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IKEA. Swedish for common sense

In the late 80’s I had lived in Canada with my family for a year, during that time there was one commercial punch line that stuck in my head for years to come  – “IKEA. Swedish for common sense”. Since then my relationship with the big box store has evolved.

At first there was the excitement of meandering through the pre-set path with the tiny pencil and paper measuring tape, adding the truly “necessary” items to the cart, walking through the warehouse, lifting oversized (flat packed) boxes, paying so much more than I had initially intended to, and then the attempt to FIT it all in a small sized sedan. After lifting the boxes into my small walk-up apartment, there came the fun part of assembling the pieces together, only to find out 3 hours later that there are 7 screws I had left out  and that the bed shakes when sat on. After that ordeal I swore off the store for a v e r y long time.

Eight years ago my husband and I, relocated to the Boston area with 4 suitcases, 2 trolleys and a snowboard. We needed to get furniture fast, and with a reasonable price tag. And yes there was that very important factor for us – it needed to look contemporary with a young professional feel. There is no shortage of other furniture stores in Boston, and I had window shopped them extensively, but the price tag did not justify these furniture pieces, we had a whole apartment to furnish. We felt lost amongst the frilly overstuffed sofas and couches in other low cost furniture outlets, none of them spoke to our taste (or age). So we decided to look online, and I had to face the fact I might have to swallow my pride and go back to the land of IKEA.

To my surprise, not only was this a great online experience, we had managed to fully furnish our place for under $2000 (lampshades, sheets, dinnerware included). The assembly didn’t feel as bad (we did follow the instructions to a T), and it looked rather nice.I have since learned to negotiate the meandering path (there are short cuts if you look up from time to time), enjoy the free coffee at 9:30am, and just come better prepared before entering the store. I plan ahead what I want to buy, I measure both the room and my car (all box dimensions appear on the web site). Even my kitchen is from there. I have gone to the extent of designing the store Tis-Tik at Harvard Square using just IKEA furniture fixtures. I might be called an IKEAholic, but for very good reason. The prices are great, to a point where you can actually dare to experiment and customize it to fit your own style. Contrary to all the backlash, the furniture pieces I have, and use are withstanding the test of time and wear. The design is neutral yet contemporary. I mean how wrong can you go?

So it was with great pleasure I recently read about the successful booth IKEA had at the Milan Furniture Fair  – There is nothing more pleasing to know you had made a good design choice. I would recommend you start stocking up on these pieces as I believe some of them might prove to be timeless.

Quick Tip – If  you do not have the DIY bug in you, your local IKEA store will have a list of IKEA approved furniture assembly companies. I personally recommend using a local business to do the work as they seem to be more flexible, and who knows you might find your next handy person to help you out in other projects around the house.

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