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date with ikea
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 2

The next day, walking around my new neighborhood, I spied another cool hanging lamp in a tiny shop window. Shaped like a flying saucer, it beckoned me closer. The shop had no name; it was so dark and cramped that when I first peeked in the door, I wasn't quite sure it was open. But I wedged my way into the cramped entrance anyway, greeted by a light, spicy smell: the slightly-dusty scent of good old things.

The shop turned out to be a tiny treasure trove of exactly the sorts of mid-century-modern vintage furnishings that I've always loved. The vibrant colors, the curvy-sinewy shapes, the sleek lines… these were all things I'd seen at IKEA, too. But there was a difference. Though the shop was half the size of an IKEA restroom, it offered a greater array of objects in its tiny confines than in the whole IKEA compound. Every item was one of a kind, and wandering in and out of the precariously arranged aisles, gingerly moving objects aside, I felt the kind of excitement that comes from not quite knowing what you're going to find.

Picking up an orange table lamp with a doughnut-shaped shade, I realized that if I bought this little lamp, there wouldn't be another one waiting in the wings to replace it. The same was true of every other item in the store. And there was something about that fact that made each and every item feel special, in a way that a mass-produced IKEA lamp just doesn't, no matter how pretty it is.

So I'm still a big fan of the way in which IKEA makes smart design so affordable, letting struggling young twenty-somethings know that we don't have to settle for ugly house stuff. But I no longer have any urge to outfit my pad floor-to-ceiling in unpronounceably-Swedish-monikered furnishings. IKEA's provided me with a great foundation of the essential basics for a proper pad. But when it comes to filling my space with the little things that really make a home unique, I'll still look towards secondhand finds and my own semi-crafty skills -- the stuff that ensures that my place doesn't look like anyone else's but mine.


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