A little place called Ikea

I have to start by saying…”HOLY CRAP! HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN TO IKEA BEFORE NOW!?”

Okay, now that that’s out of my system…I am truly astounded at my level of restraint while trekking the winding aisles of our closest Ikea (in Woodbridge, VA). We are about halfway between the Ikea in northern Virginia and the one in Charlotte, North Carolina, but decided on the one in-state since it was about 20 miles closer. In retrospect, I see why a lot of people in our area decide to add on the 20 miles and go to the one in NC instead. It was c-r-o-w-d-e-d in Woodbridge.

While we shopped, I was so focused on looking at every square inch that I didn’t really notice the crush of people. But the involuntary sigh of relief when we finally made it back to the car with our purchases and subsequent relaxation of muscles I didn’t even realize were tense, made me realize just how rushed and pushed I felt amongst the crowd. We are staying the night in Charlotte before flying out for our honeymoon in April, so I think we will check out the less-crowded Ikea experience while in town.

Unfortunately, I was a bit distracted during our first Ikea experience and didn’t take a single photo in the store. But I did manage to snap a shot of our pile o’ purchases at 7 p.m. when we got back in town. Since that fateful Saturday, I have spent every available moment infusing our home with Ikea-ness. Here’s a quick play-by-play of the things I’ve managed to hang, lay, fill and hem.

1. Tall, thin mesh wire shelving unit: Sorry…I don’t know all of the official Swedish Ikea lingo. This piece has not been put together yet as we are waiting for a certain space to get a partial overhaul (::ahem::studio::ahem::), but you know I’ll be spilling the beans once we get to that. P.S. This fabulous shelving unit (to be unveiled in full later on) was only $14.99 – Blown.Away.

2. HUGE Ribba frame: I was pretty darn excited to get to the framing section. I am constantly seeing Ribba frames pop up in design blogs, so much so that even before my maiden voyage to Ikea the word “Ribba frame” was part of my normal vocabulary. Now I see why. This massive frame (don’t know the dimensions off the top of my head but it’s higher than my hip bone when I stand it up next to me) was only $24.99 – I’m pretty sure something like this, with its natural wood finish, would cost at least twice as much at a place like Target or Michael’s. I haven’t filled it yet, but I think that it’s going to be home to part 2 of an art project I attempted in our living room several months ago. To be continued…

3. Gray and white patterned rug: This little lady is nearly 5 ft. x 8 ft. and was only $20 – John actually bought this for me for our anniversary (Thanks, babe!). We decided to lay it beneath our dining room table despite a bit of hesitation on my part in regards to putting a nice rug under the table where we eat every day. But honestly, at $20 who really cares if our spaghetti dinner gets spilled on it? Plus we’ve got our newly organized arsenal of cleaning products within easy reach – I think it’ll survive…It adds so much warmth to the space and is super cozy to nestle bare toes into while eating breakfast in the morning.

This calls for a side-by-side comparison “Before and After” shot – See how much more oomph it gives the space?

4. Metal rod and hooks for kitchen utensils: After seeing just how awesome these systems work in my friend, Bonnie’s house (as seen in this house tour of yore) I couldn’t wait to snag some for our house. We don’t really have much wall space in our kitchen, but I figured we could fit one of the rods under the cabinet by the stove. It worked out really well and I was excited to clear up just a little more cabinet space. As you’ll soon see, it looks like we should have picked up another 5-pack of the hooks, but it’s on my list of things to grab in NC before our honeymoon.

5. Two plastic containers: Everyone could use a couple of these in their kitchen. We used ours for cereal but they would also be great for pasta, pretzels, chips, even things like flour or sugar. In fact, I think I might pick up another armload on our next trip.

6. Two more Ribba frames: My other two Ribba frame purchases were of the smaller, white finish variety. This purchase was inspired by the image below of a white frame with a graphic phrase in it:

(source information for photo is at the bottom of this post)

To make my own version, I simply typed up a little happy phrase in Word and printed it out in yellow ink. I filled my first Ribba frame with the print and plan on hanging it in our soon-to-be-revamped studio. The second Ribba frame hasn’t gotten filled yet – I’m waiting on a little more inspiration to hit me, but you’ll hear alllllllll about that when I do.

7. Scarf organizer: This was a quick impulse purchase, but I’m glad that I did. It’s handy for storing my scarves, but it could also be used as an Advent calendar (as seen here), or for organizing thin tank tops. Heck, you could even dry your socks on it! I have seen a version of this on Pinterest made using a hanger, some ribbon and plastic shower curtain hooks, but I doubt that I could have made a DIYed version for less than the Ikea one, which cost only $7.99.

8. Curtains: These gorgeous, super heavy and modern grommet-topped curtains are my favorite purchase of the day – I cringe to think back on how I actually walked away from them initially. As a first-time customer, I was really thrown off that all of the curtains were 98 inches long – Way too long for our windows. So I sadly pushed our cart away…But twenty minutes later, as we were heading through the self-serve furniture section on our way to the cash registers, I stopped and said I was going back in. John ended up staying behind because, in his words, turning around and going back in was like going against the flow – A big Ikea-one-way-aisle “no no.” But I was determined. So I raced back to where I thought they were and ended up twisting down a few extra aisles until I found them again. Angels sang. At $35.99 for two panels, I knew I couldn’t pass up the deal. And miracle of all miracles, I managed to find my way back to John and the cart with curtains in hand.

Apparently, all Ikea curtains are made in lengthy lengths and customers are instructed to use the hem tape (included) to customize the panels for their windows. SO COOL. I have since done my little nip/tuck on the curtains and proceeded to hang them in our living room – They have brought so much added light and style to the room that I didn’t even realize it needed.

It’s hard to see the subtle pattern in the above photos with all of that bleachy light streaming in, so maybe these detail shots will help. I am loving the retro vibe of the lines.

Oh, and want to see what they looked like before? I am going to take you WAYYYYY back to when we still had John’s bachelor-days couch upstairs…These photos were taken in the evening so there’s not nearly as much light to contend with, but take my word that these drab, tabbed, tan curtains weren’t doing anything for the space whether there was light behind them or not.

And now today…ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 🙂

Yeah, this calls for another side-by-side comparison. The difference is awesome.

Welp, there you have it, folks! A 1,469 word rant about all the exciting things we picked up on our first trip to Ikea. I didn’t even get to tell you all about the icy road conditions, the 5 (yes, FIVE) falcons we saw on the highway perched in trees, the delicious and inexpensive lunch we had in the Ikea cafeteria, or the vintage Land Cruiser John insisted we stop and inspect on the drive home, but that’s okay. Maybe another time…

Please tell us about your happy (or maybe not-so-happy) experiences with Ikea! Is there a specific product you swear by? If you have an Ikea couch, how does it live up? After seeing the Ikea couches in person, we are slightly regretting not going with that in the first place during “Couch Decision 2011.” Oh well!

(Photo credit for Ikea logo: here; Office with graphic art: here)

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