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Posted on May 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm
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Self-described stylist, editor and trend reporter Arren Williams and IKEA Canada’s Tamara Robbins Griffith explore the versatility of the (so new it’s not yet in stores in the USA [Edit: Available now on the West Coast] and Canada) KARLSTAD tufted 2-seat leather sofa in this new design_lab video produced in photographer Angus Fergusson’s studio.

In Webisode 2: A bit of an Ikea design mission, the duo start with the same KARLSTAD sofa in tufted GRANN White leather and end with two wildly different looks. To find out their inspirations, identify the elements they chose, and learn what they think of each other’s resulting sets – read on…

[Disclaimer: I'm not ordinarily a drugged out alcoholic when it comes to reviewing room settings, but I've been in New Orleans for a week. It's not my fault.]

KARLSTAD: Boho Snuggly


Williams decided on a cozy bohemian style and employs a rich palette of warm colors and a variety of textures emphasizing natural woods and fibers to achieve a depth that invites you to plop down and enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. Williams describes his room in this way:

“The [KARLSTAD] sofa has such a particular look to it. It’s almost 1960’s in inspiration. For me, it was about taking it as a base and then really playing around with it, which is why all the rugs are on top of it right now. I really feel like carpets are almost like art…and the colors are so intense and so special in them that they don’t always have to be on the floor. You can throw them up on the wall, throw them on a sofa like this. I love the play of pattern, color and texture here. And it’s actually quite comfortable too and really quite snuggly. Perfect for a chilly day.”

ikea-ps-sinka-cabinetThe IKEA PS SINKA cabinet behind the tufted sofa provides asymetrical geometric visual interest in front of the strong vertical lines of the KATTRUP rug that hangs on the wall in the background. Removing several of the drawers and stacking accessories on and in the cabinet is brilliant, but serves to make it almost more of a focal point than the sofa – do I care? No. I love this cabinet.

Williams balances the overall square element of the cabinet with the bold graphical artwork hung behind (anyone know the name of this one? my guess is that it’s from the PJÄTTERYD series) and then repeats the square element with the addition of the richly woven BYHOLMA chest set on end as a side table to the left of the KARLSTAD and the nesting KLUBBO side tables to the right. If there’s one area in this setup that is lacking, it’s this set of side tables which I think would benefit from some more colorful accessories, such as the IKEA PS clock, or an ÖSTLIG plant pot with some TORKA decorative stalks stuck in there. But hey, what do I know?

ikea-andrea-rund-rugThe IKEA PS STUGA rug on the floor is similar to the PS cabinet: geometric, but yet non-linear. My first thought was that I’d like to see the round ANDREA RUND rug in this room, but on refleciton I think that the repetition the asymetrical elements in the rug in the shapes of the drawers of the IKEA PS cabinet as well as the varying sizes of the cushions on the sofa, and other rectangular elements helps with unifying the disparate elements of the room.

ikea-boja-lampThe basketweave shade of the BÖJA lamp that sits atop the cabinet establishes the less angular motif that I desire, and is reinforced by the two IKEA PS KARLJOHAN side tables in the foreground. The inclusion of these items enrich the textural quality of the roomscape and add a softer emblem to counter the strong linear structure of the sofa itself. The solid horizontal lines are further eased by a scattering of throw pillows and the diagonal placement of a PERSISK rug on top of the couch itself. Don’t know that I’d want to snuggle up on that, though…

Says Griffith of Williams’ design, “I love the texture in your vignette. I think it had so much depth and it was gorgeous.” Well said.

KARLSTAD: Glam-Style


IKEA Canada’s Tamara Robbins Griffith took a cue from the KARLSTAD’s retro chic styling and went with a fabulously feminine Hollywood glam styling for the room. Sleek and elegant, this room is practically begging you to don a simple black dress and mix up an ice cold cocktail, and put on some groovy Love Jones tunes. Griffiths describes her treatment of the KARLSTAD in this way,

“When I first saw it, I immediately thought, ‘Hollywood glamour.’ The style of the vignette that I’ve pulled together is dramatic and it’s glamorous and it’s feminine. Using a glass lamp base really adds a lot of sparkle to a room. I chose to use a black and white cowhide on the floor because with a room like this that has a pink wall, you need something a little bit more masculine to ground it. I really do believe that the sofa is so classic and timeless that it could work in a more traditional home, it could work in a more contemporary home, and you can really put your own twist on it.”

ikea-ung-drill-frameThe lacy, intricate UNG DRILL frames sport a set of black silhouettes – this is a brilliant and very inexpensive way to provide a strong graphical element that isn’t in the least bit square or blocky. The contrast with the pink wall and the sofa is fantastic and perfectly balances the background without unnecessarily distracting from the overall vignette.

ikea-trollsta-tall-cabinetOn the right, is a TROLLSTA cabinet in black with a stack of books, some candlesticks and a pop of hot pink … what? What is that? A pom-pom? This is a lovely arrangement – truly it is, but I sure hope there’s a bar inside because this swanky apartment setting could surely only be improved by a cold beverage. And some funky music.

And a fuzzy rug. Maybe. I like the KOLDBY cowhide rug here and the textural element it brings to the party, but I could just as easily see sinking my stocking feet into a plush shag rug such as the high-pile FLOKATI rug. Of course, then the KLUBBO coffee table wouldn’t work as well, and I DO like the way the chrome-plated steel legs complement and refer to the chrome legs (an alternate version of the standard wood legs – see below) of the KARLSTAD. If only the KLUBBO came in black! Ah, well…

ikea-jonsbo-orod-pink-table-lampGriffiths also chose to use the TROLLSTA side table at the left end of the sofa, but because she wanted more height, she hacked the cabinet adding an additional TROLLSTA sans legs to the top of the base unit. As an aside, I’d love to see these legs on the KARLSTAD! But elsewhere; not here. On this rests a JONSBO ORÖD pale pink glass lamp, and curiously, a BJÖRKEFALL candlestick in white. Where’s that cocktail?!? Seriously…picture a SKIR cocktail glass sitting there, full of a pink martini…

As Griffiths asserts in the video, the eye-scaldingly hot pink (fuschia even) pillows work exceptionally well against the largely black and white roomscape. The pale pink of the IKEA PS JONSBERG vase by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius is almost lost, which is a shame. Still, I think it’s a nice inclusion – I LOVE this vase.

Williams describes Griffith’s design: “Your glam look with the pink and the black and that contrast was fabulous.” Agreed.

Deconstructing the KARLSTAD Vignettes…

…because I’m obstreperous that way. Here’s my take on a few changes that would bring a different flavor to the party in both rooms:

Bohemian Rhapsody

ikea-karlstad-aluminum-legsI find it interesting that both Williams and Griffiths chose to adorn the basic KARLSTAD with metallic legs (pictured left). I think it works better with Griffith’s sleek glamourous style than with Williams’ boho look, but maybe that’s just me? Nah, the standard KARLSTAD wood legs would have suited the style of Williams’ room better. But then the sleek, reflective metal of the KLUBBO side tables might stand out, and not in a good way.


What to do, what to do? Here’s one idea: replace them with the VEJMON side table instead. The deep, rich woodtone would correspond well to the other end table and the shape would echo the circular patterns in some of the basketry scattered about the room. Then perhaps the objects chosen to adorn the KLUBBO tables would stand out as they should.

ikea-dracaena-marginataAnother element I feel is missing from Williams’ scenario is an abundance of greenery – he gives a nod to the green with a small plant on the woven chest to the left of the sofa, but in a room suffused with natural materials, lots of vegetation is almost a necessity. Think air-cleansing … because there would almost surely be something smoking in this room, no? Insert a tall houseplant, like the DRACAENA pictured left in to
the right side of the IKEA PS cabinet and a couple smaller plants on the right-hand table and you’re set.

ikea-tindra-scented-block-candlesSpeaking of things burning, how about some candles? An organically shaped candle holder or three with some colorful block candles would lend to the atmosphere in an appropriate way – I’d plop them down on one of the round tables up front, and kick my feet up on the other, and let those green air-filters do their job.

Cocktail Culture

ikea-godis-mix-glassesI think I might have mentioned it before, but Griffiths’ room is really crying out for a little cocktail culture. I love the arrangement on the cocktail table (yes, it’s a cocktail table), and I’d love to see that oh-so-appropriately named GROGGY stainless serving tray with a pitcher of icy cold cocktails and a collection of tumblers perched on it. And a couple of CD’s strewn about (Try this one: Here’s to the Losers), and a sweet little Bose iPod audio system couldn’t hurt.

ikea-stockholm-stainless-bowlI also feel as though this room could also use a bit more sparkle – maybe a chandelier like the KRISTALLER 3-armed chandelier hanging low above the cocktail table, or my favorite bowl – the stainless steel IKEA STOCKHOLM bowl with a pile of colorful TINDRA scented tealights. It sounds crazy to say I have a favorite IKEA bowl, but there you go.

proenze-schouler-black-shoesOh, and those ballet slippers? Cute, but I’m quite sure that I’d more likely be kicking off my Proenza Schouler black pumps (yeah, right!) and slinking down onto that sofa, not dodging slippers. After all, a girl could break her neck wearing slippers like that.


I already mentioned that I’d love to see this room with a nice plush FLOKATI rug, but how about laying down some white and cerise round RINGUM rugs all Twister-like? Too much? Maybe, but after a few cocktails, you never know what will catch on…

Ok, enough deconstructing. If IKEA wanted MY opinion, they’d have asked, right? As Griffiths said, “time for lingonberry juice [martinis] and meatballs!”

KARLSTAD Two-Seat Tufted Leather Sofa

The KARLSTAD two seat sofa will be available in tufted GRANN White leather, tufted GRANN Dark Brown leather and tufted GRANN Black leather. We’ll endeavor to let you know when we spot it in the store or on the US website! In the UK, where it’s already available on the website, it sells for £529.

Thanks to @arrenwilliams for the tip on this story. Watch the video here: design_lab with arren williams: webisode 2. Photos by: Angus Fergusson, See more of Williams’ work at Thanks goes to IKEA Canada for all the cool swag!


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5 Responses to “KARLSTAD Two Ways”

  1. caligurl says:

    hmmmmm….. the leather karlstad is already in the stores in socal!? we saw both the white and brown last weekend… and they are GORGEOUS!

  2. Susan says:

    Cool! They’re not yet on the IKEA US Website, so I guess I made an assumption. Thanks for letting us know! It may still take a while to get to all stores.

  3. caligurl says:

    wait til you see them! simply gorgeous… oh wait… i already said that! lol! they are on the site if you search for them so if you don’t know about them i don’t know how they expect people to find them? silly ikea! they do make me wish i wanted a leather sofa…. but i’m gonna stick to a slip cover version… maybe…..

  4. Susan says:

    D’oh! Try doing a search for leather and tufted and you get nothing! I even scrolled through all the KARLSTADS I could find and didn’t see it. Guess you have to click New? You’re right – that’s silly! Thanks for letting me know, and for your opinion. I’d love the one in dark brown! I think i need the sleek metallic legs, though…

  5. TV Stands says:

    Nice! these are really gorgeous! it looks very comfortable.

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