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Assembling Ikea Furniture is fun--really

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-10-17


I know Ikea gets a lot of flak for its furniture—wobbly, and probably the biggest complaint is putting whatever it is you bought together. The directions are just pictures—probably to save on having to print them in several languages. Because I am not an Ikea expert--but I did pay particular interest in the chapter Ellen Ruppell Shell devoted to the furniture giant in Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. If you haven’t read it, check it out. The entire book talks about retailing, from Woolworth’s to Wegman’s and why a lot of shrimp come from Thailand—and why it’s so cheap. (It’s kind of gross.)

The Ikea chapter is an interesting read. The stores are pretty amazing, and every time I go there, I want to gut my house of everything and start over. The furniture is compact and usually serves multiple purposes. My house is small, and I have a problem with clutter—it’s all over me like white on rice. Why, right now there is a bra, washcloth, bathing suit and metal tape measure on my coffee table, among other things. Sometimes I really think I need to do a purging in this house. I have way too much stuff, and every time I go to Ikea, I’m ashamed, and turned on at the same time. Ashamed of my house, aroused as to how cool it could be. And for not that much money.

It was saving a few bucks that had me telling a friend that I HAD to get a new bed this summer. For years, I’ve had an on and off back pain that I’ve learned to live with. Since I don’t do heavy lifting, and I’ve not had a back injury (and refused to believe that I was just getting older) I chalked it up to an ancient mattress, and an even more ancient box spring. How old WAS the box spring? My parents probably bought it when they got married. Back in September, 1954. A mere 60 years ago, but I will admit the box springs were made by Stearns and Foster.

I figured it was time for a new bed. I didn’t really want to skimp. I could have bought Ikea’s super cheap bed frame, which would have set me back perhaps $80, but knowing how I am, I purchased a bed frame that included four drawers on the bottom. That would be a good place to store bedding and perhaps I could toss my socks and shoes in one of the drawers, and keep the floor clutter down to a minimum.

So Labor Day, I, my friend, and probably several thousand people wandered around Ikea Westchester. I was on a mission. My friend had never been there. And her wonderful stepfather loaned us the use of a pickup with a cap on the bed. The thing about Ikea is they won’t send your purchases to you—they will contract through a third party in order to get it delivered, but since I live about three hours from the nearest store, I didn’t want to think about the delivery charges. Besides, part of the fun of Ikea is figuring out how you’re going to get your haul home.

The truck was absolutely packed—my friend had picked up some small items, with my purchase hanging out the back, secured with twine. We unloaded it at my house, and for the next few weeks, I started putting it together.

Anyone who has ever assembled a piece of Ikea furniture (and this was the most complex I’d ever attempted) knows that allowing yourself plenty of time and really keeping an eye on directions are the most important things. No, alcohol won’t lessen the pain of assembly, and if you’re really smart, you won’t drink and assemble. The directions can be puzzling while sober. There were two occasions where I had to redo a few places, because I hadn’t gotten a key piece where it needed to go. Instead of rushing and doing a half-assed job, I put the bed together just a few steps at a time. Grad school being what it is, and me being who I am, the frame was leaning precariously against an overstuffed book case in my living room for weeks. When the time came, I got it down the hall into my room and finished the assembly there. I lugged the old bed and mattress out of there, and put it into a spare bedroom. I figured if something was seriously wrong with the new bed, I’d still have the other one. But the majority of the bed came together—I still haven’t assembled the drawers yet, because while they were important, it was more important to get the bed and slats and mattress down. My back would thank me for making this a priority.

And so the bed is together. In order to make more space in my room, I turned the bed, thus rendering two of the drawers unusable. So I have half the storage space. When I get the drawers assembled, that is.

I’ll get the drawers put together. But that will have to wait until I have some free time and I want a challenge. People hate putting together Ikea furniture, but I get a sort of perverse joy out of twisting those cam connectors as tight as they can go. Same with that little L-shaped wrench. I like tightening the screws down with that.

So where are the parts to the drawers? On my living room floor, naturally. And the coffee table. The important part of the bed is done. And my back is feeling much better. So if you are debating whether or not to buy a new bed, buy it. But if you get an Ikea bed, allow yourself plenty of time, and hold on to your old bed until the new one is built. Only then should you partake in a pitcher of margaritas or a couple of martinis. Because, if you’re like most people, by that time, you’ll need them.

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