Sunday, February 7, 2010


I drove over 900 miles round trip this weekend for one reason.

To visit the homeland.

Okay, so I was actually meeting some friends for a really fun weekend get together, and I tacked on the trip to Ikea at the end. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm over the moon that I finally got to visit today's modern meets affordable icon, Ikea.

As an Ikea virgin, I had no idea what to expect. Some people have raved about the incredible quality for the price you pay, and some people have called it cheap, ugly pressboard crap. Still, I was giddy as I got off the tollway (which, by the way, is WAY confusing for someone who has never experienced it) and saw the giant blue building. And boy, I mean giant. It was huge. That corner up there was just the beginning.

I couldn't even fit it all in one picture.

I walked in, and was immediately confused. There was a little display of a bedroom, an escalator, a hallway to one side, and an enchanted forest type thing. Since I'm not 6 but I still like to play on moving stairs, I chose the escalator.

It turned out the escalator brought me to the display section. It included living rooms, offices, kitchens, and the famous 350 square foot apartment. I was totally enchanted by these bright modern spaces. I would have been happy to have almost all of them in my home.

Unfortunately, I was so in love that I only took one picture, because I thought this rug was adorable. That was a running theme throughout the trip. My favorite sections (storage, rugs, frames, cooking stuff, and oh my god, FABRICS!!!!!) are not pictured at all, because I was so giddy I didn't take any.

Next came the sofas. This is where I got really sad. Look, a wall of modern, bright, affordable (and comfortable! I sat on some) sofas.

Look, a gray, modern, comfortable, compact, full sized sleeper sofa that would be perfect for our office at $850!

Look, an adorable side chair for $99! Total disclosure: this was NOT the most comfortable chair in the world. It's not uncomfortable, but not a loungy recliner, either. But for $99, it would be perfect for a "putting on your shoes" chair.

Too bad they are still 460 miles from my house and I have no way to get them here. Damn you Ikea and your willful ignorance of most of the South! Honestly, for these prices, when we get ready to buy new living room furniture, a trip in the truck to Ikea Houston (a smidge closer) may be in our future.

Side tables for $8! Again, the quality wasn't outstanding, but for $8 it was really incredible. They were fairly sturdy and I could see them working perfectly in an apartment or dorm.

This set of nesting tables was similar to the quality I've seen from West Elm pieces, for only $59. I would love to have these in a living room, and I couldn't believe the price!

I loved, loved, loved this side table for $59. It was around this time that I got totally on the Ikea train. They are really doing an amazing job of making good design affordable for everyone.

I was pretty impressed with the storage section. In addition to beautiful cabinets, basic shelves, and the ubiquitous Billy bookshelf system, they also had some great armoire type pieces. There was a big white one with glass shelves that I would love in my dining room.

At this point in the trip, I got to the Marketplace section, where you actually buy stuff. I got so excited that my picture taking basically stopped. Ultra soft throws for $9, huge glass bowls for $15, beautiful frosted canisters, bright pot holders, storage boxes, throw pillows, curtains at INSANE prices, it was all too much and I loved soaking it all in. I spent so much time poring over the fabric section, and I chose a few that I thought I couldn't live without. I also got a lot of one fabric (black, white, and gray with small pops of orange) to make curtains for Brett's office. I'm hoping I have enough left over for an ironing board cover and an apron.

Once I had filled my cart with spice jars, fabric, a sheepskin (which I made fun of my dad for asking me to buy him one, but now that I have it home I sort of want to keep it), a big red clock, magnetic board and magnets, a throw, some pretty glass bottles, and who knows what else, I started taking pictures again.

I loved this white, soft Ofelia blanket. I just couldn't think of a place for it, but I definitely wanted it to come home with me. The wall of colorful duvet covers, most for $39, were mesmerizing. I wish I had visited this store when I still had bedrooms to decorate.

The lighting section also had me wishing I was at different points in some of my projects. I loved most of the lamps, and found myself wishing I had light fixtures to replace in the near future.

So why is this place so cheap? Well, if you want furniture (thanks to my compact car and a limited budget, I didn't need to deal with this) you have to brave the warehouse, making sure you have all the boxes you need, since some pieces come in more than one box. Then you have to take it all home and put it together.

After being really tempted to buy some stuff labeled "Ikea food" near the checkout, I got my purchases and made my way back to the car.

Hmmmm, maybe it's a good thing for my wallet that I live 500 miles away.