If anyone thinks the old-school catalog is dead, try Googling the frenzy that is the Ikea 2014 catalog. The annual showcase of flat-pack splendor has become its own retail event. The company is releasing its free 2014 Ikea catalog app Thursday and shipping its printed catalog next month, but L.A. at Home writer Lisa Boone, producer Dianne de Guzman and editor Craig Nakano previewed what's new and forthcoming by e-flipping the pages of the digital catalog. Here are three First Impressions of the best, the budget-minded and the surprising.

PHOTOS: Ikea 2014 catalog preview

Favorite pieces

Hissom desk. Designed for two people working on opposite sides of the tabletop, this desk appears to be a great space-saving solution with a fun, eccentric shape. Will the shared workspace offer ample room for two? Do the rounded edges make it a good pick for kids, or will they just kick each other under the table? At $75.99, it's worth a look. LB

Stockholm pendant light. Budget lighting is one of the things Ikea has always done well. This piece appears in a room spread on Page 12, described ever-so-briefly as "powder-coated steel and plastic" and $89.99. Then it's not seen again, not even in the catalog's lighting chapter, though a spokeswoman confirmed that the light will be available in August. CN

Fabrikör glass-door cabinet. This curio cabinet is a clean, no-fuss way to show off your prized items or store your necessities. I can easily see this working in any room of the house. DG

Value picks

Lövbacken side table. This 1956 leaf-shaped table with three legs and veneer top table is being reissued and priced at just $59.99, making it affordable enough to accessorize both ends of the sofa. LB

I also liked this piece -- as much for its back story as its design. It's the first piece of flat-pack furniture that Ikea ever sold. Ikea nostalgia -- who would have thought. CN

Nittorp TV bench. Powder-coated steel and metal mesh sliding doors to house your electronics? Yes, please. You'd just need to keep the cord frenzy to a minimum. The Nittorp TV bench is a steal at $59.99. DG

The surprises

Huset dollhouse furniture. Because Ikea is the go-to place for kid furnishings, it's surprising the company didn't introduce dollhouse furniture until now. The Huset line, set to premiere in August, includes miniature versions of Ikea staples such as the Klippan sofa, Expedit storage unit, Lack table and Famnig heart cushion. Even the printed packaging can be used for decoration. It's $12.99 to furnish the living room. LB

Esbjörn chair with cover. I'm often surprised to see how high design gets translated for the mass market. This chair ($124 with cover, $89 without) struck me as the budget interpretation of designer Inge Sempe's Ruché collection, which I first saw at the Ligne Roset booth of the 2010 Milan furniture fair. Ultimately I prefer the Esbjörn sans cover. CN

Stockholm swivel easy chair. What's surprising about this chair is how likable it is. I'm not usually a fan of swiveling chairs (exception: bar stools) or velvet, but those details are forgiven when you see the chair's smooth curves, solid look and nice price ($399). DG

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