How Swede It Is

There’s no doubt in my mind that life in Ubud comes packed with lots of pluses; chief among which is the gratifyingly glaring absence of fast food joints and big box stores. Except for one branch of a global coffee brand in midtown, we’ve been spared. Hallelujah.

But if I’m perfectly honest, there’s one store that I wouldn’t mind traipsing through once in awhile.  And now that I’ve spent a little bit of time back in the Great White North of Canada (seems odd to write that in the scorching heat of late August’s summer), and spent a couple of hours meandering down its aisles and alleys, I know why. DSC04802

IKEA’s got a Swede thing going.

Not just the color combinations, the youthful styles, the design know-how of putting together a room. Not just the eye-catching mix-and-match sets, the pretend-bedrooms, the kitchen-dining rooms. But that Swede thing is: it’s so easy to imagine yourself living a well-designed, beautiful and uber-comfortable, super-IKEA-fied life. Isn’t it?

DSC04798-001But now they’ve gone one step further. The folks at IKEA are hawking stoves and ovens, refrigerators a far wider range of tchotchkes than I can remember ever seeing. They’ve even added in faux-windows adorned with full-color, true-to-life backdrops, reflecting the Montreal skyline. Imagine stepping into a faux-apartment, standing insiDSC04795de a lusciously staged bedroom, staring out a faux-window onto a scene of a downtown skyscraper that once was the very office building in which you worked? Eery.

Do my eyes deceive me or is IKEA branching out into clothing design too? For a moment, I thought I’d stepped into ZARA instead. Cross-branding? Market-cornering?

Then, I came face to face with pots and pans – reminding me that I’d been on a hunt for a stainless steel skillet. Seeing the incredible array of glittering silver pot-ware spread out in front of me, I approached with caution and query: Which one would suit me best? I turned to my tried-and-true method, a la Goldilocks; picking each one up to test its mettle, or rather… its weight.  I picked up one after another – discovering that one of the prettier ones weighed a ton in steel, more like lead; ergo I could not lift it at all. After all, the only one I could lift was truly tiny – small enough to fit into the palm of my hand. (Still, I left it behind).

Hands down, the most memorable part of this trip down furniture-linen-gizmo-gadget lane was the abundance of poofy comfort that called out to me at nearly every corner. Ohhh… let’s try out this love seat. How about that L-shaped couch? Then again, DSC04800I really need to road-test that day bed! Nothing like a stroll through a well-tended garden of voluptuous cotton-upholstered loungers, each one calling out to me – with a come hither look – tempting me into easy-chair and pullout-daybed submission.

I admit it was hard to tear myself away from that place. Even I, admittedly spartan and minimalist as I am (and long before those Minimalist guys went viral), felt my heart flutter as I waded through sheets and duvets, cozy rooms, walls full of funky decor. I guess I have a Swede spot for Scandinavian (and plain good) design.DSC04796

I’d walked in expecting to find nothing at all – or, at least, nothing more than a lightweight skillet; and came out flush full of ludicrously unrealistic bubble gum fantasies, of how I could jazz up my Ubud pad, and Sweden my home.

Then I remembered that, when I’m home, it has all it needs and I love it just the way it is.