Curious about how IKEA and West Elm stack up? This article has what you need to know.
In the search for affordable, stylish furniture, two brands reign supreme: IKEA and West Elm.
But aside from the similarities of their reasonably priced furniture and tendencies toward modern design, these two companies are quite different — with a lot of those differences coming from IKEA being a much older and much larger brand, compared to West Elm’s fast and responsive Silicon Valley startup style.
In this IKEA vs. West Elm guide, we’ll give you the full rundown of how the two retailers compare. And by sorting through their huge product catalogs and extensive company information, we’ll point you towards the right choice for your particular furniture needs.
IKEA vs West Elm
Here’s a quick overview of the most relevant info and statistics for both companies:
|Price Range||$10 (accessories) to $2000+ (sectional sofas)||$10 (accessories) to $6000+ (sectional sofas)|
|Product Selection||Furniture, beds and mattresses, home office, organization, kitchen and dining, home decor, lighting, bathrooms, and rugs||Furniture, outdoor and garden, beds and mattresses, home office, organization, kitchen and dining, home decor, lighting, bathrooms, rugs, art and mirrors|
|Shipping Cost||Starts at $5.99, increases based on weight of items||Starts at $4.95; see full shipping rates here|
|Shipping Times||Highly variable||Highly variable|
|Headquarters||Delft, Netherlands||San Francisco, California|
|Products Made In||China and other Asian countries||Fair trade factories in Vietnam, across Asia, and some products made in the USA|
|Warranty||Up to 10 years limited warranties on couches||Depends on collection; returns and replacements more common|
|Customer Satisfaction||3.9 on Consumer Affairs||3.1 on Consumer Affairs|
Back in 1943, the then 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA. Little did he know that from its humble beginnings, the brand would grow to be the biggest retailer of furniture in the world. (A title that IKEA’s held every year since 2008).
Now, IKEA is all but synonymous with home furnishings. IKEA’s designs often become the trend in home decor for the year, and it’s rare to find a college dorm room, mid-city modern house, or uptown apartment that doesn’t have at least a few pieces of IKEA furniture in it.
Because of the size of their company, IKEA truly does seem to have something for everyone. And in recent years, they’ve expanded their eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethically made offerings to appeal to an even wider range of conscious consumers.
Criticisms of IKEA often regard the sourcing of their raw materials (and the brand’s lack of transparency about these issues) and the impact of their stores on local and community-led businesses.
- Largest availability of furniture and stores in the world
- Exceptionally affordable furniture
- Something for everyone
- Isn’t as high-quality as West Elm
- Sourcing for some products can be questionable
Additionally, online shoppers have been plagued by the brand’s frustrating variable shipping times. However, you can still shop in-store to avoid the worst of these wait times.
About West Elm
After the huge success of Williams Sonoma starting in the mid-80s, the company was ready to expand.
In the process, they decided to change their overall design aesthetic and offerings. In 2002, West Elm was born as a subsidiary company of the West Coast retail giant with a renewed focus on crafting artisan, sustainable, and hand-made goods and furniture.
Now in its 20th year, West Elm is still owned by Williams Sonoma — but it’s also grown into its own unique brand, offering a clean and modern aesthetic for furniture and home goods in a huge range of categories.
And, with their range of initiatives targeted at creating better working conditions in fair-trade factories, you can have more confidence that the money you spend on your home is also going to a good place.
Related: CB2 vs West Elm
West Elm offers both in-store and online shopping, but your experience with the two is likely to be very different.
West Elm Pros
- Many sustainable and fair trade products
- Exceptionally wide range of style options
- Local and American-made products available to buy
West Elm Cons
- Shipping times can be highly variable
- Pricier of the two companies
While shopping online with West Elm is convenient and shipping rates are quite fair, many customers report having difficulties with highly variable waiting and shipping times.
So, if you need something right away, it’s best to find a West Elm store near you rather than order online.
Frequently Asked Questions
To finish things out, here’s the answers to a few questions we came across while researching for this guide:
Is West Elm High End?
West Elm offers a high-end look and feel that’s not quite so expensive as more “boutique” brands like Bentley Home or Benchmade Modern.
Who Are West Elm’s Competitors?
West Elm is in fairly direct competition with IKEA. (That’s one reason we made this guide, to help you figure out which one is better for you).
Is IKEA Considered Cheap?
IKEA’s furniture and home goods are affordable but not cheap per se— they are generally of high quality and durability. However, “cheap” depends on one’s personal opinion. IKEA furniture definitely isn’t as well-made or as durable as quality hand-joined wooden furniture.
Do IKEA Products Last?
Most IKEA products are made to stand up to regular daily use. They also have the benefit of having readily available replacement parts. So if a small portion of a piece of furniture gets damaged, you won’t have to replace the whole thing.
The Bottom Line: Which Company Is Better For You?
With this comparison in mind, which company is better for your home?
If you’re looking for the most affordable options possible, IKEA will almost always be your best bet. The massive scale of their company’s logistics allows them to offer well-made furniture at rock bottom prices and still maintain a style and quality that’s popular and modern.
If you’re looking for ethically manufactured or local, American-made goods, West Elm is almost always a better choice. They’ve specialized in initiatives designed to bring hand-crafted goods back into the American home — even if that might mean a little bit more of an upfront investment from the buyer.
But honestly? It’s pretty hard to go wrong with either company — so long as you’re shopping in-store. Both brands have had consistent difficulties with online ordering wait times, so the best choice for you might come down to which company has a brick-and-mortar store closer to you.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!