IKEA is one of the best recognized furniture brands all over the world. It appeals to a young and hip audience, as it makes affordable furniture and home furnishings choices available to those just starting out on their own.
IKEA has equally enthusiastic foes and fans, and in all fairness both sides have valid points. High quality, heirloom furniture it is not. But IKEA furniture is certainly affordable, attractive and even provides a chance to be creative as you can buy unfinished furniture, or even mix and match parts to create your own customized furniture.
For all its youthful appearance, IKEA is not a newcomer. It started out in 1943 in a small village called Agunnaryd in Sweden. IKEA's founder Ingvar Kamprad was only 17 at the time. The first two letters in IKEA come from the initials of the founder's name, the next two from Elmtaryd, the farm that he grew up on, and Agunnaryd, his village.
IKEA originally started out selling accessories and knickknacks at bargain prices and started selling furniture in the late 1940s. Today the company has grown into a major international furniture and home furnishings brand operating across the world.
There are about 301 IKEA stores in 37 countries that stock home furnishings and furniture for the entire home under one roof. Easily recognizable by their blue and yellow signs, most IKEA stores are company owned, but there are a number of franchised stores as well.
New introductions and perennial favorites are featured in IKEA catalogs that are eagerly anticipated every year.
IKEA has been referred to as the "quintessential cult brand" by BusinessWeek, and the British design magazine Icon voted Ingvar Kamprad as the most influential tastemaker in the world.
IKEA Furniture - The Good
There is something to be said about affordable furniture that is also attractive. It is possible to furnish an entire home from top to bottom for a comparatively modest amount.
- There is always something new, but some affordable favorites have endured over the years. One of them is the Poang armchair which is starts at $99. Constructed from layered and glued bentwood frame of birch, the chairs have enough give to make the comfortable. They cushions are available in fabric or leather, and it now comes in webbing also.
- The Lack side tables and coffee tables which come in many different finishes, have also been popular through the years. The side tables sell for about $7.99. Billy bookcases which come in many sizes and finishes start at $24.99. The Klobo loveseat costs only $149, and the Beddinge Lovas sofa bed is around $199. It is possible to buy a complete bedroom for under $450.
- There are lots of choices for all the rooms in a home: dining furniture, living room furniture, home office furniture, and furniture for children's rooms is available at different price points and quality.
- IKEA furniture is relatively easy to assemble and efficient packaging makes it easy to transport.
- Lighting, rugs, bedding, textiles and accessories are also available to complement any furniture purchase. There are also plenty of efficient storage solutions for the entire home.
- For bargain hunters, there is an "As-Is" section in most IKEA stores, where you can get bargain priced furniture that has suffered varying degrees of damage from imperceptible to bashed in drawers.
- IKEA has much to offer for small spaces.
IKEA - The Not So Good
When you buy furniture at IKEA, you should not expect to buy heirloom quality furniture. While most of it is certainly affordable, longevity is not one of its qualities. Very often affordability and quality do not go hand in hand, unless you are buying used furniture. Certainly, IKEA is not the only brand that sells affordable but lesser quality furniture.
- Largely made from particleboard, IKEA furniture most often does not stand up to years of use. Disassembling and moving the furniture if you have to move can also shorten its lifespan.
- And while IKEA has done much to address environmental concerns regarding the toxicity of its furniture materials, I would hesitate to call it green simply because it lacks one very important feature of green furniture - durability. That is especially true of the more affordable furniture at IKEA.
Shopping for Furniture at IKEA
IKEA stores strive to present the same shopping experience at all their furniture stores. An IKEA store is hard to miss with its distinctive blue and yellow coloring and sheer size. Once inside you can spend a lot of time just looking around without being bothered. A single store carries everything to furnish a home, from furniture to kitchen cabinets to lighting down to brushes for washing dishes.
The displays at an IKEA store make it easy for customers to visualize using its products by arranging furniture into detailed displays. And almost everything that you see there is for sale within the store.
Customers have access to measuring tapes, pencils and notepads to jot down information including the aisle number and shelf number to make it easier to locate their furniture in the self-serve warehouse.
Furniture can also be delivered, but make sure to check out delivery charges.
To find an IKEA store close to you visit the IKEA Store Locater.
If there is no IKEA store in your vicinity, you may shop online. The instructions are here.
IKEA provides reasonably priced attractive furniture for someone who is just starting out. It gives you a chance to explore your preferences, because you may not be ready to invest in something of outstanding quality just yet. You do get what you pay for, so don't have unrealistic expectations.