If there’s one thing that unites us design lovers, it’s IKEA. Be it for first apartments or small spaces, the retailer is a universal favorite, seamlessly integrating into any culture—for proof, look no further than the IKEA catalog. (Yes, the one that just came out this week. We’re still not over it.)
The digital version includes a section where IKEA tasked five designers from five different countries with designing a fictional home. With the same layout (a compact two-bedroom) and the same family (a grandmother, two parents, a child, and a baby) in mind, each team had to create a dream space based on the lifestyle in their given country. The results are a fascinating peek into how IKEA is used around the world; take a look.
The backstory: The Poland team imagined a scenario where the young parents move in with the grandmother temporarily, while they save up for their own place in the suburbs.
The solution: The designers felt that the grandmother would keep her own bedroom (it’s only fair), with the kids sharing the second and the parents setting up camp in the living room. Therefore, a good sleeper sofa was of the utmost importance—as was a closed-doored cabinet system.
The backstory: The American set-up presumes that the grandmother comes temporarily to help the family with the baby, as both parents go back to work.
The solution: In this situation, the U.S designers thought the grandmother would be the one relegated to the living room. Enter: tall cabinets for her clothes and dark blackout curtains that provide privacy at night, when the family room becomes sleeping quarters.
The backstory: Grandma permanently moves into the family apartment to help care for the baby. Health and nutrition are prized above all in the space.
The solution: Calming neutrals and natural materials like birch and wicker brighten up the apartment. With grandma sharing a room with the older child and the parents sleeping with the baby, the living room is a space for all to gather—so, of course, the designers piled in the plants for some ambiance.
The backstory: The family plans for the grandma to live with them while they house-hunt, so they design the layout with five residents in mind.
The solution: In the Spanish IKEA home, the grandmother shares a room with the eldest child, while the rest of the spaces are specifically styled to accommodate larger groups. A storage ottoman or nesting end tables, for example, can be brought out for tapas when everyone is around.
The backstory: In Germany, the grandmother is more so a commuter: She lives with the family only a few days a week to give the parents a bit of rest. The designers also pictured the apartment’s residents living in this rental for six years—yes, it was an elaborate storyline.
The solution: Given the fact that the family would live there for quite a while, the team made the place feel more personal by incorporating bold color pops in things like textiles and cabinetry. They also added wall-mounted cubbies for smart storage that doesn’t feel temporary.