The Decorating Secrets an IKEA Stylist Knows (That You Don't)
We're often dazzled by the effortless aesthetic of a Swedish interior—their cool home tours continually inspire us. How do they create such personality-packed spaces with just a few simple ingredients? They have a knack for stripping interiors down to the bare bones without compromising comfort. But what the Swedes are particularly adept at is the high/low mix. When they throw IKEA in with iconic designer furniture, it looks insanely luxe and, dare we say it, covetable. To find out how they do it, we talked to one of our favourite Swedish interior stylists on Instagram, Pella Hedeby of Still Inspiration.
Hedeby has styled many interior photo shoots for IKEA's Livet Hemma blog, or Life at Home, so she's well informed about the various pieces and how to style them in an elevated and incredibly chic fashion. In this exclusive chat, she shares her secrets to styling IKEA at home, her favourite pieces from the Swedish giant, and tips for achieving that minimal look we love.
MYDOMAINE: What's the first thing you think about when decorating a room?
PELLA HEDEBY: I start from the proportions of the room and the desired function. It should not feel cluttered and overfurnished but inviting and well-balanced. The feeling I want to achieve is harmony, to create a room someone will want to be in for a long time.
MD: What are the top three qualities every room should have?
PH: Light, airy, and a relaxed feel. It’s important to take advantage of the natural light and manage space in the room so that it feels airy yet moderately cosy. Lighting always plays a large role in how a home will be experienced. Nevertheless, the areas are utilised. It should feel natural to move in the room. The relaxed feeling achieved in the selection of furniture, details, and textures. Natural materials create a pleasant genuine feeling.
MD: How important is space? How does it impact the look and feel?
PH: The "space" has a great impact on how we experience the room. You can achieve the desired expression, either airy and minimalist or cosy and inviting, simply through the pieces you select and adapt to the room.
For example, a bedroom can be decorated with a darker colour scheme for a more subdued and cosy feeling. It’s not just the furniture that decides but also the colour scheme you choose. A room entirely in white with bright hues will appear more spacious than a room in a dark colour scheme, though.
MD: What are your favourite ways to add texture to a room?
PH: If you want to decorate in the minimalist spirit, texture is everything. By adding natural elements you can achieve a genuine cosy feeling instead of decorating with more things that demand your attention. Linen is a favourite of mine; it gives the interior a relaxed look. Mix it with wool and sheepskin for a truly natural feel. These materials, along with wood, leather, and stone, wear well over time and develop a beautiful patina.
MD: What are your favourite coluors to work with?
PH: I love working tone on tone for a harmonious expression. From white, gray, and natural shades to darker colours. Grey-blue, grey-green, and brown shades can be insanely beautiful in the right context, then add black for a graphic contrast. I avoid bright colours and patterns when it does not fit with my personality.
MD: What are your favourite IKEA pieces to work with and why?
PH: I always start from a simple base when I decorate. So, my favourites are everyday objects with a timeless simple design. The materials should feel honest, and I avoid plastic details. Over the past year, we have been fortunate to have the IKEA Ilse Crawford Sinnerlig collection. The pottery is a future classic. I love to decorate with its rustic, handmade look to add personal expression. It’s the perfect simple piece of décor.
Other favorites of mine from the IKEA range are the natural Lohals rugs, the robust working lamp called Aröd, the simple Lerberg trestle tables, and the linen fabric Aina. This fabric is a great texture that only gets more beautiful after washing.
MD: Many of our readers are big IKEA fans. What tips do you have for styling IKEA pieces at home?
PH: Use the simplest base products and add a personal touch. For example, add a rustic old tabletop to a Lerberg trestle; put a marble top on your Bestå storage for a luxurious look; paint some Frosta stools then let them get a nice patina over time; and wash and tumble the Aina fabric then use it as a blanket over the bed or on the couch for a fine structure.
MD: How can we minimise clutter to achieve that minimal look?
PH: Clear. Then consider what you really need before buying anything new. Strip the room and inject single-coloured textiles for a quiet impression. Use storage to hide things that otherwise pile up. Let storage cabinets blend into the wall by painting them in the same shade. For example, the IVAR storage range is easy to paint with its clean wood surface. Another simple tip is to group decorative objects into still-life moments and interesting centerpieces instead of having them scattered throughout the home.
MD: What's your personal decorating philosophy?
PH: I'm becoming more and more aware of my choices, whether in fashion, interior design, or other purchases in everyday life. We need to think more sustainably, and we certainly do not need more things. So anything I buy must have a value for me—it must be both aesthetically pleasing and useful. My goal is to achieve simplicity. I'm very fond of my ecological sheepskins I have collected over the years. I use them on chairs, the sofa, or as small carpets to create a cosier home with a natural feel. Each skin has its own expression.
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