On Thursday, June 23rd, founder and CEO of Norse interiors Lotta Lundaas entered a one-hour live chat with Washington Post's Jura Koncius talking about creating functional yet stunning furniture. Readers got the chance to submit questions before the Live Chat to get Lotta's answers, advice, and design tips. Here is a sneak peek at some of the Q&A responses she gave.
Do you think there is any other furniture maker out there that is as good a value as Ikea?
I grew up with IKEA (coming from Sweden and all), so I’m a bit biased when I say that I think it’s hard to compete with the value that IKEA can offer due to its scale and history. However, HM Home is another furniture and home decor brand I think is doing an excellent job putting out high-end-looking pieces at a reasonable price. I’ve bought a lot of décor from them in the last few years.
I would love any ideas for creating attractive and functional storage for kids toys. We need something attractive and organized enough for the main family room. I would also like to put some sort of shelving in the kids' closet to make the space more functional for toddlers/preschoolers.
This is one of the most common questions I get - and I understand why! I have two kids and live in a small apartment, so I can relate to wanting to hide toys in something that’s not just functional but also attractive. The Besta frames from IKEA are a great base - super modular and affordable. You can add several shelves and boxes inside to make it easy for the kids to store away their stuff. A good example of this is this one from one of our customers. She’s connected two Besta frames to create a long sideboard and added our doors, panels, and hardware. She placed the pulls at a level so her toddler could reach and easily open the doors. Genius!Two IKEA Besta frames (item 102.458.46) with medium Amelia double doors in perfect gray, walnut side and top panels, and Cornelia brass pulls. Photo source: @annekate on Instagram.
For the additional shelving in the kids’ closet, I would recommend hanging more rods for vertical storage (look for adjustable pieces that can be repositioned as the kids grow). Another option is to check the Elfa series at Container Store - they sell drawer and shelving components that can be added to existing closet systems.
In the furniture world, IKEA is considered “starter” furniture. Do your updates elevate them to be more appealing to a larger market? Do you have to be mindful of pricing so a finished piece isn’t priced too high that it would be compared to a piece that is made of higher quality materials?
My idea when starting Norse was to make custom furniture accessible for everyone. IKEA’s furniture is super modular, affordable and provides good bones for further customization. I think almost everyone I know is on a budget, so it's something we seriously take into consideration. We really work hard on keeping our prices fair every day of the year (we don't do one-off promos or sales), and we also don't launch products that we can't offer within a reasonable price point.
We focus on having enough options so people can customize their pieces as much or as little as they want to fit their budget. Using durable material gives the biggest bang for your buck so that you can turn IKEA furniture into forever furniture. It's also good for the environment, which I'm very passionate about and is at the core of our brand.
To me, this accessible custom furniture concept has turned into so much more- it’s also about sharing the importance of responsible consumption and creating more sustainable homes. We’re extending the life of pieces people view as “starter” furniture or “fast furniture” by only using sustainable material and focusing on durable high-quality finishes that can stand the test of time.
As a renter and apartment dweller, I need to create a landing zone for our busy family. The front door opens directly to the living room, with only a small coat closet. I need space to store all the school bags and packages, and give our toddlers some independence in putting away their own coats and shoes, as well as to store all the hats and sunscreen and diaper bag supplies that our family needs to get out the door. Help!
Oh, I hear you! I live in a shoebox in New York with two toddlers, so I'm all about functional storage! I have two ideas:
1) (This is what I currently have in my hallway) IKEA's Sektion frame, lots of storage, and a more petite/narrow frame. It's a great (affordable) piece to have right when you walk in because the height is like an entryway console, and the closed storage for shoes, purses, etc., is priceless. It feels like I have a compact mudroom where my kids can open the doors to get themselves ready to go.
2) A Besta storage bench is easy to assemble and super useful for hiding necessities while doubling as seating by adding some pillows on top– a great double-duty option for small spaces. The kids can use the bench when putting on shoes (or waiting for the other one to get ready), and I can hide shoes or entryway clutter in a flash if we're expecting guests.
Supplementing with wall hooks at different heights is also a good way to get the kids to hang/put away their clothes.
What is next in your product line? Do you hear at all from IKEA about your business being based on their products?
We get this question all the time, and we’re constantly testing out new products and designs, intending to offer furniture for every room in the home.
We communicate with IKEA pretty regularly to stay up-to-date on their products and whenever we have compatibility or manufacturing questions. They’re such a great company to work with, and since they advocate for responsible consumption and prolonging the life of their products, they always do their best to help us perfect our products that customize their pieces.
When I started Norse four years ago, I was in touch with IKEA to ensure we “played nice” and they were very favorable to “IKEA hacking companies” like Norse. The customer still needs to buy the base from IKEA, and we’re showing people what’s possible to do with a little bit of customization.
Access the full AMA chat here, and see more Washington Post's Home & Garden features by Jura Koncius.
For more inspiration, follow @norseinteriors
You might also be interested in reading Stunning IKEA hacks that are game-changers for your functional home