We all know it.
The blue building. The yellow letters.
The Swedish meatballs.
Unbeatable pricing for modern design...
The place where your marriage might be tested and despite good pricing, your wallet always feels much lighter when you leave.
IKEA - the multinational, Swedish-based company with a floor plan ingeniously designed to force you to walk through every inch of the place, to look at things you probably don’t need, to get to the one thing you’re looking for.
IKEA was the first place my husband and I went when we got back from our honeymoon to get some basic furniture. We got pulled in by the pricing but one thing struck me - almost nothing is made from real wood. There are a few exceptions (which, by the way, are nearly all pine, which is the cheapest wood), but nearly everything is made from particle board.
Everyone knows that cheap furniture is made from particle board, which is basically sawdust, wood chips and shavings that are pressed and glued together to form a cohesive unit. IKEA (and other big furniture companies) slap on some pretty wood veneer and then lure their customers with that pretty outside. But wood veneer is super, super thin - we’re talking 1/8th of an inch thin- and is extremely prone to breakage. There’s a reason that once a piece of furniture is put together it is never coming apart, and it’s not just because IKEA has too many parts. It’s because the quality is so, so low.
I’m not trying to knock IKEA. I bought a plastic high chair for $20 that would otherwise have been over $100 at another store and I’m grateful for that. However, when it comes to real furniture - beds, bookcases, tables - I will never, ever shop at IKEA again.
Because unless you treat your house like a museum (you don’t have guests, or children, or pets) that furniture is basically garbage. It’s like throwing money out because you need to replace that furniture because it breaks so easily.
We have a 9 month old that just got his top teeth in and he is chewing on everything that he can get his mouth on. For such a small baby, his teeth are like razors. Do I really want to risk some particle board breaking off in his mouth? Never mind the damage that he’ll start to do once he’s walking, and then running, then pretending that he’s hulk and smashing everything in his reach (just FYI, I am referring to one of Daniel’s kids). I am no stranger to the havoc that kids can wreak. I have four brothers and I can’t even begin to tell you how many pieces of furniture they broke while we were growing up. There is only one thing that my brothers managed to not break, no matter how hard they tried: their bunk beds.
My mom invested in some old-school, hardwood beds after the third boy came along. We’re talking sturdy, strong, dark-stained oak secured by bolts. The kinds of beds you see in log cabins. And after over 15 years of boys jumping off the top bunk, pretending that they’re pirates, countless “pillow” fights, sleepovers, and acting like monkeys - those bunk beds are no weaker than they were when my mom bought them. And that’s the difference between buying quality furniture - furniture made from real wood, made by people instead of machines - and buying mass-produced, cheap, throw-away furniture.
Furniture is an investment. Buying furniture from places like IKEA is like buying some styrofoam plates instead of porcelain because it’s cheap. What it really is, is temporary. And over the years as you replace those pieces of furniture over and over again, you could have just spent the money in the first place on something beautiful, solid and permanent that has stood the test of time. That’s one reason to love reclaimed wood - it’s been standing around for a couple hundred years and has already proven that it can last even if you try to damage it. When you buy furniture that is handcrafted, made from solid wood, whether it’s oak or ash or walnut, not only is it more beautiful, it’s build to last. It isn’t made in a factory by machines - it’s made by real people, by craftsmen, who pay attention to detail and put their hearts into what they make.
As my husband started to make more furniture for the house, the more I noticed the difference in quality. All of our IKEA furniture retired within the first year of our marriage (RIP). But the furniture my husband has built us - tables, chairs, coffee tables, our son’s crib - has already survived a move, literally hundreds of guests, multiple parties AND our friends’ toddlers. Our furniture has already taken a beating and looks like we just got it yesterday, because it’s all handmade and there’s no question about the quality of the materials and the build. It makes our home a home and not just a temporary place that we’re living until we can afford to buy a house, because they’re permanent fixtures that we can pass down to our kids when the time comes.