IKEA: The Truth

I’ve been on the hunt lately for some descent (not outstanding) quality furniture for my new apartment. Its time I finally “upgrade” from the college furniture and get something better. I am all for the “modern” feel when it comes to seating, lighting., storage and that sort of stuff.

I’ve been questioning the integrity of IKEA furniture (using particleboard, fiberboard, ABS…etc) and was wondering everyone’s thoughts on their furniture.

I am mainly looking at getting a nice “modern” style sofa and have been debating on spending the $500 on an IKEA sofa or saving up, biting the bullet and dropping at least double that on a “good quality” sofa.

So my over all question is geared towards finding out how “quality” IKEA stuff is, and if its really even worth buying.

Any insight would be great.

I do agree that some of their products are not the greatest quality. The particle board and fake veneer really doesnt help it out much. The second you spill something near a veneer gap the entire thing will pretty much explode on you! However, I have purchased a couch form them and it is excellent. I believe it is the Tylosand, and it wasnt cheap. However it is the one piece of furniture that I have no questions about the quality/longevity of it. I also sold furniture at a ‘modern’ store, and we charged around $1k for something that was absolutely going to fall apart. Not to mention the markup was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen company paid around $200 for them)! Just because you spend $1000 doesnt mean it is truly worth it.

Most college students I know get their furniture from IKEA. The only thing people really complain about is their terrible instructions for assembly. Other than that I think you should go for it.

Just because you spend $1000 doesnt mean it is truly worth it.


Have a close look on how the pieces are built. We were in the same situation 5 years ago and
in the end bought a lot at IKEA, because “saving up” would in reality have meant quadruple
the cash drain.

Don’t ask me for an explanations. Obviously most Germans can’t tell quality craftmenship any-
more, so it was discontinued (for the mass brands)…

Most things from Ikea that are not on the lowest price grade or out of special offers have proven
sufficiently durable. Mix it with some quality furniture and it won’t look tooo bad.

The storage systems for clothes and the kitchen systems are top offers in my eyes.

Yours mo-i

My girlfriend and I are in a similar situation. We want to purchase either of these two sofas:

Gus Modern, Spencer Sofa ~$1800


Blu Dot, One Night Stand Sofa ~$1800

But our budget does not allow for that price range at the moment.

So we’ve decided to go with the IKEA Karlstad Sofa.

I’ve read some good reviews about it. And for ~$500 it’s hard to beat for now. Eventually we will upgrade, but this will take care of our current needs.

Very good points, Thanks for the input.

@Ross How do you like the Karlstad? That is the one I’ve been eying myself.

We have to go buy it still. It’s around a 6 hour drive from where we live so we are trying to save up a little more money so we can buy all that we need while there.

A friend of mine has one and both my girlfriend and I thought it was comfortable. The quality seems to be pretty good on his too. After looking at his a little more and testing it out, its what made the decision for us. With moderate use I think you could easily get 7-10 years out of it. Plus for another $150 later on you can get a new cover for it to update the look if you want.

You may also consider paying another $20 and getting the aluminum leg pack. I know we are getting those as most of the furniture in our living room have aluminum legs already

The main things I have heard is to stay away from the karlstad with the fold-out bed. There is supposedly an issue with the arms breaking off.

If you keep an eye out on craigslist you can usually find them used for around $200-$250. Then just buy a new cover and you’ve saved $100+. My girlfriend is against used furniture so we are stuck buying it new.

We’ve got an IKEA here in the Twin Cities. My wife and I were planning on heading over sometime this week to get somethings for our son’s room. I’ll see if I can find that couch and let you know what I think.

Something else you could look at is buying a style you like used, off CL or whatever. Take your $200 second hand tuxedo then drop $800-1000 getting it reupholstered. The only thing that is reused is the wooden frame and maybe some steel springs so it will be all new material and custom covered with whatever you want.

You get what you pay for at IKEA, I’ve been shopping there since the mid 80’s and always enjoy the stuff. But some people feel that there $45 coffee table should wear like a $1000 model. Just look at the tags and anticipate half of the expected life span.

Though I’ve had some Ikea stuff back when I was a student, I’m not too much of a fan of the quality of their furniture. For smaller molded plastic things, I’ve got no prob as injection molded is injection molded (to a degree), but partical board and cheap foam is what you get when you pay the price.

Better I think to go second hand. For the same price, you could probably score a solid teak modernist sofa in good condition that will last another 60 years as is probably already 60 years old!

GUS though, also makes some good stuff. (and they are from here in TO!).


If you find a “teak modernist” 3 Seater for 500 Bucks, go- buy it! :smiley:

i know ikea doesn’t necessarily test to the same standards as the rest of the industry for all of it’s products. it’s one way to produce the goods at a certain price. a lot of the stuff is manufactured in china, which isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it’s all driven by one thing: price.

furniture items are the sort of goods you get what you pay for, in relative terms. the markup is quite high for residential furnishings. if you know your construction methods and materials, you can size up the quality on any particular item pretty quick. i am not afraid to flip an item, peel back or rip the ‘dryer sheet’ dust cover to over to look at joinery methods and materials. most sales people are completely ignorant to the items they sell, they just know what they need to sell it for to get a commission.

the best pricing i’ve received for QUALITY items were at the clearance houses around High Point, NC after the Markets were over. you have to really search to find contemporary, but it’s there. for example, i bought a 7’ tuxedo sofa in burgundy, full-grained cowhide with removable cushions and a kiln-dried hardwood frame for $1200. i looked up the manufacturer and this unit sells for $5-7k. it was a showroom item, so it was ‘used’, but still brand new to me. i just had to rent a tahoe to drive back to my home in charlotte at the time. i am still trying to find out of there is a similar clearance house system around vegas for those shows.

other than that, most cities have local manufacturers that will have decent prices on upholstered goods with better craftsmanship, materials and design. also, reupholstering an old item that was built correctly will be better in the long run than a new item built cheaply. a good upholstery shop is a beautiful secret. it’s a disappearing art form.

ikea is fine for items, but in general their quality is fairly mediocre at best. if you have to have leather, take some time to learn the differences in certain animal hides. what you think you’re buying in “leather” may not actually be.

on a personal note, i’ve never been a fan of ‘collections’. choose the best pieces you can afford individually and build from that.

I’ve purchased all my office furniture via sample sales. It helps to be married to an Interior Designer…

As for IKEA quality, I’ve never purchased anything there that I wasn’t fine with replacing in 5 years. Usually what ever I get is just a means to an end, never the piece I’ll keep forever. That said, most of their solid wood stuff is quite durable. I had a very small apartment once and bought a high, narrow “counter top” style table with drawers that was the best thing I’ve ever purchased. Now it’s used in my laundry room and has held up remarkably well. All for $125.

@ Nurb

Is your wife NCIDQ certified? I am eligible to get my certification but have never given it a second thought. I’m wondering if it may be worth the effort in order to get some of the Interior Designer discounts…

“you get what you pay for”


Nope. She used to work for a furniture dealer, so that got her in the door most of the time. But, if you belong to ASID, or something like that you’d probably get in. It seems to me you aren’t really questioned when you’re buying things, but most of the time the sales aren’t ever advertised to the public, so you’d probably need to be practicing in the industry to catch wind of the sale. At least that’s how it goes here.

IKEA is awesome. They offer so much for so little, it never ceases to surprise me.

Granted the veneer stuff won’t be a keeper forever, but beyond that everything else is a remarkable value.

P.S. I REALLY want this new couch of theirs, I’ve been waiting for a couch that was such a practical balance of modern and comfy. The arms are like a foot wide of delicious flat solid surface, great for a pillow, laptop, etc. Plus they have a good 5 or 10 year warranty with switchable cover options. Products - IKEA
ikea couch.jpg

I would check the vintage shops, there are still deals to be had on vintage modern pieces that don’t have a “Eames” or similar pedigree name attached to it.

If you want new, check out some of the mid tier retailers like Bo Concept and CB2, but be warned, furniture gets expensive quick. I know $1000 is a lot to you right now, but you might have this sofa for 10 years! Maybe more. We had just got rid of a $2000 sofa we bought 8 years ago and it was still in great shape.

My feeling, having moved around a ton and bough and sold and given away a lot of furniture, don’t get anything too expensive (3k+) but also don’t compromise. When I first got married we bought a $600 sofa we “kind of” liked… 3 years in we were loathing that thing!

I love the Blue Dot One Night Stand sofa myself, tested it out in a retail store… they go on sale from time to time…

One quick tip -

You can quickly judge the quality of something by it’s resale value. Good pieces stand up a lot better and it’s a bonus if you want to sell it.

Ikea sofas that were $1000 new might be on craigslist for $100.

Good MCM teak sofas with horsehair stuffing that were (I’m guessing since I wasn’t around when they were new) $500 when new (in the 60’s so you need to account for inflation) you can now get at a vintage shop for $600 (less if you find them in a thrift store which is a great place to look).

I got a B&B sofa that was $20 years old (used in a bank), that new (they still sell it) is around $25000 for about $3K and it’s the best thing I’ve ever sat on. Could now use some reupholstery/new cushions - still looking for a good guy to do it. Called B&B and they want $5000 for just two leather cushion covers. Might have to see if a shoe fty I know can do it next time i’m in China… :slight_smile:

Also keep in mind that a good sofa can often be re-stuffed, reupholstered, springs replaced, etc. while a cheaper sofa often cannot because of the construction, or if it can often doesn’t make economical sense to.


Ikea just reminds me of being a student - all of my rooms were completely decked out with the stuff and now I’m on a paycheque I just don’t want to be near the stuff. I would rather spend more on less, knowing that it will last longer and that I am getting a quality product. Also love the second hand stores… there is a (very) very worn Eames chair in a shop near me that I have my eye on at the moment actually…