We bought our white IKEA Ektorp sectional a year ago in May. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly (she says, as if she usually makes decisions lightly) so I was confident I would be happy with our purchase. Everyone else I knew wasn’t so sure. The biggest warnings I received were about stains, maintenance, and quality/comfort. I thought I’d tackle those issues today and give you my thoughts.
You do realize this is me, right? And that I’m going to get analytical and detailed? Just making sure.
Why We Bought the EKTORP Sectional
When we first got married and lived in our first house, we borrowed my mom’s Ethan Allen card and bought a very expensive leather sectional in a buttery chocolate brown leather. Imagine the Ektorp sectional, but much larger and with fuller pillows. It was extremely comfortable and fit the open floor plan of our new construction home well. The leather was also perfect for dealing with dog hair, but not that great for snuggling. It was slippery.
The sectional did not fit in this house no matter how hard we tried. We sold it on Craigslist for a song (I’m still bitter) and bought the infamous green sofa. By the time Mikey was 3 years old, it was obvious he had moderate-severe allergies. The pediatrician gave me a list of things to do and things to avoid. Upholstered furniture was at the top of the list. I was already frustrated with the green sofa because of the dogs. I felt that no matter how much I vacuumed, no matter how much I kept them off the sofa, it was always dirty. I began washing it regularly even though the instructions clearly stated DO NOT WASH.
One day I was reading a design book and an idea for the family room finally came together. I eyeballed the IKEA sectional for years, and now I had several reasons why one would work for us. The Mister liked the idea, but he did not like the idea of buying one in white. I did, and here were my reasons.
- The size was right. IKEA produces smaller furniture, ostensibly for apartments or small dwellings. More on this in a minute. It could be a con for some of you.
- I wanted something I could wash. Allergies are best controlled when upholstered items are washed frequently in hot water.
- I wanted something I could bleach if necessary. Bleach is hard on fabrics and people and the environment, but in the event of a stain catastrophe, I wanted the option to douse that slipcover in enough chemicals to power a Yugoslavian car across the Trans Sahara highway.
- I wanted something I could change without having to buy a new sofa. I’m fickle, and the low price of slipcovers, plus the many options online, made buying an Ektorp appealing. I’m not married to a white sofa for the next 7 years.
- Cost. At roughly $800, the price couldn’t be beat. I could have had something custom made at that price, and it may have been better quality, but the slipcovers were dry clean only. For me, the slipcovers had to be able to go in the wash. I don’t need another errand or another expense.
Stains: Kids, Pets, and White Sofas
I have never been one to put off having nice things because I have kids. I don’t believe children are as destructive as the rumors suggest. Sure, some kids are animals, but I think they’re the exception rather than the rule. Also, it pays to use common sense. I don’t give Nicholas a tall glass of red punch and tell him to lay back and relax. After a year, our sofa has two stains, maybe three. One is a pen from homework on the arm, and over time and several washings it has almost disappeared. (Actually, it’s gone. I just checked.) The other is on a seat cushion and is a chocolate stain from a wayward lick off an ice-cream cone. It has Nicholas all over it. It has faded, but is still noticeable. I just take care to put the slipcover on so that the seat cushion faces down. No one knows it’s there.
The biggest stains come from the dogs. They are dusty from being outside. They are almost too old to climb up on the sofa, but occasionally they do. The dust easily washes off with the exception of the skirt of the sofa where they rub themselves like cats. You can see it in the picture above where Mikey is sleeping, which is why I posted it. That is the dirtiest the sofa will get. I’ll go into my maintenance routine in a bit, but this is the longest I have gone without washing the slipcovers. When I wash the slipcovers–hopefully this weekend!–that brown swash of dust will disappear and all that will be left is a faint shadow. You wouldn’t notice it unless you were looking for it, but I know it’s there.
Maintenance: You Can’t Escape It
The Mister didn’t want a white sofa because it would show the dirt. I have never, ever understood this argument. It’s the same argument people used to discourage me from putting in cream floors in the kitchen, light cabinets, and white paint in the boys room. Of course the dirt will show! But here’s the thing. Even if you buy a black sofa and therefore never see the dirt, newsflash Inspector: THE DIRT IS STILL THERE. I would much rather see some dust from the dogs after 2 weeks and think to myself that it’s time to wash the slipcovers than to laze around for months like Pig Pen on a faux-clean sofa.
I once took Mikey on a play-date to the home of a woman with slate floors in her kitchen. At the time slate floors were hugely popular because they hid the dirt. I had my flip-flops off and went into the kitchen to get some crackers for Mikey. My feet stuck to the floor. Stuck, as in I couldn’t move. The floor looked clean, but it wasn’t. When I got home, my feet were the blackest they have ever been in my whole life, and I used to play outside barefoot in the 70s. So, no, I don’t mind the dirt showing.
I wash the slipcovers every two weeks if I’m having a good run. Lately, with the Mister traveling, I’m off my game and it’s been at least a month, probably 6 weeks. I get this question all the time: No, I don’t mind washing the slipcovers. Not even a little. The end result is worth it to me. I have many friends and family say they would never, ever put in the time to wash the covers as regularly as I do. I get it, but it really isn’t much work–at least I don’t think so. It’s much less work than doing laundry! There’s no folding! Everyone knows it’s the folding and putting away that sucks about doing laundry.
Here is my routine.
- I remove all the slipcovers from the back cushions and put them in the wash. That is the first load.
- I wash them on hot with regular detergent and booster, if I have it. While they are washing, I take off the seat cushion slipcovers.
- When the back cushions are ready to go in the dryer, I transfer them over and set the dryer on low. I set the timer. Very important!
- I put the seat cushions in the wash. This is the second load
- I remove the back cushions from the dryer while they are still damp and hang them to dry on my drying rack. I do the same with my seat cushions.
- The body slipcover is the largest. I make sure to evenly spread it in the washing machine and check on it once the load is running to make sure there is enough water and everything is submerged/getting washed. This is my third load.
- When ready, I put the body slipcover into the dryer and run it on low until it is lightly damp. The timer is crucial! I once let it go too long and the slipcover shrunk. I had a party in 30 minutes, so I didn’t have time to rewash it and therefore ripped a seam of the slipcover getting it back on. Not cool.
- I put the sofa back together. Sometimes I put the covers on as they are ready, other times I do it all at once.
Quality and Comfort
The Ektorp is far more comfortable than I imagined it would be. The back cushions are excellent. The seat cushions could be gushier, but have more loft than I anticipated. I really thought we would be getting pancakes. I love the feel of the canvas, but I love stiff fabrics. The canvas means you snuggle in like velcro. It’s great for napping, clearly.
Caveat, and this is a big one. The dimensions of the Ektorp are roughly 4″ shallower in depth than a standard sofa. It’s why it works in our smaller, older home. However, this may be a problem if you are tall/have long legs. I don’t reach 5’4″, so clearly this is not an issue for me. My husband is a little over 5’10, so while that means he towers over me by over half a foot, he’s only slightly above average height. He felt the sofa was a little narrow for him (it was perfect for me) but it doesn’t bother him because of the way he sits. He lays facing the TV with his legs stretched down one length of the sectional, almost like it’s a chaise. Does that make sense? It must be a guy thing because it’s the same way my brother in-law sits in his sectional and the same way Mikey sits in our sectional. I like to curl up in the corner like a mole in a den.
I love my Ektorp sectional and am much happier than I anticipated. Absolutely no regrets. However, I have no problem washing the slipcovers frequently and I am petite. I think those two factors are what anyone considering buying this sectional should consider, because there’s no way to avoid either one.
Okay! Are you still awake? Hello? This must be how John and Sherry feel. I hope this review helped. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.
This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.
Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:
- Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
- Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
- No links to giveaways, please.
- Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.