You’ve finally purchased your perfect dream home, decked out with all the embellishments and amenities that a real grown-up should have. From the natural wood flooring and plush bedroom carpeting to the oil-rubbed bronze bath fixtures and high-end kitchen appliances, this is a home that you can live in forever. So, of course, the next logical step is to fill your sophisticated abode with the most mass-produced, un-unique, and immediately brand-identifiable furniture that you can find.
When IKEA is tossed around in daily conversation, the very first thing that usually comes to mind isn’t its impressive furnishings and home decor. It’s the Swedish meatballs or maybe the strange-looking, pencil-drawing of a man that appears on all those confusing and often incomplete instructions for assembly.
Silly memories aside, IKEA offers a wide range of affordable yet attractive furnishings. From the faux cowhide rugs that only belong in a rustic, mountain cabin boasting an array of taxidermied animal heads as wall art to the $9 bathmats that are essentially the size of a large postage stamp, IKEA home furnishing definitely have their place. Unfortunately, this “place” should never be in nicer real estate properties.
IKEA: The College Years
Everyone goes through an IKEA phase, and I am no exception. During my early teens, I remember fondly that my mother was an absolutely undeniable IKEA addict. After the new catalog would arrive in the mail every few months, she would sit in her favorite rocking chair for hours. As she painstakingly scrutinized each and every page, Mom would meticulously ponder each new selection and dog-ear numerous pages for what would most assuredly result in various repeat comparisons. Eventually, the day would come when my mother would say, “Get your shoes on, kids. We’re heading to IKEA!”
I was raised on IKEA, and because my mother unwittingly taught me that IKEA furnishings are truly top-notch, this was the first place I headed when it was time to rent my first college apartment. All I had to do was buy a few of those flimsy SOLVINDEN paper lanterns and a super-cheap KLIPPAN couch, and I was all set to become a big hit on campus.
And for the most part, it worked – at least initially. Renting my very first apartment with my own IKEA sofa and paper lampshades gave me just enough confidence to strike out on my own and begin making my mark.
Of course, no one ever told me that millions of other college kids were doing precisely the same thing, buying the same SOLVINDEN lampshades and the same “Jetty at Dawn’ BJÖRKSTA poster hanging over the same KLIPPAN couch.
They also never mentioned that the sofa fabrics were scratchy, the cushions were thin, and the 2×4 construction was shoddy at best. The need for the couch coverings to be consistently changed and washed due to the abundance of exuberant college kids traipsing through my apartment on a continual basis was also never revealed. Now in my forties with children and pets of my own, I can safely say that I will never buy another IKEA sofa again.
That Was Then, and This Is Now.
After purchasing that perfect dream home, the last thing that you want to do is load it up with cookie-cutter furniture that everyone – regardless of their age, mind you – will instantly recognize as IKEA. Imagine years of throwing sophisticated dinner parties, quaint get-togethers, and elaborate celebratory events. And every time a new friend, family member, or maybe even a new Boss visits your wonderful home, you’ll be forced to laugh respectfully as guest after guest makes potentially awkward comments like, “Oh! I love that painting. I had the very same one hanging over my bed when I was in high school!”
IKEA furniture is instantly recognizable. For the “wood” selections like bookcases, nightstands, and dressers, their boxy appearances simply lack the intricate detailing of an impressively designed, ready-made alternative from a more reputable manufacturer.
Consider how well the impressive textures and elegant lines of a bedroom dresser made of rich, merlot-hued, natural wood bejeweled with antique brass fixtures will appear in your lovely, new home. Perhaps the piece is further highlighted with carefully crafted crown molding encircling the base the under-portion of the tabletop surface. Now compare that ornate design to the flat, lifeless, often handle-less stylings of a similar IKEA product made of particleboard, which is basically wood particles glued together.
Which would you rather have in your beautiful, new home? Which would instill that same sense of self-confidence that the IKEA sofa provided when you were a fresh-faced college kid ready to change the world?
Putting it all together….literally
If cost is the issue, consider this. After you factor in the time, energy, and emotional stress of having to construct your new IKEA furniture yourself, is it really with it?
IKEA instructions are notoriously insane, often laced with meaningless verbiage that easily boggles the mind. At least one of the innumerable pre-drilled nail holes of the individual pressed-wood panels will unquestionably be out-of-sync from its partnering connector. This ill-informed, misguided attempt at furniture assembly typically results in a misshapen, caddy-wallop of a structure that defies logic or reason.
Sure, you can hire a professional to put your IKEA furniture together, but it’ll cost you a pretty penny. There’s a reason that Craigslist is filled with countless ads that say “Same-Day IKEA Furniture Assembly.” There’s also a reason that these people charge such high fees. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs already know that – all too often – it takes a furniture-assembly-genius to put these IKEA products together.
Of course, there’s the other additional expenses of transporting the multiple massive boxes to your home in the first place. Unless you already own a super-sized SUV or pick-up truck, you’re very likely going to need to rent a U-Haul. IKEA now offers furniture delivery services, and they offer furniture assembly, too. But now the total price of that “cheap” IKEA sofa far exceeds the ready-made option from the local Rooms-to-Go or Ashley Furniture stores. Again, is it really worth it?
BY Matt Rowland
Flipping houses really flips Matt out. As a licensed architectural engineer and professional interior designer, he’s had the opportunity to constructionally modify and interiorly design a multitude of impressive properties. From the smooth stylings of a modern minimalist loft in SoHo to the remarkable refurbishments of a Victorian cottage on the seaside shores of Maine, every home has a unique and distinctive story to tell. This eclectic designer allows these stories to flourish with verve and vigor.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.