IKEA KIVIK vs. KARLSTAD

Brandon and I moved our TV from the first floor up to the second a couple of months ago, but the seating had not followed suit. We had our brown corduroy glider with its rolled arms (not the prettiest, but so comfortable) side by side with our boxy mid-century-inspired white Petrie armchair. It worked, but… not really.

We initially tried to bring our Jasper sofa upstairs (the beige sofa from the living room in our last house), but it would not fit up either set of stairs. Rather than finding a company to hack it apart and reassemble it (guaranteeing that the same would need to be done if we ever wanted to move it again), we sold the sofa on Craigslist. Three months later, we finally used that money to go buy a couch from IKEA. Because our only option for getting one upstairs is to get one that comes in pieces.

But which one? That’s what took us so dang long. I couldn’t make up my mind.

IKEA KIVIK vs KARLSTAD sofas

I like the lines of the Karlstad, but I would want to switch out the legs. This simple set is $36, and Pretty Pegs has fun options from $68-144, depending on the style. Or the legs could be covered completely by a Bemz slipcover with a full skirt, which I like the look of.

Then there was the Kivik. Similar in shape to the Karlstad, but with wide, padded arms. I actually like the width of the arms with the sofa is made longer with a chaise attachment, but I wasn’t crazy about them on the regular length version. The cushions are a little nicer than the Karlstad’s though (they have a top layer of memory foam), and I was sold on the arms as an additional spot to sit. Not all the time of course, but if we had a lot of people, a kid (or adult) could easily perch on the armrest as another seat. Plus when I asked about the Kivik on Twitter, someone said that it was an excellent napping couch. SOLD.

We went out to IKEA last night to test the two side by side, and come home with our new Kivik. We had to open the box in the loading zone and fit everything in the car piece by piece, but we managed to do it (just barely). Brandon and I assembled it while the kids were asleep, and when Eleanor saw it in place this morning, she was impressed. “We BUILT it,” she exclaimed, accompanied by big eyes and a little circle mouth. (Um, we bolted a few pieces together and put a slipcover on. But OK, kid! We built it!) She and August then dove from each of the arms onto the cushions, taking turns so as not to bash their heads together. Everyone loves the new couch! And we got it up to the second floor! Success.

I kinda want to go take a nap on it. You know, to fully test it out and all.

63 Responses to “IKEA KIVIK vs. KARLSTAD”

  1. Sabrina February 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Ooo, good choice. I have the Kivik too and kept thinking in my head that you needed to pick that one up for the naps alone. Love that you have a friend who agrees!

  2. Jayme February 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    We had the Kivik…we loved it but those cushions broke down ultra fast and those covers were a pain…not to mention they weighed about 100 tons each. I like the look of the Karlstad much more…if we did it all over again we’d go with those, hands down.

  3. Melissa February 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    I have had the KIVIK for about 3.5 years now. It is a great napping couch, those extra wide arms make the perfect resting spot for your head!

  4. valentina February 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    you made the exact right choice! I’ve had multiple karlstads and all of them have broken down within a year or two (the only reason I keep having them is because I’m a bit of a roommate-hopper, and everyone else seems to own them). The legs give in, the arms give in, the middle of the couches break…. they’re terrible, even considering how cheap they are. Good choice.

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

      I’ve heard that the construction method for the Karlstad has changed in the past year or two, to address the problem of them breaking in the middle. Maybe they’re better now?

    • Kimberly | Turning It Home February 25, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      My Karlstad just broke – the trusty ole’ particle board deteriorated. If I hadn’t bought it used, it could be fixed under the warranty. Live and learn, right?

  5. Heidi February 20, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    BUT what color slip cover did you get?!?!?! #priorities

  6. Nicole M. February 20, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    I DEFINITELY like the one you chose…the Karlstad looks cheap. I am looking forward to hearing how it holds up to two kiddos :)

  7. Mercedes February 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    We have both couches at home.. and I think the kivik is waaaay better than the karlstad!

  8. Pamala February 20, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I have the Kivik and we call it the cursed couch. Not because it has treated us anything but wonderful (although,we have the chaise attachment and the cushion has broken down from excess use), but because if you lie down on it, you can’t help but fall asleep. Wonderful and terrible at the same time.

    Aside from the cushion that is in need of replacement, its been a great couch. Just make sure you flip the cushions around for even wear.

  9. Britt February 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Ugh. I wish I had gone Kivik. Our friends have 2 and they are super comfy. We got an – admittedly used – karlstad and the arm on the side we flop on is bent at a 30 degree angle. Not cute. So not great for naps. We’re not very big people either!

  10. Emily February 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    We just did the same exact thing in Dublin 2 weeks ago! Had an uncomfortable couch that needed replacing and very narrow hallway to fit it down. Test napped the kivik vs karlstad and husband declared the former better for napping. He’s thrilled so far! Personally I wish the arms were about 2 inches narrower just for the look. But still very comfy!

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

      Yes! Just a couple of inches less would be great on the armrests.

  11. Allison February 20, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    That’s interesting that the cushions are better. I have the Karlstad, and it’s been great to have slipcovers that are washable for my 3 yr old’s mucky hands. Yes, what color did you get?

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

      Brown. It ties in with the upholstered bed, which is in view. (The layout is sort of different — I’ll share pictures soon.)

  12. Alex February 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    We have the KARLSTAD and I did a big review of it on my blog because like you, went back and forth over so many options before finally just going for it. A year later and it’s still one of the best purchases we’ve ever made for our home and it’s withstood everything our kids have thrown at it (and given that they destroyed 2 rugs in under a year, that’s a lot). That being said I really wanted the KIVIK for the basement to have a lounging couch but sadly it was too long for the space we needed it for. I was so mad! So we wound buying the FRIHETEN sofa bed and it’s been really great for our little family so far.

  13. alisa February 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    This couldn’t have come at a better time… if you made a trip out to our little house in so-cal, you would see it doesn’t have a big living room (our home is a whopping 1400 square foot half million $$ of happiness) and we can only fit one sofa, with MAYBE a chair. I have been looking at getting the KARLSTAD with the chaise to replace our little EKTORP sleeper sofa. I am with you and would want to change out the legs… and go with the darkest color available… what color did you choose? White?

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      No, I like the look of white, and I know those slipcovers tend to hold up well, but I didn’t want to potentially wash everything all the time. I went with brown.

  14. Giulia February 20, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    I like both! We have he Karl, and we’ve had it for 5 years with 2 kids. No issues, looks like new. Best purchase we ever made, not sure what people are doing to their sofas:)

  15. Amanda February 20, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    We have the Karlstad in our living room and the Kivik in our movie room. Both have held up well, and both look good, but the Kivik is definitely more comfortable for binge- watching tv :)

  16. Jessica @ SundayLoves.com February 20, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Great choice. I don’t love how chunky it is, but the fact of the matter is that we have a Karlstad and we’ve had some frame quality issues and frankly, it’s not as comfy as the other choice. It really isn’t. :) Ours is being retired to the playroom because we have new mid-century styled couches being delivered. I am SO excited to not have to sit on a Karlstad anymore. LOL!

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      I wasn’t thrilled with how chunky it was either, but it has really grown on me! I was looking at the DWR catalog today, and realized that the style was very similar to their $4000 Reid sofa.

  17. sarah February 20, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    We have the KIVIK and not too impressed with the chaise and how lumpy the cushions have become. Mind you, we live in Hong Kong, so it is the only seating we have in the living room of our tiny flat, so the chaise has seen a lot of use. It’s a comfortable sofa, but I would have hoped that it would have held up better than it’s done.

  18. Virginia (The Heartographer) February 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Nice! I personally prefer the lines of the Karlstad, but I know our cat and future kids would appreciate those wide Kivik arms. For what it’s worth, I blogged about the leather Karlstad to infinity; including the link in case anyone here finds it helpful. We STILL haven’t pulled the trigger on the white leather Karlstad, but I dragged Grant to Ikea and he concurs that that is the couch for us.

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

      Your post is amazing. (Anyone looking for the leather Karlstad, or even the fabric one: Do yourself a favor and check it out!)

  19. Catherine February 21, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    I bet it’s great! I have the Karlstad with a chaise attachment and we LOVE it, and I like a higher arm to lean on. My boyfriend loved the Kivik but the arms were far too bulky for our small space.

  20. Abigail February 21, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    What color did you get?

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Brown. It will be a good base for the other things I want to do in the room.

  21. Silvie February 21, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Oooh, we, too, love our kivik!
    It’s so comfy and I love to nap on it.

    But be warned… it’s no longer a threat to your hubby to tell him he’ll sleep on the couch if he doesn’t behave himselfe… haha :)

  22. Krysta February 21, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    We have the Kivik in the full sofa with the chaise and we LOVE it! We have 2 crazy pups and wanted something that looked good but we didn’t feel too precious about. We have a RH leather sofa in the room so I feel like we get a good high/low balance. That Kivik is so dang comphy — we are tv watchers at night so it’s so nice to lounge out on that huge sofa. I also love that if we need to replace the slipcover in a few years there are some really beautiful options out there!

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

      I love all of the Bemz slipcovers as an option. That was definitely a factor in getting an IKEA couch, besides the whole comes-in-pieces requirement.

  23. Alli Aars February 21, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    LOVE the Kivik!!! I’ve been eyeing that couch. And I had never heard of Pretty Pegs. So amazing! Love what you are doing with your new space. ;)

  24. Kaycee February 21, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    I had the Kivik sofa/chaise combo for 2.5 years, just sold it on CL a few weeks ago. Compared to what some people have said, I think it held up wonderfully. Regular flipping of the cushions will keep them from getting lumpy. My sofa was in the Teno Light Gray, which was itchy at first, but softened over time and resisted all kinds of stains (including red wine). I would remove the cover, rub some laundry soap in the stain and hose it off really good on the driveway & hang outside to dry. 1 cover did go to the dry cleaners (dog puke), but came back looking better than new!

    It’s a very comfortable sofa, and if taken care of properly it will look new like mine did 2 years from now!

  25. dulcie February 21, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Oh my gosh. I just got a Kivik on Monday. Drove to Bolingbrook and assumed I would opt for delivery, but when I got there I thought I would try and get it in my trusty (and amazingly capacious) Honda Fit. It was quite a sight; with the snowstorm blowing around me I removed it from the boxes and got it in. I had also waffled for some time on which sofa from where. I really wanted the Easton from Room and Board. But getting it into our third floor was my biggest concern. So far, I like it. Got the Tullinge Grey Brown and it looks great. Now I have a 1930′s vintage sofa to get rid of…it needs upholstery and I just couldn’t commit to that expense when it doesn’t really fit the space.

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

      That Room and Board sofa is a great one. I feel like that’s where things are heading right now, less mid-century (like the Karlstad, or my old Jasper), more solid and a little lower to the ground. Though I do prefer those thinner armrests.

  26. DontBlameTheKids February 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I have the Karlstad. I am definitely switching out the legs, and trying to figure out if I want to do a DIY tufting on the back cushions. Anyone done that?

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      I’ve only seen it in pictures, but it looks like an easy enough project with good results!

  27. Chelsea T February 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    This post is so timely, it’s crazy. We’ve had the Kivik for a few years now, and have actually been considering switching it out for the Karlstad due to mass blogger appeal. The cover (now discontinued) has a corduroy look, and is virtually indestructible, despite how my 4yr old and dog have tried. I wash the covers pretty regularly, and just hang dry – occasionally stretch with fabric softener if they tighten up.

    My main complaint is that it’s just so squatty looking. But, maybe with some new legs from pretty pegs, a new cover from Bemz, and a chaise, it might be just fine!

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

      The Karlstad does have mass blogger appeal! Ha, I sort of felt like, well gee, that’s probably the one I’m expected to get. I like the Kivik more though! I left a comment above too, that I noticed tonight that it’s very similar to DWR’s much more expensive Reid sofa. I think that’s where design is heading.

  28. kate February 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    west elm couches come in pieces, just fyi

  29. Cara M February 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    I have had a karlstad for 5 years now and love it. I totally agree about the legs. My husband is a woodworker and turned (on his lathe) some beautiful maple tapered legs for it. It totally transformed the couch.

    • Making it Lovely February 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

      That sounds like a great update. I love turned legs, and even better that your husband made them.

  30. Lisa February 22, 2014 at 2:23 am #

    I’m sitting on my kivic as I type this! But…I don’t understand why choosing an ikea sofa is worth a blog post. I’ve read your blog for years, and I miss the original, interesting content. Maybe if you shared photos of the space this post would have been more interesting.

    • Making it Lovely February 22, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      I wanted to talk about the thought process behind choosing a sofa, rather than just “I bought a couch, here it is!” I’ll be sharing photos of the space soon, though.

  31. Sara February 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    We faced a similar issue — our basement was finished and the only way we could get a full sized sofa down there was to enter in pieces. We loved the Kivik when we test-drove it at the store, but quickly realizes the full sized sofa doesn’t have the memory foam comfort the love seat does…. This was a few years ago though? Hopefully it’s different now and we could buy replacement cushions because as much as I love the length for stretching out, I find the cushions HARD. We changed slipcovers (from courduroy which I loved to a lilac woven that seems to have more ‘give’), but I wouldn’t rate the couches as nap seducers by any means. Too bad, we jumped on the Kivik quickly as we loved the design but have lamented it being hard as a rock for 3 years now.

  32. Clever Girl Reviews February 23, 2014 at 5:27 am #

    After seeing this debate and reading all the comments, I might have to get one of the Kivic!

  33. Emily February 23, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Are you going to post pictures?

  34. Adam Brantner March 25, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    I’m considering buying the Kivik sofa… does anyone have experience getting it into a non hatchback car from the store? My back seats fold down and it’s a rather large car (13 Camry). I’d rather do it myself than pay and wait for delivery. Thank you.

  35. Beryl March 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Interesting to hear how so many comments about the Kivik being better quality. I couldn’t disagree more. I always thought the Kivik looked like junk in the store. I have a Karlstad chair, and I think the Karlstad cushions are excellent quality, and the design very appealing and timeless. I’ve always noticed how the Kivik cushions in the store are completely out of shape, while the Karlstad cushions remain in good shape. People beat on those things in the store, so I take that as a pretty good test of quality. Or at least which products to avoid. I’d also want to know something about that memory foam in the Kivik. I’ve read cheap memory foam is loaded with VOC’s.

  36. Tinna March 30, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thinking about Ikea Kivik soft, grann white, (article number 102.048.55) for $899, http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40204849/#/10204855 Does anyone has it and how was your experience with this sofa?

  37. Mark April 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Hi all. Has anyone used or have knowledge of the IKEA Kivik in leather? How does the leather version hold up compared to the fabric version?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. Welcome to Brown Town | Making it Lovely - February 26, 2014

    […] couch is super-comfy, so no regrets there on choosing the IKEA Kivik, though it could use a throw and more than a single, sad pillow. The room is open to our bedroom, so […]

  2. Welcome to the Brown Room | Making it Lovely - February 26, 2014

    […] couch is super-comfy, so no regrets there on choosing the IKEA Kivik, though it could use a throw and more than a single, sad pillow. The room is open to our bedroom, so […]

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