Why We Like IKEA

There are people who love IKEA, people who hate it, and people who tolerate it because it serves a purpose. I happen to be in the first group because IKEA appeals to my northern Germanic sensibility about order and it stays right about where I need furniture to fit into my budget. Because you have to assemble IKEA yourself, it definitely fits into the DIY category.

Our row house stairs are not furniture friendly.
Our row house stairs are not furniture friendly.

IKEA is fairly ubiquitous these days but I discovered the store around 1997 when it wasn’t quite the phenomenon it is today. For a person whose hobby is the study of decorative arts, the idea of being barely out of college and able to afford new furniture was amazing. I started with a few pieces of IVAR and today nearly my entire house is furnished with IKEA. Since I am not a modern person, I’ve appreciated the more traditional IKEA collections. IKEA is sort of like the tofu of the design world. You can work it into any theme. But I never appreciated fully it until I moved into my Philadelphia trinity/Federal row house with it’s spiral stair case.

I am always jealous of people who have an eclectic collection of furniture that creates a cozy look. I also love antiques and solid wood furniture with dovetail joins. I always dreamed of filling my house with a livable combination of furniture that looked or was, in fact, old. However, when we found that we couldn’t get our furniture up the stairs, it was the flat-pack to the rescue. Just last night, I spied a fabulous little piece hanging out on the curb that I thought for sure would make it up the stairs. After an hour of shoving, back to the curb it returned. It would seem that I am destined to own furniture that can be built inside the room. That means either commissioning pieces or IKEA.

IKEA is a DIY dream. The instructions are fairly easy to follow. You can hire help just in case you get stuck. Many of the pieces are unfinished can be painted. Recently there has been a movement of IKEA hackers who do amazing things by using the IKEA raw materials and making completely customized furniture out of it (http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com/). We’ve done a bit of customization ourselves. Our LACK table has legs from another model and we cut the side of our IVAR to accommodate a ledge in our kitchen. In total we have BEKVAM, IVAR, KURS, INGO, LACK, LESVIK, MINNEN, MIKAEL, POANG, and probably more I can’t recall right now.

Just about our entire house is filled with IKEA.
Just about our entire house is filled with IKEA.

So far it’s been a good relationship. I still get a sense of accomplishment when I put a piece together. Putting IKEA together is a family event now that my daughter’s old enough to help. I’ve made the meatballs at home. I use the comforter covers. I have IKEA dishes, towels, and flatware which I use everyday without fail. It’s never let me down. As my daughter grows, I know IKEA will help us evolve her room into something she will love and putting it together herself will hopefully give her a sense of accomplishment too.


  1. Yep, while my rowhome has “normal” looking stairs, they’re extremely steep with a very low clearance. Getting a full-size mattress up the stairs is difficult, even while bending it.

    1. Stairs are really tricky. We had to hoist our mattress up the back wall of the house and through the sliding doors. IKEA makes a mattress that comes in three pieces but it’s really thin and only comes in twin. Once you put a fitted sheet on, it holds together OK. Obviously this would be more tricky to design with a regular spring mattress but why shouldn’t a mattress come in parts with velcro so you can fit them into tight spaces? Plus, I bet it would wear better and you could only replace the saggy parts. I mean, whose mattress goes limp at the ends anyway? 🙂

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