One of my favorite things about living in Europe is that we’re officially in the land of IKEA! In the past we’ve almost never lived within a reasonable driving distance of one, but here in Germany there’s one only an hour away. Yes, it’s still a bit of a hike when there are three little wild things involved (I’ll always regret not developing my passion for IKEA before becoming a mom). But all in all, a one hour drive is doable.
Most of our furniture is more traditional, but now that we’re no longer in our 1800s era Victorian it’s been easier to start adding some modern pieces to the mix. We honestly don’t shop a lot- especially for big items like furniture- but lately we’ve had a couple of true needs when it comes to functional, kid-friendly stuff. The first was this POCO bar table that we use as a standing desk for our laptop in our living room; the second is a set of IKEA’s “Tobias” chairs!
At first glance, they are, um, modern…
But before I make my case for why they’re so great, first let me give a little backstory. We’ve had traditional white cloth-covered chairs (see a photo of them in this post on the old blog) since Thane and I moved into our very first house together in Hawaii back in 2008. Our neighbor was getting rid of the whole set, plus a massively heavy “Italian” dining room table that was not very easy on the eyes, a china cabinet, and a few other things. But as newlyweds without a single piece of furniture to our name other than a mattress on the floor, we felt like we were winning the lottery!
Overall, the white cloth chairs were great. They worked especially well in our last home, and even though I’ve always wanted to recover them with new fabric, they stayed clean much longer than expected. At least until Silas started sitting in them. Asher was surprisingly gentle on them in his toddler years, but Silas is a different beast. And with Finn coming right up behind him, and another little one behind Finn, there was only so much longer that white cloth chairs were going to hack it. So when I started looking around for more kid-friendly seating options, IKEA’s Tobias chair caught my eye (photos courtesy of Pinterest, via Decor Pad, Nancy Mitchell for Apartment Therapy, Lush Home, and Arianna Bell.)
Super modern, yes. But paired with a wooden table, a patterned rug, and some white or metallic accessories, they’re quite versatile! And Silas could literally eat his spaghetti right off of them and it wouldn’t matter. But as much as I liked them, the real hurdle was getting the thumbs up from Thane. He’s all an American, meat and potatoes, football loving, Lazy-Boy recliner with a built in cup-holder kind of man. So there was absolutely no way he was going to go for these chairs.
But, since we just happened to be in IKEA a few weeks ago, I thought what the heck, why not take a shot in the dark? I pointed them out and then anticipated the usual; a cursory glance, a comment about how ugly they were, and a mocking laugh, all delivered within the time span of ten seconds while continuing to proceed towards the closest exit (the whole goal of a man in IKEA). So when he actually stopped, pulled one out, sat down, and said he kind of liked them, I knew I was either dreaming or trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
You know what did it? The fact that they rock and recline just enough to be surprisingly comfortable, not to mention their virtual indestructibility.
So, thank you to IKEA + Thane for indulging me and allowing me to bring home these fun, affordable, kid-friendly, and first ever owner-purchased set of new chairs. I’ve got some more work to do before our dining room looks as classy as the ones in the photos above, but all in good time.
P.S. Just in case you’re interested, this is the “Torrance” table from Pier 1 (and it’s currently on sale!), the rug was thrifted but IKEA has a similar one, the curtains are Target’s Threshold brand, (no longer available in the cream and mustard unfortunately), and for you guys who are local, the friendly little potted plant next to the window came from Lidl for four Euro!