16+ Things I Always Buy At IKEA
It’s collectible. It’s colorful. It’s easy to go overboard. Here’s my EDIT, plus how to spot all those iconic GEMS that'll be on eBay someday (ie: things you'll want to keep forever✨).
Last week I magically had a spare afternoon, all to myself…so I spent it at IKEA. This is not unusual for me. Well, being alone is. But not spending a few hours at IKEA. I find my local branch in Brooklyn undeniably soothing. Especially during off-hours, when you can mosey the trademark arrowed path at your own pace and don’t feel like you’re competing to get to the enamel colanders that are finally back in stock. I swear, if they served cocktails with coupons for a designated Swedish happy hour, I would be here every week🍸🇸🇪.
IKEA is a thing. A THING about things. I know this to be true because I can honestly say at this stage of my life, I’m more of an IKEA collector and feel oddly proud/ possessive of some of the things I’ve shepherded from one stage of life to another. I still own IKEA things from when I was just starting out on my own, when IKEA’s simplicity and affordability was a necessity above all else (I’ve had the red stool version of these chairs for like 30 years…it’s technically an heirloom now). I’ve also bought IKEA things at auction, things that were once that same combo of simplicity and affordability, and they only got better and more coveted—and pricey!—with age.
Who agrees IKEA needs to make a limited-edition 1985 Collection?🏆🏆🏆. At left, a sofa from the now iconic Moment series designed by Niels Gammelgaard.
A few other “famous” IKEA things I’ve found over the years long after they were for sale (for probably not very much) in an actual IKEA store: The Moment dining table designed by Niels Gammelgaard, which I found in an upstate Salvation Army for $50; a marigold yellow cabinet, made in Italy in the ‘90s (when some things from IKEA were made in Italy) found on the sidewalk; and a (giant) woven rattan pendant lamp designed by perhaps my greatest design hero Ilse Crawford as well as one of her heavy stone-colored ceramic pitchers from her extremely famous IKEA collab in 2015.
In the parking lot of our local Salvation Army waiting for a van to help transport our new-old Moment table home…heavy AF, but damn, she’s a beauty💋.
This also happens to be one of the things I appreciate about IKEA…that on many of their products, they include the name of the person who designed it. Because the design itself, and a person behind it, is just as important as the design’s function. They say something to this effect on their Museum website, too. As well as this little bit about founder Ingvar Kamprad’s hometown in Sweden, Småland, which the site says was “heavily forested with stony soil…resourceful people were experts at making the most of a little…” (Same:)
While it can be extremely easy to be seduced by all the colors, patterns, piles of floor cushions, and go completely overboard with too many blue bags of STUFF you don’t need…take a necessary beat. The real trick to shopping IKEA—or any store—is going about it with long-term use in mind…thinking about where each thing will go, how you’ll use it, and whether or not it’s a solid choice and not just an impulse thing. I never buy anything with the idea that I will throw it away in a year. Not even underwear. And because I’ve been a fan of IKEA for so long, I look for things that still carry those early trademarks of Scandinavian design. Things I won’t tire of or that I suspect will fall apart if I use them too much. While there are a few things I won’t buy from IKEA (i.e: wall shelves, candles), namely because I have other tried+true resources for them. There are other things that are absolute MARVELS—some of the lighting, textiles, and chairs that feel inextricably tied to those Swedish roots will only get more iconic and valuable with age. Despite any mixed feelings you may have on IKEA and companies who produce at scale, plus their impact on the environment, this is one of the ways we can be a bit more conscientious—by buying less while also buying things you know you’ll use for a long time, not just at IKEA but everywhere. And, of course, buying secondhand “treasures,” too.
So, if you need to replace some household staples (a chic red bathroom shelf!), or just need some guidance on which dazzling striped door mat to grab two of, here’s my super edit for your next IKEA outing—the things I bought as well as the things I’ve kept for years and years—still use ‘em, still love ‘em✨.
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