The most well-known piece of furniture is perhaps not the one you think: it’s not the Saarinen table or the Eames chair, it’s probably the Malm dresser from IKEA. The affordable Swedish Brand has transformed how we incorporate design in our homes, democratizing it and bringing all types of customers into the fold. But as much as IKEA has its pros in affordability and simplicity, it can sometimes lack a little personalization.

That’s where the founder of Norse Interiors, Lotta Lundaas, a native Swede herself, began her brand that offers a way to not just customize some of IKEA’s most iconic pieces, but also give them an upgrade with locally made high-quality legs, doors, and tops. We had a few questions for her about how Norse Interiors works.

What makes the quality of Norse Interiors’ doors, legs, and pulls better than what can be found in IKEA?

I think it’s a common misconception to underestimate IKEA’s quality. They’ve worked hard on making sustainable and durable furniture, and I think their latest Sell-Back Furniture Program is testament to that.

With that said, we are committed to providing the best possible quality. That’s why we don’t use wood veneers, but instead, our painted finish is the most durable finish available for wood as it is chemical and moisture resistant. We also only work with wood material that is green building compliant, certified to the SFI® (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), which assures that it comes from responsible sources. Finally, we make our best-selling Sara furniture legs out of stainless steel, and you can’t make it more long-lasting than that!

Where are Norse Interior’s products made?

We keep our production in the USA. We’re committed to limiting our environmental footprint, which is why we don’t ship our products halfway across the world before they reach the customer.

How did you come up with the idea of customizing IKEA’s iconic pieces?

I’ve always loved IKEA; it’s super modular, affordable, and I find their commitment to sustainability admirable. I’ve used IKEA in many different stages of my life, and I have always tried making them more personal and less cookie-cutter – so one day I thought, ‘why not turn it into a business?’ My grandfather was a carpenter, and my father is a serial entrepreneur, so I feel like launching my own furniture business and disrupting the industry is in my blood.

But the real starting point for Norse was when I volunteered to decorate the office space at a telecom startup I was working for at the time. I resorted to IKEA again, as it was one of the few affordable options, but I wished I could make it more ‘on brand’. I realized there was an opportunity to work with American manufacturers and bring timeless, Scandinavian design to the furniture market at an affordable price point.

I also really value the idea of extending a furniture’s lifespan, by giving it a makeover instead of throwing it out (we dispose of almost 12 million tons of furniture every year in the US, equivalent to about 5% of the total garbage). Millennials and homeowners are buying affordable IKEA products to furnish their homes, and when it’s time to update, Norse is a game-changer for those who are seeking a sustainable and customizable design.

If I wanted to transform my dresser, for example, where should I begin the selection process? Beginning with the legs, the doors…?

The customization of the IKEA Malm dresser, for example, starts with picking a pattern, and then a color. The dresser drawer fronts are the same sizes no matter if you have a 3, 4 or 6-drawer Malm dresser, which makes it easy to order. Finally, you decide on knobs or pulls for the finishing touch. Everything, except for accessories, is made-to-order and we ship it within three weeks. When your Norse product arrives at your doorstep, replacing the IKEA drawer fronts with ours just takes a few minutes.

Is it easy to put together? Will there be special instructions or tools needed to do so?

We’ve put in a lot of effort into making both the buying and assembly process as simple as possible. Every product comes with straight-forward assembly instructions, and you never need more than a regular screwdriver to put together your custom piece. However, if you don’t want to bother with assembling it yourself, we’ve partnered with assembly services across the US.

That sounds helpful! If I am lost and I need some assistance on what to buy, is there someone that can help?

Absolutely! We love being a part of our customers’ design processes! Our support team is available both via chat and email seven days a week. We also encourage you to check out our Instagram for some extra guidance; we share all possible design combinations and photos from regular customers and our design team.

What would be the most Swedish combination, were you to create one using Norse Interior’s products?

All our products have a Scandinavian design, but if I were to pick one combination, it would be these Marie doors in ‘White Lace’ and the Ambrosia Maple Wood Top. If you’re looking for a budget-option, simply get the doors since the White Lace is color-matched with the IKEA Besta cabinet.

For the dresser, the color combination of the white oak dresser with the Astrid Drawer Fronts in ‘Silver Sage’ is genuinely Scandinavian. Both the Marie and Astrid pattern captures the essence of Swedish design, with clean lines inspired by parquet and ribbed wood flooring, respectively.