Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Because It Can't Always Be Heirloom...

Ikea Hemnes dresser

As much as I'd like for every piece of furniture and every object in my house to be unique and rare and terribly significant, it just can't be. It takes time, dedication, and focus to acquire prized and valued possessions, and moreover, you need great places to shop! But sometimes you just need something functional, a place to put stuff, and you can't find anything perfect to do the job no matter how hard you look.

Since buying our new house in December, we've been busily seeking out beautiful things to fill it with. While I've got no shortage of good taste and great ideas, Calgary is sadly not the place to shop. There's a severe shortage of beautiful things, and I have money burning a hole in my pocket.

Yes, Calgary, like every other suburban Hell, has plenty of generic Linens 'n' Things and Home Outfitters where everything looks the same and half of it seems horribly cheap (if I see another Umbra frame...)

We do have a few higher end shops like Chintz & Co (where I had my bedroom curtains made), French Connection (which is small and precious and where bedding can cost thousands) and McArthurs Furniture (which serves the nouveau riche who live in monster houses and have a penchant for monster gilded furniture, most of which I find garrish).

Calgary does have a couple of wee "design" districts, which, as far as I can tell, stock overpriced contemporary furniture made exclusively in China.

But what happens when you're the sort of girl who should be living in New England, the kind of girl who loves rustic/traditional, who admires antiques and things with a classic-historical-flea market-vintage quality? There's nothing.

We do have Pottery Barn (1 store, limited stock), which I like because it's updated traditional, but the quality isn't great and I would like something more "genuine": hand-built furniture, artisanal quality, real antiques. Well, we have about 3 antique stores and one little vintage shop that sells mostly knick-knacks.

So, there's little here to satisfy my tastes and less to suit my quality demands.

So, I've re-discovered Ikea, the king of affordability! I happen to have re-fallen in love with Ikea because they don't pretend to be something they aren't. They're cheap and the design is great. It wasn't always this way. When I turned 25 and got my first job in Toronto fresh out of grad school, I was happy to leave my Billy bookcase behind.

But 10 years later, I'm back, simply because I've decided that if it can't be heirloom, I'd rather have something that I know is cheap, and is still stylish. Something that doesn't pretend it's fancier and nicer than it really is.

David and I are going to Ikea this weekend to buy the Hemnes dresser for one of our spare rooms (which also doubles as David's *gentleman's dressing room* where he keeps his clothes and such). The Hemnes dresser looks smart and masculine...and costs $350 instead of $1200, like the made-in-China dressers all those "contemporary decor" stores are trying to hawk.


  1. i love ikea. :)

    as far as furniture shopping goes, i wonder if you can find good things at estate sales? i've never been, but it seems like a possibility. the dresser looks great.

  2. a set of brushed nickle knobs on that piece would be awesome! Not that it isn't already.

  3. Hey , fellow Canadian here , I thought that Calgary was full of great interior shopping, I am surprised to hear it isn't, I love the dresser from ikea, I have a few solid spruce pieces that are from ikea, counter, chair ,armoire,kitchen table that was cut down to now live repainted as my large round coffee table, which I love, and my slipcovered couches I love them , they are affordable, hold up to kids and pets and very washable. Ikea can be combined for a great ppulled together ,not cheap look, its possible.
    Like your blog , I will be back to take a closer look later.

  4. Hi again , thanks for stopping by my blog, I am in Southern Ontario, just outside of T.O., I have seen a bit of the homemarket in your area, I see how over exploded the prices for homes are, I have a friend in Airdry, I don't know if the spelling is right. Character homes are my favourite.
    I will check back soon, my little girl wants her hair brushed, that's is a miracle , so I must tend to her.