The Swedish flatpack company deliver style in spades for less. Here are our hottest picks.

What sentient being doesn’t have a fondness for spot of Sunday afternoon IKEA shopping? Just us? Surely not, for who could resist the vast repository of classic, simple Scandi designs which, used the right way, can look chic without being eye-wateringly expensive? And who, for that matter, wouldn’t be swayed by the promise of meatballs and pointlessly excessive bags of tiny little Daim bars? Sure, the actual act of going about the Swedish behemoth’s warehouses may have been known to spark the odd cross word; and it might be true that the assembly of your bounty comes with the risk of its fair share of sweary under-breath mutterings. But we say that every bathroom aisle contretemps is worth it for the haul – however frostily you unpack it back at home. After all, once tempers have thawed out, we’ve never not been pleased we went. We’ll always love IKEA, not least because it stocks so many pieces that could be strays from interiors magazines or emporia, but all for a fraction of the usual prices.

These are our top picks of items to look out for which look decidedly more expensive than they are. Plus, if you go armed with a list, the likelihood of filing for divorce by the time you hit the checkouts is, we find, significantly lower.


Armchair, Rattan, £119

We’ve written of our love for rattan before. This truly excellent example of the trend that shows no signs of going anywhere is a brilliant, brilliant buy. It follows modernist lines while its materials lean toward a rustic sensibility; in short, the best of all worlds. Designers Andreas Fredriksson, Jonas Hultqvist, Willy Chong say, ‘We like working with natural fibres like rattan and bamboo – living and renewable materials that provide great opportunities to create unique products. The most enjoyable part of this project was to use these materials in new and innovative ways. We wanted to make furniture in natural fibres, often combined with metal underframes, that is modern, gives an airy feeling, is easy to move and comes in flat packages. Better for the environment and easier to take home and enjoy.’


Pouffe indoor/outdoor in dark green, £40

We love everything about this perfect pouffe, from the gorgeous colour to the fact it can be used inside or out to the diminutive price tag. Use it variously as a footstool or a makeshift magazine table. Cheap and chic.


Glass-door cabinet with plinth, grey/clear glass, £240

Bespoke cabinetry can be spectacularly beautiful and for many people planning the kitchen of their dreams, it is the aspiration. And yet if budgets don’t stretch to the handmade, we think the HAVSTA glass door cabinet is a great contender. We love the absolute simplicity of it. A word of warning: only buy a glass fronted cabinet if you intend to keep its contents neat and aesthetically pleasing. No one wants to see stacks of old, usually lid-less, Tupperware crammed in there.


Coat Rack With Shoe Storage Bench, Black, £75

Are we alone in daily bemoaning the easily shed but not so easily stored clutter in the hallway? If casually strewn shoes and bags offend your sensibilities, we’re with you. But happily, IKEA is one step ahead. We love this slimline coat rack; it is compact enough to squeeze comfortably into narrow hallways, and plus we like it’s industrial design notes.


Trolley, £22

There is something impossibly glam about a drinks trolley. The SUNNERSTA may not officially be made to hold vintage carafes of (equally vintage) port, but it could if you wanted it to. Alternatively, it could act as extra storage in the kitchen, or be used to stuff houseplants onto, making it a moveable token of the great outdoors. Whichever way, we think it is a very clever and simple piece of design.


Tray Table, Green, £19

IKEA does an excellent line in side tables. If pushed, we’ll plump for the simplest – and in fact the cheapest – of them all. The GLADOM comes in four different colours, all great, but we love the green and the blue especially. It’s also one of the easier IKEA products to put together, lessening the likelihood of DIY rows – double win.


Table, outdoor, black-brown, £150

Made from durable eucalyptus, we love the uncompromisingly clean lines of this outdoor table. It is strongly reminiscent of a Matthew Hilton classic – but at a less than a third of the cost.


Chair, anthracite, £75

In Swedish, OMTÄNKSAM means ‘caring’. And, indeed, the whole range has been designed ‘with input from ergonomists, physiotherapists and researchers in the care industry’. It also looks pretty spectacular too. We like the graphic bold black but, do note, this also comes in a bright yellow for a pop of glorious colour. Plus, this is a quarter of the price of comparable dining chairs as seen in swankier design shops.


Cabinet in/outdoor, green, £65

Who couldn’t use more storage space? This cabinet is great just about anywhere in the house, from storing towels in the bathroom to gardening equipment on a larger balcony. Plus, wait for it to accrue a little wear and tear and it could have wandered straight out of Petersham Nurseries.


Desk, ash veneer, £129

Plain fuss-free design, good materials and just the right size to hold our stuff but not enough to encourage hoarding: these are the qualities we look for in a good office desk. The LISABO ticks every box, and we’re not alone in our admiration: the whole series was the recipient of a Red Dot award for its design. Sturdy yet light to assemble – a classic brilliant IKEA buy.


Chair, white, £60

In the market for a Charles and Ray Eames chair but don’t have the budget to match? Look no further than the FANBYN, which is IKEA’s homage to a classic.


Serving Bowl, Bamboo, £15

You can rely on IKEA for a good take on a kitchen staple. No home should be without a solid wooden salad bowl, and this bamboo number is a great example.


Tray, birch, £12

If you’re having a soiree (if only), nothing elevates the serving of drinks quite like a good tray – and on the flip side, as a guest is there anything nicer than spying one replete with sparkling full glasses? We love this blonde birch rendition, which is ideal for said party situations – and until they’re a reality once more, we’ll take ours loaded up with coffee. Perfect.


Standing mirror, ash, £99

A good standing mirror can be hard to find. We love the thoughtful detail of the rail behind to hang clothing from, as well as the lovely ash veneer. A clever twist on the traditional full length looking glass.


Day-bed frame with three drawers, grey, £215

There are few things more decedent-sounding than a day bed. We fully applaud this stylish model, which is exactly the sort of spot we would feel like bedding down at 3pm for a light snooze.

By Nancy Alsop
Updated August 2021


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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.