Gotta Love IKEA

One more blog about love.  I guess I am just a sucker for Valentine's Day!

We love Ikea at the Ramos household.  If you visit our home, you will see lots of black ikea furniture.  Why IKEA?.... it's very simple.  Ikea designs attractive modern furniture that is very functional and is very affordable.  The biggest complaint about IKEA furniture would be the long term durability.  But hey man, that coffee table only cost you $39, did you expect it to last forever?  And who's to say that your taste won't change in 5-10 years? 

The problem with our IKEA love story is that it is a long distance relationship.  They say that long distance relationships don't work, but we've managed to keep IKEA in our life.  The closest 2 IKEA stores would be Charlotte (3 1/2 hours away) and Atlanta (5 hours away).  In our recent visit to Atlanta to visit our friends Scott and Jessica, we made a special trip to IKEA.  If you recall, Scott is the dude with the sweet modern reno that I documented in the Modern Details post.

When we made this trip, I had just started this blog website.  I wrote most of this post on my iPad while on our way home from Atlanta to Charleston.  So forgive me if it reads a little like a diary.  Here it is: 


Dear Diary, 

Today me and D went to IKEA.....

The first stop on the trip was a visit to the IKEA cafeteria for lunch.  I had never eaten at Ikea, but had heard of their mythical Ikea meatballs and decided today was the day to partake. There are all sorts of quirky things throughout Ikea. The first quirky thing that caught my eye was one of the items offered on the menu. IKEA offers a half-rack of baby back ribs and french fries for $7.99.......What?........Ribs being sold for lunch at a furniture store? Those Swedes know how to live!   And 7.99?....Dang, that's a deal.

The Rib Deal.  Sorry, bad picture.

Despite my intrigue over the rib deal, I stuck to my original plan and ordered the meatball combo and an iceberg wedge salad. I must say that the meatballs did not look nearly as appetizing as portrayed in the poster.  But despite the disappointing presentation, the meatballs were real tasty and I would highly recommend. 

The Ikea Dining Room

While we ate our lunch, I made a few observations of clever design ideas that were used in the IKEA cafeteria.

Suspended Ceiling

In the cafeteria and throughout the store, Ikea uses a lowered metal ceiling grid that is suspended from the concrete roof structure above. The ceiling grid looks to be at about 9' above the floor and there is at least 10' of space between the grid and the concrete structure above.

So why did they do that?

Well first, the grid provides screening for a bunch of utilities and junk above: ductwork, sprinkler piping, electrical conduit, etc. This interstitial space is often referred to as a ceiling plenum. Interstitial is a good archispeak word that describes the in-between space. Allowing for this extra space provides optimum flexibility in how IKEA uses the space. For example, they can always take the grid out in certain areas if they want to create a taller space.

In addition to the functional utility, the suspended grid provides an important aesthetic benefit. Although the grid is open and you can see above it, it effectively lowers the perceived height of the space.  In other words, it brings your eye down.

At 9', the grid is placed at a height similar to that of a house ceiling. Very interesting. A furniture store displaying furniture in a space that feels like a house.........Think about all of those big box style stores with warehouse sized ceilings.  The furniture on display at those stores with their 20' tall ceilings just doesn't feel like home does it?  Also, when dining it is much more comfortable and intimate to dine in a space that has a lower ceiling.

Also notice the pendant lights above the tables. They are very low. The lowered height of these lights creates another level of intimacy.  Makes you feel like you are in your own little bubble.  And the domed shape of the lights has an acoustic benefit.  That shape actually helps you hear the person you are sitting with.  Very clever!



Now it's time to shop.

After our delicious lunch it was time to get real.  The real purpose of this trip was not the meatballs.....Our real IKEA wish list included a bed, a wardrobe and a bathroom vanity and sink.


The bed

We were looking for a full size bed for one of our guest bedrooms. Currently when we have guests stay with us, we pull out an air mattress. It is kind of sad and another reminder that we are still poor youngsters.  So we figured it was time to upgrade.   You're welcome, future guests!  

And we specifically wanted one with drawers underneath.  Storage is so important and that space underneath the bed can become a wasteland for old shoes and all sorts of junk. Hopefully these drawers will be our storage savior! 

This one had what we wanted plus a cool headboard.  I'm not sure why I like it or what we would put on those shelves, but I want that headboard.  I mean I really want that headboard!

Sweet headboard.

This black one is very similar to our current bed except ours does not have drawers.  And no mega-headboard.

We decided that since the room was small, a white bed would be best.  It would help brighten the room and make it feel larger.  Plus this one had taller drawers.



The wardrobe

Our master bedroom only has one closet and it is your typical 2' deep closet. So Danielle keeps her clothes in our bedroom and I use the closet in the guest bedroom.  Which works, except it's a little awkward that most of my clothes are in a different bedroom.

The good thing is that the floor plan of our bedroom has a nook that would be perfect for a wardrobe.  I thought about actually building a closet in that nook, but think that a piece of furniture would allow for greater flexibility. 

Ikea has a ton of different wardrobes to select from.  They must be in high demand.  We zero'd in on this model.  The high-gloss white will really brighten up our room.  And it is super sleek and modern.  This is the wardrobe that we will all have in the future and it will store those silver one piece suits that everyone wears in future movies.

It also has boat-loads of storage.  IKEA is great at finding clever ways to store our junk.



Bathroom Vanity an Sink

The last thing on our list was a bathroom vanity and sink.  Currently our 2nd floor bathroom has a very small vanity and sink.  And the design is kind of drab.  We were looking at vanities that would offer some additional sink space and with an updated design.

The trend is definitely for the vanity to be up on legs like a piece of furniture.  Again I am drawn towards the high gloss white.  Easy to clean and will brighten the room.  My only concern is whether it will get scratched.

This was an interesting sink design.  At first I thought that the shape was pretty odd, but it actually makes a lot of sense.  You need the most surface space in the back corners, not the front.

If the vanity on legs is a big trend, the next hip thing is the cantilevered vanity.  This one gets screwed to the wall creating a floating look.  Pretty sharp except we don't have enough space for this one.

I think if we had this red vanity and those bright towels I would just start the day a happier fellow.  Danielle?

One More Quirky Thing

IKEA had one last quirky zinger for us before we left. Above the gazillion rows of check out lanes, there was a giant poster of a hot dog. Even more jarring than the gigantic hot dog image, was the $0.50 cent price tag listed for said hot dog. I repeat, dang that's a deal.  

IKEA clearly understands the importance of first impressions as well as ending on a high note. They get you with the Ribs on the way in and hit you with the hot dog deal on the way out.  

Thank you, IKEA!

So after all of that, we did not buy anything.  We realized that the wardrobe and bed were two big for our car.  And we were not ready to buy a vanity because we want to think more about renovating our entire bathroom.  But we now are comfortable with what we want and will return in the future to purchase.

And that's what it's like to shop for furniture with an architect.  Always planning!

But hey, at least I got some blog material out of it.  And some meatballs.

To be honest, i've had much more fun talking about the food at Ikea than the the architecture and furniture. Maybe I should change this to a food blog.

Food is cool?