IKEA sofa with genius armrest storage

Bet you never knew your sofa armrests were prime storage space.

Ok, so the guys at IKEA are the masters of hidden / secret storage everywhere. In fact, one of the things I most loved about theESKILSTUNA sofa series was the undercover storage on the chaise lounge, but what?

More than 80 liters of storage space wasted on the armrests? NO WAY!


I really dont understand how they didnt take that opportunitywith several different armrest modules. Mobile chargers, cup / can holders, foldable tables, refrigerators theres SO MUCH space in there.

I cant stop thinking on different options!

For myself, I went for two designs.

First, a full space design on the (right) side of the chaise lounge. (The cavity fits two foldable chairs).

Second, on the left armrest a flip open section for mobile charger / remote control storage / etc.. Below that, a full-depth pull-out drawer, tall enough to store A4 sized magazines.

This is the final result:

Full space design, right of chaise lounge

sofa armrest storage

Left of sofa, a pull out drawer

sofa armrest storage

On top of drawer, a flip open storage compartment for chargers, etc

IKEA items used:
Other materials and tools:
  • KIVIK chaise lounge seat cover
  • IKEA BEST hinges
  • 15mm plywood
  • Upholstery lining
  • 5cm wide foam
  • Adhesive spray
  • Stapler
  • 1000mm rails
  • Wood-like plastic corners
  • Sewing machine
How long and how much did it cost?

It took a while. Given that I managed to put in no more than 3-4 hours a week (two children). Final cost was about 270 for both modules. (90 x 2 plywood, 50 cover fabric, 20 rails, plus spray, foam, hinges, etc).

Not counting the tools (stapler+ sewing machine). First time upholstering and sewing, really fun!

What do you like most about the hack?

The final look is perfect. Its quite useful. It still has a thousand possibilities. And the plastic trimming over the corners in wood-like plastic gives it a nice touch matching the BEST modules nearby.

Also, for my first time ever doing an upholstery and sewing job. It was quite fun and rewarding The foam / lining part was really fun. But what I really loved is how it really comes to life once you put the fabric cover on top!

What was the hardest part about this hack?

My hands did shake a little bit when I was cutting with pointy scissors the fabric on my brand-new 700 sofa covers

Also, removing the trillion staples to peel out the original modules was really tiresome.

What to pay special attention to?

Obvious, but not for us first-timers: DONT SEW THE FABRIC ON THE WRONG SIDE! (backside front).

Also, one KIVIK cover should be enough for both modules. But all I got left was a few inches, so be really careful not to waste material with a wrong cut.

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

Not much, really. Maybe I would have left the drawer front in wood instead of lining and covering it. But I do like the final look.

Maybe the hinges could go directly on the straight plywood on top instead, making it easier to upholster.

But then, the top part would be a bit shorter in height, and with 15mm plywood theres not much space for the cups of the hinges: a slip of the drill and off you go Having 30mm instead is safer.

Sofa armrest storage hack instructions

My first plan was to reuse the actual armrest modules. I thought I would just cut them to make the modifications. But once I peeled the covers off (good luck and be patient removing one billion staples!) I realized it couldnt be done. The inside was just wooden sticks and 3mm MDF, with just one side in actual wood. So it would just fall down.

Here are a few photos of the original armrest modules and what they are made of, inside and out.

  • The original modules, from the hole side (notice the lack of full trim, since that side will be against the sofa)
  • Nothing more than useless MDF, staples and glue on almost all sides, except one
  • A total waste of empty space! (aka the vision or the inspiration
  • The hole side, flat view
  • the original top curved foam (you can reuse it if you wish, but no rollback then if anything goes south!)
Creating the armrests

So, I went and reproduced the modules in 15mm plywood:.

armrest plan

armrest plan

Board dimensions are 10350 (sides), 10616 (top) and 1650 (front-rear), giving you a box size of 106x16x51.5 exactly as the original.

Theres no bottom part. Just 3 plywood segments to square it. Legs are screwed on the front and back, and the center is just to keep it all nice and square:

armrest plan

Do NOT put a full bottom. Just 3 boards like that, since you will need that space to put your arm inside and screw it to the rest of the sofa.

Once you have the box built and screwed all together, its time to make the cut of faith

Lay it on one size. Set your circular saw to full depth, say your prayers. Hold your breath and cut off the lid of the modules at 30mm. (15mm of the top plywood+ 15mm extra from the side). Pay attention to where you placed the screws!

Do the same on the other side, and you should get your lid ready to go:

armrest plan

Its time to attach the additional pieces for the hinges. And depending on your choice install the inner components (inner table, rails on both sides, drawer front, etc Not the easiest way to build it, but I was thinking of the final design at the same time and solving the problems along the way

Upholster the armrests

Ok, now you have your modules built, its time to bring them to life with upholstery!

First, peel off the original modules carefully removing the trillion staples on each one. (Thats when you realize they are not really useful wood-wise).

Those peels will fit each modules main body. But since you have to staple them leaving a few centimeters of margin, they wont be enough for the body and the lid.

Use the original ones for both bodies. And make the lids from the additional KIVIK cover of the same fabric option as theESKILSTUNA sofa. (That was the only way to get a perfect matching fabric). In my case, it was Hilared Anthracite for both the sofa and the KIVIK cover.

KIVIK chaise lounge

You will need the KIVIK chaise lounge cover, since its the only way to get a 1 meter long piece. (Although the grain goes horizontal instead of vertical).

Another option would be the DELAKTIG 2 seater cover. (Its a bit cheaper). But it was not at my store (its mail order only) and I didnt wanted to wait for the mailman


First step is the lining, grab some upholstery lining at any store (I mean Amazon :-))


Dont go under 200g/m^2, maybe even 300, and also grab a can of 3M adhesive spray:


The pink one is the permanent, the blue one is the removable. Go for the former, not the latter

Spray all over the body and place the lining matching the original module. Leave some room, and trim to fit afterwards with scissors.

Drill the assembly holes

Leave the side with the holes free, exactly as the original.

For drilling the assembly holes, place both modules upside down. Clamp them together making sure the bottom ends (the ones with the legs) are perfectly flush and aligned, and mark them. (10mm diameter drill, I used 12mm just to be sure in case of any misalignments).

Once the bodies are done, feel free to place the original cover on them, and see your creation shine for the first time Of course, you will have extra fabric at the top. But just put it down for a quick look and earn the confidence of your wife. (Shell still be thinking youre crazy doing that to your new sofa :-).

Upholster the lid

Now for the lid. Place the 5cm high foam on top of the lid, again with the spray. Cut to fit, and round the long edges on top, more or less to this shape. (If you have a wood router, you can use the round bit to cut and form the foam, otherwise use scissors):

armrest plan

After that, place the lining over the foam and to the sides. And feel free to place the finished lid inside the peeled skin. We wont use it for the lids since we will have to sew a new one, but it will give you an idea of the rest of the sewing part.

Feel free to take measurement there of the pieces you will need to cut. (Two for the front and back with that shape, sewed to the long top section). From seam to seam, width is 18cm, length is about 107cm.

Height is your 5cm foam+ 1.5cm board+ 1.5 border. But you will have to leave some room and cut it loose so you are able to staple it to the lid from the inside. (THAT is the main reason we cant just use the original one for both the body and the lid).

Fix the covers on

Ok, so that part is done. You can staple the original cover to the main module. (Its all about how much tension you give to the fabric, nothing more and nothing less), keeping the seams straight.

Align the bottom first, and then work on the top. Once done, you can cut the extra fabric on top and ALMOST make a lid with it to get a preview. Use an upholstery stapler like this:

upholstery stapler

Dont worry too much about the staples, you can cover them beautifully later (or not)

armrest sofa storage

Grab your KIVIK fabric, cut the 3 parts, and sew them together to form the lid, giving extra space for the inner staples. I used this sewing machine and my mother-in-law (they are useful!), and it was much fun You can even use a grandmother too :-), but I ended up learning the thing and the second lid was done all by myself Quite proud of it!

sewing machine

Remember: after cutting, pre-sew the borders first so they dont fray with time. And PAY ATTENTION TO SEW THE PARTS ON THE CORRECT SIDE!! (yes, I didnt and sew one inside out

Making the pull out drawer

So, almost there! Place the rails if you havent yet:


Place your inner components to suit your own needs.

sofa armrest storage

Storage in the sofa armrest for small items like remote controls, chargers, etc

sofa armrest storage

Beautify the interiors with the plastic corners and/or inner MDF. (I used a 3mm white MDF board to match the interior of the storage under the chaise lounge). Screw the legs to the new modules, screw the modules back to your sofa, and. TADAAAA!!

sofa armrest storage
sofa armrest storage
sofa armrest storage

Pull-out storage that is hidden in the sofa armrest

sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage

And after some SKDIS pimping,my sofa armrest storage is starting to become something!

  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage
  • sofa armrest storage

Hope you liked my sofa armrest storage. See my other hack, a custom PAX wardrobe with a computer desk and shoe storage.

~ by Javier Guerrero

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