Honey I Shrunk The Sofa

So… the living room. First it looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

And now it looks like this:

Although the salmon pink walls, orange-brown bricks, and all of that dark wood trim & paneling is a far cry from our vision for this room down the line (we keep changing our minds, but today we’re dreaming of something like this for the brick, coffered ceilings like this, and this for the paneling someday) it definitely feels a lot homier already. You know, with a couch to sit on instead of a pile of non-sit-on-able furniture.

Oh and we shared this picture on Instagram/FB a few nights back, but don’t you think salmon is Burger’s color? That is one good lookin’ chihuahua. Not that I’m biased or anything.

As for our sectional shrinkage (I’ll pause while you titter) we needed a giant sofa for our last house’s giant 25′ long living room. Pictures truly didn’t do that room’s colossal size justice, but the sectional was thirteen feet long and almost that deep (the average sofa is usually around seven feet long for comparison).

And while some folks love giant rooms and giant sofas, our first house‘s cozy den was the room we missed the most…

… so we pretty much thought it was fate when we saw our new house and the living room reminded us of that cozy room. I think they’re cousins. Here’s the before shot of our first house’s den to compare with the first picture in this post.

Anyway, our Karlstad sectional from Ikea (Karl for short) came in four switch-around-able pieces, so we decided that keeping the sofa + the chaise (and losing the loveseat and corner seat that made it into a giant U-shaped couch) made the most sense for our new living room.

So without buying any additional pieces we were able to just connect the exterior arm that used to live on the end of the sectional to the sofa part and remove the extra stuff in the middle (corner piece and loveseat). Only took about fifteen minutes. And as for the unused two pieces that we removed, we stuck those up in the unfinished storage room with a plastic drop cloth around them. Why didn’t we craigslist them? We just figured selling the corner and loveseat to a sofa that’s incomplete without another end piece that someone would have to purchase might fetch us $20 tops, and it’s worth more just to hold onto them in case we get a new living room couch in a decade or so and decide to use Karl up in the bunkroom/movie room when we finish that space down the line.

We also built the console behind the sofa two years ago, which we made in three interlockable pieces. And the cool thing is that we realized that if we left out the middle piece it almost fit perfectly behind the freshly shrunk sofa. Almost is the key word since it’s still about 6″ too long (over on the fireplace side there’s some overhang) but it works for now, and we’re planning to shorten it so it’s completely fitted for this room.

After a few years of living with a big padded storage ottoman instead of a coffee table and a console that spans the width of the sofa, we’ve just learned that it’s really functional for our family to have the console (for things like tea at night) and an ottoman (for hiding toys and for Clara to lounge on during the day).

Oh and you might notice that the second hole in the brick fireplace wall, which was meant for firewood back in the day, has been covered by a leaning frame. It just felt like a big dark hole whenever I glanced at it from the sofa, and since this fireplace is no longer functional (we’d love to slip a gas insert into it down the line) we didn’t need it staring at us while we gasped over the last four minutes of last week’s Game Of Thrones episode. Seriously, I audibly gasped at least a dozen times in that span of about four minutes.

As for the other side of the room, we’re keeping the 80’s wet bar closed off with doors for now (we’d love to expand the doorway to the kitchen into that area down the line since we don’t really have a use for it) but I did have some fun putting things on the built-ins in the corner.

Yup, it turns out when my house is full of freshly deposited moving chaos, I like to putter around with books and ceramic animals. So while it looked like this on moving day…

… within 24 hours it looked like this.

The rest of the house still looked completely trashed, but this little corner was happy. #smallvictories

Oh and we took down a bunch of doors on the first floor that blocked off spaces that we prefer to be left open for better flow (the doors on the right block the foyer from the kitchen and the doors on the left block the kitchen from the living room).

Now we can peek in on Clara in the living room while we cook in the kitchen, and there’s a nice view of the big bay of windows in the back of the kitchen from the foyer instead of staring at two dark and heavy doors about ten feet from the entryway. Clearly there’s still some crazy color going on when you catch a few rooms in one view, but you gotta start somewhere…

We also took down the doors that blocked off the kitchen from the dining room. It’s amazing how much breezier it feels – even with a bunch of rooms full of dark blue trim, wood paneling, and a boatload of wallpaper (there are at least five different types of wallpaper going on in our house). Speaking of wallpaper, that’s pretty high on my attack list. I think I’m going to test out a bunch of different techniques for you guys and rate them all (should be fun to see which are urban DIY legends and which ones work the best). And… that’s the kind of thing that gets me excited. Yup. I’m grinning at the computer right now. Get a hold of yourself Petersik.


  1. says

    That’s awesome you were able to do that with the couch. Much better with the doors off too so it’s more open. I can’t wait to read about your wallpaper removal techniques! I’ve heard the score and steam is successful and another one involving dishwashing liquid but can’t think of how that factored in right now.

    • says

      Score and steam is effective! The other one I’ve heard is a mixture of HOT water and liquid fabric softener! Good luck!

    • says

      Liquid fabric softener is what my father-in-law (painter back in the day) told me about when we ripped the fuzzy wallpaper out of our bathroom. It worked like a charm, even when we learned there were three more layers of wallpaper (that had been painted over!) SO thankful, because we were snowed in for 3 days the weekend we bought the house and the wallpaper in there was driving me crazy.

    • Katie says

      Yes I’ll have to agree with the fabric softener technique.

      I live in a 70 year old home that was riddled with layers upon layers of terrible wallpaper. The technique I found most success with is to peel back as much of the top layer of wallpaper as possible (I was able to get some pretty sizeable sheets off). Next step is to fill a spray bottle with warm water and liquid fabric softener, and spray the paper backing of the wallpaper (left behind after ripping the top layer off).
      I just waited a few minutes for that soak in, and scraped the paper off with a plastic putty knife. Worked very very well. No chemicals; easy clean up.
      Good luck! Wallpaper removal was definately not one of my most favorite home improvement projects…. however the results are so worth the effort!


    • Mandy says

      The preliminary living room looks great!

      Tips for wallpaper removal, since I just went through it: While dry, remove as much of the top layer of paper as possible, score the leftover liner paper with a Paper Tiger, spray with a 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 hot water mixture and let sit for 15 minutes. You should be able to peel the remainder off with your hands at this point – be careful not to damage the drywall (its very easy to do so while wet). Sand and spackle rough spots and wipe off dust and leftover paste with a moist sponge. FWIW, I tried the stuff they sell at hardware stores called DIF gel and it made a sticky mess and wasn’t all that successful. As a bonus, the vinegar water is cheap, natural, helps to clean off the wallpaper paste residue, doesn’t leave a film, and does not smell when dry. Good luck, wallpaper removal is an evil process – afterwards, I practically had to resurface my walls with an orbital sander in order to paint!

  2. says

    Isn’t wonderful how a bit of organization can keep the world calm in the midst of the opposite?

    We sold a few IKEA pieces this past weekend and now the kids room has a fresh new liveable look (complete with a moving box or two for extra ambiance- or reality).

    We also finished a toddler puzzle from the Macklemore Half Challenge day…


    Yep, victories are not measured by their size.

  3. says

    I am in love with your sofa (okay that is a weird confession) but it looks so comfy and cozy. Can’t wait to see all the improvements in your new house. Are you going to paint the brick fireplace? What colours will you paint the walls? LOL – this is like the beginning of a good novel. Can’t wait to read all about it.

  4. says

    Hey! It’s starting to look like you guys could relax for five minutes in there! This is a perfect explanation as to why I love my Karlstad- not only is it rearrangeable, and recoverable, it sits low enough that you don’t block any windows with the couch. I love the chair and the sectional together!

    • Mishellie says

      Yes! I love mine. Since I’m 24 I just bought a loveseat for now, but I DREAM of getting a chaise lounge piece and having my own little mini-sectional. And I want that gray cover. So bad. Someday.

    • Alex says

      Mishellie, can you do that? I have the 3 seater and I was under the impression that I couldn’t extend it… Could well be wrong, this may require some more googling!

    • JMK says

      Sometimes if there is an ottoman available to match the sofa you can use a clamp to attach it infront of the seat at either end of the sofa to create a chaise effect.

    • mishellie says

      Hm.I have the 2 seater, and it has the dettachable armrests so I was assuming that I could jsut hook the chase lounge up to it, so it would be a 3 seater w/chase on one end. Maybe I cant! I’d have to actually try it. :( I don’t know why you couldn’t though, since the chase stans on it’s own with 1 armrest… thought maybe the 2 seater wouldnt? I guess I could then do some DIY legs for the 2 seater to keep it all even… But then the slipcovers!

      Hmmmmmmm. Maybe Ill end up with the ottoman and a clamp :( But that would be sweet too (probably more my size since I’ll probably need to put it in a studio eventually…) and I’d still like it!

  5. Sarah says

    Fabric softener and extra arms to help were my fave remedies for removing wallpaper, but I’ve never had access to a steamer. Hopefully the glue will be old and loose!!

  6. Amy says

    Fabric softener and water = the best way to remove wallpaper. We just moved into our 1960’s house a few months back and there was wallpaper everywhere and I mean even on the ceiling. I bought a fancy wallpaper removal steam system which wasn’t getting the job done, as soon as I scored the wall and used the spray, that paper fell off. Plus your walls smell like fresh linens. =)

  7. Shelley says

    I am so impressed with how you can make a room so comfy and cozy in such a short time!
    And gasping is the perfect word for that episode! I still can’t believe it!
    Have a great week guys: )

  8. Shondra says

    We have an 1895 Victorian and had to take down 8 rooms of wallpaper. Our best option was a steamer (we tried homemade remover, store bought remover, scoring, ripping, you name it), so it’ll be really interesting to see what works best for you guys!

  9. Elle says

    Okay I’ll admit that this was the room I was most skeptical about (even aside from Karl) but it already looks awesome. New paint will definitely help, though. ;-)

    If you end up using the other pieces of the sectional in a different room one day, are you going to have to come up with another name? Karl and Karla maybe?

  10. Lawren says

    I just moved, too — and I organized a shelf while my house was still a wreck and most boxes were unpacked! haha sometimes it just makes you feel better to look at one little organized piece and know it will all get there one day!

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