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.


from boring to brilliant: white faux fruit

After recently purchasing the most beautiful glass top coffee table from CB2 I flew into a home decorating frenzy to try and figure out how to arrange a modern, visually pleasing table top. The table serves as one of the primary focal points of our living room so I wanted to make sure it looked nice and finished without being cluttered.

I settled on several gorgeous coffee table books to anchor the left side of the table: Alvar Aalto by Louna LahtiTime and Tide: Photographs from Praia Piquina by Christian Chaize;The Portable Magritte by Robert Hughes; and Fika by Carl Kleiner (this IKEA cookbook features food styling and photography at its best and most creative; sadly out of print but you can scour eBay if you’re desperate for one like me).

From left: Time and Tide: Photographs from Praia Piquina; Alvar Aalto; Fika. Photos: Amazon; Amazon; Pinterest.

Set to be the most central item in the table top vignette was a gorgeous 14-inch stainless Aalto bowl from Iittala which we were fortunate enough to receive from our wedding registry.

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Stainless Aalto bowl from Iittala (and Olive). Photo: Amateur at Work

It’s hard to do the bowl justice with a photograph ― especially one taken by my terrible phone ― but it truly looks like a piece of art. I’ve been tempted to leave it empty but it looks a bit stark without something in the large vessel.

After a few days of mulling over options and looking online for ideas I came to the conclusion that I wanted to fill the bowl with fruit, but only in terms of shape. By using white spray paint to cover a cheap but attractive set of artificial apples, I could enjoy the apples’ shape without adding red or green color elements to our living room.

I found an example similar to what I wanted to do on Martha Stewart Weddings to show you how great white faux fruit can look!

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Photo: Martha Stewart Weddings

With a little patience (not much) and just an hour or two of your weekend you can turn a simple DIY project into modern, unique home decor.


― artificial apples (I used these [$15] from Amazon. Make sure you pay attention to the size of each apple when shopping.)
― spray paint (I used two cans of Krylon Bright White Satin Touch spray paint ― $4 each ― for my project, but you can get creative and use any color or finish you like)
― muffin pan(s) filled with cupcake liners (Very important, helps the apples dry properly)
― newspaper or tarp (You’re going to want to do this outside so make sure you cover the ground to contain your mess)
― disposable gloves (Same premise as above)


Start by inspecting your artificial apples and identify any gouges or rough areas. You might still be able to display these apples as long as their imperfections are facing downward.


Spread out the newspaper to cover your outdoor area: driveway, patio, whatever you have to work with. If you are planning to do it close to your home or apartment, make sure there is no wind as it can misdirect the paint and cause unsightly problems.


Put on your gloves and shake your spray paint as directed on the can (this is important).


Hold your artificial apples by the bottom and spray only the top 2/3 of the apple. Set down the freshly sprayed apple so that the unpainted portion is touching the paper liner.

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Repeat this step with all of the apples and wait at least 10 minutes for them to dry (more like 15 to 20 if you’re like me and are terrified of smudging the paint).


Now that the tops of the apples are dry, hold the apples painted-side-down and spray paint the bottom portion of the apple. Make sure to get good coverage between the top and bottom. Place the apples in the liners so that the freshly painted portion is facing upwards and the dry portion is touching the liner.

STEP 6 (optional)

If you didn’t get full opaque coverage with the first application of spray paint, repeat Step 4 and Step 5.


Let the paint dry for quite a while. I’m talking several hours or even overnight if you’re as cautious as I am.


Double-check that the paint is completely dry and place the beautifully painted fruit wherever you like.

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