When new homeowner Cristina Chidhalay swiped through her email one day in late April she could have sent her regular IKEA newsletter directly to the trash folder without reading it, but she’s glad she didn’t because just a few months later she found herself standing in her newly redecorated living room with her partner, Krysta Smith, and their dog, Whiskey.
It all happened so fast. One minute Chidhalay was recording a video of her living room with her iPhone and seemingly the next she was opening the front door of her SeaTac home to welcome the IKEA Home Tour Squad.
“I’m just glad that email went into my inbox instead of my junk folder,” Chidhalay said. “If I hadn’t have seen that email that day, I wouldn’t have submitted us.”
The Home Tour Squad has spent the last three years touring the country assisting families with their home furnishing challenges in one room of a “winning” home. The makeover process is filmed by squad member and camera operator Jesse Myatt and posted on IKEA USA’s social media channels to inspire homeowners and show them how they can address similar home furnishing challenges. This year’s tour saw more than 900 submissions for six cities including Draper, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle — two to three makeover recipients are chosen in each location.
Entrants are able to request help with a bathroom (for decoration, not remodel), bedroom, patio, dining room, entryway, storage space (like a garage or closet), or a living room, the latter of which was the project Chidhalay and Smith chose to focus on.
“Our living room was already pretty barren at that point because we just moved in and we relocated from a small space in South Lake Union,” Chidhalay said. “So we really didn’t have enough furniture to furnish this place anyway but the space is also really challenging.”
The first thing the team did was sit down and talk to Chidhalay and Smith about their desires for the space. The couple often hosts gatherings and game nights in their home and they desired a stylized space with plentiful seating to accommodate their guests and make a good first impression as guests entered their home. They also wanted to find a place to hide their shoes, jackets, backpacks, keys, badges, and dog leashes instead of throwing those items on the back of the couch or on the dining table.
“What we extrapolated from their story that was important to us was they had just bought this home together and they were really proud of that accomplishment in life,” said team designer Anthony Bell.
Bell and the rest of the team took measurements, consulted the couple’s Pinterest, and got to work pulling the IKEA items that would best accommodate the space. What resulted was a living room which Bell asserts “Feels grown-up for this space but not stuffy — it still feels like them.”
The couple’s jackets, shoes, and backpacks now reside in an elegant but understated closet unit directly next to the front door. The new couch has no back and sits in the center of the room, the perfect relaxation spot for the couple or additional seating on the front and back of the sofa for their guests. The dining table can now accommodate up to six individuals while a wall-mounted display of folding chairs can be found nearby for yet even more seating.
Even the area around Whiskey’s kennel got an upgrade, complete with stylish boxes to hide the dog’s many rain coats and harnesses, and clear storage containers displaying various treats and chews.
Chidhalay and Smith are excited to have guests over to their freshly designed home, but they’re even more eager to use the tips and tricks they’ve learned from the team in other rooms in their home. Chidhalay said the den/TV room is next, followed by the guest room, in anticipation of a family member visit this fall.
“I am so stoked and jazzed about this place and I am reinvigorated to go through the rest of this place. I can do this,” Chidhalay said.
Spurred by Chidhalay’s enthusiasm, Bell adds, “Our goal is to empower people. We want them to go away saying the space is great but they also feel empowered to take on challenges elsewhere in their home. It’s not supposed to be about home tour comes to the rescue and we do everything. They helped build and were really involved in the process.”
To prove Bell’s point, Smith points to a small end table with pride and said, “We built that!”
For more information about IKEA Home Tour, visit IKEA online.
Looking to makeover your own space but are unsure where to start? Bell has some tips for how to start the process:
- Ask yourself what the function of the space is going to be. Be it relaxation, entertaining, or play, know how you want to use a space.
- You may not always have the budget to start over completely, and that’s okay. “Even if you can only afford a bookcase, make sure that it meets your needs now, but there is room for the future,” Bell said. Maybe don’t buy the bright red cabinet now, get something more neutral and add those pops of color in with textiles that are easier to switch out if your taste changes.
- Be prepared when you go to the store, give yourself parameters. “I think that is a mistake that a lot of people make, they say ‘let’s just go and get what we find and maybe it turns out fine,’” Bell said. So you’re not blind shopping when you are making a big commitment purchase, know what you are buying. Have exact measurements, know how it’s going to fit in the room.
- Hand drawing can help, too. It helps give you scale and perspective. “You can draw lines and say, ‘This is how I walk through the space. I don’t want to put things here because this is a good sort of flow for me,’” Bell said.
- Pick furniture to match the purpose for the space. Bell suggests starting with the sofa. “Maybe a traditional sofa wasn’t the best, so we sort of think outside of the box. Asking, ‘What is really going to accommodate our lifestyle,’ not just necessarily, ‘We know we need a sofa; let’s pick a sofa,’” Bell said. Chidhalay and Smith don’t have kids, but if they did, they might need a couch with built-in storage for toys, rather the couple needs a sofa that can accommodate large groups of friends for game nights.
- Once the furniture is in place, that is when you can start thinking about layering in different types of textiles — like pillows, blankets, rugs, and curtains — and lighting. It is those warmer elements, Bell said, that makes it really feel like home.
- Try not to piece the room together if you can help it. Instead, tackle the entire room all at once. “I find that when we go into people’s homes, they keep putting Band-Aids on things that don’t work. That is part of the process; really assess the furniture you already have and does it work, and if it doesn’t, be okay with stepping back and starting over,” Bell said.