I Thought I Hated This Piece of IKEA Furniture, But Now I Miss It Every Day

published Mar 21, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Last year, I decided it was time to get new bedroom furniture. Up until then, all of my furniture had been inherited from people I subletted from or friends leaving New York. While all the pieces were fine and functional, together they were creating a disheveled vibe. I craved cohesion.

One of the things I was most eager to replace was a IKEA LEKSVIK Semainier dresser. It had five medium-sized drawers and a small hutch on top. It had to be more than 10 years old, and I am sure I had to be the fourth or fifth owner. (I can’t even find a picture of it online, so you’ll have to click on that above link if you’re interested in seeing it!) There was nothing wrong with it—surprisingly for a 10-year-old IKEA dresser, all the drawers worked without any problems. However, the russet-stained “wood” looked cheap and dated, and I knew there were better things out there for me and my bedroom. Though it wasn’t pretty, it had a purpose: My other, larger dresser was still too small for my wardrobe, so three of the LEKSVIK’s drawers housed the overfill. The other two, were used as “junk drawers.” Since I was buying a dresser big enough to store all of my clothes, as well as a couple of fabric bins for my closet to throw my “junk” in, I thought I could replace that drawer with a traditional nightstand or a sexy open bookshelf. (My bedroom is very, very narrow, FYI!)

So I took another trip to IKEA (hey, I’m not made of money) and ordered a couple of things online, including this interesting looking shelf from Amazon to place at my bedside. I hauled my latchkey furniture set out to the curbside, where it was swiftly picked up by passersby, and returned inside to put together my new bedside shelf.

At first, I absolutely loved it. I had a blast styling my books, plants, and tchotchkes. It could be dramatic! It could be understated! It could be complex and layered! It could be minimalistic! I didn’t have to open or sift through any drawers! We were in a honeymoon period!

But then reality swiftly came a knocking: I am not the type of person who can have open displays! I love saying yes to free things way too much, and I don’t like taking time out of my schedule to declutter. Tout à coup, I found my room becoming messier quicker than I had with my old furniture! I had piles of things I had to “deal with,” and those carefully arranged shelves were quickly jumbled.

Now, just a couple of months later, it’s getting to be too much to keep up with, and I’m in the market for another lingerie chest! I miss the ability to just shove things in a drawer and deal with it quarterly. Yes, the LEKSVIK wasn’t pretty, but I could have kept it, and zhushed it up while I awaited the perfect piece to appear online or at a thrift shop. Now, it seems like every weekend I have to tell myself I need to declutter, which isn’t a problem per se, but is somewhat stressful—especially when I have much better things to do than clean.

Turns out, I like my storage like I like my men: Tall, thin, and filled with a ton of hidden garbage I should probably throw out. Though I can’t get that LEKSVIK back (Alexa, play “Lost Cause” by Beck), and fewer skinny vertical chests are less available than you’d think, there are some comparable models on the market.

Here’s what I’m looking at:

I have the larger HEMNES dresser, so it’s tempting to get the matching semainier (though our design editor Bridget Mallon says she regrets going matchy-matchy.)

I also like this lingerie chest from West Elm:

Now, this wouldn’t go with my room, but I do love the compromise this piece from Urban Outfitters makes between shelves and drawers:

Moral of the story? Yes, I will never really know what I have until it’s gone, but more importantly, don’t be aspirational with your storage picks. If you’re looking for a new system, I’d advise you to learn from my mistakes: Make sure your new bureau has just as many drawers as your old one!

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