Not Just Ikea
5 Brands Making Cheap Furniture That Looks Good, Too
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There are two phases of furnishing a new home. The first is the planning phase, when budgets are flexible and the wishlist is more wish than list. The second comes after you’ve made some of your big purchases — couches, tables, mattresses — and you realize some things really aren’t that important.
The brands collected here make those items, but they do it in a manner that won’t harsh the vibe of an entire room. No, these are the brands you keep in your back pocket for all the little things — paper towel holders, plates, toiletries, water pitchers and anything else that makes you think, “Do I need really need to invest in this?”
A 60-year-old Japanese home goods and organization brand that’s only just starting to find its footing stateside. The aesthetic is decidedly Japanese and brand’s use of material is, thankfully, not completely reliant on chintzy plastics. Its website is probably not the best place to shop for Yamazaki, so head over to Amazon or Huckberry, which both have decent stocks.
Photos: Yamazaki Home
Wall Hooks by Yamazaki $17
Rolling Tower Storage by Yamazaki $58
Cutting Board & Knife Stand by Yamazaki $41
The original king of cheap, good-looking homewares, Target has continued dominating, albeit in a quietr fashion. Two of its recent in-house lines stand out: Threshold and Made By Design. Threshold is broader and perhaps best known for its extremely highly-rated bedding products. Made By Design is essentially an American minimalism dream, excelling in the storage and furniture categories.
Closet Storage by Target $4+
Threshold Bed Sheets by Target $27+
Media Console by Target $90
Focused on highlighting the work of young and promising designers, Umbra makes products that are accessibly-price and function-driven. There’s a great many sub-categories on the site (like an entire drop-down menu on trashcans), but it really shines in the small, seemingly insignificant products — kitchen organization, bathroom utility, a shutter than can change its size to fit the window and various other small, analog goods. It doesn’t stoop to the barebones pricing of an Ikea or a Target, but its gear is also sure to be of a slightly different lilt than what everyone else on a budget is gunning for.
Double Nested Planter by Umbra $68
Pour-Over Coffee Kit by Umbra $25
OH Chair by Umbra $60
Muji is just getting its feet wet in the U.S.. The super retailer has hundreds of stores across its native Japan, through China and into Europe. Muji’s brand is its lack of brand (the name translates to “no brand quality goods”), and its products embody this fully. There are basically no logos on any products (apart from food packaging and some removable stickers), and it makes everything from delicious raisin cookies, to linen shirts to bed frames. It’s at its best with affordable, well-made kitchenware and office supplies.
House Slippers by Muji $6+
Pack of Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pens by Muji $8
Porcelain Plateware by Muji $5+
There is no leaving the Swedes off this list. Frankly, Ikea might be at its best making the medium to small-sized home goods that live in the shadow of its stiff $100 couches. Kitchen bowls, pegboards, cheap rugs and even plants (real ones) — the home furnished with Ikea products doesn’t have to look like an Ikea catalog.