IKEA for outdoor living with Janice Simonsen - Home Front

Janice Simonsen
Mar 29, 2018

Janice Simonsen is a design spokesperson for IKEA North America – a role she has held for more than 19 of the almost 25 years she has worked at IKEA. Janice works to raise visibility for IKEA products and is up on emerging design trends and new collections. Janice started her career as a graphic designer and went on to own an interior design business after studying interior design at FIT.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Janice Simonsen is a design spokesperson for IKEA North America – a role she has held for more than 19 of the almost 25 years she has worked at IKEA. Janice works to raise visibility for IKEA products and is up on emerging design trends and new collections. She began her career as a graphic designer and went on to own an interior design business. She has lots of news about new products for this spring at IKEA for small balconies and large patios alike. Let's chat.

Good Morning! I"m Janice Simonsen from IKEA and am looking forward to answering your questions about summer entertaining and outdoor living.

I need some new outdoor furniture that will hold up over time, but won't break the bank. Do you have any suggestions for materials to look into or certain IKEA products that will do the trick?

I think it depends what kind of material you're looking for . A good choice might be the SJÄLLAND table, which gives you a choice of  durable eucalyptus as the table top, or aluminum for a maintenance free material.

Is there a trick to lighting outdoor spaces? I have a small patio, and I can't seem to find the right combination of lighting (fixtures and mounted) to give off the right amount of light.

You're on the right track by looking at several different sources of light rather than trying to make one light do it all. A fixed wall lamp will give good general light, and a string of LED lights like SVARTRÅ will set the mood for a romantic summer evening all by itself. Single lanterns like the SOMMAR 2018 lantern for candles is handy since it can be moved from place to place where light is needed. 

Good Morning! I'm Janice Simonsen from IKEA and have been working with and talking about design for all of the almost 25 years that I've been with the company. Looking forward to answering your questions about summer entertainment and outdoor living!

I love my furry friends, but they are tearing up my back yard. Is there an inexpensive temporary patio that I could install while the puppies are running rampant?

We have a great product that is perfect for your furry friends. The RUNNEN outdoor decking is made of plastic squares that can be clicked  to create a patio area, but easily taken apart for cleaning in case of any puppy "indiscretions".  

Does IKEA have a new summer collection for 2018? I look forward to it every year!

Yes! Each summer season we develop a new collection to provide solutions to everything our customers love to do outside. I particularly like the new patterns on the storage bags each year. There are products for grilling, lounging and storing everything needed for a fun summer season.

I have 3 kids and by the time spring/summer rolls around, our backyard becomes a mess with all of their toys. Do you have any recommendations for stylish storage options that don't look like big, bulky boxes?

Some good storage solutions that are easy on the eyes are the HINDÖ cabinet, the ÄPPLARÖ bench with a vertical wall panel for hanging storage and the ÄNGSÖ storage bench. Storage benches are great because they provide multifunctional seating and storage.

I don't have a backyard - only a small balcony. What can I do to make the most of that space?

IKEA is the expert on small space living! Even the tiniest balcony can use a small table and a couple of chairs that fold flat when not in use, like the TÄRNO table and chairs. The ÄPPLARÖ bench with wall storage is another product that maximizes space by providing seating, bench and wall storage all in one.

Hi there! I'm looking to outfit the outdoor space of my apartment with some sleek furniture for entertaining guests. Everything I've come across seems a little too family oriented. Any suggestions on styles, colors, or materials that I should explore to complete my bachelor pad?

I'm really loving the look of the SJÄLLAND table and chairs in sleek aluminum. It's got a sophisticated contemporary design.  


I just moved and I have a small balcony that I would like to decorate - do you have any suggestions of what to do with a very tiny, outdoor space? I want a good amount of seating, but don't want it to look too crowded.

Benches like VÄSTERÖN can provide a lot of seating without taking up too much space. Folding chairs that can be brought out when needed are another good idea. Outdoor runners and pillows like GRENÖ and SOMMAR 2018 really cozy up a space and can hold up to the outdoors. 

How do you recommend cleaning outdoor cushions that get stained by pollen?

I'd try a mild soap with a damp cloth, but most manufacturers will provide cleaning instructions. Wiping down daily should help.

Where did my question go? It seems to have disappeared Re. Sun protection.

Can you resend?

I am downsizing and there is a plethora of fabric collected over the past many years, including buttons, notions, patters etc. which I would like to give away but don't know where to start. If you could give me some ideas or some place/people to contact I would very much appreciated.

I recently had the same issue when going through my late Mother's things, and she just loved textiles! I knew she would have wanted others to enjoy them also, so I asked a few teachers if they would like to have these items. I'm happy to say just about everything was grabbed up for a kindergarten"craft corner", and I know this would have made my Mother very happy.

If you want to buy an umbrella for your patio that will withstand winds, what's the best solution?

Look for a base that allows for weighting with sand or water , but I would highly recommend closing the umbrella when winds are very strong or when not in use.

Can you wash the covers of the cushions on your furniture?

I'd check the instructions that come with all IKEA products, but many of the cushions come with removable, machine washable cushion covers.

How should you care for wood that you leave outside?

Wood furniture should be brought inside at the end of the season, washed occasionally with mild soapy water, and restained once or twice a year to maximize the lifespan.

Hello! I want to outfit my backyard this spring, but am always looking for cost savings. Does IKEA offer any products that are indoor/outdoor? I'd love to be able to re-purpose some of my purchases depending on seasonality.

The VÅGÖ plastic chair is a fun, molded plastic chair that would work well in a casual setting; we even have a child size version this summer! Other choices could be the ÄPPLARÖ wooden corner chair.

Are many of your cushions and pillows made of a water resistant indoor-outdoor fabric?

All of our outdoor cushions are intended for outdoor use, but occasional cleaning and off+season protection will extend their life span.

What are your newest small scale pieces that would look great on an urban balcony?

The SALTHOLMEN table and chairs are foldable and made of powder  coated steel and especially designed for small balconies. Another great new item is the privacy screen, which can be used for extra privacy between closely placed balconies.

Do you offer the service of putting together your furniture that comes in a box, ready assemble?

Yes, all stores can recommend assembly services as one of the many services that IKEA provides, and some stores have even partnered with Taskrabbit to provide assembly to our customers who'd rather not do it themselves. 

Spring is here and this year I want to incorporate bird houses into a patio area. Are there some birds or bird houses that are better than others when the humans and the birds are close together outside?

I'd place birdhouses far away enough from seating and eating areas. Birds can be messy! Look for a house that can open from the bottom or side so that it can be cleaned out and put away for the winter if you live in a seasonal climate.

I'm trying to lighten up my entire home for the spring/summer. What colors do you recommend for this time of year? Are there easy ways to freshen up your home without completely swapping out paint, etc.?

It's super easy to freshen your home for the spring without a major price investment. I'm particularly fond of a warm, light blush pink for interior walls, but few colors say spring better than a light, muted green. Also, try swapping out any heavy curtains with light sheers, and removing rugs and leaving wood floors bare, or replacing with woven sisals. 

Are the things we have in America similar to what Ikea sells in Europe or are they designed specially for our homes?

Most IKEA products are designed for all markets, but there are country exceptions. In the US, we tend to design our sofas a bit higher in the back and deeper in the cushions. We also tend to like darker colored woods than other countries .

We have a set of rattan living room furniture that we would like to place on our covered outdoor deck. There is a roof overhead and two side windows plus an open balcony with rail. Can rattan withstand a bit of rain that may get in?

Yes. As long as the rattan is protected from the elements, it should be able to take a little moisture. Once or twice a season, wipe it down with linseed oil and let it sit until no more oil is absorbed, then wipe away any excess. This will help to protect the rattan. 

Do you ship your products?

All stores ship within a certain radius. I'd check on www.ikea-usa.com for particulars within your area.

Thank you Janice for doing the chat with us today and making us focus on outdoor living - hoping that will be coming soon if the sun every comes out! Next week my guest will be Kevin Brasler executive editor of Washington Consumers' Checkbook talking about how to save time and money on major spring cleaning projects such as duct cleaning and carpet cleaning.  See you then.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to talk about outdoor entertaining and living. Everyone have a great day, and think spring! 

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Janice Simonsen
Janice Simonsen, IKEA spokesperson
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