An IKEA Home for Grownups

For many of us, a house filled with items from IKEA symbolizes a prolonged adolescence. Someday, we’ll grow up and buy a real house and stock it with real furniture—the kind that doesn’t come in their famous flatpak and require assembly with a hex wrench.

Turns out, an IKEA home is for grownups, too. Not an IKEA-filled house, but an actual flatpak house. Their democratic design ideology had led to BoKlok homes (and flats and apartment buildings now, too). They look like a cross between drab public housing and the sorts of high-modern homes you see nestled in the Hollywood hills; this is the next generation of pre-fab, and it’s both eco-friendly and affordable.

The first BoKlok homes were built in Sweden in 1997, spreading to Norway, Finland and Denmark (they must be well insulated) over the next eight years. Recently, the first BoKlok apartment buildings began to rise in the UK, where a development of the IKEA-designed residences will go on the market from £99,500 to £150,000 (about US$205,000 to $310,000), near Gateshead International Stadium.  The BBC reported that these 83 structures, from flats to three-bedroom townhouses, will be available to non-homeowners earning between £15,000 and £35,000 ($31,000 and $72,000). The first residences should open in 2008.

The company seem to be targeting single mothers in the marketing materials (very attractive single mothers), and promote the homes’ efficiency not just for environmental reasons but for fiscal ones; they expect energy bills to be 50 percent lower than in traditional homes. They have high ceilings and tall windows, usually set around pocket parks and near public transportation. Sounds, well, great. I’ll take one.

Meanwhile, over here stateside, we’re in the middle of a serious housing crisis. My hometown of New York City has about a three percent vacancy rate, says the department of housing preservation and development, and the average Manhattan apartment sells for around $1.1 million, according to the New York Observer. lists 1.5 million foreclosures and the National Alliance to End Homelessness puts the nightly housing-free population at almost 750,000. Could BoKlok be the answer?

Sure, if we were actually asking the question of how to solve the problem.

Alas, life isn’t perfect for UK residents either, even those eligible for BoKlok, if they find shopping at IKEA a nerve wracking experience. When the homes first went on the market in May, potential BoKlokers lined up at the IKEA shop in Gateshead. Luckily, you can now apply online.

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Interesting post. Since so much site constructed housing looks pre-fab, why not fab pre-constructed housing?

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