Why You Shouldn’t Put Ikea Furniture in Your Mansion

Time for another Anonymous Design Question!

Can you please tell my friend why she shouldn’t put Ikea furniture in her mansion?

In my experience, there are a number of reasons people have an expensive house with inexpensive furniture. (Not all of them are good reasons.)

Reason # 1: House Poor

In other words, that expensive house has sucked the life out of their savings account…and chewed up all their ready cash. This happens more often than you might think, especially if the house is a custom-built house. Sometimes, it’s because the furniture budget was overlooked in the planning stage. Sometimes, it’s because expenses spiraled out of control. Either way, your friend is probably pretty frustrated about it and now isn’t really the right time to give her a hard time.

Reason # 2: Personal Money Bias

You know how your grandparents saved anything they might need someday, washed out bread bags so they could reuse them, and never EVER wasted food because they had been raised in the Great Depression? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about here. In that case, let’s talk about quality pieces that will stand the test of time versus cheap pieces that won’t (and will need to be replaced…repeatedly).

Reason # 3: Furniture Store Overwhelm

I know what you’re thinking here—Ikea is a huge store with tons and tons of stuff. True, but it’s familiar stuff. If your friend is used to shopping there, it’s comfortable for her. Trying to figure out where to go to find higher quality furniture can be a challenge. Plus, once you get there it can feel like you’re being stalked by the salesperson. Then, on top of that, there are a ton of decisions to make. Rolled arm, English arm, or track arm? Down, spring down, or foam cushions? What finish on the legs? Which fabric for the body and which fabrics for the pillows? Do you need extra pillows? Tight back, attached, semi-attached, or loose back cushions? Would you like to make the sofa deeper or longer or both? Your friend may just need someone to help her navigate these unfamiliar waters.

Reason # 4: Hackability

Some people like a challenge and, let’s face it, taking a plain Ikea piece and turning it into something creative and special can be fun. The key, though, is to make sure that the end result is at least equal in quality to your home. If you must let your friend know that her creations aren’t quite as amazing as she thinks they are, please, please, please don’t hurt her feelings. (Her personality will have a lot to do with how you should handle that. Tread with care.)

Reason # 5: Taste and Style

I hate to bring it up, but it’s also possible that YOUR bias is coming into play here. Ikea pieces aren’t bad just because they’re Ikea. If your friend has the talent to be able to figure out when to splurge and when to save (and she always ends up with a beautiful result), you might want to reevaluate your own feelings toward Ikea. Inexpensive doesn’t always mean cheap and tacky.

There you have it, my dear—the good, the bad, and the ugly reasons people use inexpensive furniture in their expensive homes. 

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  1. Mary Etta says:

    Well written article. I never looked at this way. Thanks Dixie.

  2. Jen Pollard says:

    I love the sensitivity you bring to the discussion! Great points!