IKEA College Ideas for Dorms or Student Apartments

IKEA College Ideas
IKEA College Storage Idea: Red Kallax with Castors

 

Some kids aren’t even out of school yet, but, if you have a son or daughter headed to college this fall, it is time to start thinking about their room and/or apartment needs.  Mamakea has learned it gets very busy during the college back-to-school time.  Even worse, last year by the time the boom tapered off, IKEA St. Louis was out of many of the most popular items.  To help you plan, Mamakea is going to give you some great IKEA college ideas for dorms or student apartments.

IKEA College Ideas–Storage

Whether you are living in a dorm or an apartment, storage systems are a must-have and IKEA’s are legendary.  A very simple, affordable system is their Kallax series.  This unit comes in various sizes, colors and there are plenty of basket solutions available that fit inside the cubbies and hide the jumble, and you can add inserts to divide the squares or add doors.  Kallax units are simple to put together and will move well after school is finished.

  • White with Red Inserts

IKEA College Ideas–Beds

There are at least three different approaches to beds for college students.  For dorm rooms a loft is often a good idea, and IKEA has a great option in the Stuva loft bed with desk and storage.  This can be custom configured and comes in a variety of accent colors so you can coordinate your bed with your new school colors!  This is a small bed, however, and probably will not be comfortable for a tall/big person.

Another space saving idea is one of the many trundle beds that IKEA offers.  There are two models, the Brimnes and Hemnes, that are both solid beds, have a pull out bed for guests, and offer bonus storage under the bed.  Keep in mind, though, for these to work you must have clear floor space that is more than double the width of the closed bed.  And they both work best if you buy the IKEA mattresses which are a narrow profile so they can be stacked when the bed is a twin and separated when the bed is open.  Between the two , the Brimnes is less expensive, but the Hemnes has a true daybed feel with a high head, back and foot board all around, so I think this makes it the better study option.

If you are outfitting an apartment and have a full size bedroom, you probably want to consider a full-size or queen bed and of course IKEA has many options. Their most popular options are Malm and Brimnes.  Both of these beds come with the option of underbed drawers and both have finish options.  The Brimnes can be purchased with no headboard (just the frame), or with a headboard that includes storage.  All IKEA beds also come with a choice of slatted base, which is the platform portion of the bed.  My recommendation is to go with the basic model Luroy because it seems just as sturdy but is less expensive and MUCH easier to assemble.

IKEA College Ideas–Dressers

Depending on how much storage is built in to the living quarters and whether or not your bed has storage options, you may want to skip the dresser.  But if you decide you need one, the most popular options are the Malm and Hemnes series.  They are both affordable and roomy: the Malm is less expensive, but the Hemnes will hold up better and last past college.  Both have different finish choices and an array of configurations.  And for a little added style, be sure to check out my last blog about creative and easy “hacks”.

  • IKEA College Options--Dressers
    Hemnes White 6 Drawer Chest

IKEA College Ideas –Desks

IKEA has 14 pages of items if you search “desks,” which includes study desks, computer desks, stand up desks, a variety of office chairs and many accessories.  This is really a personal preference and therefore hard to make a recommendation.  I can make two general statements:  first, you get what you pay for–the cheaper the desk, the less durable it is–and, second, all of the office chairs I have assembled have been very nice.  Having said that, I am going to point out a couple of my favorites.

As far as desks go, I think the Liatorp is very nice.  It is strong, has hidden storage and has nice finishing details.  It is available in white or this very nice grey. And as the images show, it can be faced against a wall or facing out and still look fantastic.

IKEA College Ideas
Bekant Desk in Black and White

 

 

A totally different option is the Bekant Desk, which is height adjustable (it can be used as a “stand up desk”), has a cable management “net” underneath, is very solid and has a variety of color options.  This model does not offer any storage, however.

 

 

 

IKEA College Ideas
Renberget Swivel Chair

 

In my experience, all of the IKEA office chairs are good quality and reasonably comfortable.  In the end it mostly comes down to features and style.  Considering all of this, my choice would be the very affordable Renberget swivel chair.

Of course, IKEA has everything else you need to set up a home, including kitchen and living room furniture, textiles, bathroom accessories and plenty of decor add-ons.  Please give Mamakea a call soon and we will help put together your shopping list and your furniture!

Ikea Beyond Furniture: Decor, Kitchens, Entertaining

Due to Ikea being a recent addition in St. Louis, not everyone is familiar with the wide selection of products they offer.  Everyone knows about their inexpensive furniture choices (that require Mamakea’s assembly services), but there are many other product lines that may surprise shoppers.

Ikea Home Decor

EIVOR CIRKEL Rug, high pile IKEA The dense, thick pile dampens sound and provides a soft surface to walk on.
Eivor Cirkel Rug

Most people are aware that Ikea offers home decor items in addition to furniture. They have an incredibly wide range of lamps, rugs, baskets, vases, and picture frames; you get the idea. All of these items are just as stylish and affordable as the furniture. As an example, the Eivor Cirkel rug is 6’7″ by 6’7″ square for $149.  In fact, 70% of their current rug offerings are less than $200.

FILLSTA Pendant lamp IKEA Diffused light that provides good general light in the room.
Fillsta Pendant Lamp

 

 

 

Ikea also carries all kinds of lighting: floor, ceiling table, LED, recessed. Their selection includes very modern designs as well as simple, more traditional models.  One of my favorite is this modern Fillsta pendant lamp–which sells for only $29!

FORMLIG Vase IKEA The glass vase is mouth blown by a skilled craftsperson.
Formlig Vase

 

 

If you are looking for vases that are high on style and low on your budget, Ikea is the place to look.  This 7 inch Formlig vase is only $9.99 and is mouth blown.  In fact, Ikea is the place to look if you are planning a banquet or wedding and need inexpensive centerpieces.  Combine the decorative vases with their abundance of candle options and voilà!, your centerpieces are complete.

 

Ikea Kitchens

In addition to the furniture, Ikea offers everything a designer needs to remodel a kitchen, including appliances.  A buyer or designer can start by using the planning tool to help choose and layout a kitchen design using their cabinets.  The beauty of this tool is that it creates a comprehensive shopping list for all of the items, including the details, that need to be purchased.  But besides the A small country kitchen with white drawers, doors and black countertops.cabinets, which honestly are just a type of furniture, they also offer high-end appliances.  But again, although they are high in design, they are very affordable options and of course are easy to coordinate with their cabinet designs.  You can see ideas in their gallery, which includes all styles from slick modern to homey to traditional elegance, all of which are extremely functional.

Ikea Entertaining

A ready-laid table with bowls and plates in dark grey stoneware.
Dramatic Table Setting

Ikea offers everything a host requires to set the mood for any occasion.  There are dishes that will work for everyday family dinners or are appropriate for an elegant dinner.  There is a wide range of table linens–place mats, coasters, napkins and tablecloths–that are of course affordable and coordinate with the dish selections.  Ikea also offers a wide range of serving ware that can dress up or down any table design.  And the glassware options are very practical, yet stylish, and the least expensive to be found. Ikea groups many of these as series, as seen below:

The ENIGT dinnerware series is cream colored with green designs and is dishwasher and microwave safe
Enigt Dinnerware Series
Färgrik series
Fargrik Series
Arv
Arv Series

 

 

 

 

 

IKEA Glassware & pitchers
Frasera Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, Ikea has an amazing food selection that allows you to set out a feast on any of these table settings without much time or money.  I am going to cover this more in the future, as well as more detail on topics such as the incredible children’s offerings and paper product lines.

 

Avoid the Most Common Ikea Assembly Mistakes

I truly have a passion for the assembly of furniture–especially Ikea assembly.  I appreciate the design and engineering of the items, and I think their instructions are very expressive: all with no words so they are multilingual.  I do realize, however, that I am not necessarily in the majority, so I am going to attempt to share some of the more meaningful tips for successful Ikea assembly.

A couple of days ago I was contacted to assemble a Brimnes bed.  After providing my quote the customer felt it necessary to tell me the following:  “full disclosure– I’m sorting out a terrible experience with a contractor from XXXX.com who misrepresented his ability to assemble Ikea. Bed is about 20% assembled with some minor mistakes (spacers left out of the drawer rails). No apparent damage done.”

20160527_102411
Ikea Brimnes bed after nine hours of effort from a competitor

The customer offered to pay me extra, but I assured them that I would sort it out and take care of it for the quoted, firm price.  When I showed up to do the assembly, the owner’s mother informed me that the original contractor had quoted three hours to put the bed together, and had given up after nine hours with it not even being close (or right). This is one reason I quote a firm price—not an hourly rate.  Any problems are on my time and my price structure is in line with Ikea’s, at a lower price point.

I took time to assess where the job was, but I should have skipped this step and just taken it all apart—which is what I did in the end.  My assessment determined that NOTHING was put together correctly, except one drawer.  In the end the bed was put together correctly and safely (total of 2.5 hours to disassemble and reassemble.)

I doubt this particular contractor will attempt Ikea assembly in the future, but I recommend everyone that is going to hire someone to do this for them find out what their experience is and ask for pictures of completed furniture.  My website has a gallery with a wide range of projects.

But if you are going to attempt assembly yourself, here are some tips to make things easier:

Assembly Tip One

20160302_105413
Mamakea Tool of the Trade: Sorting Box for Assembly Hardware

First step for any furniture assembly—sort and inventory the hardware.  Through all of my assemblies I have only come up short once from Ikea—and they were very gracious in replacing it—but it helps to know before you start instead of in the middle of the job.  Several times I have counted okay in the beginning and been missing something later, but I know it is there somewhere and I just need to look.  Furniture brands other than Ikea usually have a set of spare hardware, but it is still easier to build when the hardware is sorted.  Especially when it is sorted on a tray of some sort—a muffin tin can work well if you don’t have this great tray.

Assembly Tip Two

Second solid tip:  If it isn’t fitting together, then you aren’t trying to put the right pieces together the right way.  All designers include dowels and the cam screws in a pattern that allows the items to go together in only one way.  If these aren’t lining up, then the two pieces don’t go together the way you are trying to make them.  It is not a good idea to remove enough dowels/screws to make them go together.  Things won’t fit later and even if they do, nothing will be secure with missing pieces.

Assembly Tip Three

ikea hardware
Ikea Assembly Instructions–be sure to pick the designated hardware

The third tip to keep from making rookie mistakes is be sure you are using the correct hardware at the right time.  Ikea will provide a “blow up” of the part to be used and compared to similar hardware pieces but crossed out, so you know which one is correct. You need to be careful here, because the wrong one might work now, but later when you only have the wrong thing left it might not fit.  If the screws/bolts/nuts were interchangeable they wouldn’t have included both kinds.  Take the time to figure out the right hardware in advance.

Assembly Tip Four

roller hardware marking
During drawer assembly look for the label on each piece of the drawer rollers and in the corresponding instructions.
drawer wheel
Note the location of the roller AND which hole is used to screw it to the furniture during assembly.

The last common mistake to watch out for is picking the right piece of drawer roller hardware for the right place.  The tracks come packaged in sets of four—two that go on the drawer and two for inside the furniture.  Hints to keep in mind:  the flat frame pieces will go in the furniture, the two pieces with the right angle go on the edge of the drawer.  In the case of Ikea sets, they mark each piece with letters indicating left/right and drawer/cabinet.  So DR is the right drawer piece, CL is the left cabinet piece.  If all else fails, look at the picture!  Pay attention to the location of the roller: is it in the front or back and on the top or bottom of the rail?  One last hint—there are multiple holes on these rails to accommodate all of the different furniture designs.  Different pieces use different holes to position them correctly for each piece of furniture.  Again, the picture will show this.

I hope this is helpful, but of course, my best advice is call Mamakea before you frustrate yourself!

Navigating Ikea—In Detail

The basic need for understanding the Ikea St. Louis store is that there are three levels.  The first level is just for parking/loading, but even for this there are “secrets.”  The first is, don’t forget about the covered parking.  I think it is missed by shoppers unfamiliar with the store and often there is much closer parking in the covered area than on the main parking lot.  I also find it easier to navigate out of, as the garage exit discharges you directly to the parking lot exit nearest the highway.  Because it is less crowded undercover it is typically easier to load your large purchases in the loading zone.  And of course, there is the protection from the elements for you, your car and your purchases.

After parking you have two choices to reach the first level—an elevator, and the escalator that deposits you at the starting point of the shopping experience.  This sounds simple, but there are several important things to take note of at this point.  First of all, if you have children with you it is wise to stop at Småland.  This area is set up as a Swedish forest playland for children ages 4-10.  You must sign them in and they must meet Ikea criteria (e.g. potty-trained, see website for complete details).  But this affords you one hour of temper-tantrum-free shopping!  This is very popular and the line can be long during peak times, so plan accordingly.

Ikea Showroom

Once you have dropped your children off, Ikea “directs” you up an escalator to the third floor, which is the Showroom.  If this is your first visit and/or you are truly just shopping, this is your best bet.  The Showroom is set up as vignettes of the different room furnishings (fully assembled) and does a fabulous job of exhibiting most all of Ikea’s stock.  Take note:  If you see a piece of furniture that you know you want, it is wise to check the tag and make a note of the self-serve location for it.  If you forgot pen/paper, Ikea has you covered there with stations set up randomly throughout the store that includes the map pamphlet, pencils, and even a paper yardstick!  On the pamphlet there is an area to write down the article and location it can be found in the self-serve area.  This will save you time later.

This showroom level does not have much that you will actually pick up and buy here, but there are a few exceptions.  For the most part you will not require a cart on this level and the only way to get one there is from the second floor, on the elevator.  The few exceptions to shopping on the third floor are kitchen cabinet accessories (hardware, for one), children’s items (stuffed animals, toys, step stools), and “Ikea family” which includes safety items, travel bags/backpacks, and books & games.  Because Ikea always thinks these things through, these are the last three departments you are directed through on this level.  If you are shopping for any of these items, or just in case, skip the cart and grab one of the yellow shopping bags that Ikea provides for toting items within the store.

At the “exit” of the showroom (there is a designated path that Ikea has designed to get you through the entire store so that you don’t miss anything—there are tricks to avoid this, which I will cover in the future) is the restaurant.  If you require sustenance for your shopping experience this is one of the places.  I will cover the restaurant more in the future.

Ikea Marketplace

To continue shopping, now you head back downstairs to the “marketplace.”  As a point of reference, this is the same level that you dropped children at Småland, and where you will eventually check out. Here it is advisable to grab a cart!  And, a tip on the carts:  There are two different kinds, a standard “grocery” cart, or a cart that has a bottom platform and allows for you to “hang” one of the yellow shopping bags.  I choose based on whether I am ultimately going to buy furniture.  If you are not planning on buying furniture—use a regular shopping cart; if you are planning on buying furniture, use a platform cart and a shopping bag for smaller items.

Again, Ikea has it laid out so there is a single path through the marketplace which assures you will see EVERYTHING.  (How else will they get you to buy it?)  Some items you will see more than once!  This is the stock for the accessory items that are displayed in the showroom, plus a lot more stuff.  In my experience I still see new things every time I walk through.

The end of the marketplace experience deposits you into the “self-serve” furniture area.  Remember the notes you made on your blue pamphlet on the location of the furniture you wanted?  It is arranged in this area based on the aisle/bin number that you recorded from the tag.  If you didn’t make these notes there is a computer kiosk pod that you can look the items up and it will give you this information, but it is located past where some of the most popular items are warehoused.  When I am at Ikea I try to avoid doubling back, since it is such a jaunt on its own!  Another note about carts:  at the entrance to the self-serve area is another type of cart, with a bigger platform.  This cart also allows for hanging of the yellow bag, but will allow for more/bigger furniture items.  I have been known to switch out my yellow bag to this cart and abandon the smaller platform cart here.

Ikea Self-serve Furniture Area

If you have identified a furniture item that is very large and the location says to “see a customer representative,” you must do that.  They will provide you with a printout that allows you to pay for the item, but it will be picked up at the “furniture pick-up” counter that is located after the check out.  This is for items that are larger than they safely want you grabbing from the self-serve area and/or more confusing/complicated set ups, like the kitchen cabinets.

At this point you should have all of your bounty and are ready to pay for it.  At the check outs you are expected to place the smaller (think marketplace) items on the belt, but they will scan the larger items from the cart.  It is expected you return the yellow bags here, but of course they have blue bags that are exactly the same that you can purchase!  They do not provide bags, so either bring your own, buy the blue bag ($0.99), or carry it all loose to your car.  The blue bags are enormous and very strong.  I purchased a couple and just take them back with me whenever I go.

After checking out, you can still shop!  The “Swedish Food Market and Bistro” are past the checkout lanes.  I will cover the Food Market in another post, but if you shop here you can pay at their check out (if it is open) or at the Bistro.  The Bistro has a limited menu of snack items, including the cinnamon rolls that you have been smelling throughout the entire store!

Unless you need to pick up large furniture, your shopping experience is finished.  Remember, you are still on the second level, so you need to go downstairs.  There is an escalator “ramp” that carries people with bags, or the oversized elevator for people with carts.  Once downstairs you need to remember where you parked.  If you have any type of furniture I recommend pulling up to the loading area (either inside or outside).  There are Ikea employees that will help load your car (usually).

The last step is to call Mamakea for help assembling your furniture!