By Shani Silver

Published on October 19, 2016

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

With Ikea’s new 2017 offerings filling catalog pages, we found ourselves realizing just how long we’ve been relying on this iconic, affordable brand’s designs. We can hardly remember a year that didn’t involve an all-day Ikea extravaganza, and we’ve been assembling things so long we’re actually good at using an allen wrench. In that spirit, we dove into an Ikea catalog from 2002 (found on eBay!) to remember time (and design) gone by. 

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First: Color. While we’re huge fans of Scandinavian proclivity for neutral tones, we were delighted to take a trip down memory lane with this bold, unapologetic color scheme. What feels jarring now was fresh and upbeat back then. 

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Another moment of 2002 showroom-chic, the matchy-matchy color story happening here is one you won’t find in modern-day offerings. (Though it’s fun to look back, isn’t it?)

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And then there are the things that we’ll always be able to rely on, such as the classic you-probably-had-one-in-college small space couch that’s become Ikea iconic. Bonus points if you slipcovered yours once or twice. 

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CD storage! There isn’t one among us who didn’t set one of these babies out on the 25 cent table at a garage sale. Parting with the now-outdated music and data format was a tough one, but we’re very grateful for the storage space it freed up! 

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Is anyone else getting a Monica-and-Rachel vibe from this shot? 

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Two more moments we won’t see again: non-flat-screen TVs, and this particular light shade of wood. Now we tend to veer toward more natural wood hues (or even bleached wood!), and have happily upgraded our entertainment centers to meet modern dimensions and trends. 

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More than just the width and dimension change, we’re also noticing just how much the “entertainment center” vibe has changed as a whole. Where once the presence of machine after machine was nothing short of status symbol, now that idea just seems outdated. Equipment itself, and the way we display/don’t display it has changed to much! 

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Unsurprisingly, we keep seeing color come back again and again as the trait that has evolved most since 2002. Many of the table shapes and heights here are still available today, but we’ve long since veered away from this early-aughts hue. (Which now has kind of a dentist’s office vibe to it, tbh). 

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This slide is a mixed bag. While we’re not totally ready to retire all of our Ikea locker moments (especially when you can hack them), that lampshade looks like something out of a period piece at this point. 

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We can’t forget the office furniture! In thinking of how we like to style our offices today, this whole spread looks like a “before” shot. 

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Then, now, and always, the POÄNG chair isn’t going anywhere, and is one of the few styles we spotted in this vintage catalog that still carries just as much clout today. So much so that the chair even got an upgrade for its 40-year anniversary

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Of all the trends we don’t miss, the super-country kitchen ranks very close to the top. We’re happy to have swapped warm woods for cool marbles and more rustic farm table setups. Side note; isn’t it fascinating to see how much chandeliers have evolved over the last 15 years?  

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Try, if you will, to ignore the yellow and red color choices made here, and instead look at this cabinetry. Was it not a bit ahead of its time? Dividing a room into functional areas (especially small ones!) feels very of the moment, and while the colors here aren’t working for us, the functionality totally is. 

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Remember when it was cool to show off your entire DVD collection in plain view? We’re thrilled to have adopted a more minimalist approach to movies. (And Netflix!)

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A word on legs: While sofa shapes haven’t changed too much since this catalog came out, the legs most certainly have. We’ve moved away from these somewhat sterile options and further toward the cool minimalism of a midcentury or industrial style. 

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One of the most fun things we noticed was how the “essentials” of a living room have changed. Here, you won’t find a pouf, belly basket, or palm, but you definitely will in our living rooms. 

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We begin to see the early stages of open shelving here. Moving away from standard cabinets and toward new glass-front models was the first major step toward kitchen storage innovation, and we love where things have gone since! One thing that never changes at all? Our love for Ikea. That simply grows.