My IKEA experience, and how we can all have catalog homes.

I went to IKEA for the first time ever today. I have to say, I was pretty impressed. This is a company that has redefined, packaged, and learned how to sell functionality in a way that no other company has. My inner designer drooled over creative lamps, uniquely sculpted chairs, and cuts of lucky bamboo (one of which I did take home, of course!) I loved the organization and storage solutions, but found that I approached them differently today than I had imagined I would. Rather than getting weak in the knees at the sight of modular storage, I discovered that I couldn’t justify all of those beautiful boxes because I knew I couldn’t fill them all. (It’s a rather good problem to have!)

But among the cute kids’ beds and the modern, shiny kitchens, my favorite bits were the fully-furnished display “homes” – two or three studio layouts, complete with kitchens, bathrooms, and prop possessions. Each of these homes were 500 square feet (about 46.5 square metres) or fewer. Every time we wandered through a tiny home setup, I heard the same comments over and over from nearby shoppers. “It’s amazing how they can fit so much into such a small space!” “This feels so big for only 500 feet!” While I agreed with most of these sentiments, I noticed something about the designer homes that seemed to allude many of the other observers. Here’s my huge, amazing, revolutionary conclusion. Are you ready to have your mind blown?

The homes have almost no “stuff” in them.

Are you shocked?

Take a gander at this picture:

kitchenI love this picture. It’s open, it’s clean, it’s bright. I’m looking at the cabinet space in this tiny kitchen and realizing that I could fit a handful of pots, some cleaning supplies, utensils, and baking dishes in the space under the counter. All of the dishes and drinkware are stacked neatly on the upper shelf. From the larger view of the picture, I’d imagine the cabinet up top is for food in lieu of a pantry.

So as long as your kitchen doesn’t hold more than we’ve listed, you may not have any trouble fitting into such a tiny space. For some of us it isn’t a problem because we don’t have much stuff. For others of us it still isn’t a problem because our living space is much bigger than 500 square feet! 🙂

But despite the fact that a pretty severe downsizing effort appears to be the best way to fit into a tiny apartment (again, revolutionary, I know) another neat little discovery I made was how much IKEA offered by way of multifunctional furniture. A large portion of their couches fold down into beds. Their storage solutions are highly functional and their designs fit together like beautifully engineered pieces of a puzzle. This store is an excellent resource for the second great law of simplicity (as created right this minute by me): try to only purchase multifunctional items.

Between these two basic principles, we can find a lot more space in our living areas than we realize is there. Here’s an idea – I’m going to find and print (or just save to my desktop) some pictures of what I want my home to look like, to use as inspiration. If I get stuck in a collecting rut, or have trouble downsizing, I’ll refer back to them to give myself a boost. We can all have homes that look like they came from a catalog. I think we just need to know where to start, and the changes will be unique for everyone.

What sort of changes would need to take place to make your home “catalog-ready?” What practical steps can you implement right now to begin the process?