Family Room Sectional: Ikea Ektorp Sectional

You all convinced me on the merits of a sectional within about 30 seconds of my asking for feedback, so thank you thank you! I had a pretty good idea in my head of what I wanted whether we went sectional or two couches, and that was slipcovers (I am doing everything in my power to transform this 2001 suburban home into a craftsman style cottage inside and out), gray fabric (because we’d be keeping the white slipcovered couch in the nearby living room and I wanted some contrast), and square arms (to contrast our IKEA Ektorp sofa’s rolled arms in the afore mentioned living room).

And then B and I started sectional shopping. I decided originally that we were grown-ups now and would buy a “grown-up” – high quality and expensive – sectional. But sofa shopping is so personal – what’s comfortable to one person is not necessarily comfortable to someone else. And it turned out that all of my ideas for my “grown-up” sectional didn’t work in reality. I loved the idea of the Crate and Barrel Lounge, but when we went to sit on it, we discovered it was too deep for practical every day use and comfort in our opinions. Then we hopped over to Pottery Barn where I fell head over heels in love with the square arm PB Comfort sectional in a silver taupe (light gray). We were both sold – decided we’d save our pennies and buy it when we could afford it. I searched around for real life pictures and reviews and even found one on Craigslist in a different color and came to one conclusion: this sofa does not hold up. It looks droopy and sloppy in a few months. And at the price we were looking at paying for that sofa, I wasn’t going there.

We looked at a few big furniture stores near us and didn’t love the options – mostly microfiber, which I hear is wonderful, but not the look I wanted. So we came back to IKEA. I was really hoping we’d like the Karlstad sectional so we could get the square arms we wanted, but B and I both vetoed it within 30 seconds of sitting down. So, I started considering an Ektorp sectional. And in the end, that’s the route we went. So I compromised on my arm style, but now that it’s in our house, the two couches look so different, I don’t even notice.

At $999, the Ektorp sectional just makes sense for our family right now. In 7 years, when our kids are less spilly, we might be able to cough up big bucks for a sofa, but right now, it just doesn’t seem reasonable. We want people to be comfortable in our home, we don’t want to be worrying about spills and shoes on the furniture. Casco’s already found his favorite cushion. Thomas likes to set his race track up using the sofa back as a ramp. Nell scoots around on it. We’re all very happy with our choice. And, since the sectional is from IKEA, I’ll do my best to find everything else for this room elsewhere to keep our home from screaming “IKEA showroom wannabe” when you walk through the front door.

I chose the Svanby Gray cover – I was worried it would be too dark but it’s actually much lighter than the Karlstad Gray fabric option, which is what I’d assumed the Ektorp came in, too. It’s technically not machine washable, but I intend to give it a go when it needs to be cleaned. I’ve loved our Ektorp sofa and the sectional is no different – comfortable, appropriately sized for my 5’6 frame but long enough for Mr. B’s 6’1 frame. We love snuggling on the couch. And as with our Ektorp sofa, we love that we can replace the slipcover fairly inexpensively if this one gets ruined or we want a different look.

My one complaint: I wish the Ektorp sectional was more customizable like the Karlstad. I think this used to be an option, but it’s now just the 2×2 – 2 seats, a corner, then 2 seats. In our room, we could really use one extra seat going across the back of the family room. We’ll make it work with accent chairs on the other side, so it’s not a big deal, but if there had been an extra chair add-on or a chaise add-on, it would have been perfect.

Eventual next steps for this room will include figuring out the seating across from the sectional – not a big heavy piece, but one or two airy accent chairs, and replacing the hand-me-down rug with something new. Eventually I’d like a rustic coffee table, but for now, our DIY slipcovered storage ottoman works great.

Nursery Chair in lieu of a Glider

Back when the nursery was in transition from guest room (if you could even call it that) to McKiddle #1′s nursery, I was anti-glider.  I took an anti-stance on something mainstream and totally normal, how new and different for me :) . Let me clarify that stance now – I’ve never loved the traditional hardwood cushioned nursery glider (though they’ve improved them vastly in the last couple years and I love the revamps I’ve seen on blogs of late), and I really liked the looks of upholstered gliders, but this mama’s just not about to spend $1200 on a chair that only works in a nursery. So I borrowed the hardwood rocker that was in my nursery as a baby from Caroline and everything was dandy…for about six months.



I will say, Thomas wasn’t a baby that needed to be rocked to sleep – we put him in his crib awake and he fell asleep on his own – so our time in the rocking chair was limited to about 3 minutes of cuddling before bed. And when T was a newborn and still waking up to nurse in the middle of the night, feedings took a long time, so I usually camped out on the sofa in the living room with the Boppy and Design Star on DVR at 3am for those early, nursing-takes-45-minutes days.

But Thomas had a bit of a sleep regression at 15 months and I did a lot of Kumbaya singing from that rocking chair at 2am – and I was newly pregnant and T was much heavier than he had been in previous rocking chair stages. And I told myself in those September days, “When I turn this into this new baby’s nursery, I’m buying a flipping glider”.

So, I started looking on Craigslist for gliders to revamp and went to look at a few, but just couldn’t take the plunge. They either weren’t as comfortable as I expected or just didn’t have the right bones for being revamped. So I turned to my good buddy Shannon who ditched her beautiful Pottery Barn glider for the easier to get in and out of and comfortable IKEA Ektorp Jenny Lund when she redid Gabe’s nursery. And if it’s good enough for Shannon, it’s good enough for me. So to IKEA I went for a $200 chair that I can use anywhere when we no longer need a nursery chair. I like multi-purpose furniture. And the beauty is that if McKiddle #2 is a baby who does need rocking, I now know thanks to my Boulder area neighbor Freckles Chick that I can turn the IKEA Jenny Lund into a glider. Perf. 

Enough chatter, here’s the chair in the nursery.

The beauty of this chair? It matches my sofa. Not that I do the matching set furniture thing, but if I ever wanted to, I could. And it’s darn comfortable, too. The cube ottoman that’s holding Tom’s favorite books right now will serve as a side table/ottoman/T’s jungle gym – and I’m in the process of slipcovering it.


I have short legs, so I needed a pillow to help my feet touch the ground. And since I now bow to Sarah Richardson, design goddess, I wanted more fabric in the room. Sarah likes lots of fabric. And I loved this polka-dot with the exact turquoise to pull in the nursery curtains, a little bit of my signature green, and some yellow.

So that’s the chair situation in the baby’s room – I’ll be sure to let you all know if I end up turning it into a glider, but I’m betting on it remaining stationary. Time will tell!


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May Flowers (and Showers)

We took my beloved IKEA window boxes down for the winter and B’s been chomping at the bit to put them back up, but we had snow a few weeks ago which postponed my summer excitement.  I know next to nothing about flowers so last year we put some pre-arranged pansies in there, but this year I wanted something a little more thought out.

So, I went searching for inspiration:

Now, purple’s usually my last choice – but apparently I’m drawn to purple flowers in window boxes.  Against our gray house with blue shutters, purple seems like a good choice – monochromatic yet pretty.

Now, remember how I wanted “thought out” flower boxes? Here’s how I think: I went to the greenhouse and I picked up some blue flowers and some pink flowers, moved them around in a cart to make sure I liked the way they would look, and called it good.  A little pink to keep things fresh and bright, but mostly deep blues…okay, purple.  I cannot wait for them to fill out a bit more.  

The galvanized IKEA planter boxes are creating quite the firestorm in our IKEA-less neighborhood.  People want them.  Mr. B keeps trying to give away my third prized box when people stop to ask about them, but I am selfish and don’t allow it.

On an unrelated to flowers but related to IKEA note, my sister-in-law is in California on vacation and sent me this text message yesterday: “Oh my god i LOVE ikea!!!”.  It was music to my (a tiny bit jealous) ears.  We were meant to be.

The New Couch

Could I have dragged this on a little longer, you think?  The new couch is here.  And let me tell you, it was no easy feat getting it here.

I’ve had a list of requirements for three years:

  • 3 cushion sofa (for maximum seating capacity in our small house, I’m not a fan of shoving three people on a two cushion sofa – no one likes crack).
  • White, bleachable slipcovers.
  • No more than 35″ deep (so my short little legs could touch the ground while seated) and no more than 83″ long.

My retailer options based on those criteria were limited to Pottery Barn and IKEA – which both required waiting – and there was no real need to purchase other than want.  Fueled by emotions last summer, B and I both decided we didn’t want to wait to save for the PB or for IKEA to come to Colorado to replace the old couch.  We went to the local Rowe dealer and JCPenney.  We convinced ourselves we liked their slipcovered options – which didn’t fit all of the criteria above – and almost bought on numerous occasions, but in the end we both calmed down and realized that waiting for the real vision was going to be okay.  So we started the couch fund out of rebate checks, credit card rewards and cash gifts.

I think that by the end of the saga, B and I were both willing to pay Pottery Barn mark-up.  But then I compared reviews, and the two sofas are VERY similar.  In durability, in comfort, almost identical in scale.

So, IKEA’s slipcover pricing won me over.  Future McKiddles spill red juice? Meh, if I can’t wash it out I can replace the whole thing for $49.  At Pottery Barn that juice would cost me $700.  I know myself well and if our future kids are going to be half me, inexpensive replaceables – along with an orthopedic surgeon on speed dial and the patience to attend multiple meetings a week with any mini-Emily’s principals – are going to be necessities.

I am in love with our new couch.  The fact that it’s exactly what I wanted for the scale and look of the room’s a big part of that.  The fact that I can touch the floor while sitting on it, another bonus.  But, the fresh start’s another big factor.  So many emotions were tied up in a silly old couch – but we’re slowly making our own way in the world, with our own furniture and our own style and a renewed sense of who we are. I majored in English – I’m a chronic over-thinker and over-analyzer.  So sue me.

Out (or to the basement) with the old:

In with the new:


Gray Days

I have a new favorite color. Gray. Or Grey. How do you spell that word?! I love it for clothing. For decor. For cars. For bridesmaids dresses.

You’ve all met my future IKEA couch, right? Well, it now comes in gray. I would still want white, but I like that this is an option.

Just look at what a gray couch can do for a room. Lovely.

Curb Appeal: The Final Touches

Do you ever think of a plan for something, search high and low for what you need to complete your project, and turn up empty?  Yeah, me to.  
When I started the porch project, I whipped up a quick idea board so that I could see that my ideas would work together.  And one of those ideas was to add galvanized flower boxes to our porch railing.  I have no idea how the idea came to me, but I wanted to add color without going the pot route.  It’s a little overdone in our neighborhood.  So, I woke up one night and thought – galvanized flower boxes – it’s different but still classic – the galvanized tin would work well with our gray house paint and stonework, and bonus, it hasn’t been done in our neighborhood yet.  

So, B and I went on a hunt to find my vision.  And we came up empty.  The options I found via google were either too ornate – with gross scrolls all over them – or available only in Europe.  So I figured we had failed, and prepared to roll out last year’s pots.  

While packing for my trip to San Fran last week, I realized that I’d be staying near IKEA.  And we all know how that goes.  So, I consulted the IKEA website to look at everything online that I’d be seeing in the stores the next day, and, while I was surfing, I came across the plant section.  And saw GALVANIZED FLOWER BOXES.  I went crazy.  I woke B up.  I packed the tiniest clothes I could find into the biggest suit case I own in preparation for my return trip.
And on my first trip to IKEA, they were out.  The website had told me they had 32.  The website lied.  I was furious.  I even asked the worker and he said “We’ll get some in next week”.  And I said, “Well, I don’t live here, and I came here specifically for my job these”.  He said “Well, you can just come back then”.  And I said “I live in Colorado.” And he said “Oh, that’s a long drive, you’re crazy”.  IKEA needs some customer relations work.
But, on my mom’s advice, I made one final trip down the street to the Emeryville IKEA before leaving.  And I saw an employee putting out 3 planter boxes.  I grabbed them out of his hands and ran at full speed to the checkout before anyone could stop me.  I only needed 2, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  Whew, that was a long story to say: I finally found what I was looking for!!!

Mr. B got them up immediately upon my return.  And because I’m flower challenged, and he was raised by the flower lady and would probably have 30 pots in our yard if he could, I told him “As long as you don’t bring home Impatiens you can pick the flowers”.

And now for the grand reveal of our little porch – porch swing, rocking chair and some galvanized flower boxes.  Happy Hour’s on our front porch tomorrow – swing on by, I’ll pour you a glass of Fish Eye.

Well, Hello Old Friend

Look what just happens to be a few blocks from my hotel.

Too bad I can’t fit a couch on an airplane. Or kitchen cabinets. And really too bad that the thing I REALLY WANTED to complete my porch (and could have been a carry-on plane item/shipped to my house via the post office for about $5) was sold out. What are the odds? Seriously IKEA, remember when we went on a break? I mean, I’m not a fan of threats or anything, I’m just saying…

(PS – My mom told me I needed an attitude adjustment when I called to say I was only at IKEA for an hour and spent no money, which brought back memories of the time she told me when I had just started dating B “If you and B ever break-up, you have to remain friends because he’s the only person who’s agreed to scatter my ashes over Detroit Lakes when I die”. At least I know up front that when it comes to me vs. B or IKEA, Mama Caroline will choose the latter.)

TGFY: Thank Goodness for Youngsters

Remember when I asked if you love or hate houseplants? You were all divided on the issue, which left me divided about how to display the plant that Mr. B’s mom gave us. I don’t love the idea of plant stands, shelving units just for plants, adding furniture to our already cramped floor plan, etc. And with my aversion to clutter, I was terrified that adding plants would put me over the “too many things on surfaces” edge. I was really drawing a blank when only a few days after posting my question, John and Sherry over at This Young House dove into the plant posts. And that’s when I knew: they would have the answer.

So I shot them an email, and Sherry responded immediately with suggestions for planters and a promise of a follow up post on how to display houseplants. And boy did she follow through. Check out their post here, and here’s my favorite plant photo they posted:


I love the height of the plant and white ceramic planter. Could these two be any classier? Thanks youngsters!

I’m off to find a white IKEA-like planter for the office plant without trekking to the actual closest IKEA in Utah. Remember, IKEA and I are on a break until they make good on their promise and break ground in Colorado. Unless, of course, I just happen to be passing through Salt Lake City, and IKEA wants to buy me a drink. Then, all bets are off. Relapses happen in break-ups, it doesn’t make you a bad person, right?

I’m the Happiest Girl in the World!

My mom called me this morning to tell me what she’d read in the paper: IKEA is coming to Denver. No clue when or where, but it’s closer than Salt Lake and I couldn’t be happier.

The Hand-Me-Down Kids: Bedroom Edition

Okay, this space has [thankfully!] evolved from the hand-me-down kids to a more romantic and grown-up bedroom. But it definitely didn’t start out that way. The first thing I did when we moved in was to paint the room Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage. I’ve always loved the color. The rest of the room I did not love.

When we moved we had mismatched pieces from everywhere: My bed from before we lived together (a full), my old wicker headboard that was in my room as a little girl, a baker’s rack that came from my old room at my parents’ house, a round drop-leaf table that Mr. B’s brother and sister-in-law gave us. I painted everything white and it still looked junky. Then, my parents got a new bed and handed their 4 Poster down to us. This is what the room looked like:

Junky, eh?

I knew what I wanted, but it was going to take us some time to get there. I wanted both sides of the bed to be symmetrical, which shocked Mr. B because I’ve always said “I don’t do matchy-matchy”. I wanted dark espresso furniture, which shocked Mr. B because I paint almost everything white. And I wanted a chandelier instead of a ceiling fan. Which really worried Mr. B. Now, in our house, I do the decorating but he has full veto power – and the only thing he vetoed from the start was the chandelier. He likes his air circulated.

So, right after moving in, we went to pick out a ceiling fan (It was a big moment of defeat for me, but I know they’re a necessary evil. And surprisingly, they’ve made some really cool ceiling fans lately). We picked one that I thought would blend into the ceiling. And. then. it. sat. in. a. box. on. our. floor. for. over. a. year. So, I called up my good buddies over at West Elm and said, “My fiancé has failed to hang our ceiling fan, so I think that the statute of limitations has passed and I am now eligible to buy a different light fixture. Please send me the Capiz pendant”. And they did. Sweet of them, huh?

And then the hunt began for the nightstands and dresser. I wanted to match the wood of the hand-me-down bed. But everywhere we went we found pieces that looked to heavy, or too small, and nothing felt right to me. Right before the wedding, I checked the Canopy line at Walmart one last time – I loved their nightstands and dresser but they were always sold out. Now, I have thoughts about Walmart that some people share and other people don’t, but this was the only thing I saw that I loved, and in fact, the only thing I saw that I didn’t despise. Well, surprise, surprise, the collection was back in stock. I sent the picture to Mr. B at work, told him I was ordering the set and that he had ten minutes to veto. He didn’t.


My head is spinning with possibilities for this wall. But that’s another post…

The brushed nickel oscillating fan was my solution to the no ceiling fan issue. It’s powerful, we love it!

Now, I’m going to address the elephant in the room so that you don’t have to. The chambray dust ruffle. I hate it, it doesn’t go, and I don’t want a dust ruffle at all. But here’s the dilemma: We’re still using my old bed because we can’t commit to a new mattress size. We love the 4 poster, which fits a queen, and so my full mattress is currently floating on the Queen bed. But, we’re tempted by the luxury of the King sized bed, and the opportunity to not end up in balls when Casco sneaks into bed in the middle of the night. He’s a sneaky little monster. So until we commit to a mattress, the dust ruffle is covering the large expanse of space between the actual mattress and the bed frame.

I picked the bedding and lamps up on one of my cross-country trips to visit my friend IKEA, and the mirrors were a BB&B find.

So, what do you think of our updates? When we commit to a bed, there will be more updates. Even I’m not daring enough to try to fit a King on a Queen sized bed. Plus, there’s a little corner that’s still No Man’s Land, and when I figure that out, I’ll let you know.