I recently received news from Swedish company Bemz about their new collection of loose fit slipcovers. Normally I would recommend a custom job, but these ones are specifically designed for Ikea furniture. What a brilliant idea! Bemz, which was started by a Canadian ex-pat in Stockholm, ships the covers to Canada for a $20 flat rate. The slipcovers are made from pre-washed Belgian linen and transform the modern square lines of many of Ikea’s sofas and chairs into a romantic, softer version. Bemz calls them “shabby-chic,” but I disagree. There is nothing shabby about these!
The covers got me thinking about how many Ikea pieces can be customized to fit in high-end (but not-necessarily high budget) interiors.
The Henriksdal chair (left) does come in a slipcovered version. This cover is a bit loose, though, which I think works better than a tight, tailored look, especially with the chunky wood table and crystal chandelier. And I love the look of the chair on the right skimming the white painted wood floor.
A signature of Ikea’s smart designs is that they are so widely used and versatile, inspiring many different takes and modifications. (Do you remember Space For Living? The show, which ran briefly on HGTV, followed Ikea products around the globe and showed how differently they were used in different cultures.) I love seeing well-designed spaces where you can’t pick out the Ikea furniture, like in Lee Caswell’s home, above. Mixed in with all of his stunning antiques is a painted black Ikea bookcase, mounted high on the wall with a skirt along the bottom to conceal storage space underneath.
And his elegant dressing room with symmetrical columns — made from salvaged streetlight posts from Kingston — has a stunning wood armoire flanked by, you guessed it, Ikea mirrored cabinets. Adding trim along the top makes the entire configuration look like one custom built-in.
This is artist Oorbee Roy’s closet area. She also used two Ikea wardrobes to create a nook for a vintage teak dresser, resulting in a modern, built-in look.
And Montreal architects Natalie Dionne and Martin Laneuville (who trained as an architect but works in film) chose an Ikea indoor/outdoor table for their dining room. Mixed with industrial lighting built from scrap materials and an iron staircase, it looks refined, not university-dorm-limited-budget.
There are countless other great examples of designers thinking out of the box, especially when it comes to using Ikea pieces. There are also some pretty wacky ones! Google search “Ikea hacker” you will come across many! I’ll leave you with an interesting example — a dress constructed out of the notoriously indestructible blue bag. It’s cool, but I’m not sure I would call it couture!
For more inspiration, see all of the House & Home photos that feature Ikea pieces.Photo credits: 1-2. Bemz
3-4. From House & Home October 2007 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
5. From House & Home January 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
6. From House & Home February 2008 issue, photography by Angus McRitchie
7. From House & Home February 2009 issue, photography by Angus McRitchie
8. Trendhunter magazine