Feb 5, 2015

3 things you can learn from an ikea showroom

sometimes when i make a run to ikea, i actually have time to enjoy a stroll through the showroom. i am always impressed, and yes, inspired by the layouts, lighting, and styling of their mock living spaces.
there are a few things that an ikea showroom does especially well...
they layer their lighting, take advantage of wall storage, and aren't afraid to use dark colors.

top #1:
layer your lighting:

when i was in college, getting my degree in interior design (a million years ago), i had to take a lighting class. quite honestly, that class was REALLY boring, and the professor who taught it was incredibly hard to follow. (as in...i think she might have been a little bit coo-koo.) amidst all of the calculations for lumens and foot-candles (UGH!), i learned two things that will stay with me forever. the first: if you feel you need to shield your eyes when you are in restaurant (or any space for that matter!) then the lighting is too harsh. the second: every room benefits from different layers of lighting.
ikea does this SO well.

in this area, they have overhead lighting, as well as lighting above the storage cabinets and bed,

the clip-on wall lights make this long storage piece pull double duty as a work area.

most every dining room have overhead lighting...ikea has also added another layer of lighting under the wall cabinet.

tip #2:
take advantage of wall storage:

a picture says a thousand words, right?
so take a look at these....

the showrooms in ikea are FULL of room vignettes where cabinets are mounted above beds, sitting areas, desk areas and even eating areas. every inch is used to maximize storage space, which also frees floor space, which is at a premium in small spaces.

tip #3:
don't be afraid to use dark colors on your walls:

i STILL get asked all the time..."but won't painting the walls dark make the room feel smaller?"
the answer is no. of course there are exceptions to this, but most of the time, using dark colors on the walls makes the walls recede visually, which tricks your eye into thing the space is bigger than it actually is.

i thought this particular vignette in ikea was well done. there are a lot of dark items in the space...not only are the walls dark but so are the sofas, rugs, dining chairs, and all of the large storage pieces. there are just enough light and reflective items to create balance.

once of the things i love most about interior design is that i am constantly learning and refining my idea of beauty. small details seen in a hotel bathroom or shopping mall or magazine can inspire anything from a color scheme to a furniture layout. don't you feel the same way...you enjoy seeing and reading things that make your mind work and perhaps challenge the way you see beauty? taste evolves. our idea of beauty evolves. and when we take risks, and stretch ourselves, we are often rewarded with a broader understanding of how to bring that beauty into our everyday lives.


  1. Very well said. Couldn't agree more about the lighting.

  2. great post! 'makes me want to take a trip to ikea :)

  3. I definitely, definitely feel the same way: the smallest picture, or ad, or saying can inspire and make me learn something so totally new. The design magazines that pile up around here (husband will never be used to that!) are there for a reason. It may take months for me to go through them a second time, really thoroughly; but it never fails to show me something new! I agree, design is always offering us ways to refine what and how we see.

  4. such a great post and examples. they really do know how to make small spaces look fabulous!

  5. Fun post. I will look at IKEA in a new light (literally ;)

  6. Time to head to IKEA! We're in the middle of our 3rd IKEA kitchen, actually. Half the time, I want dark living room walls, while the other half has me wanting light. We'll see just how courageous I am, come paint-choosing day! ;-)