Life at home

A very large room with pillars and wooden flooring. Around a low coffee table on castors is a sofa, an armchair and two chaise-longues.
A very large room with pillars and wooden flooring. Around a low coffee table on castors is a sofa, an armchair and two chaise-longues.
Image from IKEA catalogue 1996.

The 1990s begin with a severe recession, and the focus is once again on basic everyday needs. In home furnishing, the quite bombastic extravagance of the 1980s is replaced by a minimalist, functional ideal. The function and feel of the home are now more important (and less expensive) than the quest for status.

Interior design articles focus on what is seen as a ‘Swedish lifestyle’, and many convey the stripped-back, functional home as a role model in terms of style. This fits IKEA like a glove. The design is now often based on traditional craftsmanship in local, environmentally sustainable materials. Light woods like pine and birch dominate. The colour scheme starts from the white-painted rooms of modernism, but are complemented with rustic colours in shades of red, blue, yellow and green.

A kitchen in light wood with a cooker, cabinets and kitchen islands as freestanding modules. A white-tiled wall, details in stainless steel.
Near a bookcase with books on is a red divan in robust yet simple style. Nearby is a round, light stool in a similar design.
A light kitchen with furniture and light wooden floor. Chairs with dark seats are around a dining table with a fold-out surface.
A room where a large, well-filled IVAR storage combination in light wood is being used as a room divider.
Minimalism and interest in the light Scandinavian furnishing ideal return in scaled-down, functional design. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1999 2. 1997 3. 1999 4. 1998.

In the wake of the recession, the home as a safe refuge is seen as increasingly important. The term ‘cocooning’ is coined. For many IKEA customers, the hectic night-life of the 1980s is replaced by cosy time with the family, with a video and a takeaway. ‘Compact living’ also becomes a necessity as the world’s expanding cities become increasingly expensive to live in and homes get smaller.

A large living room with a suite of sofas and armchairs in various colours, around a coffee table with storage and a glass top.
Homey! As the world feels increasingly unsafe to some, the feeling of home becomes more important. Local materials and good design make their mark on home interiors. Image from IKEA catalogue 1997.

IKEA launches ingenious, efficient solutions for singles and families with children. The catalogues devote more than 20 pages to children’s rooms, and the stores now have a Children’s IKEA department with its very own range, developed after consultations with child experts like doctors and education specialists – and of course families around the world. Children now truly take their place in the home, and rooms are adapted around their needs.

A living room where a well-filled IVAR storage combination in light wood covers the wall. A young child is playing nearby.
A room with a loft bed with workspace underneath, wall-fixed bookshelves, a divan and a passage into a kitchen.
Colourful furniture in plump style, model MAMMUT, and scattered toys in a room with flooring, walls and angled ceiling in light wood.
A piece of step-shaped storage furniture in light wood with colourful drawers stands in the space beneath an airy staircase in light wood.
For ‘the most important people in the world’, the children, IKEA creates practical furniture that combines play and storage, to promote movement and motor skills. The rooms of the home are now adapted to the needs of children. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1999 2. 1996 3. 1994 4. 1998.

More and more people are looking for comfortable, functional, discreet, cosy furniture with washable covers. Contemporary design unites a strong sense of style with low prices. And alongside the minimalist aesthetic blooms a rural, nostalgic style of modern simplicity and freshness.

A girl standing on a chair looks out from a bedroom with furniture in all white, model VISDALEN, in a modern rustic style.
A kitchen with white cabinets and a light wood worktop. A woman stands by the sink and there are fresh-baked pies on a dining table.
A bedroom with a double bed with a large canopy bed frame. The bed and other furniture are all MORGONDAL, in distressed wood.
In the 1990s, chunky pine furniture from the 1970s is replaced by a lighter, rural style that feels both modern and nostalgic to many. Images from IKEA catalogues: 1. 1999 2. 1999 3. 1997.