Detail Matters – New Legs, New Look

Detail MattersI don’t always have big things to write about, but there are often little things which I think are important enough to warrant their own post. To fill that niche, I am creating a series of posts to called Detail Matters.

God is in the details….. This phrase brings to mind my design ethos. Basically it is saying that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important. I have always believed in quality over quantity when it comes to design and have always opted to buy the best quality I could financially justify. I also don’t believe design has to be expensive and that there are often ways to bring both high and low elements into a space and make them all feel amazing. By added just a few big ticket items to a room you can elevate the entire space to a level which feels way nicer than it is. Which brings me back to details….

Ikea Karlstad sofa in black leather with aluminum legs. Simple, timeless, classic..... Except for those aluminum legs.

Ikea Karlstad sofa in black leather with aluminum legs. Simple, timeless, classic….. Except for those aluminum legs.

The sofa pictured here is not what we started with. When I first started dating Yoav, his home was decorated in what could only be described as “first apartment after college”, only he graduated college more than 20 years earlier. It was the fact that he did have some well framed and interesting art that kept me interested (along with many qualities not related to decorating). His seating options were purchases he made in the 90s, a matching futon sofa and futon chair (yes, they really did make futon chairs). The sofa and chair were covered in burnt orange futon covers and the seating was unbelievably uncomfortable (I am trying to be nice here). So about three months into our dating (already sensing this relationship was gonna get serious), I suggested that we take a shuttle bus to Ikea in Elizabeth, NJ for fun one Saturday…. While there, I subtly suggested that he might consider a new sofa and showed him a few options that were nice. Realizing the possibility that what ever he bought may end up in my future home, I steered him towards the black leather Karlstad sofa. While not my first choice for a sofa (I dream of a mega comfy classic Chesterfield) it is none the less a solid, simple, modern design which can stand the test of time. It is also comfortable.

After a few more weeks of mulling it over, he decided it was indeed a good time to upgrade to a new sofa and we went back to Ikea to test out the comfort levels of the various sofas. Again with the consideration that what ever he bought might be in my future home, I helped him realize that the Karlstad was quite comfortable, and choosing leather meant easy clean up of spills as well as idea that that this would be a good fit for his home. He trusted my instinct and bought the sofa and opted for the aluminum legs (which are less ugly than the blocky square wooden legs in my opinion) for an additional $20.

Ikea Karlstad ottoman in black leather with boring wood legs. Simple, timeless, classic..... Except for those ugly legs.

Ikea Karlstad ottoman in black leather with boring wood legs. Simple, timeless, classic….. Except for those ugly legs.

Mission accomplished, I knew that at the very least, should our relationship not last, he would have a better standing with the next relationship by having a more attractive and comfortable sofa in his home. Last year, after moving in, I purchased the matching ottoman so we could easily extend the seating options while keeping the same aesthetic.

Fast forward to last fall when we moved into our new home. The sofa looked nice enough in our living room, but having recently acquired a couple of lovely mid-century pieces, I felt the Karlstad sofa and ottoman screamed IKEA a bit too loudly. Let me be clear, I am not opposed to Ikea in the least bit, but I don’t want to live in an Ikea showroom. So, what to do? Change the legs!

Aluminum legs are an additional $20 dollars when buying a sofa at Ikea, I was never a fan, but they were so much more unattractive than the blocky wood ones they ship the sofa with.

Aluminum legs are an additional $20 dollars when buying a sofa at Ikea, I was never a fan, but they were so much more unattractive than the blocky wood ones they ship the sofa with.

Now this is not a new idea, it has been done and documented in many places… In fact, I changed the legs on my old Ikea sofa about a dozen years ago for the very same reasons (although I changed from wood to the stainless legs Ikea sells for kitchen cabinets, it looked very Italian at the time).

The simple act of changing the legs, transforms the sofa into an entirely different style and in this case, the era as well. When visitors walk into the room, the sofa is no longer immediately screaming “I was purchased at IKEA!” Instead, it is saying “I am familiar, but interesting at the same time.” And that is not a bad thing.

Old Ikea legs removed, attaching the new metal leg plates is a fairly simple project.

Old Ikea legs removed, attaching the new metal leg plates is a fairly simple project.

For replacement legs, I turned to the Internets and found myself at tablelegs.com where you can buy an assortment of mid century sofa legs for somewhat reasonable pricing. for the sofa and ottoman, I ended up needing eight legs which was a bit pricier, but still worth it in the end. I selected 6″ red oak, mostly for the durability of oak, and then bought a medium walnut stain. Finally this week, I took the hour or so needed to flip the sofa, remove the old aluminum legs, and install the brackets for the new wood legs which were easily screwed into the brackets. Then Voil√†!

All the difference in the world. Now the sofa an ottoman look truly classic and timeless.

All the difference in the world. Now the sofa an ottoman look truly classic and timeless.

Of course, I am not going to show you the whole sofa just yet…. You will have to wait for The Big Living Room Reveal coming up within the next couple of weeks.

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