Think you're over Ikea? Think again! 7 reasons why you're never getting over the flatpack mecca
Today marks 30 years since the good ship Ikea came to these shores. It's almost been here as long as I have...almost. Over the years I've had a love/hate relationship with the Swedish superstore. I actually uttered the words: "I'm done with Ikea" when we moved to this house two years ago. My rationale being that I've never been one for Scandi minimalism anyway and it was time to grow up and only buy furniture that was going to see me into my old age. Riiiiight. Predictably, six weeks later you could find me once again heading towards those blue and yellow chimneys at the heart of a Croydon Retail Park. Not willing to fully admit at this stage that I had been talking nonsense, I updated my viewpoint (to no-one in particular as David could not care less where my interior heart lies) that I was done with the "big things" like beds, chairs, sofas, tables etc in Ikea but it was still good for the small things, the bits and bobs etc. But it turns out that was also codswallop as I am currently in the throes of a minor obsession with the thing of beauty that is the Stockholm rattan armchair (designed by Nike Karlsson and more on which later).
So having resigned myself to the fact that I'll never truly be over Ikea, here's my list of 7 reasons why I can't call it quits, and you probably won't either.
1) It's cheap, cheap like the budgie.
For some reason shopping in Ikea makes me feel like I'm not really spending money. Which is ridiculous of course because by the time I've emerged from the final stretch (Ribba frames and house plants...I defy you not to put mini cacti/spider plant, yukka in your trolley) I have definitely spent money. A quick tot up before the till point usually shows I've ended up with £70 (minimum) worth of items which I did not intend to buy. The following discussion usually happens in my head "Do I need all this stuff? No I don't. Ok, what can I put back? Hmmm, I absolutely must have those flamingo tumblers. They're perfect little G&T glasses! And this bedding is just perfect for the spare bedroom! Nope, I'm going to need to take it all home I'm afraid." When you pack that much great design under one roof, at such brilliant prices, you are always going to go home with more than you came in for. It's instant gratification and it's a genius plan that entraps almost everyone who sets foot through their door. And in any case, I still really love those flamingo glasses!
2) High design
Sure it's cheap. But being cheap only gets you so far in life. That maxim applies to interiors too ;-) If you want to become a mainstay of family homes you have to look the part as well. And where else can you get such great Scandi design at such great prices? It's no coincidence that approximately 60% of the population own the Stockholm Rand rug (the other 40% have the La Redoute rug) I was watching the Lady Gaga documentary last night on Netflix and unless I am very, very much mistaken Gaga has this very rug in her New York apartment (and yes I logged in and updated this blogpost at 11pm last night) Then there's the...
3) Designer collaborations
We live in an age where high street and designer collaborations have become the norm. Beyonce for Topshop, Henry Holland for Habitat, and the fash pack (ok, me too) are currently poised for the upcoming release of H&M's collaboration with Alexa Chung's fave designer Erdem. Ikea has been swift to tap into this trend with successful pairings with Ilse Crawford and Katie Eary. But this year will see the release of their biggest collaboration to date with Danish design duo Hay and another with the one and only Tom Dixon. The Hay collaboration, called Ypperlig, covers chairs, lighting, coffee tables, a sofa bed and smaller accessories such as candlesticks and it is sure to cause a feeding frenzy when stock goes live in store later this month. Kanye West has also been open about the fact he wants to work with Ikea. Please can we make this happen?
The Expedit shelving, the Mosslanda picture ledges, the Ribba frames, the Raskog trolley...they all have one thing in common. Uncomplicated and perfectly functional design. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This has reminded me that I need to get creative with some Mosslanda.
5) Kids stuff
If your kids are anything like mine, they will have so many toys they don't know what to do with them. No word of a lie, my son rediscovered his £8 Ikea Lillabo train set last week saying: "Mummy, you didn't tell me I had a train set!" This was just as I was about to send it to the charity shop because he hadn't even so much as looked at it for the last two years. He's played with it every day this week so far. You couldn't make it up. Anyway, the point is, kids are fickle! There's no point buying a top of the range train set until you know they are actually going to play with it for longer than 10 minutes after they've opened it. Sure, sometimes the fad sticks, in which case you can always buy them a better one. I also love the Duktig kitchen (have you seen the hacks?!) and the accompanying soft toy vegetables etc, the Mala easel, the non Marvel/Disney fancy dress costumes, the wooden toys and all the art and craft stuff. Perfect for Christmas presents....which leads nicely to my next point.
Every Christmas I head to Ikea to buy a gingerbread house for Raf and I to build and decorate. Every year I fail to get the right level of stickiness for the icing and we have several collapses before hitting the jackpot and getting it to stand up without the roof sliding off. We then cover it in sweeties, eat our body weight in Dolly Mixtures and bicker about whether the Jelly Tots need to go in colour order (of course they do!) This year we might buy two and do a little head to head with Nellie and David. But Ikea has become quite a major part of our Christmas in other ways too, which I've never really thought about until now. I LOVE their Strala star pendant lights for decorations and am always tempted to buy more, even though I already have quite a few. And this year I am really liking the look of some of the new decorations too. These LED pendants have gone straight on the lust list.
Then there's the wrapping paper, the string, the ribbon etc And I always pick up some of the little Christmassy paper bags they do for wrapping up homemade mince pies as teachers gifts. Jamie Oliver's half filo, half puff pastry mince pie recipe is my fave, in case you were wondering.
Everyone has their Ikea food thing. My mother-in-law (and my son) can't resist the self-service ice cream dispenser. And I know lots of people are obsessed with their meatballs but I'm veggie so that's not for me. In fact I'll happily bypass the restaurant altogether as it gives me more time to look at crockery that I don't really need. For me, it's all about the shop at the very end after the tills. Best. Crisps. Ever. My mum loves the sour cream ones, but I'm a purist and am all about the ready salted. Also the chocolate bar with hazelnuts...give me a bar of that over a box of Charbonnel & Walker any day.
So that's why, no matter where we live and how my style changes, Ikea and I will never call it quits. Like all successful relationships, it's important to acknowledge when your wrong. So I'm sorry for doubting you! Let's put it behind us and move on.
Do you think I'm crazy to have ever doubted Ikea in the first place? What can't you leave Ikea without?