26 October 2010

banishing ikea

Ever since I first found Ikea, I loved all they had to offer -- and the prices! -- but the magic quickly faded when I realized first that most of their products are not built to last (forget about things ever being sturdy after being moved) and second that buying Ikea often means your place will look just like everyone else's, or at least make people say, "Ah, that's Ikea circa 2006!" Not the vibe I'm going for. (Yes, I totally understand NOW that it's possible to blend in a few Ikea pieces without making your home look like an Ikea showroom, or to modify Ikea pieces to make them less recognizable as Ikea. But there is a definite art to this approach.)

Though there are a few necessary evils (and would have been many more if we had decided to replace our kitchen cabinets -- Ikea has the only remotely affordable, stylish cabinetry around), we have done our very best to minimize the Ikea presence in our place now.

Why such a strong reaction to Ikea? you might ask. Answer: just check out these pictures, in one last blast from the past, showing major Ikea overload. So. Much. Blond. Wood. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Once again, the best pics I have aren't staged apartment photos, but instead dog photos that happen to show the apartment in the background. (For friends who have kindly questioned whether I've done any aging, just check out these old pics, from Chelsea's first week as my pup.) See the blond wood entertainment center to the left of the frame? And the blond Ikea Poang chair in the back of the frame? All Ikea.

Same apartment from the other angle, now showing the Ikea table and chairs and the colored frames on the wall.

At least I broke up all that Ikea with an uber-stylish black futon with perhaps the most highly sought-after throw blanket of all time covering the back. Was I a trend setter or what?

Of course a better question is, "What was I thinking?!?!?!?"

The tiny spare bedroom in that DC apartment served as an office, and was -- shockingly! -- chock-full of Ikea, though not even nice-looking Ikea.

When I moved across the river to Arlington, and nearly doubled my square footage, I was super excited to decorate "for real." And I really thought the place was stylish, despite All. That. Bold. Ikea. Blue. And still with all the blond wood. ::::shudder::::

Moving yourself cross-country has an amazing way of helping you part with things you once thought of as essential to your life. So few of those old Ikea pieces made it with me to LA. (The Poang chair though now featuring linen-color cushions, the wooden foldout table in the kitchen and its folding chairs, and a few Billy bookcases are it.)

And we've managed to get by without too many new Ikea purchases in our current place. Exceptions:

Our Besta Burs TV console, which I actually LOVE. I have not found anything I like better, at any price. Also that set of three turquoise vases.

Cheap-o dresser that serves as our bar and entryway storage

The vanity, sink, mirror and wall cabinet in our master bathroom

The knobs in our guest bathroom (far better than the Home Depot standard), and a basic towel rack

My desk in our home office/guest room, as well as those white file boxes

Cord storage solution under my desk

Frame and magnetic board on my desk

The dogs' mini Poang chair

Okay, so there's still a lot of Ikea going on in our casa. But I don't think it SCREAMS Ikea, and that's what I was going for. Plus, I'm sorta at the point where I'd rather start investing in higher quality for pieces we can keep forever.

How about you? Still crushing hard on Ikea? Over it entirely? Always seeking a happy medium? Is it even possible to banish Ikea entirely? I know I'm having a mighty hard time...

You can read about our first trip to Ikea to check out their cabinetry (and my disappointment at seeing the lower-priced cabinets in person) here, and my tips on quick Ikea navigation and car packing here. This post is a how-to on corralling your electronics cords using Ikea's handy products, and this post shows how we covered up an ugly thermostat using a bargain-priced Ikea frame.

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  1. I completely agree with you on IKEA. Great for the starter-outter... but can lead to too matchy matchy for my taste. The way I look at them is they are great for inexpensive accessories to add those pops of color/contrast. I stick to antiques and other great finds to fill my house, and use IKEA for some fun accessories. That way - you don't feel as bad when you want to switch it out for a new look! :)

  2. Antiques and vintage are the next frontier for me! As I wrote about here, I'm still a bit intimidated by flea markets and antique shops. But I'm getting much better!

    I totally admire anyone who can make antique and modern pieces play nice together in a room.

  3. Oh, I'm totally with you. It takes real talent to incorporate their pieces cleverly (and I'm not sure I have that talent). Like you, when we bought our 'real' house, I made a vow not to shop there any more, but for some items, they really are hard to beat. Beloved Husband is a huge fan of his adjustable, modular desk, and I happen to think their Expedit cubes are really fab too.
    But beyond that, Carolyn says it perfectly: I like the affordability of their accessories, meaning I can switch things around without feeling guilty.


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