There apparently seems to be a love-hate relationship in the design community regarding Ikea products. We hear various stories about quality issues, difficulty in understanding the instructions, and the list goes on…Ironically, now more than ever, people are giving Ikea a second try. Is it because of its affordability or is it because of improvements made in product development. Who knows? What I do know is that there many examples of Ikea done right. Here are a few of my favorites…

LaKeitha of Home to Three Duncan Boys recently completed a awesome nautical-themed design for her son’s room. Among the wonderfully creative DIY projects she completed, such as the wood palette headboard in the above image, she also gave the IKEA Melodi pendant light an extreme makeover!

Brian Patrick Flynn of Decor Demon is ruthless when it comes to hacking Ikea products. He customized IKEA Billy Bookcases by painting the units the same color as the wall to give them a built in look. He then adding back the fun by painting the backing a punchy green.

In the above image, Brian demonstrated to his client how “budget” and splurge items can coexist in the same space. A pair of orange IKEA Karlstad swivel chairs (budget) are accented with pillows in the pricey David Hicks La Fiorentina fabric (splurge). You would never guess that the curtains are IKEA Ritva panels that have been lined, pleated, and trimmed in chocolate brown fabric all done by his seamstress!

Janell of Isabella and Max Rooms did a remarkable job of giving her son a big boy’s room to be proud of. The bedding, rug, desk, curtain panels, and overhead lighting were all sourced from Ikea. She offers a plethora of DIY projects including a redesign of the Melodi pendant as well as using Ikea fabric to cover a lampshade.

Sarah Richardson of Sarah Richardson Design is hands down one of the best televised Interior Designers out there. One of the many lessons she teaches to her viewers is that Ikea does have a place in great design. She was able to design and entire house, with dollars to spare, by sourcing Ikea products in the above office as well as in the kitchen below.

Sarah integrated both high and low products in this custom kitchen.  The cabinets, countertops, shelves, and dishes are all Ikea products. She had the cabinets professionally sprayed and varied the colors of the top and bottom cabinets for a custom look that can’t be beat!

Erika Ward of BluLabel Bungalow **please excuse the shameless plug** I completed a bedroom design for my two sons using furniture, window treatments, lighting, and a rug all designed by Ikea.  I saved even more money by purchasing the beds on Craigslist!

Hopefully this post has done a little to help revive Ikea’s lukewarm reputation in the design world…and I should probably add that this post is not sponsored by Ikea.

Where else have you seen Ikea done right? Do you have any Ikea products in your home?

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About Erika Ward

Multi-passionate entrepreneur, spokesperson, speaker, and philanthropist, Erika Hollinshead Ward worked in the design-build industry as an accountant before turning her passion for interior design into a successful business. Named by Atlanta Tribune as having one of the top design firms for two consecutive years, Erika is a highly sought after expert whose work has appeared in several media outlets such as House Beautiful Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, Fox 5 (Atlanta Affiliate), Huffington Post, HGTV.com and many others. Her influential voice in the home improvement sector has lead to marketing collaborations with leading home and lifestyle brands including Home Depot, S.C. Johnson, and Home Decorators Collection. Erika holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Georgia and resides in Atlanta with her husband and five children. With her sharp business acumen and design prowess, you can rest assured that she is one to watch as a voice for working mothers, women entrepreneurs, and interior design enthusiasts.

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45 Responses to “IKEA DONE RIGHT”

  1. niki.mac Says:

    Great examples!! IKEA really is a fantastic source to basic customizable pieces. All you have to do is build upon the already great design!


  2. Kim@Chattafabulous Says:

    No ikea yet but I have a few pieces in mind I would love to try! Thanks for showing us how to do it right, Erika!


  3. niki.mac Says:

    Oh and a tip for IKEA furniture – add WOOD GLUE as you're building to make it sturdier 😉


  4. L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys Says:

    This is a GREAT POST, Erika! And I'm not just saying that because you included me;-)

    I love ikea and these are great examples on how with a good eye and concept, a great design can be done using Ikea products! And hey, the items are so inexpensive, that you can afford to "hack" them!

    Great post my friend!


  5. Sharon @ Real Estate Resuscitation Says:

    I've been on the fence about taking the time to drive to my closest Ikea store (2 hours away) to do some shopping. I think your post was the nudge I needed to plan a trip.


  6. Becky / ecomod Says:

    I agree w/ this whole post – it's definitely a double-edged sword.

    I especially agree w/ niki.mac in terms of building on the basics. I've been designing with their basic kitchen cabinets for years, finishing out with green countertops, & even doing custom cabinet door designs for the cabinets. The horiz. doors w/ brushed steel & glass inserts are our custom doors on Ikea cabinets.


  7. Jade @ Flip Flops + Pearls Design Says:

    Great post! You can't deny that IKEA has some great pieces for a great price. When you customize them to fit your decor, they pack a design punch!


  8. DesignTies Says:

    I think there are a few reasons why people are flocking to Ikea.

    One is what you've posted about — people are buying inexpensive pieces from Ikea and customizing them to suit their decor and their needs. Seeing what designers like Sarah R can do with an Ikea piece probably encourages people to give it a try themselves.

    I think the quality and selection of products have both improved, which is another draw.

    And Ikea's green philosophy is a definite draw for people who are environmentally conscious.

    I've done one small Ikea customization — we took a Lack shelving unit, turned it horizontal, and added legs to make it into an entertainment unit.



  9. Design Blahg Says:

    True confessions: I LOVE IKEA. And the examples above are exactly why. Yes, you can make a space look lame and uninspired by furnishing it from top to bottom with Ikea, but they really do have a lot of amazing, chic, functional choices! I looked for weeks at all sorts of wardrobe systems for our bedroom (including super duper high end solutions) and in the end we chose Pax (and its been great!). Similarly, I have a white lacquer ikea storage solution in our living room and everyone is always convinced its some shi shi Italian furniture lookalike…nope, Ikea! Finally, I've taken to buying all of our frames from Ikea and framing artwork myself. I have an Ikea framed piece hanging next to a piece I paid $575 for framing and you can NOT tell the difference. I love me some Ikea.


  10. Belly Says:

    Great post! My desk is IKEA, and nobody believes me. And their inexpensive LACK tables are excellent for so many uses.


  11. Will @ Bright.Bazaar Says:

    I think IKEA is great for certain products, especially lighting and affordable furnishings. I love their Knappa pendant!


  12. Renee@Modus Operandi Designs Says:

    GREAT examples of how something doesn't have to be expensive to look chic if it's used right! Fabulous post, Erika!


  13. LindsB Says:

    Oh Ikea, how I love you!


  14. Jacqui Says:

    Love this post, love Sarah Richardson and LOVE IKEA! :)


  15. casey at loft and cottage Says:

    Great post with some awesome ideas! I love Ikea for its price point but also simple clean designs that are a perfect blank slate for designer touches and customizing. Here's my own Ikea hack to their 14.99 wall lamp: http://loftandcottage.blogspot.com/2010/06/tuesday-tip-fabric-covered-shade.html


  16. Janell @ Isabella and Max Says:

    I was just thinking of Ikea the other day and how I need to do a review of how things are holding up in Max's bedroom. Very well, actually. Ikea certainly has its place…and thanks for the shout out!! Janell


  17. Sing Says:

    I ride hard for Ikea. I do think you have to be careful with some of the particle board furnishings, but hands down for affordable accessories, especially in funky fabrics and bold colors, you just can't beat it.



  18. Mrs. Chic Says:

    I think Ikea is a great source for affordable furnishing and accessories, we have a few Ikea items in our house: bookcases, and chairs. The trick is to mix and match from other sources so it look great in your home and not like an ikea showroom! Love the ideas above


  19. Mrs Modern Country Says:

    That's such a great post. Informativeand inspiring.
    Thank you!


  20. Heather Says:

    I just love what you did with your boy's room. Those colors are so modern and fresh. Wow!

    Now, I love the pictures, here…and am off to check out those orange swivel chairs…so cool.
    I want you to come to my house – great job!


  21. Erika at BluLabel Bungalow Says:

    you all are amazing! thanks for sharing your tips and recommendations for us all to see!

    thx heather for your sweet comment about my boys room 😉


  22. Erica @ Decorica Says:

    I love IKEA and have no problem with their products and would happily use them in any room. I own a leaner mirror and the malm dresser in white and both look and work great! Great post Erika, the images are beautiful.


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  24. P.S. I love this... Says:

    Love your boys' room! I hadn't been to Ikea in years. Now looking at it through fresh eyes and decor inspirations, I think a trip there is in order. Thanks for sharing.


  25. Kerrisdale Design Inc Says:

    a great post Erika! As you know, I've recently been getting won over too. I have few items from there….I try to be choosy and pick items that can blend with my decor and not scream "Ikea" as I'm not a fan of the Ikea look overall.

    Good prices aside, perhaps we've all just fallen prey to the draw of the cheap cinnamon buns???



  26. other-option Says:

    Great post – wish I lived near an Ikea!

    Your posts are always so aesthetically appealing and well-written – making your blog a joy to read.

    – Danielle


  27. Kiki Says:

    Well, you are right!! Ikea does have option that when paied well makes for a great combination. BTW, that was not a plug at all – I think it fit in perfectly with the theme of your blog!



  28. alison (semi-fab lane) Says:

    i love this post. it's good to see ikea items outside of the store in someone's stylish house.


  29. Hamptontoes Says:

    Ikea has some great pieces and these photos display how it can be chic, fabulous and affordable.


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  31. Maria Killam Says:

    Awesome post, I need to figure out if that red sideboard is actually IKEA. Hmmm . in white it could work in my house.


  32. teebarnes Says:

    Great post, Ikea has some great pieces. Looking to install the Billy bookcase in my apt. later this year.


  33. New York State of Mom Says:

    These were GREAT! I have a Billy bookcase but Brian just gave me a good idea about sprucing it up a bit! And again, that room you did is amazing


  34. Redesign Diva Says:

    Isabella hooked the lamps up, Sarah's room is red done right, and I cannot believe the stripes on the wall of your boys' room, BRAVO!

    I bought an Ikea piece and love it actually.

    My favorite place for "Ikea hacks" is Apartment therapy's Re-Nest

    Great post


  35. Marsha Sefcik Says:

    A great post. I love Ikea and your article proves that done right, it can look great. I own an Ektorp sofa and wrote a post about it this past June.


  36. theLENNOXX Says:

    Fantastic post as usual! I do love Ikea, it's smart, simple and affordable..


  37. Chic Chocolate Says:

    I've never seen IKEA look so cool! Usually when I browse, it's for accessories because I never "trusted" their furniture, but these photos definitely make me want to take a second look.


  38. Marcus Design Says:

    Lovely examples Erika! Sarah Richardson is one of my favorite designers and she really does know how to do Ikea right. She perfectly mixes more expensive pieces with Ikea pieces for a seamless look!


  39. Heather Says:

    happy friday. I just wanted to tell you I mentioned you here, http://goodteatoo.blogspot.com/
    as one of my favorite blogs….
    you know how much I love this blog –


  40. Karen Davis - Karen Davis Design Says:

    I totally agree Erika. Ikea has some great pieces that can be incorporated into designs when done right. My own home office has a mix of custom cabinetry made to match the Ikea ones I have. I love your blog!


  41. Hello Lover... Says:

    I really love when designers incorporate both high and low end items in their work – it makes great design feel so much more attainable. I have some ikea pieces in my home and really plan to start using them much more often for accessories.


  42. skeewee_3 Says:

    My favorite store, Nyla Simone Home, is located just across the street from an IKEA in Tempe, AZ. IKEA is a kitchen gadget addict's guilty pleasure. Every home should have some IKEA 'done right' in it. Thanks for pointing that out with so many great examples …


  43. Elli D. Says:

    Just like you mention in your post I was one of the people that were not very keen on buying in IKEA. In the past I was always unsatisfied with the quality. This year I gave IKEA another chance and I have to say that the quality standards improved a lot and even some of the designs of furniture looks are great.


  44. My House, My Garden Says:

    Oh, I love Ikea! I would not want an entire house in Ikea but my guest bedroom is to die for — all from Ikea. I am lucky enough to live 30 minutes from the Ikea in Houston. I love seeing all of the Ikea hackers ideas. It's an art form! :)


  45. suzq Says:

    We've used Pax system cabinets successfully in both our kitchen (for pot/pan and food storage) and in our bedroom for linen storage. With custom handles, they blend right in to the rest of the cabinetry. They were both meant to be temporary solutions, but always garner compliments when folks come over.


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