Putting together a custom Do-It-Yourself sofa because why not make life hard for yourself.
My initial hopes and dreams were to DIY most of the interior of my tiny house, having participated in the building of the structure and exterior. In preparation, I must have watched thousands of YouTube videos on how to DIY everything from doors to shelves to dining tables. The people in the video made it look so easy, surely I can do this too?
Well, turns out, no, I can’t.
While YouTube made it seem like it was only a 5-step easy-peasy process to make your own bathroom cabinet, in real life, and in a country with a low tendency to DIY and high tendency to shop for things, it was more like a 150-step process, especially for a noob like me.
What kind of wood should I use? I have to let them cure for how long?? I have to drive how many hours to use the nearest workshop and their tools??? A single milimeter off with my wonky woodcutting skills would ruin the entire thing???
After a while, I got exhausted. Simply opening my wallet at the nearest furniture store seemed to make much more stress-free sense, and I shamefully admit that I succumbed.
That being said, I did manage to actually complete least one DIY project: the sofa!
Multifunctional Sofa Needs
I had a particular kind of sofa in mind. It needed to:
sleep 2 people,
be light and easily movable,
fit my lounging needs (not too high, not too narrow, but just right)
have an embedded ‘coffee table’ because we don’t have space to waste here,
fit the aesthetics I was going for in the house,
oh, be cheap and gentle on my wallet.
I did attempt to go shopping for a suitable couch, and hunted through secondhand furniture stores, firsthand furniture stores and of course, IKEA. The closest that I found to my ideal couch were these two:
As you can tell from the unpronounceable names, both were from IKEA.
Ultimately, I decided not to purchase them, the first because it had no back to lean against (since my couch will be centred in the room rather than against the wall), and the latter because the back was too high with no cushioning (absolutely terrible for lounging), a bit too chunky and didn’t quite fit the vibe I was going for.
In one of my IKEA trips, I took a stroll through the ‘As Is’ section where they sell furniture from their store displays that are no longer useful at a discount price, and found a pre-assembled bare-naked BOMSUND sofa frame.
I don't have a photo of the frame at the time I bought them,
so the above will have to do in representing what I spent my money on.
Note: IKEA no longer sells the BOMSUND model (and may have upgraded it to another name, BRÅTHULT? Not sure), and this was probably one of the last they had, but with everything else gone missing.
It was the exact shape and size I envisioned for my couch, so I bought it at RM200, plus RM60 for delivery. So now I had a sofa frame, and I added a layer of thin plywood I had lying around, cut to size, on top of the elastic bottom supports.
Adding a layer of thin plywood I already had lying around to strengthen the support under where my butt will be.
Then I purchased a long 7.5 cm foam cushion, cut it to size and used that as the backing for the sofa, so there would be something soft and cushy to lean on.
Me working on cutting the foam to size and attaching a layer of batting with adhesive spray.
The completed DIY foam and batting
To cover the sofa, I debated on the kinds of fabric I wanted to use that weren't too expensive. I was on the verge of buying plain and scratchy blue cotton, IKEA once again came to the rescue. Armed with an INDIRA that was the exact shade of blue I wanted, and with the right texture I wanted, I laid it over the frame.
The bedspread was the exact right size to cover this sofa in its entirety.
Then I got two trifold-mattresses that will serve both as the sofa seating when folded, and as mattresses for guests when unfolded. Bonus was the ability to put the mattress anywhere in the house, including the balcony for some stargazing!
A trifold mattress that folds out
Two of these meant two sofa cushions that doubled as mattresses for two guests!
All of these I draped with another INDIRA bedspread cut in two that acted as cushion covers but also as bedsheets.
The semi-complete sofa. Notice the gap in the middle.
The two trifold mattresses, when folded, don’t quite fill the entire couch, but no problem - I knew exactly what to do. I commissioned a small box to fit in between, which would provide storage and act as a mini coffee table. The box could also be moved to either side of the couch if needed, or simply taken out.
The completed DIY sofa, with two pillows I already had.
My brother demonstrating the multi-functional arm rest/storage/coffee table. A great place for books and snacks!
Comparison between buying and DIY-ing
So after all that trouble, was it worth it?
Aesthetically and functionally, I much prefer my DIY option (though you may disagree given our different tastes and requirements, but hey, my house, my couch).
But financially? Let’s do the calculation:
Frame RM 599
Mattress RM 299 x 2
(Bedsheets not included)
Total: RM 1197
Frame RM 799
Mattress RM 299 x 2
(Bedsheets not included)
Total: RM 1397
Bare BOMSUND sofa frame RM 260
Trifold mattress RM 199 x 2
INDIRA Bedspread RM 79 x 2
Foam RM 125
Spray Adhesive RM 30
Batting RM 50
Total: RM 1021
My DIY actually came out cheaper by a small margin of RM 200 - 400, but still! That’s 5-10 good meals in a good restaurant!
I must confess I was surprised. I was convinced, halfway through this DIY, that this was going to end up costing me more than simply buying a ready-made one (not that I really found any that fit what I wanted), and that I would end up slapping myself in the face, but thankfully, that was not necessary.
I am still a little disappointed that I didn’t get to DIY as much as I had wanted to, and that I ended up shopping and resorting to professional help (that came with its own set of problems, ughh), but the thing about owning a home is that you can always do makeovers. Pretty sure in 5 years (or less) I’ll be itching to change things up (as if I’m not already doing that…)
So who knows? Maybe in the future, when I have money to waste and time to spare, I’ll be able to redo the Meraki interior with actual DIYs.
In the meantime, I will enjoy lounging on that sofa, and welcome guests to sleep on those trifold mattresses.