IKEA is a behemoth in the furniture industry. Known for its high style, low prices, and warehouse based no frills approach, the company has become a household name with US consumers.
Most people probably don't equate leather furniture with IKEA, and I initially didn't either, but after a few readers asked me about leather sofas from IKEA, I decided to give them another look. Note that IKEA offers both real leather and faux leather furniture.
Based on my research, I found IKEA's leather furniture designs to be modern, and very appealing for younger consumers looking for trendy furniture. IKEA's higher end leather sofas use a quality aniline leather, yet sell for a much higher price point. IKEA's lower grade leather sofas use a combination of grain leather and split leathers, which may be suitable for budget conscious consumers, yet will not likely stand the test of time.
I welcome anyone that has purchased an IKEA leather (or faux leather) sofa to please leave a review in the comments section at the end of this piece.
Trendy designs in a modern aesthetic, great for consumers on a budget, but the lower priced leather sofas are made of lower grade leather materials and wouldn't be expected to last very long.
What's The Background Of IKEA?
IKEA is one of the world's most popular home furnishings brands. It is known for its affordable, stylish, modern designs that can be assembled without any additional hardware or tools.
IKEA got its start in Sweden back in 1943, when a 17 year old entrepreneur -Ingvar Kamprad - decided that he wanted to help people see how inexpensive it could be to have good quality furniture at home. Little did he know that his tiny idea would go on to blossom into more than 400 stores in 38 countries with revenues of nearly $40 billion!
The brand’s name comes from his initials plus the first letter of Elmtaryd farm (where he grew up) outside of Agunnaryd (the last letter in IKEA) Sweden. Initially, IKEA sold only matches and pens during World War II due to a shortage of paper goods.
IKEA has always been committed to sustainability through its innovative designs that use less material and energy. One recent initiative that I thought was interesting was a 'circular based' approach in which IKEA would be offering buy-ins of used IKEA furniture in its stores and selling in the 'AS-IS' section of the stores. This would help cut back on waste of used furniture.
Another interesting factoid: IKEA makes it a point to ensure traceability for its sourced leather. This is from their Sustainability Report from 2020.
We have secured traceability to all slaughterhouses for the past several years now. We are continuing to make progress on leather, with traceability to direct farms, and now have this in place for several regions including Europe, Brazil, Argentina and will continue this year with Russia.
Is IKEA Legit?
IKEA is one of the world's largest furniture stores, and thus, you can confidently shop at IKEA knowing that the company is a legitimate operation.
The company is listed on Trust Pilot and has a score of 1.5 (out of 5 stars) on over 15,000 Reviews. There are over 3000 complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
These numbers were certainly a bit disheartening, however my initial reaction was that IKEA is such a massive company; given the no frills approach and low employee touch points, there were bound to be a lot of bad reviews.
Still, keep reading on as I explore some of the reasons that people are upset.
Who Makes Leather Furniture For IKEA?
IKEA makes all of its own furniture, with the bulk of its product design happening in Sweden. The majority of manufacturing happens in developing countries, such as China, Vietnam and other Asian countries. Note that IKEA closed down its sole US based manufacturing facility in 2019.
IKEA is very focused on sustainability and has a mission to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030. They even provided financial support to a number of external IKEA suppliers to keep them financially stable during the pandemic.
Certainly one of the positives in purchasing any furniture from IKEA is their commitment to real sustainability measures, something that is somewhat differentiated throughout the furniture industry.
Investing to speed up action to become climate positive
"Investing to speed up action to become climate positive In FY20, Inter IKEA Group announced the decision to invest EUR 200 million to accelerate the transformation of the IKEA supply chain towards using renewable energy and to remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, the restoration of degraded forests and better forest management"
What's The Quality Of IKEA's Leather Furniture?
IKEA says that is uses a combination of full grain and split leathers. In order to cut costs, IKEA will typically use grain leather on surfaces that are more exposed to wear, such as seating surfaces, backs and armrests, and split leather on other surfaces.
Note that in materials I found on the IKEA website, it appears that IKEA uses cattle hide for a majority of leather products, but occasionally uses goatskin. Half of the leather used comes from Brazil.
Currently, IKEA offers a somewhat limited offering of leather and 'faux' leather collection of sofas. The one true leather sofa that they offer is called the STOCKHOLM. It retails for $2199.
Based on IKEA's description on their website, the STOCKHOLM sofa has a 'SEGLORA' cover which is made of a full-grain "aniline leather". Note that the STOCKHOLM sofa can also be purchased with a more conventional fabric cover that can be removed and washed.
For a full-grain aniline leather, $2199 is a pretty good price point. Thus, my immediate thought was that maybe this leather isn't exactly the best of quality. The one concern I have on the STOCKHOLM leather is the construction of the frame itself. In reading the details, IKEA says the frame is made of "Particleboard, Plywood, Polyurethane foam., Polyester wadding, Fiberboard", thus not a solid wood frame like we typically would recommend.
So ultimately on the IKEA STOCKHOLM its the frame that would have me concerned, not the quality of the leather itself.
The MORABO is another option, but this is where the 'faux' leather starts to come into play. IKEA says that the MORABO uses a 'dyed through top-grain leather with a treated, embossed and pigmented surface" on 'main parts, likely the cushions. But the 'coated fabric parts', likely the sides and back of the sofa use "25 % cotton, 75 % polyester, 100 % polyurethane". Thus, the MORABO is not as high quality as the STOCKHOLM leather sofa, but at the price point ($849) it's a nice stylish, low cost alternative.
Aside from the STOCKHOLM, MORABO and FINNALA, IKEA has several 'faux leather' options.
My Visit To The IKEA Store - My Review
So, I decided to make the trek over to the IKEA store in Randolph, MA. I've been here plenty times, and it's funny sort of reliving my life and my past trips to IKEA. I outfitted a rental property with IKEA cabinets back in 2006, which are still going strong. I also have purchased cribs, kids beds, fabric sectionals, and bookcases. IKEA is a great place for affordable furniture, but I'll be honest; I never would have considered IKEA for a leather sofa. In my visit to the store, I was able to check out several options.
My thoughts (photos coming soon) - the IKEA STOCKHOLM leather is a really sharp looking sofa, and quite comfortable. The other 'leather' options definitely have a cheap sort of feel to them.
But what do the customers say?
What Is Ikea Grann Leather?
Grann is IKEA's brand name for the majority of the leather upholstery surfaces on their sofas. According to Ikea's website as shown on the Morabo sofa, "contact surfaces are covered with GRANN – a soft, smooth and strong grain leather with natural variations". Ikea then notes that the other non-contact surfaces are covered with BOMSTAD, which is "a coated fabric that has a similar look and feel to leather", according to IKEA.
This is quite common when furniture companies are looking to cut corners, since, first of all it requires less, costlier leather, allowing the manufacturer to cover the remaining areas of the furniture with non-leather materials, usually splits, which are a combination of leftover leather scraps and plastics.
What Do Customers Say About IKEA?
This is where things take a turn for the negative, and I honestly wasn't surprised, given the size and scale of IKEA.
To start, IKEA does offer product reviews of its products on its website, but it appears that there are limited reviews. For example the STOCKHOLM leather has only 17 reviews with a 4.2 stor (out of 5) overall rating. So either IKEA is not actively sourcing reviews from customers, or they are selectively approving what they want visitors to actually see. Hence the reason I don't typically put too much weight into reviews on a company's own website.
As I mentioned early on, IKEA has very unfavorable reviews on both Trust Pilot and with the BBB. The bulk of those reviews are mostly claimed on delivery issues. I'm not here to defend IKEA, but this doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. Over the course of the pandemic, furniture orders have gone parabolic, and stores have had trouble keeping up with orders. Thus, it's not surprising to see complaints in regards to delivery.
But we need to focus on the reviews about the leather furniture at IKEA.
Here's one reviewer's opinions on the Stockholm Leather Sofa.
Comfort, quality and style are on point, according to the reviewer.
And then I went over to my other favorite source for true, unbiased reviews--Reddit.
I didn't find much on the STOCKHOLM Leather but found more inquiries about the MORABO (I think the higher price point of the STOCKHOLM might scare off some more budget oriented consumers)
The reviews were pretty favorable. One redditor says the MORABO sectional is 'perfection'.
It is very comfortable but not the squishy, fall-into-the-cushions type of comfortable which is probably why it’s not considered one of IKEA’s most comfortable sofas! It’s still great for lounging and cuddling though. And it just looks so damn good all the time! I don’t picture someone regretting this sectional unless they’re looking for the squishy, tall, thick kind of sofa!
I fall asleep pretty regularly on the couch.. you’ll definitely need pillows for that though. So highly recommend it for napping.
I’ve had it for about two months now so can’t say much to longevity, but it’s definitely a semi-firm foam. I’m not a fan of a couch that you would sink into.
The seats are pretty deep, and I’d say the couch is lower to the ground than most which is something I (and the dog) like.
What's The Warranty On IKEA's Leather Furniture?
IKEA offers a 25-year limited warranty on the STOCKHOLM leather sofa and a 10-year limited warranty on the other top grain and faux leather options.
The question: what will IKEA cover under either of these warranties for a leather/faux leather sofa?
I unfortunately found many instances where IKEA was not living up to its end of the bargain in terms of its warranty. Here's another one where the discussion centers on the ripping of any leather sofa from IKEA.
IKEA does state in its warranty manual that it does not cover leather under the warranty.
What about the particleboard based frame?
Problems With High End IKEA Leather Sofa
"The manufacturer dared to use a particleboard to suspend the plywood beam with very poor building quality. There have occurred cracks and holes at the particleboard part when assembling it, and the manufacturer just glued the big damage instead of replacing a new part. It is clear that IKEA uses a manufacturer without qualified engineers. The IKEA assessor and customer service manager tried to be blind on the defect of its manufacturer. Even with the obvious defect of their manufacturer, they still chose to blame it was their clients’ fault so as to avoid its warranty at all."
Will IKEA Ship Internationally?
IKEA US delivers within the continental United States, however they are not able to deliver to Alaska, Hawaii, PO Boxes or APOs.
Given IKEA's global footprint, there's a good chance that you might be able to get your hands on IKEA furniture if you live outside of the US.
I'd check in here with IKEA to see if you live in a territory covered by IKEA delivery.
Does IKEA Offer Discounts?
One thing I love about IKEA is the 'AS-IS' section which is typically located near the front checkout section of the warehouse in more locations. I've found some amazing deals here, even discovering a cloth Stockholm sofa for only $200!
The key is in timing the stocking up of the AS-IS section so it might make sense to call your local store to see when they load it up. My local store adds new items every day as things are returned. My experience has also been that stuff tends to pop up when its less busy midweek as opposed to on the weekend.
Note that in Canada, IKEA now offers the ability to shop AS-IS products online, so my hope is that some day they add the same capabilities in the US.