Thursday, January 22, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Apartment Edition

When we were first married a few years ago, we inherited a large bookcase-type Thing from Heather's grandparents. It was big and heavy, but we like to read and needed a place to put our books. When we moved into our current apartment, we put the Thing in a corner, loaded it with stuff and moved on. Occasionally, when a shelf would come out, or a door wouldn't open, we'd wish for something better, but it generally suited our purpose.

Last Friday evening, we were invited to some friends' apartment for a pudding social, and I stood admiring their bookshelves. Pretty soon, the conversation turned to where they got them, and it seemed we were the only family there who hadn't spent at least one Saturday wending our way through Ikea, the Swedish home furnishings megastore. We came home, looked at the Thing in the corner, and decided a family field trip was in order for the next day.

Now, I'm not normally a fan of megastores of any type. Our current meager situation forces us to shop at the likes of Wal-Mart and Costco, but I am not a fan. Finding assistance at Wal-Mart is like going on an African safari, where the probability of seeing a blue-vested associate approaches zero. The store is so large, it seems to have everything, and yet it always manages to lack the one item I'm searching for. Such general disillusionment was the initial cause of my hesitancy to go to Ikea, but we decided to give it a whirl.

Even from the exterior of the store, I was impressed. They had family friendly parking: extra wide parking spaces close to the store, useful for getting kids in and out of the car! The store had a casual, move-at-your-own-pace feel, with maps and arrows and everything—with none of the frantic mania that is characteristic of Costco or Wal-Mart. There weren't any annoying used-car-type salespeople, and the place seemed to cater to families. Even the in-store restaurant was decent: not a McDonald's knockoff, but a reasonably-priced bona fide Swedish cafeteria. (We had full lunch and desserts all around for about $21.)

In the end, we bought a couple of 31" bookcases with doors, plus a corner bookcase, all to replace theThing. I spent the afternoon assembling them, and by Saturday evening, we had replaced the old setup with the new, which seemed to give us more storage space and give the room a more open feel. I was somewhat nostalgic about tossing the Thing, but we didn't have any use or space for it. In the end, we hauled the Thing to the take-it-if-you-want-it area near the local dumpster, and I'm happy to report it had disappeared within 24 hours: somebody had found a new home for it.


Anonymous said...

I love IKEA is the best place ever. I am so glad that you got something that gives you lots of storage, looks great, and was a decent price. Welcome to the world of IKEA...where dreams come true.

Emily Noel said...

I love IKEA! I have to stick to the catalogs and internet to see their stuff since I live in RI and nowhere near one. Your kids are so cute!