IKEA is probably the most recognized furniture brand in the world. It has become a staple during this period of life as it makes affordable furniture and home furnishing choices that are especially favored by those just starting out on their own. Its products also provide the opportunity to be creative.
You can buy unfinished furniture, or even mix and match parts to create unique, customized pieces. In fact, IKEA is so popular that an entire industry has developed around DIY hacks of its products in an effort to help people give a fresh spin to their interiors. Here are some of them!
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Luke Arthur Wells, an interior stylist and blogger in the UK, thinks IKEA is still unmatched in not only producing quality products at an affordable price but also products that have a design point of view that feels authentic. "I love that they are passionate about sustainability, have a strong ethos as a company, and innovate to work with new techniques, materials, and designers to make sure their designs are leading the pack," Luke told Bored Panda.
Kimberly Duran, the creator of Swoon Worthy, a blog that covers everything from accessible design ideas and DIYs to styling tips, splurges and the latest trends, has visited IKEA's headquarters in Sweden. "Not only are they committed to reducing their eco-footprint and supporting so many different initiatives but because they are able to produce such huge volumes of their products for a global market, they are able to manufacture good quality pieces that are also affordable for a lot of people," Duran said.
"And I think this is really one of the main reasons people love it — good quality, good prices," Duran continued. "They also do an incredible amount of research in terms of what people's needs are, from multiple generations living under one roof and small space living to creating multifunctional furniture and pieces that can be customized. So it's not just trendy attractive furniture and accessories, it actually meets people's needs for the way we live today."
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Having said that, Wells said the problem with a globally beloved brand is that everyone recognizes their products. "In the modern world, especially with everyone sharing their homes on social media, you want to try and create a unique style which can be hard when IKEA is hardly a well-kept secret."
And he definitely has a point. With 433 stores in 53 countries and 2019 global retail sales of about $48.5 billion, almost everyone has an IKEA story.
However, according to Wells, the streamlined nature of IKEA designs makes it ripe for customizing to add more detail. "Also, when furniture comes flatpack, you feel a bit more connected to how it's constructed, which allows for a bit more confidence in disrupting that, taking pieces apart and putting them back together again," he explained.
Stacey Sheppard, the editor of The Design Sheppard, is also a fan of IKEA. In fact, she has been since her university days. "My first few homes were largely kitted out with IKEA pieces and it is still one of my favorite places to shop for everyday items," Stacey said.
She pointed out the fact that many IKEA furniture pieces come with a natural finish which makes them easy to paint. "The way they are constructed makes each item easy to take to pieces and reconstruct. Plus, there is an increasing number of companies out there that make hacking IKEA pieces a lot easier by offering bespoke or custom-made additions like handles, legs, sofa covers or cupboard doors. This allows you to create a unique piece that looks much higher-end than it actually is."
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Customers know what they're going to get when they shop at IKEA and also whether they're going to be able to afford it. Interestingly, price is so important to the company's strategy that it first decides on the price of a piece of furniture and then reverse engineers the construction.
IKEA has a democratic design approach according to Antonella Pucarelli, the chief commercial officer of IKEA retail U.S., which means that it "deliver[s] form, function and quality products at a low price. Even though our products are affordable, we don't compromise on quality," she said.
IKEA makes some of its furniture from wood and some from particleboard (recycled wood chips fused together), keeping production more affordable. IKEA sells and ships its furniture in flat-packs, which makes transporting it cheaper, and customers put it together themselves (or pay for someone to do it for them), keeping labor costs down.