In 2003, I bought an IKEA sofa called the Allerum. I liked its streamlined look and bent plywood legs. Plus, you could flip the backrest over to turn it into a sleeper sofa for one. The couch moved with me four times to different apartments. Many friends have slept on it while visiting. Last year, though, I noticed that its original green slipcover was becoming ratty in some areas. Some spots had frayed or thinned. Washing it only made it worse.
I debated buying a new sofa, but I didn’t really need a new sofa. I soon discovered that there are several companies online that make slipcovers for retired IKEA couches (and existing products too). There were scant reviews on these companies, which made me nervous. I found one company called Bemz, based in Europe. They have a cute origin story: The owner, a Canadian who moved to Stockholm, was once in the same predicament as me, trying to find a new slipcover for an old IKEA couch. That search sparked an idea for a business. Here’s more about the company in an Architectural Digest article.
I liked the idea of my Swedish IKEA couch getting a makeover from another Swedish company, but what cinched it was the Bemz website. It offered many fabric options: 257 different choices! Plus, they’ll send you five fabric swatches for free. I knew I wanted to go with something red, so I ordered my five samples. Seeing the swatches in person made such a difference. With them in hand, I made a decision quickly about which shade of red I wanted.
Bemz says it takes about three to four weeks for your order to arrive. This includes production time. Mine arrived in just two weeks. It shipped from an Eastern European country. (Sorry, I can’t remember which one now.)
Here’s my Allerum sofa before:
And here is it with the Bemz cover after:
Fabric wise, the Bemz cover is a smaller weave and thinner than the original IKEA cover. Both covers are made of cotton.
The Bemz cover actually ran a little bit bigger than the original one. It closes by Velcro (or, ahem, hook and loop closure if it’s not brand name Velcro, Velcro would have you know, but who calls it that?). The two edges of the cover almost overlapped too much, putting it in danger of the Velcro strips not matching up. When I matched them up, the fit was a bit loose. But thankfully, it hasn’t been much of a problem. Sometimes I do have to smooth out wrinkles in the seating area, but not often.
Prices for a cotton cover start at $127 for this particular sleeper sofa. I went with the Cotton Panama (which seemed thicker and had more texture to it than the simple brushed cotton fabric) in Cinnabar Red, which cost $169, plus $20 for shipping. The fabrics are stain-protected and pre-shrunk. In the first few months of the new cover, I came across one problem, though. Faint white spots appeared on the couch, which bewildered me.
I wrote to Bemz and they told me it could be lint and dust, caused by high static. They suggested either brushing the couch (with a soft brush, lint brush, or damp cloth) or washing the cover to reduce static. But they said the best solution was to spray the sofa with an anti-static spray. You can buy it or make a mix of half fabric softener and half water in a spray bottle and mist it over the sofa.
Since I had an almost full bottle of Method fabric softener sitting around, I decided to do the latter. (By the way, these days Method also makes a fabric softener in a spray bottle, which you use in place of a dryer sheet. The idea is that you can reduce static without sending used dryer sheets to the landfill.) The fabric softener concoction worked well and the white spots stopped appearing.
I’ve had the slipcover for over a year now. Because the couch is against a window and gets a decent amount of sun (I have west-facing windows), the back of the couch has faded quite a bit.
I never had this problem with the original IKEA cover, though that was light green and green probably doesn’t fade as much as red. The original IKEA cover also came in orange, and I wonder how that fared in the sun, but I don’t have any way to compare it. Although I’m bummed about the fading, overall, I’m happy with my couch makeover. My Bemz cover cost $189 total, which is way cheaper than buying a new couch.