Wednesday Furniture Smackdown!

By Amalah

Well, hi,
I’m not sure if this fits in the “Advice Smackdown” theme of things, but I have a question, and I definitely KNOW that you have the answer.
Just how durable is the Ikea furniture? Obviously you’ve tested it through moving, a child, a husband, pets, and various other misadventures, so you know the ins & outs. I love the designs, the simplistic look, and would love to incorporate it into our home (which may I add, is a 150 yr old Victorian home, so my options are either simplistic/Ikea or ultra-traditional (think grandmotherly and way too expensive for my budget).
Does it last? We have kids and pets and they have friends, all of which tend to sit on things not meant to sit on, and lean on things I’d rather not see leaned on. Will Ikea hold up or is it like Target furniture- semi-cute and functional but not here for the long haul?
Thanks for the advice (I hope) and keep up the great work!
-Mrs. Butter-B

Hooray! I knew if I wrote about Ikea enough times, sooner or later I would be known as some kind of Ikea Expert, which was pretty much my entire life goal. And now that day has come, and my work is done. Farewell, Internet. Thanks for playing.
Kidding, of course, but also, yay for a question about something different that doesn’t require copying 14 dozen links from and! A question I can just answer off the top of my shallow, un-higlighted head!
Ikea furniture: NOT here for the long haul. I mean, it’s cheap. It’s particleboard or laminate or very soft woods like pine or rubber. (Rubberwood even SOUNDS highly dingable, doesn’t it?) It IS cute and functional and a great option if you don’t have a big furniture budget, or if you know you’ll be replacing it in a few years. For the most part, the stuff we bought five years ago looks like total crap, but the stuff we bought two years ago still looks pretty good, although I occasionally need to get out the hex key and tighten the screws.
Examples! We bought Ikea furniture when we lived in apartments or when we were broke. We bought our bedroom set there because our bedroom was small and only had room for a double bed — but we figured one day we’d have room for a bigger bed, therefore why spend a ton of money on something that will eventually get demoted to guest-room status? In our new place, most of the Ikea furniture is going in the basement rec room, where Noah and his friends can beat on it to their destructive hearts’ content, and we got some bunching tables for our living room at Target because I am NOT spending a lot of money on a table that’s going to get pelted with sippy cups on a regular basis.
(This is a design principle I wish someone had smacked me over the head with when I bought nursery furniture. I didn’t go crazy, but I didn’t exactly go cheap, either, and I had this grand idea that I would buy furniture that Noah could “grow up with.” Yeah. 16 months later and it’s all covered in tiny teeth marks and two drawers are broken and did you know Desitin will strip the finish right off of wood? Me neither.)
So I guess it comes down to the fact that you can’t have it all — either you get the cheap furniture that will probably wear out, but at least you probably won’t stress out about it wearing out too much, and it WILL look pretty cute in the meantime…or you get really nice furniture that will last a really long time, but it will cost a lot more and therefore, stress you out more when the kids decide to upend all the living room furniture to make a fort. Although neither option is absolute, since my Ikea kitchen table is seven years old and still looks great, and my nice quality nursery furniture looks like ass.
If you like the look of Ikea and are willing to pay more for non-Ikea quality, try Design Within Reach or Design Public. Perhaps get a couple nice pieces and mix and match them with the Ikea stuff, and see what wears out first. Furniture cage match! Whoo!

Published January 24, 2007. Last updated January 24, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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