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.



  1. They definitely have their design formula down. But when you get the box home that has all the bits and pieces of the tallboy dresser inside, be prepared to follow the directions TO THE LETTER! There’s a reason they offer in-home assembly of their products for an additional, not-so-modest price!

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