The best Ikea products used to be a mystery to me. The first time I ever went to Ikea, aged 24 and having just moved to the city, I went with the intention of buying a draining rack. But, of course, following the winding road through the store, I filled my cart with tea lights and cutlery sets and assorted decorative bottles. At the check out, faced with being about to hand over almost a week's wages on - essentially - nothing, I abandoned the lot and left empty handed and overwhelmed.
I've since learned many things. First, I'm more sure in my own taste and style, in what actually works in a house and what impulse purchases are not worth your time. Secondly, I've become more comfortable in navigating Ikea - 20 years living in a city will harden you so that you can even walk past the fairy lights unmoved. And thirdly, I've become so impressed with the proliferation of Ikea hacks that have taken over our site and the creative portion of the internet as a whole that I can easier see the potential in some of the brand's stalwart classic pieces.
The 10 best Ikea products
1. Buskbo armchair
Buskbo armchair | from $149 without the cushion, Ikea (opens in new tab)
The interior designer Tamsin Johnson told me that rattan is a great leveller - it brings more formal rooms down a notch and makes entire spaces feel more comfortable. And this chair is really comfortable.
2. Sharonfrukt plant holder
Sharonfrukt plant holder | $7.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
We've been scalloped edges a lot lately - not least in the latest lighting trends (opens in new tab) - and this plant pot is just the right shade of smart olive green to add a little decorative flair.
3. Vonsbak rug
Vonsbak rug | $69.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
Continuing the green theme, and what I love about this rug is how artfully faded it is. It looks like it exudes grandeur, like you could use it in any of your designer IKEA hacks (opens in new tab) to create the sort of literati vibe that speaks of learned bohemianism.
4. Strimmig mug
Strimmig mug | $2.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
We talk a lot in our Ikea kitchen hacks (opens in new tab) about how handles or paint colors or panels can change how a kitchen feels. But I think the same can be said for some artfully chosen mugs - anything tactile, that feels warming to hold and looks like it was made by a maker. Like this Strimmig mug, which also comes in a more neutral grey.
5. Hemnes drawers
Hemnes drawers | $279, Ikea (opens in new tab)
I'm including this here not for the piece itself - sorry, but it's so much more functional than it is chic - but for how wonderful it can be when dressed up well. As Ikea dresser hacks (opens in new tab) show, this has the potential to go from an ugly duckling to, well, a stunning piece of furniture.
6. Solklint lamp
Solklint lamp | $19.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
Now, I'm a fan of decorative lighting and feel like no Ikea desk hacks (opens in new tab) are complete without a little lightbulb moment. And how debonair is this lamp? Hitting all the trends for gold and smoked glass and general dinkiness, at that price, you can - quite possibly - take three.
7. Svampmal cushion
Svampmal cushion | $4.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
We're currently producing a shoot for a Spring edition of Livingetc based around what you can do with this exact shade of yellow. It's brighter than mustard, deeper than canary, shall we go with egg yolk? Anyway, in her first edit, the stylist included this very piece in her living room ideas (opens in new tab) alongside some way, way more expensive names and designers. And it worked. How's that for an endorsement?
8. Kolbjorn shelving unit
Kolbjorn shelving unit | $59, Ikea (opens in new tab)
Yet more green (if you start complaining that I only like one color you'll sound like my husband who is now trying to ban me from using any more of it). But again, this piece is just the right shade of olive and, in the corner of a kitchen, looks so smart. Use as the basis for your Ikea storage hacks (opens in new tab) or just leave as is.
9. Karismatisk room divider
Karismatisk room divider | $59.99, Ikea (opens in new tab)
This isn't for the faint hearted, admittedly, but I've included it here because, simply, it's really fun. As we've seen in the increase in interest for maximalism in interior design (opens in new tab), this injects personality and flair into a room. Fringing? Check, Pattern? Check. Totally bizarre? I'll leave that up to you.
10. Flottebo sofa bed
Flottebo sofa bed | $599, Ikea (opens in new tab)
Yes, it's the eye catching purple that I liked when perusing the best Ikea sofa beds (opens in new tab), but realistically, I'd go for it in black or grey. This daybed looks like it belongs in a home designed by Mies van der Rohe, all low lines and unexpected edges.