Ikea and the Boxy Colonial

This week I got together with those five other bloggers up there to do a whole house full of all Ikea mood boards. (You can see all the mood boards here).

Today we’re continuing our Ikea-splosion by each doing a more general post about using Ikea in your house. Because, generally speaking, you don’t really fill a room ENTIRELY with Ikea stuff. So I’m going to ramble a bit about how I’ve used Ikea in my actual, real life house. (these posts/mood boards are, btw, entirely unaffiliated with Ikea–no perks or payment or even encouraging pats on the head were given to us in exchange for doing them).

(Incidentally, you kids who have just recently started decorating houses don’t know how lucky you have it. When we bought our first house in Boston, back in 1999, the closest Ikea was in Newark. We’d make the trek there occasionally when we visited Dave’s parents who, at that time, lived in New Jersey. Sometimes blogging makes me feel old. Kids today! In my day, we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways drive to Newark to get to Ikea

I don’t think of myself as having a particularly Ikea-y aesthetic, comparatively speaking. I am definitely more into clean, modern lines than my former self was, but I still tend to like to put something old/vintage in every room, too. And of course my house is a really traditional style, so I feel like there’s probably a limit to how modern I can make it without hurting its feelings and making it think I want it to be something its not.

But, at the same time….Ikea is awesome. And sometimes the thing you really, really need, no matter what your house’s style, is the thing they have at Ikea. I was surprised when I started going through the house in my head by just how much I’ve used. Way too much to talk about every single thing, but I thought I’d do a quick tour of the highlights anyway:

The Library:

The library is to the left off the foyer, so it’s pretty much the first thing people see when they come in. We get a lot of compliments on it, and I’d like to pretend that it’s because of my amazing design sense, but the truth is the Billy shelves are doing all the work here. We’d originally planned to frame the open shelves out for a built in look, but we got a little nervous at the last minute about our abilities there (particularly going around that corner), so we opted for buying the glass doors instead to give everything a finished look. So, while I think a lot of times the key to using Ikea is to tuck it seamlessly into a room full of things from other places, sometimes you just have to let your Billy shelves shout, “we are from Ikea! And we’re AMAZING!”

Abe’s Nursery:

The nursery, on the other hand, is a good example of where the Ikea stuff kind of recedes into the background and lets everything else steal the spotlight. I think the only Ikea accessory in here is a pillow that’s usually in that rocker (and the stuffed animals, if you want to count toys as accessories), but the crib, rocker, and all the frames are Ikea (as well as the curtains we used for the room divider). All the furniture in the room is either repurposed, second hand, or Ikea, which really kept the total cost of the nursery down. I’m not one to get all excited about a fancy, expensive crib…this one is perfectly attractive and works just fine. I’d much rather do my big furniture spending on things that are going to be used for more than a couple of years (or, you know, not do any big spending at all…when Craigslist is cooperating). The only things we had for this room when we started were the little bookcase and one of the dressers (both of which we refinished). I never did a super precise price breakdown in here, but I did add it up quickly in my head one time, and we spent a grand total of around $900 for absolutely everything…not bad considering we didn’t even start off with four whole walls.

Ari’s Room:

…and I’ll finish up with Ari’s room as a sort of middle ground between letting the Ikea fade into the background and having it hog the spotlight. Ikea products figure pretty prominently in this room, but they’re sprinkled in here and there with plenty of DIY projects and pieces from elsewhere. The bedding is Ikea, the lamp next to the bed, that Bing Bong print over the dresser, the chair cushions, and some of the frames.

Now hop on over to see what my fabulous collaborators have to say. I’m excited about this part. Truth be told, I had already seen the mood boards before they went live, but I have no idea what the meta Ikea posts are going to say. Surprises! I love surprises!

Amber at Wills Casa
Anu at Nalle’s House
Ainhoa at A Little Bite of Everything
Katja at Shift Ctrl Art
Kim at Newly Woodwards


Ikea and the Boxy Colonial — 21 Comments

  1. I love all those bookcases – whether they scream IKEA or not, I’m totally jealous. All that storage!

    And we are about 3 hours from our nearest IKEA. It’s probably for the best. I have a hard time not spending a load when I go there.

    • See, I would worry that being farther away would create a sense of urgency: “we should buy ALL THE THINGS! Who knows when we’ll make it back?!” I admire your restraint πŸ˜‰

    • It’s a tricky balance, isn’t it? BTW…I’ve been by your blog a few times (enjoying it!) but I don’t see how to leave a comment? Am I just missing it?

  2. Oh Gretchen!!! How cool is this!!!! All of your rooms evoke such an amazing feeling! You really have a gift friend! I have never seen photos of your library before!!! It is gorgeous!!! So stunning! Great work here you! I will hop over and check out the boards!

  3. I love your library! I think you’re so right about being careful to mix the style of the house with the decor you choose. It’s such a delicate balance sometimes. I am typically all over the place! πŸ˜‰ You look like you’re doing an amazing job!

  4. When Ikea came to Spain, they only had stores in Madrid at first I think, so when we went to visit my dad’s side of the family my mom and I would sneak in a trip to Ikea. A lot of people made the 4h drive to shop there, as well. Thankfully they opened one here though…

    I LOVE the library with that reading nook. E-books just aren’t the same as real books… I wish I had more space for books though.

  5. Great idea – I love your library. Ikea and me, that’s more a love / hate relationship. Looking through the new catalogue yesterday didn’t give me the giddy feeling that I usually get πŸ™

  6. I love your library too! So nice to have a space for all the books. I was surprised as well at how much Ikea has crept into our house when I stopped to think about it for this post.

  7. I loved all your mood boards! It’s fun to see, how much and how different things they actually have, to furnish a whole room! And IKEA is always the thing, for which I’m glad being in Europe – your next IKEA is far away? Poor you, I have two in my city and four or five more just one or two hours away πŸ˜‰

    I really likes your retro bathroom! Especially the cabinet – I fell in love with it the first time I saw it… I need a space for that some day!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

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