Friday, 27 April 2018

SPRUCE UP FOR SPRING WITH ARGOS HOME

When I hear the word Argos, I bet I'm not alone when say I am immediately transported back to my childhood Christmases, where I would spends hours going through the catalogue, circling hundreds of 90s toys of dreams, such as Magic Copier, Mr Frosty and Baby All Gone. Fast forward the clock to 2010, when James and I moved into our first place together; a Victorian flat in Clapham, and we were buying seagrass drawers for our bathroom, one of those floor lamps with the paper shade, and for me, a Wahl PowerPik hairdryer (anyone with Afro hair knows that one of these is basically life).

Beyond this, I had never considered Argos to be a go to for our first proper grown up home. Not because I felt that there was anything wrong with their home products, it's more that I didn't realise that they fitted so perfectly with my decor aesthetic. Nor did I realise that they supply brands such as Sainsbury's Home, Hygena and Habitat and if, like me, you're tight for time and can't get to the store, (poor Sienna gets blamed for this a lot of the time), you can buy online and have it delivered to your door, or if you prefer, you can also do click and collect. The joys of the 21st Century!

Argos Home gave me the opportunity to spruce up my home with some products from their website. Being the 'Monica' that I am, I really loved that their homeware is organised into four ranges for ease of finding your perfect look for your home:

Pictures from Argos Home.

Serenity: for those who love chic pastels;

Infusion: think global vibes that wouldn't look out of place in a Moroccan boutique hotel;

Beach House: do NOT think dated stripes and rubber rings- this is calming and modern;

Inhabit: Scandi, wood, midcentury and industrial- anyone that knows me or my Instagram feed well, will have put money on this range being my favourite and they wouldn't have been wrong; I picked all my items from here.

I decided to give my kitchen and guest bedroom a spruce up for spring from the Inhabit range, here's the lowdown on what I picked and my thoughts on it all...


Kitchen:


You recognise the view, but probably not the gorgeous accessories. 

When I revamped my kitchen last summer, something I was desperate to do was to rip out a whole wall of cupboards, as I really wanted to use a scaffold board to make an open shelf to display items that I like and use. Anyone who takes photos of their kitchen and shares them on Instagram knows that chopping boards are probably going to make it into 99% of your shelfie pics. Be honest, how many of them did you buy just for decor purposes?! This Prestige board and Collection Salisbury butcher's block are not only practical for purpose, they are also really beautiful and tick all the modern rustic boxes. These marble jars, are not only really solid and massively on trend, they are also a simple and subtle way to effortlessly style in your kitchen. What's more, they come in a set of three, which is the magic number for styling!


Gorgeous and fresh, the chopping boards and marble jars give a much needed lift to your kitchen.

When the opportunity to collab with Argos Home came about, I promised myself not to get sucked in to crockery sets because of storage space (especially since I did away with the cupboards), but it was totally impossible to resist this 16 piece Heart of Home stoneware dinner set. When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was the quality- they are all so sturdy and solid, and appear a lot more expensive than the £34.99 price tag. Then surprisingly, secondary to this, I was struck by the look of them: if you love earthenware, these have your name on them. They are glazed, so are more durable as they won't scratch and the grey detail paired with the mottled speckles on the surfaces of the bowls, plates and insides of the mugs are ideal for both modern and more traditional kitchens. They also make everything I put in them look ten times more delicious, which is never a bad thing in my eyes; saves a fortune on dinner parties when your guests don't notice that you've served them beans on toast as they're too busy ogling up the plates.


Just an ordinary Thai beef salad, but look how yummy it looks on those plates..!

Check out all the kitchen and dining products from the Inhabit range here.


Guest bedroom:




Even though my guest bedroom was, once upon a time, the most popular room on my Instagram, I felt it needed a change to make my whole house flow better and to also feel fresh for spring. The Inhabit range was the perfect opportunity to give it a more grown up Scandi look. A couple of weeks ago, in front of some Saturday night TV, James and I assembled the Hygena Skanda ladder shelf, and while it is in the Inhabit living room section, testament to its versatility, I think it looks amazing in my guest bedroom, and I am a fan of the endless options you have for styling. Personally, I like the contrast of old and new so vintage books and pops of fresh green for spring compliment each other really well and is a great way to break up the monochrome.


These shelves give you the perfect excuse to faff to your heart's content.


The pièce de résistance for me has to be this Kenji double bed. The statement fabric headboard takes away the need for a bit of art above the bed and is so effortlessly classy, it was love at first sight when I unwrapped it. In fact, I was so desperate to see it erected (clean that filthy image from your mind. Now.), I did it all on my lonesome (obvi this is a two person job, so grab a friend if you're doing it yourself). I wasn't disappointed, and with this soft and textured Seersucker bedding set and herringbone throw on it, it really is such stuff as dreams are made on. Literally.


Add texture with this bedding and throw.

For accessories, I am a massive fan of these Heart of House Origami cushions, as I've never seen anything like them on the high street, especially for £11.99 each. They look like they've come from a Danish design shop, and the grey matches the bed perfectly, and will look great in a living room too. When it came to this gorgeous Habitat Begera basket, my childhood nostalgia kicked in for the brand and I'm so happy that Argos Home stock a huge range of their products. The grown up me, however, loves that it makes for fab storage and brings together the wood accents on the bed and shelf, drawing the eye around the room which gives a sense of cohesion. I am slightly jealous that this isn't my bedroom, but James and I, who don't get out as much as we'd like, will definitely be going on holiday to the other side of the landing from time to time.


I am disproportionately in love with these Origami cushions.

This basket adds a pop of warmth and colour to the bedroom, it's also really practical too, due to its size.


Click here to see the whole Inhabit bedroom range.

It's sometimes hard to fully express in writing but I have honestly been really impressed with the range and quality of products and tastes Argos home caters for. You should definitely make it one of your go to places for your home, or, if you're like me, when you're browsing for decor inspo, take a look on their website to see if there's anything that whets your interiors appetite!

This blog post was sponsored by Argos Home. The words and opinions are my own and I would never receive payment for anything that I didn't like or wouldn't buy myself.
SHARE:

Saturday, 7 April 2018

HOW TO MAKE A STATEMENT IN THE BEDROOM.

For those hoping this is some kind of Fifty Shades guide, you may as well stop reading now. For those whose mind is cleaner than a kitchen that's had the full Kim and Aggie (remember them?!) treatment, read on!

If you're not after S&M tips, read on to see how I got my guest bedroom looking sexy.
We've lived here for just over three years and while the whole house has been nothing but a work in progress, one room I've never gelled with was one of our guest bedrooms. Why? Because of the brown laminate, which I think should be banished to Room 101 for the rest of its days (but that's another story), and the dodgy built in laminate wardrobe. Together, it was very soulless and bland and if it was a person, it would be Nigel in Accounts, head to toe in beige. No matter what I did to it (and believe me, it's had more transformations than Madonna), I still wasn't 100% happy with it.

I gave them all a good go, but none of these looks were hitting the spot for me.

If you've followed me on my Instagram for some time, you'll know that I've tried calm and grey Scandi, botanical bedding, and neon colour pops, but none of those looks made me say 'YES!' and I realised that it wasn't because of the accessories in the room, as they all look fab elsewhere, but because of the room itself.

White walls, cream laminate wardrobe, brown laminate floor- the combo of nightmares...

So here's what I did to make my room less drab, more fab and packing a personality, and more importantly, keeping the costs lower than the bar at the Limbo Championship Finals. Oh dear.

PAINT EVERYTHING:

You heard me. Paint. Everything. Paint the floor, walls and wardobes. Don't stop there! Paint the plug sockets, light switches, radiator and paint it all in the same colour for a smart finish.  I won't bore you again with how I did my floors, as you can read about that here and I painted my wardrobes using exactly the same method I used when I painted my kitchen cupboards, the only difference was that I used Estate Emulsion, not Eggshell this time (thankfully, I had some of this leftover, as I used it on my radiator, after priming. And turning it off, obvs.).

The difference a lick of paint can make. Have a look at the plug socket behind too- just prime, then paint!

As my wardrobes have mirrors on them, I taped the edges, so that the primer and paint didn't go near them and I used my trusty 'leftover Carling cans that I couldn't shift at a family BBQ' method when painting the doors to elevate them so that I could paint the edges with a smooth finish, as you definitely don't want any excess paint gathering, unless you don't care if your doors stick together/ or not close cleanly. I didn't paint the insides of the doors and drawers, simply because I felt they didn't need it as they're hardly going to be on display like they are in the kitchen, and they're in a pale brown laminate, that isn't too offensive to view when I'm trying to get a jumper from there.

I should have shares in Frog Tape. Walls and wardrobes all prepped and ready to paint!

I was deliberating for ages, and dragged loads of you in to vote on my Stories over Hague Blue and Railings (Hague Blue won every time, FYI), but my gut kept going back to the rich, deep tones of Railings. I know it's hardly revolutionary, as you can't move on Instagram for the colour, but I wasn't quite looking for the obvious bluey tones of Hague Blue.

I put a test patch of Hague Blue, Railings and Downpipe on all walls, to see how they reacted with the light.

For those who the prospect of going to the dark side would be like taking your favourite white shirt and cooking a curry in it with no apron, or those who feel that rooms will be sucked in, fear not! Dark colours add personality where there is none, and enhance personality in spaces which have period features. This is massively cost effective as you'll need to buy more home accessories to do the work for you, rather than just getting a pot of paint and working with what you currently have. I also read in one of my interiors magazines, that darker colours, in fact, draw the eye AWAY, so won't suck the space in, but of course I wouldn't recommend doing this in a room with no windows, otherwise you'll feel like you're in solitary confinement...

The bed pops and the eye is taken away with the dark walls. 'Completely Devoted' print from SooUK. Tasseled hand woven cushion from Shiv Martin Textiles.
I found that by putting a test patch on all walls and seeing how the light makes the colours appear, it gives you a good idea of what it'll look like when it's everywhere. Painting the floors white also offsets the walls beautifully, so think of other ways you can bring light into your space, as it doesn't always have to be the walls doing all the work.

White out: before the dark walls happened.

COMFORT IS KEY:

Just because you don't sleep in your guest bedroom (unless you're in the dog house, obvs), it doesn't mean you put comfort on the back burner. As I'd painted such a dark colour, I had to consider how I'd want to feel if I was to sleep in there as a guest, and cosy was one of them. I added throws, sheepskins and also a feather JuJu hat from Mink Interiors to the wall to add texture.

Styling and accessorizing- my fave part of a makeover. Hand painted and distressed Mason jar from Wendy at All That Jarz.

I was beginning to hate the bed that we picked up for a song in the Dreams sale in 2015, as it just looked so 'meh' against the white wall. Now, it pops against the dark wall and to make it even better, the lovely people at Emma Mattress got in touch to send me a mattress for the bed. Well, lucky guests, I say!! Firstly, seeing the mattress come out of its rolled vacuum pack, was more satisfying than it should have been, watching it expand slowly and come to life. I slept on it a couple of nights ago, and it honestly felt like I was sleeping on a firm marshmallow in a boutique hotel, thanks to the supportive memory foam, made up of four layers and if you're prone to overheating at night, the top layer of the mattress will regulate humidity. If that's not already sounding bloomin' marvellous, Emma Mattress give you an 100 night trial and if you're not happy, they'll come and collect it for free and you'll receive a full refund. While that's fantastic, I doubt you'll need to send yours back, especially with a 10 year guarantee and free delivery- what perks! Use the code NEST100 for £100 off a single, double or king Emma Mattress, the code is valid until April 30th 2018.

How the Emma Mattress is made up. Pic from Emma website.


USE YOUR ASSETS:

Whenever I give any room in my house a lift, I always make the most of what I have already, the most obvious reason is that it's a great cost cutting exercise. I love repurposing items, at the moment, I'm all for using old books as decor, they make fab platforms for small plants and trinkets. I also love using scaffold boards for floor boards to balance accessories on, I pick them up for free from my local scaffold yard.

Add interest by repurposing items.

I've used this industrial stool from Swoon Editions as a side table, and styled it with a gorgeous stone planter from Mizzle and Haze and faux eucalyptus from Fox Flower Shop and upcycled an old lamp from my parents with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey.

Beautiful chalky greys offset perfectly against the dark wall. 

And yes, you probably recognise THAT rug from La Redoute that went practically viral on Instagram, that used to be in my living room, but adds some coziness up here instead to break up the white floor. Let's not forget that there's nothing crisp white bedding, like this double set gifted to me from Dreamon UK.

I wish this was my actual bedroom now!

If you're planning a room makeover, my top tips are to be brave with colour, be cost effective and think of three adjectives to describe how you want your space to be, and go for it!! Enjoy some more detailed photos, before and after pics and links of where I got some of the fab products from my guest bedroom below!

Wardrobes and floor before...
And after. Gorgeous vintage shop sign from my equally gorgeous Instabuddy, Becca @malmo_and_moss
Bedroom before.
Bedroom after.
I was going to replace the blingy door knobs, but I quite like them now the wardrobes have had a makeover. Vintage beetroot print from Ink & Drop. Hamlet quote print from Bespoke Verse.
Belly basket from Sunshine and Shade and fiddle leaf fig from Root Houseplants.

Texture and details- can you tell I've got a new phone?
This blog post was sponsored by Emma Mattress, the opinions are my own, as of course, I would never receive payment for a product that I didn't actually like or wouldn't buy myself.
SHARE:

Saturday, 10 February 2018

HOW TO GIVE LIFE TO YOUR LAMINATE

A few weeks ago I embarked upon a job that has literally had me itching since we moved in: the laminate floors in our guest bedroom, and Sienna's room. They were done by the previous owners, and as they had two children, I get the practicality of opting for it over carpets, but why you would go for 'the brown stuff', is beyond me. Come to think of it, in our other guest bedroom, they had gone for BLUE laminate (for the boy, obvs), which made the room resemble a hospital ward, so every time I walked in there, I was expecting to see an elderly lady sitting in the corner doing a crossword. To erase this image from my mind, I painted that a few months after we moved in with an amazing Dulux floor paint, that just went straight on the laminate with no priming.

Hello, Granny, are you there?
Bye bye blue floor! You probably recognize this room now!
Being the cheapskate that I am, I didn't want to fork out for a nicer laminate, reclaimed wood or carpet, so I had to take matters into my own hands. 'Ah ha!' I thought, 'I'll just use that amazing Dulux stuff!' Could I find it anywhere? Nope! For some reason, they'd stopped producing it, but then I thought if I can paint my melamine kitchen units, then surely I can apply the same method for my floor..? I went to my local paint shop and while they were slightly hesitant about my ideas, they didn't disagree that primer will allow floor paint to stick and will stick to laminate, and to be honest, I'd rather the mess I would potentially create over the brown stuff.

Guest bedroom before...
Sienna's room before...
So, without further ado, here's what I used and did:
Equipment I used for priming (click for links):
Priming kit
PRIME TIME:

Before you begin, make sure you empty the room as best as you can. I couldn't be bothered to dismantle the bed frame or Sienna's cot, so I painted around them, and then moved them when the primer was dry and painted the left over patch. Once the room is good to go, you need to clean the floor thoroughly. I used a hoover first, getting in all the edges, as there's nothing worse than finding a stray hair and having to do that finger swipe thingy in your wet paint. Then, I used a mop and bucket with warm water with some washing up liquid in it. Leave it to dry (fling your windows open to speed up the process).

Once dry, get priming! I used Zinsser 1-2-3, as I'd used it on my kitchen units, but it's up to you what you go for. I used the paint brush around the edges of the room, working along in sections, so that it doesn't dry too quickly, then I used my roller over it so that you end up with the same finish everywhere. When rolling the floor (make sure you wash and then dry your roller to get rid of loose fibres), make sure you follow one direction (I don't mean stalking Harry Styles and co...), and roll in the same direction your laminate planks run, and go in lines from one end of the room to the other, smoothing your paint out as you go, otherwise your floor won't have a neat finish. Oh, and plan your route out of the room as though you're doing your D of E Gold Award - you don't want to paint yourself in, and if you do, take snacks a good book, and a tent...!!!

Plan your route with boy Scout precision!
As some of you may have seen on my Instagram Stories, I'd primed both floors in half an hour, and they are touch dry in an hour. Priming was so quick and easy, and I could already see the back of the brown laminate. Now, for the waiting game to begin. You need to leave your primer to harden for 7 days. Some of you got in touch saying this isn't the case, but as I was painting an unconventional surface, I didn't want to risk it. Plus, I still hadn't found the paint I wanted to use...

Equipment I used for painting (click for links):

Painting kit.
PAINT THE TOWN... WHITE:

The lovely man in the local paint shop advised that I used Farrow and Ball floor paint. I can't for the life of me remember why he said this, but it sounded legit, as opposed to him just stitching me up to spend a fortune on something that might not work. This is when I cheated on him. I went to another local DIY store and found this Rustoleum Chalk White floor paint. I love that it has a flat matte finish (I didn't want the floor to resemble an ice rink, as much as I love Torvill and Dean), and it seemed to be the right kind of white I was looking for (who knew there were so many shades of white? E. L. James missed a trick there...). I did ask again, as the pot says it's not suitable for laminate floors, but the guy in the shop didn't see a reason why it wouldn't stick to primer. Plus, Rustoleum have a help line you can call, so if you're really worried, you can always ask. I didn't make the call, as I couldn't bear it if they said no!! Desperate times, and all that...  All it took was two coats of the paint and I am over the moon with the finish and colour. I used the small sponge roller to do the edges and skirting.

A room transformed: Sienna's room has improved a million fold.
As I'm sure you can understand, my decorating days are limited to when Sienna is at nursery, so I am yet to paint the walls in the guest bedroom, so those pics aren't the full works; that's another blog post, you're only supposed to look at the floors this time..! Sienna's room, on the other hand, is finished and I am so happy with the result in both rooms, and the paint hasn't scratched yet, but I am still in that 'don't walk; levitate!' stage. I hope this has been helpful, feel free to ask anymore questions below or on my Instagram! Ciao for now!

The walls aren't painted in here yet and the styling is incomplete, but this is about the floor!
Disclaimer: Before you undertake priming and painting your own laminate, always seek the advice from the experts. I always consult the experts, AKA the lovely people my local paint shop before making my own decisions! xxx
SHARE:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

I WOKE UP LIKE THIS: MY REVIEW OF THE TEMPUR CLOUD DELUXE MATTRESS FROM WARREN EVANS.

There are things in life that are certain: death and taxes. On a less morbid note, we also need to find time to sleep. When we moved from our rented flat in London to our first home here in East Sussex, James and I had never owned a bed, which of course meant we didn't own a mattress either. Did we enjoy being reminded of the previous dwellers every time we changed the bed and saw the dribble patches that resembled a pirate's map? No. But did we care enough to buy a new one? No. Why? Because it was temporary. We would just put a mattress protector on and pretend it didn't exist. A few years ago, a bed was merely a place for us to rest our heads before work or crash after one too many or... read the paper on a lazy Sunday morning.

With no dribble marks in sight, I could definitely see us reading the Sunday papers in here. If only Sienna would let us..!

When we moved here nearly 3 years ago, and as anyone who has bought a home is well aware of, the deposit (and the dreaded Stamp Duty) is a financial killer, which doesn't leave you with loads of disposable wonga to play about with. Scraping our remaining pennies together, James and I were certain about two things (aside from death etc.): we wanted a decent sofa (which we still love, by the way) and that we wanted our first proper bed to be awesome to not only look at, but to sleep in too. Little did we know, was that within a month of us moving in, I was pregnant with Sienna and the notion of sleep would soon be redefined...

I wish the Cloud was in my life when I was heavily pregnant with Sienna...

We were nearing our moving day and were still searching high and low for a bed store that gave a high end look without the shocking price tag. We asked friends (some of their ideas of 'cheap' were anything but) and after another go on Google, visited Warren Evans really cool store in Clapham. I was really pleasantly surprised at the range they had to try in store, as we were complete novices, but also the choice of wood and finishes they could come in, because let's face it, there's nothing more annoying than finding your dream investment piece, for it be only available in claret and not the matte black you're pining over. No pun intended.

As we were making an investment, we loved that Warren Evans beds and furniture are guaranteed for 10 years, are all made sustainably in London and are affordable; it's the way it's always been since the company was established 38 years ago, so we knew it was a brand we could trust. After lots of lying down and the occasional bounce (make of that what you will), we finally settled on the Siesta in the Satin Elm finish. Why? It's sturdy and solid, there's storage opportunities and it's so versatile to style; those who have followed me for a while will know that my bedroom has had many different looks (some more questionable than others... I shall say no more), but the Siesta has always been a show stopper.

Our much loved Warren Evans Siesta bed making the perfect home for the Tempur Cloud Deluxe mattress.

Fast forward the clock nearly three years, and when Warren Evans offered me the opportunity to try the new Deluxe range from Tempur, I jumped at the chance. I went to the Brighton store (again, another really cool space, check it out below!), to try the Original (firm), Sensation (med/firm) and the Cloud (med) mattresses. I was really surprised that I went for the Cloud, as traditionally I like a harder, sprung mattress, but I instantly loved the soft, luxurious feel and it made me go 'ahhhh' when I laid down, which can never be a bad thing in bed, right?!

I mean, have you ever seen a cooler bed store?! The Warren Evans Brighton store, showing you how to do nautical in the right way.
I can hear the sea just by looking at this pic: ahoy, me hearties!

Delivery day came last Friday, and as I was the first delivery of the day, two men arrived at my front door at 7:45am and were promptly upstairs in my bedroom (to those with curious minds, that was the first time I've had two men in my bedroom at that hour, or any other, for that matter...) fitting the mattress. I was slightly gutted that I had a full day to wait until we could try it out, but when bedtime finally arrived, I was like a boarding school master on dorm night duty, hurrying James along to brush his teeth and get into bed ready for 'lights out'. I tell you what, the Cloud felt like, well, a cloud and whichever position you lie in, you feel secure, settled and supported as the top layer of the memory foam moulds to the contours of your body, whatever shape you may be; even Kim K is catered for.

Here comes the science: what makes the Tempur Cloud Deluxe so snuggly (pic courtesy of Tempur UK).

Before, I was one of those people that would declare that they could sleep anywhere, be it a sofa, a blow up mattress or if I'd had enough lemonades on a student night out, in a nightclub toilet. However, since the Cloud, I've found that as soon as I get in to bed, I find my sleeping position for the night much quicker, as I'm 'cuddled' and held in place better than before. I'm tossing and turning less, which overall has meant a better night's sleep for me. I've even found that I've ditched pillows completely, and lie like I'm on a massage table, as it really feels THAT good from head to toe and sleep like a baby (why do people say this?!).

James, who definitely didn't think that memory foam mattresses were a big deal before, is now a founding member of The Cloud Convert Club; he has a dodgy shoulder courtesy of an old rugby injury, and he feels that the Cloud is kinder on his ailments. Anyone who works long hours, or is a parent will understand that getting the best possible sleep that your circumstantial clock will allow, is unbelievably important. James' alarm goes off at 4:45 most mornings and on average in the week we try to go to bed and sleep by 10:30, so that we can both get through the week without feeling like we want to bite each other's heads off and have a nice date night come Friday, otherwise it would be really awks.

Anyone thinking of getting a new mattress for the new year, I would really urge you to consider the Tempur range at Warren Evans because you are dealing with two leading experts in their fields. If you needed any more proof, Warren Evans was the highest rated UK mattress shop in the Which? Members 'Best Mattress Retailers' survey in 2017. As we spend on average, a staggering 26 years asleep, it's amazing that people aren't willing to invest as much into their sleep as they would perhaps in a designer handbag or luxury holiday. Shakespeare himself wrote: 'We are such stuff/ As dreams are made on, and our little life/ Is rounded with sleep', so if he's advocating it, then it must be true. One thing is certain; sleeping away from home will be a lot harder now; leaving the bed is tough enough, so thank goodness I've got Sienna as my human alarm clock!

You can use the code WETEMPUR online or in any Warren Evans store, for a further £50 off (they're already really reduced in the sales!), valid until March 5th 2018.

Thank you for reading, I'm sure you can guess, but I'm off for a lie down..!

Are you a troubled sleeper? Do you need tips on how to help your children sleep? Check out Warren Evans' resident sleep expert Dave Gibson's blog here for his top tips on getting a good night's sleep: thesleepsite.co.uk/ or https://www.warrenevans.com/sleep-tips/

DAVE GIBSON'S TOP 5 SLEEP TIPS:

1) Keep your hours consistent
2) Relax before bedtime
3) Don't work late and put the technology away
4) Check your mattress if you have disturbed sleep
5) Do regular exercise and have a healthy diet
For more great sleep tips visit https://www.warrenevans.com/blog/ 

If you need me, you'll find me here!

This post was sponsored by Warren Evans and Tempur.
SHARE:

Friday, 8 December 2017

BEHIND THE SCENES: WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT IKEA.


Those of you who follow me on Instagram, will have seen that I recently went on a press trip to Almhult, Sweden to go to IKEA HQ for a jam packed two days to discover what goes on behind the scenes.

With lovely fellow Interiors bloggers Kimberly and Kate looking like kids on a school trip in a mock up of the latest catalogue cover.


The town itself is where the founder Ingvar Kamprad grew up, and the original store, which opened in 1958 (it had been a mail order business since 1943), is now the museum, which structurally hasn't changed a bit.


Pretty self explanatory.


Some of what I learnt, I can share with you, the rest is tip-top secret so I would definitely have to kill you if I told you. I'm joking about committing murder, obvs, but there were things that we saw that we weren't allowed to photograph, so I feel pretty privileged to have seen the prototypes for collections and collaborations that aren't due in store until 2019!


IKEA HQ- behind those wooden boards on the upper level is top secret stuff.


They make a staggering 2,500 protoypes per year using methods such as 3-D printing or mocking up chairs and tables, so we were told not to sit down in the top secret areas, because it was likely you'll collapse Goldilocks-style onto the floor.

Most importantly, whether it is a mock up, or the real product, they must all live by their five-pointed 'Democratic Design': form, function, sustainable, low price and quality.


IKEA's values- no product makes it to the shelves without passing every element.


Personally, I've always had a massive crush on IKEA. I suppose it's because growing up in the 90s, the fashionable interior styles were floral three piece suites, fussy, frilly curtains and brown swirly carpet that if you'd chundered on it, it would blend in. IKEA was a breath of fresh air, and when I took my first steps in the Croydon store with my Mum and big sister, my five year old mind was blown.

I loved the simplicity of their design, that I'd never seen anywhere else before and fast forward the clock a decade from that point, I based my Design Tech. GCSE table project on the IKEA style. Talk about fan girl.


A gorgeously hygge corner of the IKEA Hotell


IKEA has an evocative nostalgia in my heart: one of my best friends from primary school used to live in a house which had A LOT of IKEA in it (think black leather POANG chairs, fold out kids' chair beds for sleepovers, sleek lighting, and you've got the idea). To me, that house was goals - so simple, so homely: modern classics and they still have pieces of it today.

I've always had this strong awareness that their products aren't just the 'flat pack crap' that some people think they are, but rather things that are built to last and more importantly, keeping low cost, quality and the environment at the forefront.


My room at the IKEA Hotell- Scandi perfection.


Given my level of IKEA fandom, you can only imagine what I was like when I strolled up to the IKEA Hotel- yes, such a place exists and yes, I almost lost my composure when I saw loads of products I have at home. I had to try my hardest not to recite the catalogue number and shelf locations at everyone. I digress...


Let's all play 'spot the IKEA product that you have at home'...


So, here's the lowdown of what I can tell you about IKEA that you might not know...

THEY GENUINELY CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPACT WE HAVE ON IT:


We started our trip in Copenhagen at an uber cool futures lab called Space 10 (they even have a tree house in their office), which was set up two years ago by IKEA to explore the ever changing world we live in and what they can do to adapt to this.


Just a casual tree house in the middle of the office at Space 10...


Here, they are trying to find open, accessible and collaborative solutions for sustainable and efficient living, particularly in cities, so they explore concepts like co-living i.e. where we can live together, produce and share food locally or even grow food in your own home or in a community garden.


I know it's an office, but I could easily reside here and live off the micro-veg.


We were then swiftly taken downstairs to the hydroponic farm in the basement; it looked strangely familiar, but then I quickly realised I'd seen a similar one on CBeebies on that bloke from JLS' farming show. I didn't admit that to everyone. Here, they explore techniques to grow food; they even have a fish tank where they extract their poo to use as manure to grow chillies, cucumbers and tomatoes!!


It wouldn't be a futures lab without a chap in a lab coat.


The hydroponic method (basically growing veg in specially lined trays), which:

  • uses 90% less water than conventional farming; 
  • allows produce to grow three times faster than when they're in the field due to the artificial lighting (it's a gorge neon pink, I hasten to add). 

This initially sounds very 'Dolly the Sheep' and could be subject to alienating people from nature. However, as the conditions are constant and not at the hands of unpredictable weather:

  • the produce will never spoil; 
  • you'll always have fresh ingredients on tap;
  • it's kind to the environment as there's little or no transportation involved and;
  • it is packed with nutrients. 
Winner, winner, micro-veg dinner.



Neon light goals.


IKEA's mantra is 'a better everyday life for the people', and what struck me on this trip was that this is something they are truly passionate about, rather than it being something the big corporates tend to do to be able to tick the 'eco friendly' box.

We met a sustainability spokesperson for IKEA and she explained that they are constantly exploring ways to prolong the life of their products, or once a product can no longer be used, how can it be made into something else. To you and me, this will be apparent in the stores as IKEA only sell LED bulbs, what will be less apparent to us, is that their taps are designed to let out less water than conventional ones.


LED bulbs being tested for safety and efficiency.


Beyond the store, IKEA take great care in ensuring their supply chain is top notch. Anyone (basically everyone), who has built an IKEA product will know that you will come across some kind of wood.

As they are responsible for using 1% of the world's industrial wood, IKEA ensure that their sourcing is sustainable and they have a target to use 100% sustainable wood by 2020; they're currently at 76%, which is still miles ahead of everyone else.

In cotton farming, they achieved 100% sustainable cotton two years ago- they are trailblazers in business, and other big businesses are trying to quickly follow in suit.

In the restaurants, they use ASC/MSC certified seafood, have recently introduced veggie balls and use 100% organic jam. Delicious for you and the environment.

THEY WANT LOW COSTS FOR YOU:


This is what makes the sceptics most suspicious about IKEA: if their products are cheap, they must be low quality, unethically sourced, mass produced toot. Historically, Swedish craftsmanship was about making multi-functional items with minimal waste and this tradition is embodied by IKEA.


With small living spaces, Swedish homes historically needed to have multi-functional handmade items, with the surplus being used to make things to either use in the house, or to sell for a small profit.


Some of their wood will be hollow, but reinforced inside or they'll use a more cost effective material, such as pine, so that it is still a quality product, but the low production cost can be passed onto us as the customer.


Different materials and colours the IKEA products we know and love come in.


And of course, it'd be stupid of me to not talk about the most obvious low cost point: the flat pack, which IKEA introduced in the 1970s, and is probably one of its defining USPs.

Interestingly, in the design phase of a product, the price is the first thing that is decided, then the process continues within those perimeters. That way they can ensure they are producing products that always comply with their Democratic Design and leave you with enough change to buy some meatballs at the end of your shopping trip. Aren't the Swedes just the nicest?!


It wouldn't be a trip to IKEA HQ without eating this iconic dish.


THEY TEST THE S**T OUT OF EVERY PRODUCT:


No, really. You read that right; from the tea lights to tables, it will not find itself on the shelves unless it has endured rigorous testing. Hence why it is unlikely you'll see a three legged chair or table in store. We saw the cutest lunch box that was in the shape of a dog's face being opened and closed by a machine. This process will be repeated at least 200,000 times and up to a million, essentially until the poor little doggy has had enough.


It even snowed!


Similarly, mattresses are tested by a wooden bum repeatedly sitting on it and another method uses a huge wooden roller, rolling back and forth. I wondered why they didn't have one going up and down too, but I kept that question confined to the dirty corners of my mind...


In the words of Limp Bizkit: 'Keep rolling, rolling, rolling...'. Literally.


It was also fascinating to see two bathrooms set up to test the effect of humidity in different climates around the world- if a product doesn't pass testing, then it's literally back to the drawing board, to ensure that the product will withstand the test of time in the home. Although this may be the case, design and comfort is never compromised in the process.


That awkward moment your jumper matches the materials they're about to set alight for testing.


TECHNOLOGY IS KING:


Have you ever considered how the photoshoots for the catalogues happen? How IKEA work out what products people who live in small spaces in Japan, need in their homes, as well as those in Victorian conversions in London? Well, this is where I-COM- IKEA's in house agency- come in. They find solutions for people's living needs, by visiting homes around the world, as well as creating the global media content and the catalogues that we all love flicking through and getting decor inspo from.


A mock up ready for a photoshoot.


Cultural awareness is key here, as the mock up rooms in store must be relevant for the area they're in and also in the way they're presented to the 48 countries the catalogues are found in.

So, you're probably thinking this will take more than a month of Sundays to photograph different set ups over and over? Wrong! Due to very detailed hand scanning techniques, IKEA can have products digitally augmented into their catalogues.

This saves a lot of time if, for example, the colour of the kitchen doors need to be changed and it is invaluable to see if a kitchen is actually practical in real life- I mean nobody wants to have it installed in their home, and then finding out that the utensil drawer is too far away from the cooker, do they?!


Spot the difference: The Chinese version of the catalogue has the pencil cushion pointing the other way as it's considered rude to have your pen facing the other way. A two seater sofa is in place of a 3 seater, due to smaller living spaces and a little rabbit has been added in as it's the year of the rabbit. Amazing attention to detail.


It is so hard to tell the difference between a real photograph and a digital one (we were tested and it was so hard to tell, honest!), owing to the level of detail- even metal has the weld seams on it, to manage the customers expectations that what we see is what we get, even though what we're seeing doesn't actually exist!


Strike a pose!


So, there you go. My lowdown on life as you don't know it at IKEA HQ. I found it truly fascinating that such a huge business can have such a huge heart, and I wasn't sure it was possible, but I love it even more now.


IKEA; I love you!

SHARE:
© nest twenty eight. All rights reserved.
MINIMAL BLOGGER TEMPLATES BY pipdig