best of IKEA: stark modern

While many people think modernist design revolves around über-expensive furniture, it really doesn’t have to. I’ve rounded up a number of beautiful options from IKEA that can help you achieve the stark modern decor you want without the exorbitant price tag.

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1. DOCKSTA Table ($199) – The DOCKSTA table is a godsend to anyone going for a high-end look but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg to achieve it. It’s a virtual replica of the iconic Saarinen dining table from Knoll, which costs more than 10 times as much as IKEA’s version. Its straightforward yet inventive design and clean white exterior make it ideal for attaining a modernist aesthetic.

2. KARLSTAD Sofa and chaise lounge ($849) – Structured yet simple, the KARLSTAD sofa and chaise lounge combination looks especially gorgeous in the woven Isunda gray cover. Not only does the mottled grey serve as a lovely neutral (as an alternative to black and white), but it’s just dark enough to hide some indiscretions.

3. EIVOR Throw ($19.99) – A perfect accent on any sofa or bed, the simple design of the EIVOR woven throw truly makes it a winner. Use this throw to unify a color scheme or place it against a bright sofa for a nice contrast.

4. FALSTER Reclining outdoor chair ($99) – As the best-looking outdoor lounge chair offered by IKEA, the FALSTER recliner is beautifully designed and constructed of lightweight aluminum. Although it’s not as cheap as you might be used to, this is a quality chair both in terms of design and durability.

5. BERNHARD Leather dining chair ($149) – Sleek and cushioned, the BERNHARD is one of IKEA’s most versatile dining chairs. The soft leather looks gorgeous in white and is far easier to clean than fabric. The shiny triangular legs only add to the chair’s already impeccable design.

6. SÄVERN Soap dispenser ($16.99) – As someone who has searched high and low for the best looking soap dispenser (at a reasonable price, of course), the SÄVERN is it. Incredible design, no drips, no rust, easy to clean – this dispenser has it all and would look absolutely perfect in a minimalist bathroom.

7. BAGGÖN Hanging umbrella ($69) – With its sleek steel construction and large white shade, this umbrella is one of IKEA’s best value items. A handy crank will open and close the umbrella and the entire piece is capable of folding up quite small. Place this beauty in your backyard to instantly upgrade your al fresco dining experience.

8. SILLERUP Rug ($119) – Timeless and graphic, this black and white low pile rug is an incredible value at just over $100. This piece would serve as a wonderful focal element in any living room, adding an exciting new dynamic to the space.


best of IKEA: under $50

Finding products under $50 is certainly no accomplishment when shopping at IKEA, the cheap-item superstore. Locating their best quality products under $50, on the other hand, isn’t as easy as you might think. I’ve narrowed down my list of legitimately great and IKEA-trip-worthy products with under $50 price tags (ranging from $12.99 to $49.99).

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1. OLUNDA Framed picture ($29.99) – If you’re in the market for something pretty to fill that awkward space on your wall, this OLUNDA framed picture is just what you need. It’s quite a steal at only $30 with it’s lovely ombré styling and raised presentation (it’s more like a shadow box than a matted print, making it my favorite piece of art IKEA offers).

2. HÄMTA Carafe ($12.99) – The HÄMTA carafe is probably the one IKEA item I utilize the most. I had been searching for a large carafe with a drip-free spout for a while and most options I found cost upwards of $50. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I discovered this beauty at only $13! I own two of these (I’m buying a third on my next IKEA trip) and couldn’t be happier with them. Use them for cocktails or wine at parties as they greatly improve table presentation. If you’re concerned about having trouble cleaning it, check out Reidel’s bottle cleaning beads ($12).

3. VITTSJÖ Coffee table ($49.99) – This is one of IKEA’s most versatile coffee tables and can’t be beaten for the price. It can easily be painted in any shade you like (I recommend gold or white) and the bottom shelf is removable if you’re going for a sleek, modern look. You can even place two next to each other if you have a large living space, although if that were the situation I would probably recommend the VITTSJÖ nesting tables (only $10 more and just as easy to customize).

4. MORUM Flatwoven rug ($39.99) – If you have an empty hallway in your home, nothing will make it look better than a nice runner. The MORUM flatwoven rug is the perfect size for any number of hallways and will match anything with its neutral color and simple weave pattern. Larger MORUM rugs can run you up to $139.

5, SLITBAR Chef’s knive ($49.99) – Can’t shell out for an expensive, brand-name knife? IKEA’s SLITBAR chef’s knife is the perfect solution. This reasonably-priced knife features a sharp steel blade and a beautiful wooden handle. It’s perfect for cutting through all sorts of things, even meat and difficult-to-chop root vegetables. Not only that, but it comes with a 25-year limited warranty and four other knives (bread knife, utility knife, paring knife and vegetable knife) are featured in the SLITBAR collection.

6. TÄRNÖ Bistro set ($49.99) – For an extremely affordable patio set, the TÄRNÖ collapsible table and chairs set is simply the best. With it’s easy construction (the table requires only two steps for assembly and the chairs are pre-assembled) and simple design, I really love this set for anyone needing cheap outdoor furniture.

7. TERJE Folding chair ($17.99) – I just love this folding chair. Whether you’re using it for temporary seating or not, the TERJE is a classic. If you’ve got a small living space and occasionally need extra chairs, this inexpensive chair (or a few of them) is exactly what you need.

8. BOSNÄS Footstool with storage ($14.99) – Want a cheap footstool? Yes. Would it be better if it featured storage? Double yes. The BOSNÄS footstool with storage has been such a perfect and exceptionally affordable solution to two of our crucial needs. Since its frame is made of steel and it has a cushioned top, you can even use this little guy for extra seating.

9. PS 2014 Duvet cover and pillowcases ($39.99 to $49.99) – I really love the patterns Margrethe Odgaard came up with for IKEA’s PS 2014 collection and I especially love the pattern on this duvet. It’s neutral enough to match a multitude of color schemes but also colorful enough to add a bit of interest to your bedroom.

10. GOSA HASSEL Foam pillow with cover ($19.99) – For a super comfy foam pillow (it’s not memory foam), the GOSA HASSEL is a steal at $20. With a washable cover included and temperature-sensitive foam filling, this affordable pillow is great for everyday or guest room use.

best of IKEA: casual modern decor

If you’re going for casual modern decor for your home and don’t want to break the bank, there’s no better place to start than IKEA. I’ve rounded up my 10 favorite pieces to decorate your home in a laid-back modern style, with pieces ranging from a $10 etched carafe to a $900 tufted leather sofa.

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1. SELJE Nightstand ($29.99) – The SELJE nightstand is shockingly cheap considering how incredibly functional and good-looking it is. With an opening in the back as well as another on the drawer front, this nightstand makes it super easy to charge your devices without unsightly cords. At only $30, the SELJE nightstand – also available in bright blue – is truly a steal for such an attractive and necessary piece of furniture.

2. STOCKHOLM Carafe ($9.99) – I’m just crazy about the STOCKHOLM carafe. The sleek glass carafe – made by skilled craftsmen – features delicate decoration around the middle which not only looks beautiful but also improves grip and helps prevent visible fingerprints. Use the carafe to improve your table presentation when serving your guests water, wine or cocktails.

3. TUVBRÄCKA Duvet cover and pillowcases ($19.99 to $39.99) – With it’s clean lines, black-and-white color scheme and hidden snaps, the TUVBRÄCKA duvet cover and pillowcase set is probably my favorite bedding option from IKEA.

4. MANDAL Bed frame with storage ($349 to $399) – The MANDAL bed frame, available in full and queen size, is perfect for a casual modern look with its birch wood exterior, white drawers and platform construction. For a bed that also includes storage, the MANDAL is an absolute steal with an under-$400 price tag.

5. NOLMYRA Easy chair ($39.99) – Considering it costs only $40, the modern NOLMYRA easy chair is a great seating option for those on a tight budget. The chair is extremely light and very comfy as it simply consists of a birch and steel frame with a soft mesh cover.

6. STOCKHOLM Table lamp ($119) – Although this lamp is rather expensive in comparison to IKEA’s other table lamps, the STOCKHOLM lamp is worth the money. With it’s clear etched glass base and contrasting shade, this 24″ lamp is a real stunner and would look great with just about any decor.

7. BLOMSTER Candle holders [(set of three) ($14.99) – The white BLOMSTER candle holder set adds a simple decorative touch to any room. The set, which also comes in clear glass, can be completed using the GLIMMA candles in metal cups ($5.99).

8. MELLTORP / REIDAR Table with four chairs ($261) – The MELLTORP table with REIDAR chairs is one of the best looking dining sets IKEA offers. The bright yellow chairs would add a lovely pop of color to any dining room or breakfast nook, especially against the stark white of the table. The chairs, which are made of aluminum, are also perfect for using outdoors.

9. KARLSTAD Tufted leather sofa ($899) with KARLSTAD Aluminum legs ($20) – For a leather sofa for under $1,000, it’s hard to beat IKEA’s white KARLSTAD tufted sofa (also available in black and dark brown). The leather, which is both soft and durable, looks amazing on the contemporary tufted cushions a la the classic Florence Knoll sofa.

10. MEJLBY Flatwoven rug ($79.99) – Featuring a simple yet modern blue and red striped pattern, the MEJLBY rug is ideal for bringing bold colors into any living space, especially if contrasted against white furniture (see the KARLSTAD white tufted leather sofa above).

10 best IKEA products for the money

As someone who spends far too much time looking at IKEA products online [and subsequently buying them at our Houston-area store], I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about in terms of which IKEA products are simply the best. For stylish and affordable modern home goods, there really is no place like IKEA. Whether it’s a stainless steel trash can or a mutli-functional daybed, I’ve got you covered with the absolute best IKEA has to offer.

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Photos: IKEA.

1. ÅFJÄRDEN Towel [$4.99 to $14.99] – As the best IKEA offers, the ÅFJÄRDEN towels are both remarkably attractive and affordable. The textured grid design gives them a uniquely modern feel and they are very absorbent and plush. Available in washcloths, hand towels, bath towels and bath sheets.

2. EIVOR Throw [$19.99] – The black-and-white striped EIVOR throw is both incredibly stylish and functional. Place this graphic beauty on your sofa or bed and transform your room with this bold woven throw.

3. BRIMNES Daybed frame with 2 drawers [$249.00] – The BRIMNES daybed frame with two drawers is probably the most useful piece of furniture ever created. Whether it’s serving as a twin bed, pulled out to make a king bed or just as seating, this thing is truly amazing. With two twin bed mattresses [two MOSHULT foam mattresses are only $158] on top, simply pull out the underframe and you’ve got yourself a king-sized bed. The daybed, also available in black, is perfect for guest rooms with limited space.

4. HOVET Mirror [$129.00] – For a 30 3/4″ x 77 1/8″ mirror [that is huge], you really can’t beat the HOVET. It’s white surround and impressive size make it ideal for use as decoration in a living room or bedroom. The piece comes with hardware so that it can be mounted, as well.

5. FICUS LYRATA Fiddle-leaf fig [$12.99] – This 32″ tall fiddle-leaf ficus is almost too good to believe. With a $12.99 price tag, I’d challenge you to find a better looking plant for less. It’s lush leaves and medium height make it great for bringing a bit of the outdoors to any room. Perfect for use as an indoor plant as long as it’s placed in a bright spot.

6. SÄVERN Trash basket [$24.99] – If you’re looking for a stylish, modern trash can for your bathroom, look no further. At $24.99, it’s IKEA’s most expensive small waste bin, but it’s worth every penny. With a flip-top design and sleek stainless steel construction, the SÄVERN trash basket is a real stunner.

7. RANARP Floor/reading lamp [$59.99] – The RANARP floor lamp is one of IKEA’s best-looking pieces. At only $59.99, it’s honestly a steal with it’s white and brass hardware and black-and-white cord cover.

8. KARDEMUMMA Plant pot [$1.49 to $19.99] – IKEA’s KARDEMUMMA plant pots are extremely versatile in addition to being quite stark and beautiful. Available in a number of different patterns and sizes, the simple white pots look great indoors and out. Perfect for using with FEJKA artificial plants if you want to add a touch of green to an interior room.

9. SODERHAMN Sofa and chaise lounge [$899.00] – The SODERHAMN sofa and chaise lounge combination in Isefall light turquoise is simply stunning. The modern, deep-seated design, soft color and chic metal legs truly make the SODERHAMN a winner. Major selling points: the removable, replaceable cover and the under-$1,000 price tag.

10. RIBBA Frame [$1.99 to $24.99] –RIBBA frames are perhaps the most useful items IKEA sells. Ranging from small desk photo frames to massive wall frames, you really can’t beat them for the price [a 27 ½” x 39 ¼” frame is only $24.99]. Not only that, but they come in several colors: white, black, aluminum, high-gloss gray and medium brown. Although the mats in the frames may not fit all print sizes, it’s far cheaper to buy or make a custom mat than buying a pre-matted frame.

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