IKEA is the first stop for many people after they move into a new home or when they’re renovating an old one. Even for pros who spend their days sourcing rare marble and priceless antiques, it’s hard to resist a good-looking bargain—which is why IKEA products have long been staples of designers everywhere.
Not everything at the big blue box is a winner—some stuff feels cheap and falls apart quickly. But there are seemingly endless options to fill up every room of your living space.
We have long taken advantage of IKEA’s wide range of offerings, from tableware to towels, and cabinets. We’ve refreshed our list of IKEA recommendations to bring you items we love most. Especially when you need something fast, or when your home has gone way over budget.
HAGGEBY AND SKETION CABINETRY
American Designer Stephen Sills is a fan of the retailer’s cabinetry collections. “The basic lacquered white Häggeby and Sektion [units] are perfect for a utility or laundry room,” he says. In his own home, he accessorizes them with a white stone top, white beadboard, and sturdier, more traditional hardware.
“They’re a great look and value when you style them correctly, he adds.” The cabinet cases and drawer slides are well made and hold up well.
Whether you’re organizing a walk-in wardrobe or storing office supplies, the Pax system is endlessly customizable. And looks great. Our daughter has used these in apartments from Vancouver to London and Sydney as a wardrobe.
There are many ways to organize the interior, and IKEA offers a range of compatible doors, handles, and lighting. So the Pax can suit whatever look you’re going for (as long as it’s relatively modern).
Eyeswoon’s Athena Calderone keeps coming back to IKEA’s Malm bed. “I have used it almost exclusively in both my homes in a variety of ways,” she says. The designer, author, and chef always customizes the beds to suit her aesthetic needs. “In the primary bedroom of my Amagansett home, I wanted to make a statement in bold opposition to the otherwise muted room, so I chose to paint the Malm bed a strong graphite gray,” says Calderone. “In the guest rooms of my beach home, and in the primary bedroom of my former Dumbo apartment, I made a choice to have the Malm bed completely disappear. By painting the bed frame in the exact color as the walls, the bed essentially fades away.
ELVARLI STORAGE SYSTEM
The modular system looks great, is incredibly sturdy and functional, and costs a fraction of what a professional “custom wardrobe” system would. We love that you can change the configuration as your needs evolve.
KALLAZ SHELF UNIT
These shelves are our absolute favourites for storing books, magazines, fabrics, samples, and much more. You can use the Kallax units, in several different sizes, the construction is solid enough to hold lots of heavy books without the shelves sagging.
We’ve noticed a lot of high-end designers using Kallax in their offices.
The new MÄVINN collection designed by Maria Vinka and Paulin Machado celebrates the artisanal craft and workmanship that goes into making unique accessories for the home. Choose from 20 carefully crafted items, made in Asia, including the best baskets, bags, and cushion covers.
Visitors constantly compliment our Ivar shelving. Unlike other systems, this one is not mounted, so it’s perfect for a temporary installation. You can configure a couple of two them to maximize the space.
Ivar’s options are nearly limitless.
If you’re looking to add storage while staying within budget, we highly recommend pieces from the Billy and Pax collections. They’re a great base for an inexpensive storage solution. With a little creativity and the right installer, they can be fitted to look built-in and provide excellent storage options in several different ways and finishes.
The mostly wool Stockholm rug stands out for its quality and size. It’s big enough to fit halfway under a bed, with plenty of rug left over for the rest of the room. It’s also softer than other budget wool rugs.
The Stockholm comes in 10 different colour patterns, but the black-and-white-striped one appears to be the most popular.
We’ve used Billy bookcases in multiple homes to make usable space out of very little. They’re great for serving different essential purposes, to adding storage while staying within budget. With a little creativity and the right installer, Billy can be fitted to look built-in and provide excellent storage options in several different ways and finishes. The addition of a glass door makes it look kitchen-appropriate while also allowing me to glimpse what was inside.
In bedrooms, we’ve lined up several Billy bookcases with height extenders, to create a bookcase that is often mistaken for built-ins. The units are simple enough to take on the feel of a room while enhancing it with sheer utility. Plus, these units are easy enough to build on your own, and there are few surprises once you have the finished product. What you see is what you get.
Considering their low price, it’s hard to find anything about them that warrants complaint.
PUDERVIVA DUVET COVERS WITH PILLOWCASES
We’ve tried some wickedly expensive European linen sheets and are constantly surprised by how much we like IKEA’s affordable, chic Puderviva duvet covers. We like its slight prickliness, and the elegant hues of dark grey or beige that could easily pass muster for the imported stuff. Plus, you’ll be less concerned about dogs or children playing on it.
IKEA’s Salviken towels, $15, are one of our favorite things. We love the waffle-weave exterior that reverses to a dense terry. It’s nice and thin, but very absorbent. And the binding includes an integrated loop that makes for easy hanging.
The towel is stylish, simple, and functional—what IKEA does best.
The Varmblixt lighting has caught our attention. We’ve long admired the work of Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis and are really taken with her recent Varmblixt collection for IKEA, particularly the dual-purpose wall and table lamp, which recalls Artemide’s cult “Nesso” lamp for Artemide but distills and reinterprets it for a new age. At under $70, it’s a true bargain.
FLISAT CHILDREN’S TABLE
You won’t go past IKEA’s Flisat children’s table for young folk. It’s an ergonomic place for budding artists to collaborate and a great space-saver with in-table craft storage.
HILDEGUN TEA TOWELS
Miles Redd sings the praises of IKEA’s tea towels. “My favorite IKEA item, and there are many I love, has to be their almost-free Tekla dish towels: good-quality white cotton with a simple red stripe about two inches from the hem,” says Redd. “It is a modern update of the 19th-century French dish towel. I even use them as napkins at my place on Fire Island.” While IKEA no longer sells Tekla towels, the two-striped Hildegun towel is a worthy successor.
TRÄDGRÄNSEN WALL DECORATIONS
Designed by Hanna Grann Dalrot, IKEA’s new wall decorations are tactile and organic objects. Just as beautiful on a wall as on a table – on their own or grouped en masse. Set of 2, stone beige, $29.
Hot off the press, comes this big, stylish 1.6l Vacuum flask, in off-white, that suits all styles.