What's nice about the catalog is that they often use natural light and people going about their daily lives in the pictures. The rooms look lived in but, strangely, not at all like my house. But this attention to detail- kids' drawings on the walls, pets and the odd towel draping off the tub- is very ingenious as you project yourself into the image. But you can't fool me. These people are still super clean. Super organized. Probably Swedish.
I have already evoked my love of the Swedish furniture style. Oh so many times: like here and here. Since I came to Europe, where there are stores closer to me, I've become a fan. And a loyal customer. I honestly should buy some stock in the company. But no matter how much Ikea furniture or how many storage bins I buy, somehow, my house never quite ends up looking like the pictures in their catalog. I've got a few theories as to why that is. But let me show you the proof, first. I don't think I need to point out which pictures are mine and which are from the catalog (but I will anyway for clarity's sake).
Here is a typically cozy room they have portrayed in the catalog. I think it is exactly the kind of room I'd like to die in. And I'm not being morbid when I say that. It just looks so relaxing and homey and that much closer to heaven. Look at that mix of light colors with a patchwork of fabrics that have been chosen "just so". And all those plants and the natural lighting. They had me at "daybed".
In reality my living room is like this.
You will notice the Ikea table set with some Ikea chairs. Ikea coffee table and Ikea Pong chair covered by laundry that is drying. Two Ikea lampshades are in this picture. I actually like my living room. Especially the southern exposure. I'd call it eclectic. As in, a total mismatch of styles and fabrics that was rather unintentional. But I know in my heart of hearts it will never be picture perfect clean. Or organized. Just get a load of this bookshelf...
shelf I bought that was supposed to solve all my living room organizational problems about a year ago. It has mostly become a place for all our overflow junk and especially Juliette's mountain of drawings and books and crayons and markers. And believe me, this does not represent all of her books. Yes, mom, those are indeed the two license plates I still haven't put in the frame yet.
Meanwhile, in Ikealand, bookshelves look more like this...
Right! That's what normal folks do with their shelves. Normal folks being those who have no kids, pets, messy husbands, or jobs, for that matter. I bet they haven't even read all those books. (Yes, I know no one actually lives there, but I can imagine.)
Right off my living room there is the kitchen. It's a galley kitchen that is so tiny that if more than one person is in there, I start to go insane. Seriously. If one of us is doing vegetable prep, it's nearly impossible for anyone else to enter and get something from the fridge or a cabinet without endangering the other. I'm only slightly exaggerating.
You will notice the Ikea wood cabinets and drawer system. And the de facto recycling corner on the floor.
But one day, if I get totally rich, this is the kitchen I'd like to have. Minus the brick floor. That looks like a bugger to clean. Everything has its place! I doubt anyone has a near-miss with a knife in this kitchen. I'd just add a bigger backsplash of tiles behind that stovetop.
While we're in the kitchen, this is what Ikea thinks a fridge should look like. They've recently started selling the glass food storage boxes. When my friend Jessica asked me the other day if I wanted her to pick some up for me, I was so tempted. It doesn't take much to tempt me to get something from Ikea, even by proxy. But my mom and sis helped me get some of my own for Christmas. Way better for reheating in the microwave. And stackable. But my fridge will never look like theirs.
It's frankly a work of art! Now for my fridge...
In our tiny kitchen, we could only get a half-size fridge anyway. And it could use a makeover. Yes, mom, I should have put that ham in a plastic bag.
Since I've shown you my fridge, I might as well show you my medicine cabinet.
But if I were Swedish, mine would like more like this...
Barely filled but sporting a few animal figurines. That's where I like to store my toy giraffes. And a cute dollhouse version of a bathroom on the middle shelf.
Speaking of shelving, the photo layout team at Ikea seems to be a bit spartan. Check out this unit. Totally underutilized space. There is one cube that has nothing in it.
Mine, on the other hand, is the natural wood model and very well-filled.
Every nook and cranny, people! It's great for shoe storage. Juliette just chooses her shoes and goes in the morning. Normally her backpack goes on the top left unit but she was at school when I took this.
Juliette has an Ikea armoire in her bedroom that my dad helped put together when she was under one. Back then it was very sparsely filled. But, boy, has that changed. I do need to sort through and give away the small sizes.
But at Ikea they think a closet could possibly look like this!
Once again underutilized space. No wonder they need three pieces of furniture in this next picture if they only use half of the storage space each time.
And since I have too much stuff I haven't sorted through, I definitely need to use the underbed space to the max. Here's what I have under there...
But I don't know who designed this absolutely cutesy underbed arrangement.
Ditto for the adorable child's room they have suggested in the catalog.
I like that "faux" messy look they have with some coloring on the floor. And all the paints and colors arranged in harmony.
Whereas my child has too many Happy Meal toys trailing around and art from school that I don't know what to do with.
All I can say is, yeeecckkkk. I should probably just throw some of those cheaper plastic toys out while she's not here.
So now the secret's out. I'm a bit of a slob. Or I have too much stuff. I'm not quite a hoarder but I do find it hard to throw things out. But the main difference between a catalog and real life, of course, is that my house is lived in. It's not a showroom. Showrooms are fun to visit, and as homey as the Ikea folks make them feel and look, it's still not real life.
Some folks I've met say they like to keep their house super clean in case friends drop by. I say, if my friends are gonna judge me for a bit of dust in the corner or Juliette's books being scattered about, I need new friends. And if I can make just one reader out there feel better about their messy house, then my job is done here!
So, in the end, Ikea has helped me get a little organized and outfit my house with affordable warm wooden furniture. But I don't only buy things from their store and have my own style as well.
What is your favorite furniture style? Are you a neatfreak? What's your secret to home organizing? Can I hire you to come to my place?