To Ikea or not Ikea?


Ok, so as a professional designer of interiors and homes I am often met with clients that have Ikea furnishings.  Some very wealthy clients have Ikea furnishings, so the idea that it is only seen in the most gauche of homes, is not true.

So how do I feel about Ikea?  Well, my feelings are mixed and it depends on what you’re talking about specifically.

First of all, Ikea is great for college students and teenagers needing some furnishings that won’t break their meager or non-existant budgets.  It can look nice and it lasts long enough to see them through their teen years. It’s ideal when buying for kids’ rooms that will change every 5 years or so anyway or in rooms that will be converted to other uses once they move out. However, if you’re seeking something of value that will last for generations, obviously Ikea is not the way to go.

I always refer to Ikea as the “Monet” of the furniture world.  If you’ve seen the movie Clueless you’ll know what I mean but if you haven’t you may be clueless as to what I am saying. A Monet painting is really beautiful from afar but as you get closer to it and upon closer examination you realize it’s really just a “big ol’ mess” as Alicia Silverstone’s character said in the movie.

Ikea furniture can look good from afar but as you get closer to it and feel it and examine it you realize it’s typically just a bunch of pressed wood, flimsy, and isn’t going to last very long.

Sometimes clients with smaller budgets will want me to design their space with only Ikea furnishings. This hasn’t happened very often mind you as most clients have reasonable budgets that allow for more well-made or custom furnishings.  However, the few times I have been asked to do so I have asked them a battery of questions.   How long do you want the furniture to last? What will it be used for? Is it going to be in a high traffic area?    Do you value aesthetics over quality?  Typically, I talk them out of Ikea furniture and sometimes we can find much higher quality for around the same price even if it isn’t high end furniture, which it doesn’t have to be to be good design.

I hate to sound like a furniture snob, because I’m really not. I will even admit, I have a piece of IKEA furniture in my own home. I bought it when I needed a dresser but didn’t have the $5000 to spend at the time on the one I wanted when my other half moved in with me 6 years ago.  It was against my better judgement and I told myself that it was just temporary and it was, but you know what, that dresser is still going strong.  Of course it’s tucked into the new walk-in closet now where no one will ever see it other than us but I digress.

The bottom line is this.  If you love something from Ikea, by all means get it.  Their accessories and some of their artwork/etc. can be a great deal.   It’s only when you get into their furniture that there becomes an issue.  Just go to Ikea knowing that what you’re getting isn’t always high quality, but compromise – decent looking furniture for a cheap price that will see you through until you can afford something better.