Modern Home Decorating on a Budget: The Best of Ikea
Too often, IKEA gets a bum wrap. I've heard people say it's cheesy, it's poorly made, no reasonable adult should still have anything from there. But I, and many others, will have to disagree. Ikea has a great aesthetic. It's clean and sleek without being pretentious - for example, you wouldn't walk into somebody's home and feel like you shouldn't take a seat on a tufted KARLSTAD (left), but you wouldn't turn your nose up either. And let's face it, if you're in search of a contemporary look for your home, modern designs tend to be a little pricey. As for quality, sure, it has the capacity to get a little dinged up, but what doesn't? My Ikea bookshelves survived four years of college and a couple of California earthquakes, and will likely get repurposed at my next domicile. Most things will last if you treat them right, but this is true for most things, isn't it?
So how do you incorporate Ikea pieces into your home without looking like you just refurnished your dorm room? The key is to not go overboard; don't feel like you have to stay faithful to Ikea alone. Here are a few things Ikea does right, and a couple of suggestions to get you thinking outside of the big blue box.
IKEA has a great selection of textiles for any place in your home, but their contemporary bedding is a bargain for the look you get. The styles are hip and graphic, much like you'd find at someplace like Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie. And with the significantly lower prices available at IKEA, you don't have to feel guilty when you're ready to redecorate.
Did you know IKEA has fabric too? The craftier among us can whip up some DIY curtains or pillows. If you're extra daring, consider a re-upholstery job to freshen up your chairs.
It's easy to get lost in IKEA's lighting section. They have lots of fun, irreverent styles, as well as more refined looks like these. The FILLSTA pendant lamp is a bold statement and comes in three sizes. Imagine it as a centerpiece over a brown-black dining table and a crisp, clean wall color. The LJUSÅS YSBY table lamp reminds me of vintage lamps you might find at a garage sale, but the translucent glass body gives it a modern spin. A pair of these would look great in a retro 1960s living room. And lastly, IKEA also has lamp bases and shades you can mix and match, like the set of SKIMRA shades shown here. This endorsement comes with one precaution: in my experience, IKEA lamps typically don't emit a ton of light, so they're best used as accent or mood lighting.
Some people might turn their nose up at the fact that IKEA draws some inspiration from other, spendier designers. But if you're in the market for a bargain, you probably don't care. IKEA's dining chairs are aesthetically compatible with those available at Design Within Reach. Here we compare IKEA's $40 GILBERT chair with a classic Eames chair that starts at $499. It's hard to knock Eames, but let's face it, most of us aren't looking at spending two grand on seating for four. IKEA's crisp, modern chairs make for great, small space dining that looks more fancy-downtown-loft than cramped-college-dorm. These would look great in a sunny kitchen nook with a bouquet of daisies on top of a round BILLSTA table.
The average square footage of houses in several European countries is under 1000. In the United States, since 1990, new homes have upwards of 2,000 square feet, peaking at over 2,500 in 2007. What does that mean for you? IKEA designers are skilled in optimizing storage space, which means better organization for you. IKEA has great closet solutions, as well as long standing products like the BILLY bookshelf, which you can expand on as needed.
So what if you're looking to branch out to other brands but don't want to break the bank? I recommend investing a little more in high-traffic pieces like beds and sofas. Many of IKEA's beds and sofa-beds utilize a slatted bed base that may not withstand abuse from the less careful kids (and adults) in your household. To keep in line with a modern living room, I recommend the Corona sofa from Macy's, which has a great look and is almost perpetually on sale for $699 ($899 regularly).
And one last tip: If you have the privilege of living near an IKEA store, always check out their as-is section. They're often clearing out slightly damaged floor models or items that they simply have too many of. You might find a pricier piece at a discounted price, or something else to spark your imagination!
So what pieces from IKEA is your home still sporting? No need to be ashamed!