Why Do Kids Get All the Fun? An Ikea Designer Shopping List for Adults

Why Do Kids Get All the Fun? An Ikea Designer Shopping List for Adults

That dreaded unnamed season about 5/8ths of the way into summer that you don’t want to even think about: Ikea Season. You’ve got to make the inevitable pilgrimage for the kids going off to college, and for the clever teens who have presented well-reasoned arguments for room upgrades under the guise of increased productivity.There’s nothing “designer” there, right?

But while the kids are off picking selecting lamps, mirrors, and all sorts of plastic, we think these items are stylish, super reasonable and worthy of a grown-up abode. Just don’t tell anyone where you got them!


Orchids and Bamboo

designer orchids

I’m always shocked at how nice and inexpensive they are, especially the colorful orchids! Why buy the plastic ones? That’s a designer no-no!


Velvet Curtain Panels

designer velvet curtains

Great for a guest room, these are a steal- their thickness belies their affordability.  Hem them yourself. Spring for a Bedazzler if you’re an overachiever.

Terracotta Wine Chillers

designer wine cooler

For your “deck wine”

Simple White Plates

designer plates Ikea

I just bought these and have never been happier. Perhaps the best bargain of them all. Simple bliss

Pillow Covers & Down Inserts


designer pillow covers

There’s a time I want a gorgeous custom designer pillow. Other times I like to switch them out for the season. Guiltless.

Oversized Paper Napkins

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a party without these babies. The size makes them seem oddly luxurious.

Minimalist Picture Frames

designer picture frames.

A designer gallery wall to remind you of your newly off-to-college kids? Done.

Happy Hunting!

Dean Malambri

President, Dean Alan Design

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Back to School For Adults Part One: Practice Your Penmanship!

Back to School For Adults Part One: Practice Your Penmanship!

When I’m faced with establishing new daily rhythms, as many of you are during this back to school time of year, I like to look at my daily rituals and see if they still make sense. I still do love my morning coffee nook and reading Facebook updates (until they get too preachy), but I’m lately, I’m tiring of too much electronic noise in general (which is ironic, since this most likely is being delivered to you electronically. Ah, tradeoffs). One of my favorite aphorisms that I think about frequently is Marshall McLuhan’s notion that “the medium is the message.” If you’re interested in this argument, here’s the Wikipedia synopsis.

I’ll cut to the chase: I read things electronically differently than I do when something’s on a piece of paper. I usually read for speed. But when I read or write a letter, it is an entirely different affair. When’s the last time you thought about writing a letter?

My late friend Malcolm was a beast of a letter writer. When I received one, it took all my strength not to read it right next to the mailbox. They were funny, ribald, tender and thoughtful. And in turn, I would write him back. It was a nice ritual: much more elegant than shooting off ” What’s up bro?” in a text coupled with a carefully considered emoticon.  The handwritten medium showed he cared, and it just made me feel good to keep this communication going. Hand written letters make you think about what you’re going to say before you say it (which is a lesson for all of us to remember when posting in comments sections!).

So here’s my challenge: create one electronic free zone in your home where you have only a stack of nice paper, your favorite pen and maybe even a wax seal if you’re an overachiever. Alright, if you fail, you can occasionally put your laptop or tablet there. Just don’t keep it there!

Here’s some pieces that could go into carving out a new little non-digital area in your home. You might have a new spare bedroom to tuck it away in if you have kids off to college. And when they come back for school breaks, they’ll be great places for laundry drop offs, too!


Parts of Your Nook

Writing Desks

Made for only some beautiful paper, a few envelopes, maybe a wax seal. Alright, maybe a laptop from time to time. We won’t tell!

Desk Chairs that Don’t Look “Officey”

If you add a y to any word, you’re well on your way to being a designer

Desk Lamps

We’ll allow just one functional object to be on this desk. Make it something pretty!

So there’s my food for thought for the day. Good luck with your new rituals and routines!

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