What Do You Splurge On & What Do You Save On?

We get this question a ton, and although it’s completely one of those varies-by-every-scenario things (we might splurge on one mirror because we love it and can’t find anything like it for less, but then save on another mirror because we fall in love with it for $5 at a yard sale), we thought we could attempt to answer it as simply as we could. With a junkload of words and bullets and lists. You know how we do.

Of course the words “splurge” and “save” can have wildly different definitions according to the individual. For example, one person might consider a splurge to be hiring out some custom built-ins to the tune of $5,000 or embarking on a 50K kitchen renovation while we might consider a splurge to be buying hardwoods for our entire upstairs while laying them ourselves to save money, or creating $360 built-ins with retrofitted wooden drawer bases instead of getting a $50 thrift store dresser and calling it a day.

On the flip side, someone might think that saving means using only what you have or buying only secondhand items while we might consider a wider range of big-box offerings to be in the save category, so it really is one of those open-to-interpretation subjects. But without further ado, please allow me to get listy…

So far in our new house, we’ve splurged on:

Of course a few of these things fall on some sort of blurry line between saving and splurging. For example, we got our Restoration Hardware table for 70% off, so some people might put that in the “save column” along with the West Elm dresser that we bought using money we got from craigslisting other items instead of digging into our savings at all. Some projects also seem sort of hybrid, like the stair runner update (we splurged for a Dash & Albert runner, but installed it ourselves to save cash – and we hired someone to level our yard, but then we seeded all the grass ourselves, again to save in that arena). So it’s not all so cut and dry. And the same is true for the save list.

So far we’ve saved on:

  • Painting countless walls, ceilings, and trim/baseboard/molding ourselves (in general everything on this list involves remedying simple cosmetic issues with sweat equity)
  • Refreshing the grout in our foyer (best $12 I ever spent)

Some things helped us splurge in other areas, like a home warranty that made our new furnace free – or our upgraded roof, which we got with money that we got back at closing. In general our saving or splurging method can roughly be summarized as our way of playing the long game in certain areas, while opting just to make some affordable in-the-meantime updates to rooms that were formerly extremely frown-inducing that we knew we could improve for a small amount of loot and elbow grease instead of living with them for years as-is. Like our master bathroom, which we eventually plan to expand into a separate sink-nook area, to create one big space in a few years after we have enough cash saved up for a full renovation.

It would probably make for more blog fodder if we went room to room doing Phase One and then redid each space with a Phase Two makeover, but we’re trying to invest time and money into more permanent solutions from the get-go in as many spaces as we can afford to do so, since we plan to be here long-term. So while we love easy & inexpensive Phase 1 updates for areas that are extra pricey to renovate (like kitchens and bathrooms, especially when we’re not sure what we want to do with their layouts just yet), if we know what we want and have the money on hand for a space like a nursery that we hope will grow into accommodating a much older child (or like our recently renovated sunroom) it’s exciting to work towards that end-vision from the start. Psst – Here’s a post with a bunch of info about how we approach Phase 1 changes so they’re not a waste of money and time.

And just because I like lists a little too much, I thought I’d pepper in a few possible future splurges and saves that are on our minds.

Possible future splurges:

  • New kitchen appliances (we’d also like to upgrade to a gas stove down the line)
  • Adding a gas insert to the living room fireplace
  • More exterior updates like privacy plantings
  • More upgraded furnishings, light fixtures, and window treatments as we go
  • Eventual bathroom and kitchen renovations, full of thoughtful choices that we hope to love long-term
  • Adding cabinetry/built-ins to spaces like our office, the closet niche in our upstairs hallway, etc
  • Converting our kitchen windows into french doors that lead out to our deck
  • Eventually finishing off the unfinished storage room to make a bunk-room/media room for older kiddos

Possible future saves:

  • Doing as much wall removal ourselves as we can (both the bathroom wall and the kitchen wall we want to take down aren’t load bearing)
  • Doing other major projects like installing heated tile ourselves
  • Creating custom cabinetry in spaces like our office and upstairs hallway niche
  • Tackling a bunch of transplanting, mulching, and landscaping projects that we can DIY
  • Other cosmetic updates like painting the rest of the house’s trim/walls/ceilings
  • Making more energy efficient updates to save us money as we go (more LEDs, adding insulation, etc)
  • Reusing our old kitchen cabinets in the garage to create free storage and a workshop space

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things we’d like to do (you can check out one of those here), but we hope it sort of shows the balance going on in our minds. In other words, although we plan to be in this house for decades, we’re not splurging on everything. There are still a bunch of ways to make affordable choices that we’ll hopefully be really happy with for the long run. But when it comes to things that we might regret (or might have to buy twice if we’re not happy with the first purchase), we’re trying to relegate those to extremely small, low-risk things (like a $30 faucet or range hood that we can later craigslist for the same amount that we bought it for).

If you’re stuck wondering if you should splurge or save on something, asking yourself these four questions might help:

#1. How long will you live with it? We try to make what we spend relate to how long we’ll live with something. So for example, if we’re choosing something like hardwoods or tile, we’re a lot more likely to spend over a thousand dollars for that material. Meanwhile if we’re planning to renovate a bathroom or kitchen in a few years after we have more money saved up, we’d never sink 1K into that interim update, and we’re much more likely to save with simple inexpensive updates like paint, wallpaper removal, and a few new accessories. On the flip side, our sunroom update wasn’t interim – we were spending money in there and making big changes that we hope to enjoy for decades (tiling, lofting the ceiling, adding tongue and groove planks overhead, getting two fans installed to cool it more efficiently), so for the sake of that room we wanted to do it once and do it right. Same for the roof, and with our hardwoods, for example.

#2. How much will it affect my day and how I live? This is an example of how you might want to upgrade to a deep soaker tub if you’re a bath person but skip that splurge if you’re not. For us getting a Nest was a big indulgence, because we love the energy-saving aspect of it (which truly does save us money) but most of all we love that we can turn it up or down from bed on our phones if we’re hot or cold. It feels luxurious to us, and we use those extra features like auto-away and phone-adjustment very regularly. So it feels like a worthy splurge.

#3. How much wear will this take? If it will take a lot, a splurge, or at least a very well researched buy is important. You wouldn’t want a cheap rickety table in your kitchen if you have a busy family who eats three meals a day there, so you’d probably want to save for something more solid, reliable, and well constructed. Other examples of a splurge for something that gets a lot of daily wear might be a good toilet (we hear people rave about how their Toto changed their life) or an awesome oven if you bake every day. There can definitely be exceptions to this rule though. For example, we have loved our Karlstad sofa, and was a great deal (a lot cheaper than many of the splurge sofas that we compared it to). Doing research, like reading about others who had it, sitting on it multiple times, and picking their most durable cover, definitely helped to make it a purchase that had the best chance of sticking around.

#4. Does a certain visual effect rest heavily on this choice? Say you have an inspiration image of the dream master bedroom you’ve always wanted and two things that define that room are full gorgeous curtain panels and thick chunky curtain rods. In this case you could save on wall paint and inexpensive accessories like pillows and decorative objects but if you cheap out and get thin curtain rods and wimpy looking curtains you’ll probably never be happy with your “take” on the space. So in the case of coveting a room with very specific features, like an amazing rough-hewn coffee table, I would save on other less specific items in the room, and splurge on whatever makes (or could break) that space.

So there you have it. One big splurge vs. save brain-dump on a Wednesday morning. Have you guys noticed any pattern when it comes to what you save up for and where you try to cut corners in the name of DIY? Have you splurged and saved on the same item (bought one pricey dresser after finding a steal of a deal on craigslist for another room?). That can make for a nice balance, so we like to keep an open mind whenever we can.


  1. Loey says

    I am always impressed by all the work you guys do yourselves! Just wondering about your new washing machine. Did it arrive and does it work?! Did you get the warranty on it?

    • says

      Yes, it arrived! And we love it! So glad! We’ve read a ton of stuff that says warranties are typically not worth the money (Consumer Reports, Money Magazine, etc) so we haven’t purchased that, but we get 30 days to add it if we change our minds…


    • says

      I worked for Circuit City.. and those warranties are pretty much pure profit for the company. Most people never use them.. they either forget they have them.. or the company makes it so “difficult” to get warranty service that they just don’t bother. (that’s why I just replaced two bearings on my riding lawn mower that was less than a year old.. the Troy-Bilt warranty required that I take it to their shop which was about 45 minutes away and I didn’t have a truck to haul it.. and they said they would only repair if it was due to a defect in the part.. not from use.. and you know they would have said it was use).

      Generally, if something is going to go haywire on something due to a defect, it will happen pretty quickly.. like in the first year.. so if you make it one year with your item.. which most manuf. war. cover.. you are most likely ok for the longer haul.

      Just keep all that warranty money in your pocket for all your items and you can be self insured if you have to replace/repair something.

      The only thing that I do get ins on is my smart phone.. but even then I drop it as I get close to my renew date.

    • Cat says

      Also, most credit cards have a feature that will automatically double any warrenty up to 1 year. If something happens after the original warrenty is up, you just have to send the repair bill to the credit card company with a copy of the warrenty and a copy of the original purchase receipt. I got a reimburstment check back in just 2 weeks!

  2. says

    Still love the new knobs! They make SUCH a difference, even though it’s very subtle!
    And can I just say that recoloring the grout made me love those floors? I actually was thinking the other week when you posted about the master bathroom that you should try the grout recoloring in there too!

  3. says

    “You could save on wall paint and inexpensive accessories like pillows and decorative objects but if you cheap out and get thin curtain rods and wimpy looking curtains you’ll probably never be happy”

    –OK, true…but you could still save by getting your “full gorgeous curtain panels and thick chunky curtain rods” secondhand on Craigslist, or by making your own out of heavy fabric and embellished dowels. (Amy Dacyczyn, the Frugal Zealot, used to be fond of saying, “Frugality without creativity equals deprivation,” so if you invert that, creativity is the key to being frugal without feeling deprived.)

    “we hear people rave about how their Toto changed their life”

    –Really? Uh…how, specifically? Because I’m trying to imagine a new toilet changing my life and failing epically.

    • says

      I completely agree that you can get lucky and find many things that could be a splurge secondhand if you’re lucky (or make them)! I just pulled that curtain example out of thin air, but you’re right that you could just sew them and use dowels to make beefy rods. So smart! As for the toilet, I was with you! How can a toilet change your life?! We’ve always gone with a simple toilet and been very happy (as long as it works!) – meanwhile we’ve heard from friends that they had plumbing issues and needed a new toilet and then were upsold something fancy by a known brand (a lot of plumbers don’t even like Kohler anymore, they just love top brands like Toto) and they’ll rave forever about how it’s awesome (comfort height, never gets clogged, easier to clean around due to the base design without groves, etc). Who knew there were so many toilet features?!


    • says

      A good toilet can change your life! I just finished remodeling my master bathroom and put in a Gerber toilet. It is low flow (uses little water and is gravity assist), is a compact elongated toilet (takes up less valuable space than my last toilet), Ergo height (which is great for taller folk like my hubby), has not clogged AT ALL so far (a frequent problem with the Kohler toilet we replaced), and the bowl design is SO MUCH EASIER TO CLEAN! That last part has been amazing and taken a chore which I previously despised and turned it into one that is not so bad. The toilet cost me about $450, but it was TOTALLY worth it. Never has something so simple as a toilet made such a huge difference in my daily life.

      Another splurge from our bathroom remodel that I say is the BEST MONEY WE EVER SPENT is our radiant floor heat. This is a HUGE deal when you live in a state like Wisconsin where bathroom floors can be super cold in the winter months. It has been especially nice this winter, as we’ve had 19 days so far where the high temp has not even reached 0 degrees.

    • Jenny M says

      I got upsold on a Toto toilet a couple of years ago after the plumber told me pretty much anything with the right rough-in would fit the space…and then the Toto didn’t fit the space. There was some water intake configuration that conflicted with our pipes and would have been $1k+ to work around. So I had to craiglist it for half the price (note: beware of buying items online for which the freight charge, if returned, exceeds the value of the item!). So I guess I learned a couple of vaguely life-changing lessons from the experience…but American Standard turns out to fit the bill very nicely.

    • Katrina says

      I consider toilets like appliances – they will be used all. the. time. so you might as well get the best one that fits the space and has the features you want! I’m pretty sure that no matter how much you spend on a toilet that when the time comes to replace it you’ll have gotten all your money out of that purchase (assuming was a well researched and appropriate purchase in the first place).

    • Rachael says

      Two more great features of Toto toilets is that they have 1 gallon per flush models available (think of all the water you’d save, and how much lower your water bill would be!) and they have models with this coating that makes it so you barely ever have to clean the toilet bowl. I know my toilet bowl gets a ring if I don’t clean it once a week, not having to clean it would be life changing!

    • Linda says

      One thing to remember with toilets, like many products, is that what you see at the big box store is not necessarily the same quality as at a specialty shop (e.g., plumbing supply). Sometimes the innards of the toilet or faucet, that you and I don’t see as consumers, are of higher quality than the ‘cheaper’ version. I have to admit I’d be leery of buying a Kohler at a big box store. That said, I just got a comfort height Kohler from a plumbing supplier and I’m in love with it. Flushing power, water savings, height, easy to clean….just so nice!

    • Hilary says

      I think you need to live with a bad toilet to understand how a new one can change your life :) In our previous home the plunger was a bathroom fixture as we needed it at least once a week. After we put in a new toilet the plunger went to the basement as we only needed it once or twice a year. Also, it is something you do really need to research, we watched lots of YouTube of various things being flushed before we made our final decision (and also read reviews and consumer reports). I’ve used new low-flow toilets that have such a weak flush I scared even #1 won’t make it down!

    • mp says

      My cheap husband refused to acknowledge that someone in a wheelchair should have a toilet at wheelchair height, so he bought a $99 toilet several inches shorter than his wheelchair that he pulled out of the floor the second or third time he used it. I bought an ADA-approved toilet that was even with his chair seat and paid a plumber to install it. Around $500 total, but money extremely well-spent, especially since he’s been dead nearly five years and I still use that toilet every single day.

    • JG says

      I thought about a Toto when redoing the bathroom, after reading all those fanatical reviews, but couldn’t stomach the cost, and saw some complaints about their noise and installation. Kohler had it’s fair share of complaints. In the end I bought a Lowes brand toilet with beautiful styling (yah, I bought it for looks! And ease of poss return.) It is low flow, and the technology is so up to date that the flush is *awesome* and quiet! Haven’t had a single clog. And it was hundreds of dollars cheaper that a Toto. We’re super-happy!

      The new technology for low flow is hugely improved.

    • JG says

      And haverwench, I love your comment! Folks get so stuck in the usual purchasing way of problem solving that they miss the fun creative alternative ways and options! And Amy D. is awesome!

  4. says

    You mentioned a potential future splurge of a gas stove for your kitchen… I absolutely say do it! It’s just my personal opinion, but it is so worth it! When we moved in to out home we had a line run and one put it and I do not regret it one bit!

    As for us, we have a balance of the two, like you all we try to do a lot of work by ourselves, like painting all the walls and trim ourselves so that we can save up for nicer furnishings, etc in the future. Our next splurge might be the nest. My husband has had his eye on it for a while.

    • says

      It’s amazing how many gas-stove lovers there are. We’re totally sold and can’t wait (we’ve always had an electric one, so it should be fun to see how different it is someday).


    • Alexandra says

      I was lucky and found a Jenn Aire gas cook top on Craigslist for $250. It was brand new and still in the box. It is a slightly older model but the appearance is still in line for a modern kitchen. The seller had been a custom home builder. A client changed his mind about the cook top and it was a non-returnable special order item. I love a gas stove!

    • Jessica says

      I personally hate our gas stove! I think I might be the only person on the planet who has a gas stove and wishes they had an electric one.

      Our starter thing doesn’t work on it, so I have to bust out a lighter every time just to use the cooktop, which then freaks me out and makes me worry about what if the oven doesn’t start sometime and instead just gas is going in there?! Also, the flames on the cooktop don’t come straight up, they often go more toward one side or the other, which means I have to shift my pans around until I find the sweet spot. Oh, and I hate cleaning it. I’d much rather have a glasstop electric stove that I could just swipe with a washcloth and clean all easy-peasy instead of having to lift grates and clean around objects. I’m also worried about having kids someday since the knobs are on the front where they could easily reach them. Most electric stoves I’ve seen have the knobs in the back, away from curious hands.

      And yes, I’ve used other gas stoves and hate them, too. It’s not just ours that I hate!

    • Penny says

      I agree, gas stoves are awesome especially when an ice storm threatens to knock out power…I have a feeling we’ll be using ours a bunch today.

    • Sarah Stirling says

      I was interested in upgrading to the nest as well but I asked one of my coworkers about it (Oh, I work for a heating and air company so they’re pretty reliable) and he said that unless you have an updated HVAC unit that the nest is not going to be as beneficial. I asked him because our unit is pretty old (exact age unknown since we’ve only lived in the house a year) and I thought that it would help. But he said that the only way to save money with an older unit is proper maintenance- getting it checked out my a pro once a year and making sure that filters stay clean etc. Newer units these days come with updated thermostats that are as efficient as the nest. Just thought I’d share :)

    • says

      I’m on the gas-stove wagon. In fact when we looked at houses years and years ago I wouldn’t even entertain a house that had an electric stove and zero way to reasonably hook up a stove using propane (we don’t have natural gas anyway). I know it’s dangerous to some people, but so is an electrical short, or driving to work everyday or…you get the point. I had an electric stove in my college apartment and I huh-at-ed it. Everyone has a risk and reward system and cooking on gas is amazing.

    • Megan CC says

      I LOVE having a gas stove. I grew up in CA and don’t remember anyone I know having electric (maybe it’s a west coast norm?), so I was suprised when I moved to Ohio last year and didn’t see a gas stove (or dryer) in any of the homes I’ve been in. We bit the bullet and paid a plumber to install a gas line from the basement for the dryer and up through the floor to the kitchen. It was hard to write that check, but I’m soooo happy we did. I hated cooking on the electric stove that came with the house! I guess it is a personal preference though, my sister in law has electric and thinks it’s fine.

    • Nancy says

      I upgraded to a gas stove after many years using an electric stove, and I do not like it. The oven does not bake as well as electric. When I run the self cleaning every smoke alarm in the house goes off (my poor dog hates it). The flames on the burners get blown around when the air conditioner comes on ( we live in Arizona and the vents are in the ceilings so it blows down on you). I’ve learned to live with it but next house will have an electric stove. So there are at least two people who don’t like gas.

    • Kristen says

      Three people who don’t like gas! I grew up with electric stoves and I just moved into a new place with a gas stove. It honestly terrifies me. Maybe it’s partially the set up. It has no vent hood or anything so we have to open the windows whenever we cook. Also, it smells terrible whenever it’s on sooo I think I need to have the gas company check that out.

      I’m honestly so scared to cook anything with it. I’m a baby.

    • Kim says

      Weighing in on the gas stove debate. I would not even consider living somewhere with an electric stove. I love to cook and gas is the only way to accurately control the heat. I’m curious to know if anyone who considers themselves a great home cook would prefer electric. I’ve always thought that the skill level of the cook would affect the preference.

    • beth says

      I had a gas cooktop installed in my house to replace the electric. I think I will go back to electric on our next kitchen renos. I have become a canner and find that the gas doesn’t go to a low enough heat. Also if you have breezes going through or fans on, it moves the flames making the heat uneven. I had gas in my first house and really liked it, hence putting it in this house. But now not so sold on it.

    • Lisa E says

      I don’t like to cook ;) but I’m a gas stover lover as well. Have had both. Our last range was electric with the smooth top. We bought new over a year ago and went with our preference of gas, but it has an electric oven. Although yes, you have to remove the grates (three big ones) it is so easy to clean. My sister visited from out of state in the fall and went on and on how easy it was to clean. I actually find it easier than the smooth top I had. It’s all personal preference.

    • Martha says

      I agree – get a gas stove! I grew up with one and love the heat control so much better. My husband and I rent and there are few gas stoves to be found in rental units in our area. Can’t wait to buy a house one day and get a gas stove.

    • Rachel says

      I am completely in the gas hob and oven camp. I hated having an electric stove in our last house. It is so hard to control when cooking and there is no way ro have a delicate touch when needed (such as bring something to the boil then turn down to a gentle simmer) due to residule heat. I am so so glad to have gas appliances now for both speed and accuracy.

    • Kate says

      About the “great home cooks prefer gas” point… I worked as the full-time cook on a sailboat with an antique, cast-iron woodstove which required feeding the flames and moving pots around the cooktop to hot/warm zones. I now live in a rental with a glass-top electric stove but have also lived with gas, and I think you can make good food wherever you are! It’s about watching the pots and food for doneness and gaining experience with your equipment. Don’t give up hope if you can’t afford the “professional” upgrade and nobody should feel bad about preferences for different setups!

    • says

      Is induction cooktop widely available in USA? We live in Switzerland and we LOOOOVE our induction cooktop. It’s super fast to get hot/warm, and MUCH safer as it doesn’t deal with gas and flame, and the top doesn’t burn. Cleaning the surface takes seconds and it becomes a regular kitchen counter when not in use for cooking. We do need to change our pans and woks to the induction ones (steel). But we can also use a special plate “adapter” for the non-steel untensils. We almost never had power knock out though.

    • says

      Just wanted to respond about using a gas stove when the power is out. We just bought a new double oven 2 years ago, but it does not work when the power is out. It has some type of a safety on it that won’t allow any gas to flow if it is not plugged in. I’m sure this won’t be a concern for you based on where you live, but if someone is considering using gas for that reason, best to check your oven first!

    • cheri s in iowa says

      I’ll weigh in as an “excellent home cook.” I have an electric, and recently upgraded to a flat top. It’s so easy for cleanup, I can’t imagine going back to anything else. I do think the thing that makes the difference is having excellent cookware. High grade steel with double walled bottoms. I honestly don’t know how anybody gets along without them. A good set might cost you as much as the stove itself, but they last a life time.

  5. says

    Since we bought our home in September, we’ve spent most of our time redoing the yard. Many days we work 4-7 hours on the almost acre lot, and we can do it becausr we both work from home.

    Our one big splurge will be having someone remove the ponds and level the former desert greenhouse area.

    Our discussions about the interior are framed with the context that this home will likely be a part time home as my hub’s writing will necessitate a move in a few years.

    So we scout garage sales for hidden gems that can be redone ($3 pedestal side table) and save for bigger ones (quality gutters).

  6. says

    typo – should be “room” under “Possible Future Splurges’ 2nd bullet.

    But on this point our gas fireplace starter kicked the bucket 2 years ago. I really wanted to move to a fireplace insert so we could benefit from the heat a fire creates, not just the beauty, but choked on the cost of inserts installed. Eek $3-4k! Just last week settled on a ventless gas log set. Installed this costs $1,500 and does exactly what I need. Ventless gas log sets can run on a remote, give off heat and costs 1/2-1/3 less then inserts. Just a thought :)!

  7. Katie says

    Since you know Toto’s are fabulous (I have two waiting to be installed) and since they can be purchased for $250, why didn’t you replace your toilet when you had back ups in the shower and John was going plunger crazy?

    Also, no matter how cheap they were, those kitchen chairs will never be a good buy. The built-ins can be saved though! Don’t make your baby live in an office!

    • says

      We knew that plumbing issue went deeper than just the toilet (in our case it was the pipes and their backgraded angle) so alas, even a Toto couldn’t have helped us with that problem. Although we do plan to replace the original toilet with something newer and more efficient when we do the master reno down the line!


  8. says

    I found this list to be really helpful. My husband and I definitely splurged on some things during our kitchen renovation (hello marble back splash and shiny dual oven!), but then we painted ourselves and installed wood floors ourselves to keep some of the costs down. Sure, our renovation was still expensive, but this is our 30 year house so it’s worth it to us.
    Splurge versus save is such a personal matter because other people might not care about having a premium gas range, but that was a high priority to me. It’s all personal perspective and it was great to read yours. Thanks!


  9. Lil says

    When we overhauled our master bath (sooner than we planned because the shower was leaking), we spent about $2 a square foot on the wall tile (6×8 (?) subway tile from Lowes) and simple hex tile for the floor, but splurged on a European glass door. There was no other way to get that super clean open feel that the European glass doors provide. They have the tiniest little bevel on the edges that feels like jewelry and they make me smile every time I see them…a year later.

    Thanks for the post. I love that you put your RH table in the splurge category even though you got it for 70% off…so me!

  10. says

    Amazing how much you’ve accomplished since you moved in (and before!). The hardwoods were a great decision and your front foyer is so bright and cheery. I bet you can’t wait to spend time on your back deck!

  11. Jen says

    I hope is is an ok post to ask this question on. I know you guys have the Karlstad sofa from IKEA, my husband and I are looking at the soderhamn sofa that they have there. It’s different, but it is a modular sofa like the Karlstad. My question is how difficult was it to put together? Also does anyone reading have experience with this sofa? Thanks.

    • says

      We had no issue putting our Karlstad together. It took a little while just to get the covers on each of the ten million cushions, but nothing was too hard and everything lined up. Anyone else have info for Jen?!


    • Courtney says

      I just got my Karlstad sectional yesterday. Being impatient, I couldn’t wait for my bf to get home to help me. It was super easy and took me about 2.5 hours to put together by myself. Honestly, the hardest part for me was thinking the legs screwed into the dowel hole. I had it backwards for 10 minutes before I figured it out. If the soderhamn is anything like karlstad it shouldn’t be hard at all. You can download the instructions from Ikea’s website too to check it out before you buy.

    • Amanda says

      We have a Karlstad sofa as well (but didn’t go modular yet). The regular size sofa took me 45 minutes to put together (from opening boxes to sitting on it) alone. I’m a pretty small woman and I found the whole process to be easy and nothing was too heavy. I would wager the other ikea sofa’s are of similar difficulty.

  12. Amber says

    Random…..but I was wondering, your lovely white frames you use, are they Pottery Barn or have you found a more inexpensive knock-off? I love them but they can be so pricey.

    • says

      Ikea! We love that they come with mats. We also get them on clearance at Target sometimes and even at yard sales (you can paint them or stain them if they’re not the color you like).


    • T says

      Sherry – Since you mentioned painting/staining frames, do you have any tips for doing this on frames that aren’t solid wood? (or that have a weird finish?) I spent hours once stripping an Ikea frame of its plastic-y coating so I could paint the fiberboard underneath when I realized I didn’t actually want it to be white… definitely not an experience I’ll be repeating.


    • says

      Oh man, I’d just use a good spray primer and spray paint (either in oil-rubbed bronze or white or a color you’d like) and hopefully that would stick nicely. That seems to have worked in the past (sometimes I’ll sand something to rough it up before spray-priming).


  13. says

    Another good thing to keep in mind is “can you do it yourself and get a professional finish”?

    It’s kindof like when I go out to eat.. I try to order things that are difficult to make at home.. either because the technique is complicated.. or it requires a lot of specialty ingredients I don’t have.. and don’t want to buy.

    I try to do things myself if I can get basically the same fit/finish that would result if a professional did it. I know we have all been in homes for sale where the owner’s DIY projects were obviously going to have to be redone.. or painted over.. etc.

    The other thing you sometimes have to do is make that gut check decision.. can I live with the cheaper alternative? Like the curtain example. If you do a lot of searching.. you can almost always find an alternative with the same/similar look. I get coastal living and they always have these furniture and decor items that cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. I can usually go on amazon and find really similar feel pieces..

    One thing I have splurged on.. a good mattress.. you spend a lot of time on that!

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