I wrote a week ago about one of the most famous chairs in the modern design world, the Paimio Chair designed by Alvar Aalto. I got a few e-mails saying that while the chair is amazing, the price (2,700$) didn’t appeal at all. So I thought, for those you, who shy away from Scandinavian design because of the price tag, here is a tip to get the Scandinavian look, with a much lower budget: go to IKEA.
IKEA is the Mecca for cheap Scandinavian design. Whenever somebody anywhere in Scandinavia had a great design idea, the flickor och pojken (girls and boys) at the IKEA made their own version of it, put it back to pieces, send it to China, just to get back million of them in flat boxes.
If you haven’t been to IKEA yet, you must go. It is a shopping experience like no other. The prices are so low, that you will wanna buy everything, and the products last as long as the low price tag promises. (Yeah, ten times more expensive does last ten times longer)
When you step inside, first all you see is an escalator going upstairs. Make sure to grab one of those big yellow plastic bags with you on the way up – they are meant for filling up with the cheap Scandinavian stuff.
What you will see is like mini-rooms, already decorated. Beds have linens in, imaginative windows have curtains and bookshelves are filled with decorative items. You will walk though the bedrooms, living rooms, and kids rooms, and see many ideas how to put together the perfect IKEA-home. They will even give you a nice glossy catalog, where you can get more ideas. If you like any of the furniture, make sure to take a little white slip with you, that helps you to find it from the warehouse (explained more later).
After the numerous display rooms, you are ready for a break, and luckily the IKEA cafeteria is right there luring you with Swedish meatballs and shrimp sandwiches. If the processed hamburger-meat that has been frozen while it was flown from Sweden or the cold seafood doesn’t appeal to you, you are missing an important part of this Swedish experience. Try at least a cinnamon-bun and a cup of coffee.
If you are brave enough to bring your children with you for this mini-trip-to-Sweden-shopping-extrawaganza, they usually have very nice restrooms just for families and the cafeteria offers baby foods and a microwave to warm your own baby food. There are plenty of high chairs for kids, and it is a very child-friendly place over all.
After the restaurant you will find sections of children’s stuff, picture frames, small decorative items, lamps and bedding. Everything from kitchen utensils to toilet brushes. All the “small stuff” is displayed Targety and it is easy to fill your shopping bag with it. Now they might even provide you a shopping cart. The furniture is back downstairs – in the big warehouse. Nicely still in boxes, sitting on mile-high shelves (no, not really Mile High..).
You will most likely need help getting products off the shelves, and getting them on your warehouse cart. Remember, every other IKEA customer needs the help too, so you might want to bring somebody with you. Some of the items (like sofas) are not in the self-serve warehouse, but you need to pay for them before you actually receive them, just like in most furniture stores. They have everything in stock, and they welcome you to take it home right away, but also offer home delivery, usually for under 80$.
When you get home.. it is going to be a whole new experience. You still need to put together the Swedish furniture finds you just bought. I suggest purchasing some heavy-duty-wood-glue, and using a bottle of it for every IKEA furniture you put together. Let’s just say that we saved a lot of money getting a closet to my son’s room from IKEA, but it nearly killed him by coming apart when a 2-year-old climbed on the first shelf.
By the way, I found this IKEA hacker blog while browsing, and it gives you ideas how to modify IKEA furniture to make it your own. Read: it gives crafty people ideas how to pimp up IKEA stuff.
You might have noticed a slightly sarcastic style of writing here, and you may ask, if I’m really recommending IKEA. I will feature some IKEA COPY products on the next article and next week I’ll tell you what I’d really buy from IKEA, if anything. What do you think? Do you think I secretly love IKEA or hate it with my guts? Leave a comment below :)