Date with IKEA.

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If you live in Portland and haven’t been stuck in an Antique Mall in Sellwood, you’ve probably heard that IKEA has come to town. Having experienced IKEA locations across the country, I was thrilled that we wouldn’t have to drive 3 hours to Seattle for our Swedish fix. I’ve always respected IKEA, and our house has it’s fair share of furniture from the big blue store. We’ve used IKEA cabinets in three kitchen remodels (I’m intimately familiar with how to install them). But you know what? I think I’m over my infatuation with IKEA.

Don’t get me wrong… we will still shop there for lights, shelves, rugs, meatballs… plenty of things. I still really like IKEA, and there’s great stuff I can find there that I can’t find anywhere else. I think the problem is twofold: first, the mystique of IKEA is gone since it’s about 10 minutes from my house; and second, everyone has their furniture. When I had to drive 3 hours for the experience, my expectations were higher, I spent more time checking stuff out, and there was the hunter-gatherer aspect of trekking long distances and hauling back my kill. Now that it’s in my backyard, I can go anytime (and probably will). There’s no need to linger and get every ounce out of the experience each time I go. I can go for specific things, at specific times. It’s more like, well, shopping.

The second aspect is the fact that everyone will own something from IKEA. In our office we have the stereotypical IKEA sofa; you can see them anywhere someone wanted an inexpensive couch. Ours has been in several rooms in our house, and is now at the office. If you visit us, you may sit on it. And you’ve probably seen it somewhere else. I’m all for making good design that people can afford. I just don’t necessarily want to have it be so obvious to other people. I want to be unique. IKEA isn’t about unique, it’s about making lots of the same stuff inexpensively, so more people can own it.

All that being said, we had a nice time at the store.

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There were dragons on the ceiling.

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And we ended up purchasing these two kids. There was some kind of special going on…

All in all, IKEA didn’t disappoint, mainly because my expectations weren’t exceptionally high. For what it is, it’s great. I will probably go there more than I will care to admit. But for where I am in my buying cycles and life stage, it’s not going to be my main source of furniture shopping. As with any relationship, even relationships between people and brands, the relationship has to grow. The problem is, my tastes in furniture and interiors has outgrown the veneer-covered landscape that comprises most of IKEA’s products. Then again, my budget hasn’t matched my Design Within Reach taste. There’s got to be something in the middle… when does Room & Board open in Portland?

p.s. If someone can tell us what the song “Date with Ikea” is supposed to mean, you get a Substance t-shirt.*

* Contest valid in most states unless prohibited by law. Winner chosen by an esteemed panel of judges, from the most creative and relevant meanings submitted. Current Substance employees and their spouses, along with current Substance t-shirt owners, are not eligible for another t-shirt, but are encouraged to enter anyway. Please provide your email so we can contact you for your mailing address. Substance believes in you.

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