Bright Ideas

IKEA Products Make the Room in These 6 Small Spaces

From DIY hacks to vintage pieces, IKEA can add soul to any interior
kitchen with orange walls wood cabinets and a small dining table
Vintage IKEA sconces are peppered throughout the space.Photo: Didier Delmas

The reputation of IKEA products lies in their value, which can make them feel a little homogenous at times. But don’t sell the brand short: the Swedish giant can also add a lot of character to a space, particularly small ones. DIY IKEA hacks can turn standard prefab furniture into a one-of-a-kind showpieces, while scouting resale sites and flea markets can be key to scoring a number of enviable items from vintage IKEA lines (like this iconic Vajer dresser). With a little zhuzhing and creative styling, IKEA products can make a room. Still need convincing? Check out these 6 spaces below where an IKEA piece steals the show.

Marble adds new personality to IKEA cabinets

The view from the apartment’s entrance, with the dining area to the right and the open bar-style kitchen to the right.

Photo: Alexandre Tabaste

In Passy, on the western edge of Paris, architect Hélène Lacombe transformed a small 431-square-foot studio into an apartment that feels much larger. “We spent a lot of time on the plans, thinking about the little adjustments that would make everything fit and work,” she explains, as the budget was limited. A masterly feat, the kitchen is an example of how an IKEA hack can give style to a small space: she added ultra-elegant marble cladding to the top of the cabinets.

A perfect pair: light wood and terrazzo

This kitchen was designed by Heju and feature IKEA kitchen units.

Photo: Heju Studio

Design firm Heju added a touch of soul to this somewhat drab apartment, transforming it into a sensual, relaxing, and exotic interior. The play of materials and tone-on-tone continues in the dining area, where the ceiling is painted in Argile’s Milano. On the wall, the waxed concrete backsplash is highlighted by a walnut shelf and mini Glo-Ball sconces from Flos, while IKEA kitchen units are covered with a terrazzo worktop.

Retro IKEA armchairs provide an ideal design solution

The two armchairs in this room by Lauranne Élise Schmitt are vintage IKEA.

Photo: Alice Mesguich

Architect Lauranne Élise Schmitt created a tasteful 646-square-foot apartment in Paris’s Montmartre district. Using mahogany, ochre, and burgundy tones in a sophisticated Haussmannian style, it’s picturesque classic-meets-graphic. To pull it together, Lauranne Élise chose a pair of vintage IKEA armchairs from the 1970s. “Dark wood is a bit of a trademark for me. Lightly varnished, and it couldn’t be more chic. The China cabinet matches the vintage IKEA armchairs, which I find very beautiful with their leather and dark wood.” The retro model in solid pine and leather, designed by Karin Mobring, sets the whole tone for the living room.

Vintage IKEA sconces are functional and stylish

Architect Thibaut Picard found vintage IKEA sconces through antique dealers.

Photo: Didier Delmas

Architect Thibaut Picard reworked the volumes of this apartment in eastern Paris, which is made up of a series of small rooms connected by a long hallway, accentuating its horizontality with lively tones. The decor features vintage accents, with an attractive collection of lighting fixtures. Some these were found at antique dealers, such as the wall lamps in the living room and hallway, which are an IKEA model from the 1980s. “For me, they’re both decorative objects and functional sources of light,” Thibaut says.

A mini coffee table for the living room

In this living room by Isabelle Heilmann, a sofa bench from Bolia faces a mini IKEA coffee table.

Photo: BCDF Studio

Designer Isabelle Heilmann’s first project was this 495-square-foot apartment on Boulevard Voltaire in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. In the living room, a banquette faces a mini IKEA coffee table—a helpful space-saver, especially given the apartment’s difficult circulation. And it provides an answer to the eternal question that often arises when picking a table for a small space: round or rectangular?

Lacquer adds interest to IKEA cabinets

The navy blue lacquer adds new depth to standard IKEA cabinents.

Photo: Bcdf Studio

Having bought the adjoining unit in order to expand their apartment, the owners of this 646-square-foot home in Paris’s Ternes neighborhood knew exactly what they wanted when they called in interior designer Apolline Terrier. During the remodel, the kitchen didn’t move, but was reimagined. It’s sky light provided the inspiration to add more openings in the roof above the living-dining area, while IKEA cabinets, lacquered in navy blue, command attention.