When it comes to our things, I don’t give much thought to brands. If something is beautiful, sentimental or useful, I will enjoy it, no matter where it comes from. But still, after 12 years living in New York, I’ve often thought, “If I see another piece of IKEA furniture, I’m going to scream!”
Here in New York City, our homes are tiny. The term shoebox is hardly an understatement. And, like it or not, IKEA gets it. Upstate, where we spent a lot of weekends, our life is homegrown and homemade—part reclaimed with a pinch of West Elm or Anthropolgie thrown in for good measure. Here in the city, we’re one-part Craig’s List, two parts Land of Nod with a steady undercurrent of I-k-e-a. Sigh. I sort of imagined something more like this…
Though my parents are good to remind me all Greta needs to be happy are two parents that love each other, and lots of adventure (done, and done!) I’m always dreaming of ways to reinvent a little more play space for her here in the city. This summer when deadlines were looming and we spent days outside, anyway, we turned on blinders. This is functional. It works for us, we say. But last night, after I turned in the 500-page final draft of my new cookbook, Mostly Vegetarian (phew!), I took a good look around and I caved. IKEA aversion be darned. This place needs a pick-me-up. A new point of view. A little shot of color. So we packed up the babe and headed to IKEA in Red Hook.
To tell you the truth—I love that drive to IKEA. From Long Island City, across the Pulaski Bridge and down Wythe, my favorite street in Brooklyn, life is all possibility. We sing songs and imagine the promise of a tidier, brighter little home.
At the end of our mission, budget blown and trunk packed, I wandered into the little food shop to grab a few things. Confession— I love IKEA food. I grew up in a town founded by Swedes, so I take comfort in rye breads and lingenberry jam. Those things taste of home. And comfort, and home, is just what I need right now.
And it’s been a heck of a summer, too much of it spent between here or there, me glued to a computer and Andras in his workshop, building us a bed or me a potting bench or any other number of things I put him up to. Most days, we work harder than we need to. And for all our efforts to be green and save resources, we need a break. So, that’s my new season resolution. Take a break. Put up my feet. Use a paper plate once in a while. And sometimes, let someone else make a meal—even IKEA.
So here’s today’s lunch—Inspired-inspired Brod Tunnbröd (thin Swedish-style bread) with dill-marinated Lax Najad (bar none, my favorite Lox outside of Russ & Daughters) topped with zucchini and Swiss chard from our garden. And guess what I’m looking at—a new play space for Greta that we carved out of 4-square feet of unused space we discovered last night beside the couch, long after Greta suffered a Dryck Fläder Elderflower “juice” box-induced sugar crash and fell fast asleep.
My dad says that’s always been one of my talents, making something out of nothing. I’d like to think he’s right. Try it. It's a little trick that will serve you well in the kitchen.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my Sotsak Skumtopp awaits.