “ready made” standing desks I’ve found online go high enough for him, but they have many shortcomings:

  • Insufficient monitor space (most seem built for one monitor, tops)
  • Too expensive (largely thanks to features we don’t need, like electrically powered up/down)
  • Too small in general – no one makes a standing corner desk… but I will be the first. >:)

Update: We built it!  Check out my husband’s super tall standing desk right here.

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