The marriage of IKEA and country might sound doomed, going the way of Brittany and Jason. And Brittany and K Fed. On the other hand, take that very curious couple Courtney Cox and David Arquette. The last time I heard, they were still hitched, proving two contrary styles can, in fact, make it.
Much as all successful marriages, the IKEA + country union will most likely work best if a compromise is made, and the perfect demilitarized zone for this odd couple is modern country, which is also known as contemporary county, country modern, and new country. Sadly, any of these combinations, if googled, will result in a surplus of information regarding modern country music. A riffling of catalogs, magazines and a trip to the library was called for to get a handle on this loosely defined style.
Modern country (et al.) can be described, according to Modern Country: Reinterpreting A Classic Style, by Nancy Ingram and M.J. Van Deventer, as pared down classic country "with a fresh, contemporary attitude." Gone are the wild floral patterns, ruffles and clutter so popular in the 1980's and even 1990's. Modern, simple lines embrace the equally simple construction of most country pieces. Imagine, if you will, pine, rustic and distressed furniture paired up with shining metal surfaces, straight lines and leather. If this visual evokes a certain familiarity that you can’t quite put your finger on, let me give you a hint: crockery cow house.
If you guessed Pottery Barn, you guessed right. Whether the retailer admits it or not, they are perpetuating the growing popularity of modern country design. They present vignettes in their catalogs of simple lines, monochromatic color palettes, and shiny metals paired up with chunky wood furniture, antique reproductions, and baskets, baskets, baskets.
But what, you may ask, does this wordy preamble have to do with IKEA? Everything, as many Pottery Barn looks (our paradigm for modern country) can be re-created with IKEA merchandise for a fraction of the cost.
For example, in the first PB vignette pictured above, we might substitute PB's Seymour Home Office Armoire ($1,999) with IKEA's Alve Corner Workstation ($349).
IKEA's Hallsta chair ($89.99) would be a perfect substitute for PB's Seagrass chair ($139) pictured in their dining room vignette.
For a modern country look in the entry way, you might want to pair up the Eksvik Hat Rack $49.99) and the Shoe Rack ($69.99), which are a drop in the bucket compared to PB's Samantha's entry way collection pictured above.
And for a nice, economical alternative to PB's Cody Coffee Table ($499) there's IKEA's Markor coffee table/TV bench ($179).
And here are some additional modern country odds and ends, that you can find at IKEA that have a distinctly PB appeal.
Perfekt Duvbo Plate Shelf ($109) and the Liatorp Wall/Bridging Shelf ($140)
IKEA's Ingolf Kitchen Bench ($229) is almost a dead ringer for PB's Harbour Bench ($549).
And, for accessories, there's the Somar Lanterns ($9.99) and Hakebo baskets, baskets, baskets ($4.99).
These combinations, plus countless others, can make for beautiful unions. So skip the pre-nup, throw caution to the wind and follow your newly honed modern country instincts the next time you find yourself in the aisles of IKEA. Of course, you might want to take your Pottery Barn catalog with you just in case you find yourself requiring a bit of premarital counseling.
(All interior pictures are courtesy of Pottery Barn and individual elements are courtesy of IKEA.)