Oh, Ikea.

I have a love affair with Ikea that began in 2002. I’d heard of the store when I was in Europe (mostly as an example of mass-produced products taking over the world), but it wasn’t until I stepped onto the showroom floor in Vancouver that I discovered its lure for myself. I come from the land of Wal-Mart and ShopKo (we don’t even have a Target), so finding stuff that was affordable + well-styled felt like hitting the jackpot. Couches? Chairs? Tea-towels? Shelves? Napkins? Lamps? All there, all relatively cheap, all good-looking. Going to Ikea was one of the long-awaited highlights of my trip to Cali, and I’ll admit that I went a little crazy while I was there. I told Josh that I only needed an hour and a half, and he wisely added an hour to that. (And then he spent a very patient half hour at the end looking over all my stuff before I bought it.) This gave me the incredible luxury of being able to slowly wander through the store and satisfy my desire to know that what I picked out wasn’t inferior to something else that I didn’t get a chance to see (do you ever feel that way when you’re rushed?). What can I say…my husband is the bestest. And my shopping was the bestest!

[Another preface: I think that people who live in Ikea-infested locations (east coast? Europe?) can feel as though Ikea products are a dime a dozen and a tad unoriginal. Well, out here in the inland Northwest, the opposite is true. When I went to the Ikea in Costa Mesa, it was with full confidence that nothing I was already buying could be found in any of my friends’ homes. Take that, Elle Decor.]

At the top of my list was finding a carpet for our living room to give the area around the sofa a little more definition. I thought this was especially important because Josh’s desk is just to the left of the couch and the work part of the room needs some separation from the relaxing part.

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(The dog is my darling, lovable, fat little Bina.) 

I really wished that I’d had a rug sample to bring with me, since I was afraid to buy one of the neutral/beige carpets for fear of clashing badly with the existing one. There was also the problem of the couch – which I don’t think I’ve shown before – and it’s strange bluish green color. [Hmm, the couch. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is so very comfortable, I might regret the purchase since it’s a) incredibly heavy and difficult to move and b) a dark color that doesn’t really match anything else. I’m hoping to lighten it a bit with accent pillows.]

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This shot was taken from the dining room and shows the front window (which looks directly out onto the street) and the door to the entry room. Curtains for the front window are still TBD – I bought a black curtain rod at Ikea but don’t have the fabric yet. My current thought is to make the main body of the curtain out of neutral fabric (unbleached cotton matches the walls almost exactly) and add a strip of something more colorful at the top on bottom.

Another problem I have with the window is the need to let light in (we want to grow herbs on the ledge) without the fishbowl effect. While I was browsing the kitchen section at Ikea, I came across some rolls of shelf liner for $4 each and had an Aha! moment. I bought two of the rolls and finally tried putting them on the windows last night with the following results.

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As you can tell, each piece is a little too narrow. But I think that when I finally get the curtains up, this won’t be a problem because they’ll cover the gaps on the sides. The main issue for me is that the shelf liner lets in lots of light and almost completely obscures the view. Success! I know that Home Depot and some other retailers sell frosted stick-on stuff that does the same thing, but it’s about $50 a roll…and this stuff was $8 total. I’m still working out some technical difficulties, like the best way to get the liner to stick to the window – in the photo it’s held up with tape, but that didn’t last for long. I’d like to try attaching it with little suction cups, since those won’t leave a residue. Suggestions on where to buy those??

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Another thing I love about the shelf liner is the texture – all those little raised circles. It so happens that I’m trying to get a bit of a circle theme going, since our entryway came with a large round mirror.

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This is another one of the rooms that I plan to paint..the white doesn’t look so bad here, but it’s pretty dingy in real life. I have a yellow/gold picked out that picks up the flecks in the linoleum and should provide a nice, cheery entry into the apartment. The blue rug is another Ikea bargain ($10), as is the tall vase (it broke in transit but I was able to glue it back together).

I’m out of time, but I’ll squeak in one last Ikea bargain. I said that I wanted to replace the dotted lamp shades in the bedroom, but when I was looking around I couldn’t find anything that I liked much better. So, Josh picked out two new lamps for $8 each.

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The “lamps” are more like rectangular vases with a bulb inside – very, very simple. We particularly liked the shape, since it goes with the rectangular Japanese lamp on the dresser.

bedroom2.jpg

Sorry that the colors are all messed up – I shut the curtains so you can also see another little success story. The white curtains were left in the room by the previous tenant and were absolutely filthy. I was going to use them to cover the floor when I painted, but mum mentioned that I might want to try having them dry-cleaned. I did and, while it wasn’t cheap ($30), there’s no way that I would have found curtains that nice for that price. They’re kind of glamorous in a 60s way, so I’m still trying to think of a matching headboard motif.

Hooray for Ikea!

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3 thoughts on “Oh, Ikea.

  1. Two Items:

    1. You can buy the diffuser plastic sheets for florescent light fixtures at Home Depot. They are about $10 per sheet, and they are used hide the bulbs in hung ceilings. However, if you buy a soldier gun (not iron) at radio shack, you can nicely melt a cut, and shape whatever shape you want. I find this even better than the roll.

    2. Stick anything to glass with a clear hot wax gun. A little dab will do, and it’ll peel right off.

    Uncle T.

    PS As you rolled away from our house, Ru said “who am I going to play ball with now?”

  2. Pingback: I heart my living room. «

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