I had a teak dining table for nearly 25 years. My mother bought it new in the 70s, and it was actually pretty great quality. When I left home and needed furniture, it was handed down to me.
I schlepped this teak table from apartment to apartment, serving as my desk when I was in university and again when I started my business. I loved having it, because it seemed to withstand just about everything.
But I didn’t love the table itself. Sure, it was solid, teak wood with a beautiful, aged patina and very durable, but it didn’t feel like a reflection of me or my personality. It just wasn’t my style, even at a time when I was still figuring out what my style was.
When I moved back to Ottawa 10 years ago, the time came to say goodbye to the article teak table. It was still in great shape, but I was tired of the style and ready for something of my own.
In other words, I was ready to graduate into adult furniture that I selected based on functionality and style.
This is a pretty common experience amongst my clients, and one of the top five reasons I am invited to decorate a home. In fact, I read an article that suggested the average adult graduates from IKEA furniture at the age of 34.
Regardless of your age (and whether the furniture came from IKEA or elsewhere) many people at this milestone are almost apologetic for the older things they’ve collected over time. They know the pieces are a bit out of place and seemingly in need of explanation. But I see it a little differently.
The commingled decor that we inevitably graduate from is a reflection of our needs and priorities throughout our early adult life. We pick up items — a sofa here, a bookshelf there — as they’re needed; it’s purely functional, chosen out of necessity not aesthetic.
You may not have even considered your own aesthetic or style when collecting these types of pieces, which is an indication that you were focused on other things like attending university or starting a family.
This is nothing to apologize for. When you’re ready to discard the functional pieces from your past, it’s a moment of celebration. As a client of mine said, being proud that you’re “ready to buy adult furniture” is an exciting time, because it shows that your priorities in life have shifted; you’ve changed, and your decor deserves to reflect that.
Whether it’s an IKEA bookshelf that you hauled in a taxi from the suburbs into your first downtown apartment or a certain teak table that doubled as a sturdy desk for 25 years, graduating to adult furniture is special. It represents one of the many incredible milestones that mark our adult lives: moving out on our own, buying our first home, investing in lifelong furniture.
An absolute stranger has my old teak table now, maybe out of necessity or perhaps because they just fell in love with this “vintage” piece of furniture. I’m glad to know it’s serving someone else now, and I hope it was a part of their graduation to adult furniture, making them feel right at home. Because that’s what choosing furniture you love will do for you.
Ready to graduate from IKEA furniture, but not sure what your style is? Explore our style gallery for inspiration.