A New Look for a Trusty Little Sofa


New look for the Ikea Manstad sofa

When we first moved to Canada and had to furnish our one-bed apartment from scratch, the IKEA Manstad was perfect for our needs; a pull-out bed for the occasional guest, extra storage space (always welcome in a one-bed apartment) and a great price at only $700 (definitely welcome). There was just one problem, it was only available in two colours, neither of which was particularly nice, and the fabric was a bit cheap looking. Basically, I had wanted to re-cover it from the day we bought it, and as usual I had that niggling little feeling “I’m sure I can do it myself”.

If you do any research on the internet about slipcovers or re-upholstery of the Manstad you’ll most likely come across this Eddie Ross post, he does a fab job of re-covering the Manstad, but for me it suffers from the same issue as the slipcovers; the Manstad was not designed for a slipcover, so anytime you put anything over it, you can see the lumps and bumps of the fabric underneath, especially the piping. It’s not really the sleek upholstered look I wanted.


Manstad sofa with custom slipcover in grey

It took me some time to build up the courage to finally give it a go (and not before spending $500 on a slipcover that I was never happy with) but I finally did and I have to say that I am so glad I did. It is actually much easier than it looks since the sofa is really just a combination of blocks, so there are no complicated lines to deal with. The hardest part, by far, was removing the gazillion staples!! You’ll need one of these guys, and if you can convince someone to help you out, invest in two.


  • Upholstery Fabric, I used 10 meters (11 yards). Note, I did not re-cover the pull out bed.
  • Upholstery Thread, I used 2 spools but my sewing machine was eating thread at the time and I also did a French stitch around the seams.
  • Heavy duty staple remover
  • Heavy duty stapler
  • Heavy duty staples, because those gazillion staples that you took out, have to go back in. I used 10 mm staples.
  • Velcro, about 4 meters of both hook and eye

Unfortunately because I was so eager to get on with it, I don’t really have many before and during photos, sorry. I am just going to try and walk you through the process.

1. You’ll have to dissemble the sofa (just work backwards from the original assembly instructions), because I planned to do this over a few weekends and we only have one sofa I tried to make it as un-disruptive as possible by dismantling one section at a time. I started with the chaise, then the arm of the chaise, worked my over to the two back pieces, then the other arm and finally the main seat section.

2. Take out those gazillion staples. Once these are out you’ll be able to pull off the fabric pretty easily. Once you have it off the sofa, you’ll want to take it apart since you’ll be using these as a template to cut out new pieces.  Because the fabric is pretty sturdy, once you have the first few stitches undone you can easily rip the rest open. Be careful not to tear the black polyester lining though (the pieces that cover the bit of the sofa that cannot be seen), you can reuse these to save some money on your upholstery fabric. You can also reuse the zippers on the cushions. NB: make sure you label what you are pulling apart as they will be indistinguishable from one another. Mark which pieces fit together and where they should align. 

3. Lay the old pieces flat onto your new fabric and start cutting. I had initially tried to draw a “plan” for cutting out the new pieces to ensure that I was cutting my fabric in the most efficient manner and not wasting any, but as it turns out those guys over at IKEA are pretty smart and have already pretty much figured out the most effective cutting pattern for each piece. I could fit almost all the pieces for each section onto a rectangular section of fabric, meaning I had minimal wastage. I recommend marking where there should be small holes cut into the fabric (for screws and such) but not actually cutting them out until you have fitted your new covers, since they may not line up exactly where they had previously.

Manstad Dissemble and Cutting Order

Click on image to enlarge

4. Once you’ve done your cutting, start sewing. I serged the edges along the bottom but I did not bother with the inside seams.  I chose not to run piping along the seams, instead I opted for a French stitch finish. Not only is this way easier, I prefer it. I ironed the seams flat before doing the decorative top stitch.  You’ll need to cut little notches around any curved edges to get it perfectly flat.


French stitch seam detail – click to enlarge

5. Once you’ve sewn all your pieces together, they will fit over each sofa section like a sleeve, it should be a little tight to get on (but not near impossible) and that’s good ’cause it means you’ll have a nice snug fit. When you’re pulling the “sleeve” down, try to keep it as straight as possible ’cause once it’s on fully it will be pretty difficult to shimmy it straight.

6. Then you get to put those gazillion staples back in and trust me it is so much more satisfying than taking them out. Now is also the time to re-cut any holes that are needed. And reassemble.

I’m writing this from memory, I actually re-covered this sofa about a year ago now, I appreciate that it may sound over simplified but honestly once you start taking pieces apart it will be really easy to see how they fit back together again. If you are thinking about this and anything is unclear, just ask!! I’m really posting this to say that if you have one of these sofas and you’ve been toying with the idea of re-covering it yourself “Don’t be afraid to give it a go!!”


Manstad DIY re-upholstery


Manstad DIY re-upholstery

Note, IKEA have now discontinued the Manstad and have replaced it with the Friheten which comes in a much better selection of fabrics for the same great price. Apparently I am not the only one who knew this little sofa could be so much more.