Kitchen Runner (on the Cheap)

For the longest time, I had been casually looking for a runner for our kitchen. You know, just a simple cotton rug, about 2′ x 9′? You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find. But it had been over four years, for goodness’ sake! I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would have to bite the bullet and pay $99 (plus shipping) to Pottery Barn for a rag rug runner (say that 15 times, fast!). But I kept pushing it off (I’m really good at that), and now it turns out that PB doesn’t even stock cotton runners anymore! Oh well, no matter, I’ve found an alternative solution — and a budget-friendly one, at that!

Enter the reliable, hard-working (and only $3.99!) SIGNE rug from IKEA (we have four others in our house, so we are well acquainted). Because IKEA’s stock of these little rugs is constantly changing, we find a different selection of colors and stripe patterns upon each visit to the store. On a recent trip, I spied a rug with kelly green, olive, and black stripes on the typical SIGNE-cream background. I quickly grabbed it, thinking, “this just might work in our kitchen!”. At that point, I was so excited to see a rug that potentially matched the kitchen, I didn’t even think of the runner idea. But a week or so later, it hit me, and we returned to IKEA, fingers crossed. Luckily, there were exactly three rugs left in that color combo!

I don’t have a sewing machine, so during a recent visit to my parents house, my sister Amy and I retreated to the basement and put the thing together. Here’s how we did it:


1. We cut the fringe off one side of two of the rugs, and both sides of one rug.


2. Then we ran the cut edges through a serger three or four times using black thread (we were trying to approximate the width of the black stripes on the rug).


3. The three pieces were pinned together so the serged edges aligned with an existing stripe on the rug.


4. Finally, we sewed the pieces together using a heavy-duty needle and a zig zag stitch. We used black thread for the top, and either cream or olive in the bobbin, depending on where the back of the stitch lined up. We did that so the rug would be reversible.

Lest anyone think this was a flawless process, here’s evidence otherwise.

In this case, we had black thread in the bobbin, but the bottom stripe was olive (not to mention the stitching was misaligned). Ugh, ripping out stitches…

Oh, well, it’s not perfect, but it looks good from here…and it cost a total of $12.69 including tax!!!

You Decide.

Last weekend we made a leisurely “window shopping” visit to IKEA. At the end of the store, I quickly perused the seasonal furniture (our recent yard work has put me in that mode). I noticed a new outdoor dining chair that had yet to appear on the website, but I quickly passed it by as I rushed to join Tim in the checkout line. Now don’t get excited, all we bought was a pack of little felt pads for under chair-legs (whoopee!).

So anyway. Later, I was trying to find some information about a particular chair produced by Thonet in the fifties. During my search, I happened upon an image of a different Thonet chair that immediately brought to mind the one I’d seen at IKEA the day before. The s 40F, designed by Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam, originally appeared in the 1935 Thonet catalog. As a side note, according to Thonet Germany, Stam designed the first cantilevered chair in furniture history (the s 33, in 1926) predating Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe by several years. But apparently, this was a contended issue, with Breuer and Stam actually going to German court in a patent lawsuit, to settle the issue of who was the legal inventor of the basic cantilever chair design principle.

Either way, there’s no arguing that the Thonet s 40F came way before the IKEA Vinö. But just humor me here, and take a look at the two chairs:

s 40F by Mart Stam for Thonet, 1935

Description according to Thonet Germany website: “In all of his furniture designs Mart Stam relied on straightforward forms, an aesthetic economy of means in the construction and the benefit of improved sitting comfort.” The chair is “clear and reserved in form, with ideal sitting comfort and high quality with respect to materials and processing.”
Wood:
In it’s current incarnation, the wooden strips are made of solid Iroko, a weather resistant, high-density African wood that has been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. It is similar to teak in appearance and has a smooth, even surface. All wooden parts are oiled for protection.
Metal Frame:
weather-resistant tubular brushed stainless steel
Price:
609,00€ ($820.00) from http://www.dieter-horn-designfurniture.com in Germany

Vinö by Niels Gammelgaard for IKEA, 2010

Description according to the IKEA website: “A comfortable chair that gives. Body-contoured back for great comfort. Stackable. Saves space when not in use.”
Wood:
Solid acacia, a durable hardwood, highly suitable for outdoor use. Pre-treated with oil. Not certified as responsibly managed, but IKEA claims they are working towards that goal.
Metal Frame:
Steel with silver powder coating
Price:
$59.99

The influence is obvious. Not that I’m surprised. IKEA often riffs off more famous designs. When I first saw the Vinö, I thought it was okay, but now that I’ve seen what it’s supposed to look like, it seems a bit…how should I say…lacking. But then again, fourteen IKEA versions can be bought for the price of one Thonet chair. Does the IKEA Vinö’s lack of grace, awkward armrest supports, and almost-certain lack of comfort (earth to IKEA: people do NOT have flat butts!) make it one-fourteenth the chair? Or does it’s affordability make up for it’s shortcomings? Most people wouldn’t have the luxury of choosing between the two, so does it even matter?

That’s something only you, your wallet, and your buttocks can decide.
Talk amongst yourselves.


photo via Thonet Germany