4 Design Lessons We Learned from IKEA’s First Manhattan Store

updated Aug 29, 2019
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Credit: IKEA U.S.A.

It’s official: Manhattan’s first IKEA is finally here. And trust us: It doesn’t disappoint. Out with the warehouse vibes of your traditional IKEA, this store is a planning studio. In other words? You can get inspired by pre-arranged rooms and work with employees to get what you need for your own small spaces. Once you’ve found everything you need, IKEA will ship your finds straight to your doorstep.

But somewhere between strategically placed vignettes and Scandinavian pieces are design tips we can all bring into our small spaces. I recently toured IKEA’s new Manhattan outpost and now I’m sharing some of my favorite takeaways below.

Credit: IKEA U.S.A.

1. Make Use of All the Vertical Space 

Almost every wall of each pre-arranged “room” featured art, shelves, or storage solutions that went all the way up to the ceiling—which makes perfect sense. When you don’t have the floor space, the only way to go is up. Throw a bunch of shelves up there, use every inch of space you have to get as much storage as you need, and accent with gallery walls and other wall art where it makes sense. Home is where the heart is, but home is also where you store all your stuff, so make sure you can. 

Credit: IKEA U.S.A.

2. Dark Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Enclosed 

The Planning Studio makes use of all colors—including black and dark colors. While bringing in light, bright colors has always been a small-space requisite (to open a room up), I found the dark color scheme in some of the planned rooms made the spaces feel cozy and—dare I say it—large. At least, as large as a small space can feel. 

But before you coat your walls in a moody hue, check out our cardinal rules for going to the dark side.

Credit: IKEA U.S.A.

3. Invest in Great Lighting

That being said, there were plenty of windows throughout the entire space, with pendants and different lighting fixtures in every pre-planned room aplenty. Make sure your rooms are well lit to brighten up the space and also add warmth. Overhead lighting is not the entire answer!

Credit: IKEA U.S.A

4. Take on the Texture

There were so many textiles in every space, it made me just want to curl up on any surface and take a nap. Even a bathtub had two different fabric items, and I just thought, “yeah, that could be a bed.” Up that coziness factor with different textiles that not only work in that capacity, but that also keep things interesting with different designs, finishes, and textures. Plus, they’re easy to swap out, so you won’t have to navigate a whole space redo if you decide to change up the color scheme.