Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Schmintage

I've seen a bit of snobbery about The Block in the blogosphere over the past week. Now I'm the first to admit that people who sign up for a show about renovating while claiming they have no renovation experience at all are either lying or stark, raving mad. I'm also one of the first to admit that the high pressure environment they're renovating in probably isn't conducive to top quality work. What I find a little hard to swallow is people criticising it simply because contestants are furnishing rooms with furniture from *gasp* IKEA.

"Where is all the vintage dahhhhling?" is the outcry.

I mean if vintage floats your boat then that's all well and good. I have a thing about rummaging around in junk shops myself, but to dismiss something simply because it involves some Swedish flatpack seems to me to be as unimaginative as critics claim shopping at IKEA is.

Why is buying some mission brown chairs in a second hand shop and sanding them back and painting them tangerine any more inspiring and imaginative as me buying some dining chairs from Ikea, painting them yellow and recovering the seats? Chances are the mission brown chairs were mass-produced in the 1970s just like the IKEA chairs - admittedly there are probably fewer of them around these days because a bazillion of them ended up in landfill, but the principle is still the same. Isn't it?

The great thing I find about IKEA is it offers furniture that is a blank canvas. It's cheap enough for me to experiement with my creative side. I've taken $10 Lack side tables and covered them in wallpaper and create fun play tables for my daughter. I've customised Expedit shelving units and most recently, I've become obsessed with custom couch covers for my IKEA sofa.
You see when we moved and downsized, we had to get a new sofa as our old one simply didn't fit. Because we have dogs it made sense to get one with a removable and washable cover. So we went on a mission to IKEA (I know, I know, we should have schlepped around junk yards looking for a vintage sofa). We bought a basic three seat sofa and have been living with it happily ever since (design fail). Anyway, because I like the change the mood in our living room almost as often as I like to change the sheets on our bed, I went hunting for some new covers.

A search on Etsy turned up the delightful Knesting and I bought my first customised cover - all of a sudden I had a bespoke couch. In case you're wondering, it's the gorgeous Amy Butler cover in the first picture.

I then stumbled across Bemz and have since spent many happy hours exploring. I've bought three covers from there - a simple cotton one, a plum coloured chennille one and my favourite, the red and pink Marimekko one in the second picture. I haven't yet unveiled it as I'm saving it for when we move in. I think it's going to look amazing with the dark floors and high ceilings. I bought it before we bought our place, but I just had an inkling a special place was not far away so I splurged.

I've also noticed they have covers for Lillberg armchairs and I think I've picked out the perfect fabric for ours - do you like it? It will go in our downstairs living space or possibly the spare room. Truth be told it will probably move on a weekly basis.

The point of this rant? I've forgotten. Suffice to say I think 'vintage' as a term is so overused it's almost become a teensy bit ridiculous. I mean calling a 1950s beaded Chanel shift vintage is one thing, calling the empty Keen's mustard jar from last week's shopping vintage is, frankly, pretenious beyond words.

Anyway, in my humble opinion, IKEA doesn't have to be the anathema of everything that is good and creative about design.

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