Why It's Time To Create A Cosy Home That Lasts A Lifetime

By Rue Kothari
03 April 2019
Illustration: Michael Hoeweler

Disposable design is so last decade. Update your home with pieces that last forever and don’t cost the earth

Somewhere in the Pacific is a giant mountain of floating rubbish, and I guarantee you that buried in its belly is at least one soggy IKEA sideboard, bobbing about with the rest of the detritus that has nowhere else to go but up the snout of some poor little dolphin.

Here in the Middle East, we’re well acquainted with the seductive charms of the Swedish superstore. Don’t even try and pretend you’ve not fallen foul of the ‘pop-in for a scented candle and come out with a three-piece suite’ trap. Even moreso in our transient cities, one-bed Marina view pads, downtown duplexes and Truman Show-esque gated villas, we’re often here for the ‘now’ and not ‘forever’, so a quick decor fix seems utterly acceptable. When you move – and you will move – you can just throw it away, right? 

Thing is, the world has changed dramatically since founder Ingvar Kamprad launched his low-cost, flat-pack model in 1943. And even technophobe IKEA have realised they need to evolve, launching plans to remove all single use plastics from its product range by 2020, and introducing (a rather tokenistic) recycling scheme for once-loved bits.

Aside from the environmental impact, there’s the sticky subject of style with substance. If you’ve bought all of page 53 in the IKEA catalogue, I’m sure your living rooms looks pleasant enough. You may even be imbued with the warm glow of ‘hygge’ – the Danish term for cosiness, or the feeling of being wrapped in a cashmere blanket. And while that all sounds as lovely as life in a retirement home, it literally is old news.

The Scandinavians, bored with languishing fireside, wearing merino tracksuits on slouchy sofas garlanded by a dozen blazing candles, have emerged from their subconscious lazing to realise that they need to be a bit more conscious in the way they consume. This gave rise to the term ‘lagom’ – or living mindfully and shopping sustainably. Apparently even that wasn’t quite enough, because this quickly gave way to the concept of ‘umage’ or ‘make more effort’ – a mantra to invest your time into creating a home that is not only beautiful to behold and indecently comfortable but comes guilt-free. So, no more ignoring the dripping tap, sleeping on crumpled bedsheets and living with that wobbly flatpack furniture you secretly hate, it’s time to (ahem) live the dream.

The online revolution in furniture retail should inform your first point of call. Led by innovative brands like made.com or Brooklinen, you can select from a cleverly curated collection of handmade, durable objects from linen to beds. You can request material samples, fabric swatches and even send that giant L-shaped sofa back if it simply doesn’t work in your living room, all at no extra cost.

For outdoor, look at Yardbird, one of a crop of sustainably-driven new brands. They use thousands of kilos of intercepted ocean plastic and substantially plant more trees than they use to manufacture their al fresco furniture. Also freeing the oceans from plastic are Silentnight’s Eco Comfort Breathe beds, that use eco-fibres made from recycled bottles. Supported by the Marine Conservation Society, you are guaranteed a truly peaceful night’s sleep.

Buying online also means that you can buy better. Rather than paying a massive retail mark-up, purchasing your piece direct from the manufacturer will make your money go further: you can buy well-crafted pieces in high quality materials, quite often with bespoke elements that come in at half the price.
The smartest way to live these days is to invest for the long term, in high quality pieces that will look just as chic tomorrow as they do today. Furniture isn’t fashion, you’ll never turn over your home with the same velocity as you do your wardrobe, so take your cue from the Scandis and spend your time and efforts wisely. I promise you, the world will thank you for it.