We’ve been in our new home for six weeks now, and I’m so happy with how everything is coming together!
While there are several contenders, I think the best room in the house has to be the lounge and it’s probably the space we’ve made the most progress to date. The room is the perfect square blank canvas – one wall is pretty much entirely window, the others (thankfully) painted white by our landlord, and the flooring is a nice walnut laminate. Just as we were beginning to get our ideas for the space in order, my favourites IKEA – for whom I am an ambassador again for 2020 – got in touch wanting to collaborate on some content for their beautiful new AW20 trend; Scandi Fusion. The perfect trend to embrace in this room!
The Scandi Fusion trend is both future-facing and past-embracing, blending modern and traditional Scandi styles with minimalist influences. It’s designed to spark feelings of happiness, playfulness and cosiness, which I think we can all agree are feelings very much worth striving for in the current state of national lockdown. Here in the North we’ve been living under tighter restrictions for months now, so making our home feel calm, cosy and joyful was top of the agenda for us, since we would be inhabiting the space 24/7.
According to Clothilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, “a fresh and vivid colour palette is also signature to this fusion trend, strengthening the feeling of optimism and energy through primary colours inspired by folklore, Bauhaus and 60’s pop.” I’ve often been one to shy away from using too many colours or patterns in my home, preferring instead to stick to a few shades within a controlled scheme, but with this room, at this time, I felt encouraged to try something different. I’m definitely glad that I did!
IKEA has long been my go-to place for affordable yet stylish furniture and decor, but working with the brand over the past few years has really been enlightening. When I went to visit the brand’s headquarters in Älmhult in 2017, it was fascinating to learn about the brand’s guiding principles of Democratic Design; offering the right mix of form, function, quality and sustainability all at a low – affordable – cost to the consumer.
When we moved home, IKEA was mine and my boyfriend’s first port of call when it came to furnishing. I’m lucky that he has just a big an obsession with the brand as I do, and we’ve spend many a happy evening wandering around store together, being inspired by all the staged showroom set-ups, and managing not to get into any arguments as we navigate our way through the marketplace. Well, they do say that if you can survive a trip to IKEA as a couple you can survive anything.. haha! The truth is, IKEA is probably our favourite ‘date night’ destination – we even went there for meatballs on Valentine’s Day earlier this year (which seems like a very long time ago now..!)
What you see in our living room is at least 80% IKEA, although only a few of the pieces are part of the Scandi Fusion collaboration. One of the first items we bought when we moved was the BESTÅ custom-configured TV unit for our new (giant!) TV, and I’m so happy that Luis talked me into the white textured LAXVIKEN doors on the units because I absolutely adore the look and feel of them in the space. Alongside this piece of statement furniture, we also already had the BUSKBO rattan armchair and LISTERBY white oak coffee table, both of which made the perfect base pieces for the new AW20 trend, since their curvaceous forms lend them a distinctly mid-century modern vibe. Combined with the more futuristic look and feel of the BESTÅ unit, and we already had the “future-facing, past-embracing” look down pat.
When it came to choosing pieces from the AW20 trend, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the bold geometry of the STENMÄTARE low pile rug. I say ‘inexplicably’ because, as I mentioned, I don’t often incorporate too many bold colours in my decor schemes, but I just loved the pop art style mix of pastel hues with muted hues of the bolder red and the green. I also love the contrast of the soft pile against the raw texture of our existing LOHALS jute rug (also IKEA), which I think helps to ground the pattern in the otherwise more monotone space. I think adding pattern, colour and texture into a room through cushions and blankets are widely acknowledged as ways to instantly, and relatively inexpensively, change the look and feel of a space throughout the year, but textiles underfoot are not often given the same emphasis.
Rugs are often pricey affairs, but this one at £39 feels like a great way to tap into a trend in a big way, without shelling out too heavily. A rug like this is easy to style up or down in so many different ways too. I’ve not overplayed the colour too much – as I say, I prefer to keep things fairly minimal – but it would be easy to pull out the red and green colour accents over the festive period, then play more on the pinks and yellows as we move into Spring. It really is a very versatile rug, decor-wise!
Our living room is fairly large, which means we’ve placed our sofa in the middle of the room, and as a result have discovered we needed extra side tables to help balance the space and provide handy surfaces for cups of coffee, a resting place for books, and spots for my favourite scented candles. The ‘side table’ you see above isn’t really one – it’s a (previous season) oversized round IKEA tray atop my trusty Moroccan pouffe. I always loved large trays for their versatility, and this one has seen many uses over the years in different rooms in my home. What you do see atop it now though are the beautiful blue OMFÅNG vase (part of the Scandi Fusion trend) and two of my other IKEA obsessions; Swedish Fish sweets, and a tin of KAFFEREP biscuits with almond and ginger. We pick up a couple of tins of these biscuits every time we go to store, and I swear they are gone within a matter of days..!
The tray table really is synonymous with Scandinavian style and IKEA’s YPPERLIG coffee table, designed by popular Danish design duo HAY and a snip at £35, is probably one of the nicest around. The solid birch legs and dark grey tray-shaped top are very aesthetically pleasing, and it’s also a really handy size and weight to move around. I can definitely see it finding a useful place in a number of different spots about the house. It’s one of the only YPPERLIG pieces still remaining from the original 2017 collaboration, which is surely testament to the enduring popularity of the design – and tray tables in general.
When it came to furnishing our living room, one of the most important things for us was how the space was going to be used. In our previous flat, our lounge was part of an open-plan living area that also included the kitchen and dining area. In our new home – a three-storey townhouse – the biggest appeal for us was that our living room could be a space that really did offer comfort, cosiness and a vital escape from both of our home offices. I’ve worked from home for nearly four years now, so for me being able to separate work and play has become a natural part of my lifestyle, but my boyfriend only started working from home permanently when the first lockdown began. Having a whole room to retreat to at the end of the day, and being able to get comfy and unwind was crucial. Two of the most important elements to create a hyggeligt atmosphere – for me at least – are cosy, tactile layers and mood lighting. I’ve accumulated a lot of IKEA cushion covers and throws over the years, and the best thing is being able to mix and match them to create different vibes. I’ve updated my collection this year with the spotty tones of the jacquard woven wool RÅVAROR throw, which is large enough for two people to snuggle up under, and super soft and cosy to the touch.
When it came to lighting, it was always going to be important to invest in a couple of good ambient light sources in this room, as the single overhead light source (a truly hideous chandelier) casts terribly stark beams that are not conducive in any way to rest and relaxation. I’ve been a fan of the modern minimal curves in the NYMÅNE lighting collection since launch, and the black table lamp (also available in white) makes for a beautiful statement piece atop our TV cabinet. The clever design means that the grid on the topside of the lamp spreads the light upwards to provide good general lighting, while the grid on the underside protects against glare and spreads a pleasant light downwards – perfect for a cosy little reading corner!
And there you have it; our new living room fit for an IKEA-style date night on the sofa, complete with obligatory meatballs, mash, and IKEA’s signature cream sauce. Did you spot that IKEA shared the recipe for their popular dish on Twitter during the early part of the first lockdown? Of course, Luis immediately added the ingredients to our click-and-collect food shop and tried his hand at it. Delicious indeed, and the best possible way to bring our weekly IKEA date night home!
This post is in collaboration with IKEA, but all thoughts and experiences – and love of Swedish meatballs – are my own. All photography © Kate Baxter & Luis Leiva.