ikea photo


The Docksta dining table, $259 at Ikea.


What do you do when you spot that must-have gorgeous piece of designer furniture at a can’t-have price? You can cry, or you can go shopping for a much less-expensive look-alike.

Of course, there is absolutely no doubt that the design team goes absolutely ga-ga over fine designer furniture. High-end designers can offer an exciting cornucopia of pleasing design, ergonomic integrity, buttery leathers, exclusive fabrics, fine woods and beautiful finishes. Check out U.S.-based Baker furniture (www.bakerfurniture.com) or browse through high-end decorating magazines to see some stunning pieces.

But let’s face it, the high-end prices make buying this furniture a difficult proposition for many hard-working folks. Luckily, there is furniture that is designed with similar aesthetic qualities but at lower prices. Usually, fabrics and finishes are not quite as high-end, and construction or size can vary. And the quality varies, from cheaply made knockoffs to high-quality furniture.

But if you are a vigilant shopper, you can get a good quality designer knockoff at a fraction of the price. For example, for light, minimalist, Danish-inspired furniture at affordable prices, IKEA is a great option. The Ikea Docksta dining table ($259) looks like the Saarinen round table, priced at around $1,500. Check IKEA (www.ikea.ca) for more ideas.

In Toronto, G.H. Johnson (950 Dupont Rd.) sells “knockoff” furniture it produces overseas. “We sell them at one-tenth of the price of the original,” says owner Pat Johnson. They sell a Herman Miller look-alike chair for $295, compared to the original, which goes for $1,400. If you’ve got a look in mind and you can’t find it, he will search for it. Brooklyn Furniture, on 3742 Bathurst just north of Highway 401, (www.Brooklynfurniture.com) will also search for any particular designer look you like — e-mail info@Brooklynfurniture.com.

The bottom line is, when you buy knockoffs, you want a designer look combined with comfort and quality. Shop carefully and you will find a combination of price and quality that suits you. Just avoid furniture that looks designer but feels disastrous!