Wooden Sofa Sleeve with Cup Holder

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.I’m the kind of gal who will spend 10 minutes working on crafting the perfect cup of coffee with perfectly ground, freshly roasted beans, but then let it get cold when I snuggle up on the sofa, engrossed in a really good book. I’d like to think that I’m really just an attentive reader, not so much a lazy coffee drinker, but it’s true that I really am too lazy to lean forward to grab my coffee cup off the table for a sip or two in between pages. A wooden sofa sleeve might not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but it sure does encourage me to actually enjoy my coffee in the midst of a good read.

I was so pleased with how this sofa sleeve turned out, and how easy it ended up being to make, that I’m already planning on making more as gifts for my friends who also have Ikea Karlstad sofas. Chances are you don’t have a Karlstad sofa, but I’ll walk you through figuring out the sizes of wood you’ll need to make a sofa sleeve perfectly customized to your own sofa or chair.

This project has optional steps and materials you can skip!

If you are intimidated of using pocket holes with a Kreg jig, shown in steps 4 and 7, don’t worry! I determined that these steps are truly optional, as wood glue provides a very strong hold for wooden accessories like this that are gently used. Just don’t let your kids frequently use it as a step stool, and it should hold up fine without completing steps 4 and 7.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Tools:
clamps (at least 8″ long)
-hole saw in diameter of your choice (based on your most used cup diameter) A larger hole saw will require the use of a drill press. I used a 3 7/8″ hole saw that I attached with this arbor. My hole saw was too large to manage with just a power drill, so I opted to use a friend’s drill press to cut the hole. See step two for more info.
-tape measure
power drill (You only need this if you’re using pocket screws and/or a hole saw smaller than 2.5″.)

Optional tool:
Kreg pocket hole kitThis is an optional tool shown in steps 4 and 7 that will add to the strength and life of your sofa sleeve, but is most likely unnecessary for a gently used sofa sleeve.

-wooden board cut into three equal lengths—see step one for info on sizes to choose
-piece of thin plywood—see step one for size information. You can find thin 1/8″ plywood in the wood section of your local craft store.
wood glue
-wood stain (I used a mix of Minwax’s Early American stain and Minwax’s gel stain Antique Maple.)
150 grit sandpaper or 180 grit sandpaper
grade 0000 steel wool

Optional Materials:
veneer tapethis is an optional way to finish ugly cut edges of your lumber if you aren’t using high quality hard wood such as maple, oak, or poplar. Softer wood like pine will soak up more stain on the cut edges, which will make them dark. You may choose to iron on veneer tape before staining to avoid this.
1.25″ Kreg screws—you will only need these optional screws if you plan to add the additional support of pocket hole screws in steps 4 and 7. Otherwise, wood glue will suffice.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step One: Determine the sizes of wood you will need by measuring your sofa or chair arm. You will need to know the width of your arm as well as the height. Use the following formulas to determine the wood pieces you will need cut for you at the lumber yard if you don’t have the tools to cut the wood at home. The following formulas assume that the boards you use will be 3/4″ thick, which is the standard thickness for 1x boards, such as 1×6 or 1×8 boards.

Top piece of wood—length: 14″ / width: width of arm + 1.5″
Side pieces of wood—length: 14″ / width: height of arm from cushion—you should round down to the nearest board width.
1/8″ plywood piece—length: width of arm / width: width of arm (This is the piece that goes underneath the cup hole.)

My measurements for an Ikea Karlstad sofa: I used three 14″ lengths of 1×8 board, and simply trimmed the width of one length to 6.25″, which is the width I needed for the top piece of my sofa sleeve.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step Two: Center the hole saw on one end of your top piece of wood. Mark the middle point where the pilot drill of your hole saw will get the hole started. It is important to note that if you are using a big hole saw, as I did, you will probably not be able to control the drill with your arms, as muscly as they may be. It will skip around and ruin the finish of your wood. I had to bring my piece of wood to a friend’s house to clamp it in place while cutting the hole with a drill press.

If you don’t have access to a drill press, but plan on making a hole bigger than 2.5″, just skip the hole saw and cut the circle with a jigsaw instead, as shown in this tutorial.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step Three: Sand the inside of the hole and the top and bottom of the wood, being careful to stay away from the edges and corners. If you round the corners of the board from sanding the edges, the boards will not be flush when joined together in step 5.

Step Four: This step is optional. Clamp your Kreg jig as shown above to drill pocket holes on either end of just one side of each side board. These pocket holes will only be visible from the inside of the sofa sleeve. Using the pocket screws will provide for a very secure connection when you join each board together, but is probably not necessary for the end use of the sofa sleeve.

It is always a good idea to practice pocket hole placement on scrap wood before completing them on your finished boards.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step 5: Apply a somewhat thin layer of wood glue to one long edge of your side board (the side closest to your pocket holes if you chose to use them). Smoothing it with your fingers can be helpful, just keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe your fingers.

You should use a damp rag to wipe away all seeping wood glue immediately. Wood glue is very difficult to remove after it’s dried, even with heavy sanding.

Step Six: Clamp the glued side board to the bottom of the top board (making sure your pocket holes are facing the inside if you chose to make pocket holes). Before you tighten the clamps completely, make sure the boards are perfectly lined up on the ends and flush at their corners.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step Seven: This step is optional. If you have chosen to use pocket screws, now is the time to screw them into place. If your pieces of wood pull away from each other at all, wait to drill in the screws until the wood glue has set up completely (follow instructions on glue bottle).

Step Eight: After both side pieces have been glued and clamped into place, give the hole piece a really good sanding. I used 150 grit sandpaper for this, but if your wood is really soft (like pine), you might want to finish up with something closer to 200 grit to avoid any scratch marks that would be highlighted when the stain is applied.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step 9: Apply a coat of wood stain and allow it to dry for at least 12 hours before lightly buffing away the roughness with a piece of grade 0000 steel wool. This will take off the little hairs that pop up from the moisture of the stain soaking into the wood. You may need to apply a light second coat of stain if you notice the stain has lightened in some areas after buffing.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Step 10: Attach your square piece of thin plywood to the bottom side of the hole using wood glue. Make sure you apply only a light amount of glue, because as you clamp it in place, the glue will ooze out. After clamping the plywood into place, you must wipe away the excess glue right away, or the dried glue will be visible on the final product.

Step 11: Seal the sleeve with two light coats of polyurethane. This will protect it from the moisture of cup condensation.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.The finished product is sleek, clean, and adds to the beauty of the sofa, rather than distracting from the room’s style. We’ve loved using it so far! It’s great for holding wine and cheese or beer and a bowl of chips too.

Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Make this handy sofa sleeve to keep your drinks nearby.Fits perfectly with our state pride mug! Well, I guess I’m out of excuses for microwaving my cold coffee now. I know, I know… there is no excuse for microwaving coffee. Which is exactly why I love my new wooden sofa sleeve! Do you think you’ll try making one too? If you love this idea, but aren’t the woodworking type, you can always support another maker and buy one that fits your couch best (this sofa is similar to ours if you like that look)! –Mandi

P.S. Check out more home decor on our wishlist and shopping pages!

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Valentine and Stella from the Signature Collection.

  • I wonder, as you get more advanced in woodworking, or more adventurous if it would be possible to bevel the last four to six inches by using a sander or other tool. If you have a cushy sofa arm then that would make it even more comfortable. Just adjust the screws as well, otherwise very nice idea. My new sofa has built-in cup holders but they won’t work for coffee mugs.

  • Love this concept! I’m adapting this to fit my husband’s 52 oz travel mug in his truck. He’s been complaining for ages about not having a secure place for it to sit.

  • This is a really good idea, I made it for my parents and they love it.

  • I had an idea similar to this a couple years ago. You made it even better by putting the hole for the glass/cup. Going to make me one like yours. Thank you for the great idea.

  • I made it! And it looks great. It was a gift for a family member, and she loves it!!! Thanks!

  • Yay! This makes me happy to hear. I had been getting by borrowing tools, but in the past few years decided I was interested in this enough to invest in my own tools. I started with a power drill (now I have two— one cordless and one heavy duty one with a cord) and a palm sander (rotary sander where you can clip on or stick on sanding paper). You can have wood cut for you at the lumber yard, though it might not be right on the money, so I prefer to cut mine at home. I frequently borrow my dad’s miter saw, and asked for one for Christmas, but he got me a portable table saw instead! Awesome, but I have yet to set it up. Miter saws are great for trimming down pieces of lumber, but not plywood, because it will only cut a few inches of wood. You’d need a table saw for cutting larger pieces of wood, and table saws are also nice because you can cut several pieces of lumber to the exact same size when using a fence. There’s a lot to say about getting started with power tools— maybe I will be able to write a post about it someday soon! -Mandi

  • Heya! I’m a 20 year old female wanting to get into building things — I especially want to try out the projects on your site. What would you recommend I buy tool-wise first? Do you have a post on tools? Thank you!!

  • I adore this idea! I will definitely be trying my hand at making this. I just purchased a brand new sofa with squared arms!


  • This looks so great! I recently saw one of these on Etsy without the cup holder for over $100…I was so bummed! Thank you for showing how easy they are to make yourself!

  • That’s right! I like to sneak in some Ohio pride where I can. 🙂 -Mandi

  • I coat all of my projects in polyurethane for this exact reason— they’re too pretty to use coasters! I hate coasters, so I just make sure the wood is protected. 🙂 -Mandi

  • I have something like that on my sofa
    and is really practical!

  • This is a great idea and great project! Totally want to try it–thanks for sharing–

  • I can’t wait to make this! You have such great DIY tutorials, Mandi. Thank you! -Victoria

  • I can’t wait to make this! You have such great DIY tutorials, Mandi. Thank you! -Victoria

  • I love that you show the tools needed as well as the supplies. So often I get excited about a project only to realize we don’t have the necessary tools!

  • We so need this for our wine… i mean coffee. yes coffee.

  • What a creative idea! I’m going to have to pin this to my Father’s Day board (though I want it too!) – it is nearly impossible to find cool Father’s Day projects/crafts. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • It’s so pretty you’d need a coaster!! hehe
    I’d love to make this but our couch has crazy curved out arms so I don’t think it would work quite as well

  • So at first I was like, “YEAH! This is a product made with me in mind”, then I saw I had to make it myself… wahwah. Link forwarded to husband.

  • I could really do with one of these! It may be something I get the fiance on to making haha xx


  • Oh, I totally have a Karlstad sofa and have been thinking of making something like this. Thank you for reading my mind! It will cover the existing coffee stain from my balancing acts in the past.

  • Mandi, this is amazing! I actually do this all the time with tea- i.e. leave it sitting while I’m curled up on the couch doing other things, and then remember it’s there, waiting, much too late! I need to make one of these! Also, looks like we have the same couch! 🙂

    xo Mary
    Mostly Salty

  • This is so smart!!! I am always knocking my mug off the couch arm because I am too lazy to reach to the coffee table for it. First world problems haha! Now, if only I could find a handy man to make me one 😛

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  • This is genius! I totally need something like this.


  • I love this! As it turns out, I’m also a little too lazy to lean forward and grab my drink off the table 🙂 Great project!

  • Now that the weather is getting colder and more cups of tea get spilt on the couch, I think I better get onto making one of these! Thanks for the tips! 😉

  • What an awesome idea, I NEED to make this! Now all I need to do is figure out who has some power tools I can borrow… (:

    Loren | Cloudy Coconut

  • This is brilliant! Saw a similar item to purchase on Pinterest but yours is way cooler!


  • Love the idea of this! I always balance my drinks… and spill them…

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  • This is an amazing tutorial! I’ve been eyeing one of these bad boys for a while, but had no intention of making one myself….. that has changed!

  • This is so perfect! I have a sofa about the same shape as the one in the photo, so I think it would be perfect. It sounds lazy, but when I’m all snuggled in on the sofa, I don’t want to get out of the blanket and get my drink off the coffee table. This will be so great! Thanks for sharing!


  • I didn’t know I needed this but I do. You wouldn’t believe how many drinks I spill. It’s so unfortunate. :]

    // http://www.itscarmen.com ▲

  • YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YEAYYYY! i really need a coffee table for drinks, but i have 4 rambunctious dogs who constantly knock it over. THIS IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION. i’ll make 2 with 2 drink holders in both! THANK YOU! <3

  • You guys are brilliant! This is cute!

    Warm Regards,

    • These plans are perfect! I even have a karlstad as well. I did have one issue- I used 3/4 board and 1 1/4 pocket screws and the screw went through the board on all holes. I double checked my kreg jig settings and all was fine, it just seemed that the length was too long?

      • Jolie, there should be a “collar” on the drill bit that you can move with an allen wrench. Find the correct size allen wrench that will fit into the screw in the collar. Loosen the screw and slide the collar closer to the end of the drill bit with the threads. This will keep the drill bit from going too deep and the pocket hole screw will not go as deep when you tighten it. I hope this helps.

  • perfect! I was thinking of making something like this…might need to make an adaptation for wine glasses, if I’m being honest 😉

  • This is amazing!! But boy I would never get up…

    xo, Alice / House of Inconnue
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