Shopping For A Sectional

Aka: Sectional Hunting. Maybe this post would have been more entertaining if we channeled National Geographic and sprung for an Australian voice over artist to say things like “they wait in the brush, as the giant wildebeast sectional approaches” or “slowly and stealthily, the panthers Petersiks stalk their prey.” Oh well. The point is that we went sectional hunting. And we didn’t just look around these here parts (now I’m getting all southern on you). We took a road trip all the way up to DC (2 hours north) to drop in on the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store along with a huuuge Room & Board showroom (four levels and 3,600 square feet of furniture = heaven, at least if you’re me). Sadly the trip ended with us falling in love with a few gorgeous things that we couldn’t afford, namely this ginormous and oh so comfy sectional in a rich charcoal gray fabric:

But the ginormous and oh so scary price tag of $4,496 (before our “custom fabric choice” plus tax and delivery) scared me more than the scene where the mom dies in Bambi (and while we’re on that, isn’t that a little violent for a kids movie?).

We know that when it comes to a sectional, we definitely want something comfy that will last while holding up to all sorts of insane kid-antics (growing up we used to shoot our sofa at point-blank range with everything from nerf balls to rubber bands, and that’s only the beginning of the torture that thing endured). And we know that a high price tag from one of the two amazingly reputable companies mentioned above would surely factor in things like quality construction and premium materials. But after a lot of debate, we decided that with a pooch and a baby (who definitely both give our current slipcovered sofa what can best be described as a workout) something swanky and un-slipcovered (even in a dark color) might not be the best match for our family at this point in our lives. Especially with such a high cost attached. See, we want this house to be all about living. With an emphasis on large casual family gatherings. We don’t want to live in fear that a nephew of ours might pierce/stain/otherwise maim the 5K sofa every time we have people over. And we definitely don’t want to beat ourselves up every time the dog gets past us with muddy paws or the baby shows us her previously swallowed green beans after a rigorous dance interlude with daddy.

So off we went to two local sofa retailers (we’re very satisfied with our white slipcovered Rowe sofa and our green Rowe sleeper sofa, which were both purchased locally from a store called Sofa Designs). We figured we’d probably end up with a Rowe sectional that we’d love for years to come, and fell in love with this one in particular called the Townsend:

But the price tag (over $3,200 without tax and delivery) definitely caught us by surprise, especially given that our other two Rowe sofas were under 1K. I guess we expected to pay around 2K or even 2.5K (since a sectional is kind of like two sofas put together). But over 3 times the price still felt pretty high. And it left us wondering if a $3,200 sectional (also without removable slipcovers) would feel any less precious and “untouchable” than a 5K one. For cheap-os like us, that’s still a huge chunk of change.

And you guys know that we had been considering this sectional from Ikea as well (seen here in this mood board of yore)…

…so that was on the table when we made another pilgrimage to Ikea just to sit on things and check them out in person. Which is when we discovered that the sectional that we had been eyeing seemed a bit too small for our giant 25′ x 15′ room (and the last thing we wanted to do was buy a cheaper sectional to save money that ended up being wrong, which would still be a colossal waste of funds). But then we saw Karl – er, the Karlstad:

Pardon this picture of Karl, since the one we’d get would also have a chaise added on to create a big U-shaped place to flop down and watch TV, play games, hang out, etc (it would be shaped exactly like the Townsend by Rowe that we pictured above). And we’d do a little leg-sprucing since those raw birch ones don’t really do it for us. But anyway, Karl was everything that the other Ikea sectional wasn’t. He was large and in charge- the perfect oversized dimensions for our oversized room (and supersized family- when we get together for something casual there are at least 16 people in one place). Plus Karl is 100% slipcovered (which means nothing is nearly as scary since the cushions and even the arms and base can be laundered – or even replaced for a few hundred bucks if we want to switch colors down the line). It’s also funny how similar he is to the 5K Room & Board version that we loved.

And the price for this giant sectional plus add-on chaise lounge (which will create a huge family-friendly hangout zone in our cavernous living room) was just… wait for it… $1,248. Basically just a few hundred dollars more than we spent on our white Rowe sofa, but it’s three times the size. Literally. We had to tape off the outline of the sectional on the floor just to make sure it would fit. And once the tape went down on the floor we started getting excited. It would be giant and perfect for our huge family. And best of all- not too precious! Bring on the ice pops and fruit punch.

But we were still nervous that it would look bedraggled in a year or two, or might not hold up to the whole “dog + baby = mess” equation. So we did a good amount of googling around for reviews and write ups. We were thrilled to find that pretty much everyone had great things to say about Karl (although a few people didn’t like the sleeper version of him, since it was hard to operate, but that’s not an issue because that’s not the one we’d get). And then it happened, we remembered that Anna over at Door Sixteen actually purchased a Karlstad sofa after her pups had ruined her fancy Room & Board one (read all about that here).

It was all the affirmation that we needed to hear. Anna’s sofa is holding up really well over two years later, and she says she is very happy with her choice. Plus knowing that she’s a gal of style who lives with real-life wear and tear (thanks to her dogs) was the last “sign” we needed to pull the trigger.

So we went for it and put in our order a couple of weeks ago. We just hadn’t bothered to mention it since Ikea’s delivery schedule doesn’t have it arriving until Feb 4th (update: it might arrive a bit sooner than that- woot!). We’ll definitely share photos as soon as Big Karl (yes that’s a Cougartown reference) gets here. Oh and we got it in the same “sivik dark gray” fabric as Anna (we looked at all the potential swatches at Ikea in person and it felt nice and durable – and not too nubby, so Burger’s claws won’t be able to dig in and create little loops). So excited. Anyway, that ends the big sectional hunt. Australian announcer, take us out:

The antelopes dash into the jungle, grateful to have survived the harrowing lion attack (aka: The Petersiks happy dance into the living room, grateful to have survived the harrowing sectional hunt).

Fade to black.

Psst- Want an update on Karl now that we’ve had him for over a year? Here ya go.


  1. Jessica says

    I have the Karlstad sofa in the dark grey as well. I love it. I have 2 kids and a dog and several juice/pizza mishaps, and the sofa still looks great! Good luck!

  2. Cinta says

    From an Australian reader, not narrator, the Karl is great. I prefer it with the metal legs not the wood legs.

    Timely Australian reference the 26th is Australia Day (it is the 26th in Australia right now)

    • says

      Hey Cinta The Australian Reader,

      Yeah, we noticed Anna went for those metal legs too. We actually have a plan for adapting the wood ones, but if that fails we can always go metal. Haha.


      p.s. Oprah’s Australian adventure looked amazing and now we want to visit AU even more than we did before!

  3. Jessica says

    We’ve had the Karlstad couch in a light gray for about a year. We’re both pleased with the couch, especially for the price. (We also have an older, similar IKEA model in our basement that has been discontinued.) As a bonus we were even able to fit the Karlstad couch in our Toyota Matrix, which saved us the delivery cost. I do have one minor complaint about it–the slip cover goes over the arms and then you assemble the couch. So to take the slipcover off you would have to take apart the couch (I haven’t yet done this). Not ideal, but the cushions ARE easy to clean, and they tend to see a lot of the mess anyway. Congrats on the new place!

  4. andrea says

    Too funny I was just in west elm the other day and was going to mention one of their sectionals to you, but I bet it is too small!

    There is a very dangerous two blocks of Philadelphia.. a west elm and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store within minutes of each other!

    I have a klippan that I adore and recently bought a new slipcover off craigslist for it!

  5. Jessica says

    Ok I have to know this because I’m an Ikea newbie but how does the delivery service work? Is it super expensive? Ikea is an hour away from where I live. We do own a truck so I guess it’s possible that we would not have to use a delivery service.

    Also, does the Karlstad come with a slipcover to cover those legs? My husband and I planning on purchasing a couch from Ikea in a lighter color but I have no previous experience with Ikea furniture. Thanks in advance for your help Sherry! You guys are so awesome to answer all of our “inquiring minds” questions!

    • says

      Hey Jessica,

      You can interchange the legs for metal ones (like Anna did) or spruce them up like we plan to do (deets on that when Karl arrives and we get to it). As for delivery, the rates depend how far away you live. I believe we paid $89 for delivery, which is a lot cheaper than the other stores (even the local one) that we looked at. Especially for such a giant piece! Hope it helps.


    • Dana says

      Hey jessica,
      like you, i’m an hour away from ikea and didn’t feel like making the trek (and waiting in the checkout for an hour!) just for some shelving. i just discovered yesterday that a lot of ikea stores also set their delivery prices based on weight. the minimum shipping amount is $19.99 but then i noticed this little disclaimer for anything weighing over 70lbs:

      Most orders that weigh more than 70lbs and the order value is more than $200.00, minimum delivery cost $99.00.

      for me, the delivery option wasn’t worth it, as it is 3 times the amount i would spend on gas to go there! good luck!

  6. Erika says

    Love the Karl. A friend got one for her house and it looks great, even when all our kids are together on a playdate and going crazy jumping off it. We were going to get one for our house but the Ektorp sofa with chaise suited better (we have a small living room). Gotta love Ikea sofas – great value, comfy and replaceable cushion covers (and washable ones to boot) – a must when you have kids and pets.

  7. Lisa says

    We have had an Ikea Ektorp sectional with the tan slipcover for two years now. Our baby was born a few weeks after Clara. I would have a hard time not buying a slip covered couch after our experience with baby spit up, drool, etc. I think you made a wise choice!

  8. says

    A few years ago, I had my own Home Staging business. I owned several pieces of large furniture to “rent” out, and one of them happened to be a Karlstad couch, in dark charcoaly grey.

    Let me tell you, that couch was great! It looked good and the fabric felt *richer* than regular twill.

    I can’t wait to see Karl in his new spot.

    What are you going to do with the sofas that you already own?

    • says

      Hey Karen,

      Wahoo! So glad to hear that. As for the white slipcovered Rowe, we think we’ll craigslist it (like we did with our old PB sofa from the den) since we no longer have a place for it. It’ll be nice since the sale of that sofa will offset the cost of the new one.


    • Evan says

      What about your guest room, playroom, single-daybedded sunroom, or furniture-less entry/future dining room? I could think of a lot of places for that sofa in your big, new house!

    • says

      Hey Evan,

      There’s a daybed in the playroom which will stay because that room will be Clara’s big girl room someday (and baby #2 will move into the nursery with the crib). As for the sunroom, we love that daybed (it was a wedding gift) more than the sofa, so it stays. The playroom will get a bed so there’s no reason for a sofa in there, and the future dining room will get a table and chairs as well as an entryway (and we have no reason for another formal living room, hence not hanging onto a sofa when we won’t use it). We just like to use what we have and make the house the most functional as it can be! Empty rooms make more sense to us than keeping a sofa that won’t really get used!


    • Kim says

      Also can’t wait to see what you do with the legs. I think the legs as they come make the couch look cheaper, but I know whatever yall do will make them look 10,000x better. For some reason I only like skirted couches – just think it looks way better, so I wonder if it would be possible to DIY add a skirt. Not that yall need to add a skirt, but I’m wondering for myself because that would make a lot of furniture more accessible to me, especially ikea furniture, because they aren’t too big on skirts over there in Sweden I guess and my skirting requirement pretty much limits me to ektorp.

    • says

      Hey Kim,

      You could totally DIY a skirt I bet! Since the cushions just sit on the slipcovered “body” of the sofa, I bet you could velcro or button some fabric under the seat cushions to hold a skirt in place and then pop the cushions on top. Good luck!


  9. Ashley says

    Looks awesome. I love Ikea and their slipcovered furniture! I recently picked up an almost new Drexel sofa at an estate sale for $100, didn’t love the “old lady” fabric but the Ikea Ektorp slipcover in White fits perfectly for $50. This sofa will last us years. Just a little trick of mine.

    I’m in love with the Karlstad swivel chair in gray with the footstool.

    A question: How do you plan to redo the legs? Are you staining them? I ask because I looking for ideas for an eco friendly, no/low voc wood stain and poly product to redo my stair railings and some CL furniture pieces with? Any ideas or ones you’ve used before? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Ashley,

      We have a few ideas for those legs but we’re not sure where we’ll and til we meet Karl and shake his hand, er, leg. More details to come! As for an eco friendly stain, they definitely exist! Just check out a place like or a local eco store (we have one here in Richmond called EcoLogic that sells all sorts of eco stain and even eco caulk and eco poly!).


  10. Amber says

    Yay! So glad you were able to find a great sectional. I can’t wait to see it in action! I think Burger is going to be excited as well.

  11. Kelly says

    Good choice with the Karlstad! We didn’t even think to look at Ikea when we were searching for a sectional. I agree that it’s tough to find a nice one that isn’t several thousand dollars, but we ended up with the Amalfi sectional from Haverty’s (which was reasonably priced) and love it. I thought that they had a grey fabric option, but looking at the site now I don’t see one.

    • says

      Hi Kelly. I follow YHL but saw this post when I googled the amalfi sectional from Haverty’s. We are thinking of this sectional. If you get this comment I would love to know how it has held up!

  12. says

    I’ve been thinking about this sofa too – can’t wait to see it in your space!

    hm, is something going on with your comments? They’re looking a little off to me. There’s a bullet next to each one?

    • says

      Hey Kate,

      Yup, we added threaded comments. So they look a little different but it automatically places my comment right under the question that it relates to. Here’s hoping it saves everyone some scrolling time!


    • says

      Yes, it’s saved me lots of time and I love the new way the comments are organized!! Thanks for spending all that time and energy on figuring it out!!!!!

    • megan e says

      Thank you for adding the threaded comments!!! I mean, it only make sense to mimic your organized style, right? I’ve always wanted to answer people’s questions, but knew that having it posted 3 pages later they wouldn’t see it. This will make the site muc hmore interactive and I bet other commenters will help cut down on the amount of replying you guys have to do.

    • says

      Great choice! I would love a sectional in our basement with a chaise or two to watch movies. I’ve been eying the Karlstad but it’s not something we desperately need yet.

      I like the threaded posts but two other things seem to have changed. When I click on “comments”, the comment thread opens but the link doesn’t take me right to the beginning of the comments. Also, the “show all” option has disappeared.

    • says

      Hey Steph,

      We’re working on it! Comments have been a full time job lately and the “show all” button has been crashing the site! So for now it’s down (we need the site up more than we need “show all” to work) – but we’re on it for sure. Here’s hoping we can bring it back without crashing all the time!


  13. Maryellen says

    The Room & Board showroom is a little slice of heaven, but you’re right on with the price tags (I was enamored with a pillow the last time I was there, but it was over $100, so it was a definite pass). Still, I love going there for some good doses of inspiration.

    I wish you had planned a house crashing while you were in DC, my cozy Arlington condo would be honored to be on YHL!

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