My Love Affair with IKEA

I’ve had a relationship with IKEA for a very long time, dating back to the days when I was small enough to go in the ball pit (wistful sigh).

My earliest memories — besides the ball pit — involve helping to choose a bunk bed for my younger sister and me to share, after my brother was born and my sister lost her room. Not only was it fun to crawl all over the different beds, we got to go in the warehouse section, huge and industrial, with shelves stacked unimaginably high. And then…we got to help assemble the bunk bed. Best thing ever.

There were many other trips over the years as our family grew. We bought numerous Billy bookcases and felt very accomplished putting furniture together. I developed a distaste for the patterns of the textiles and fell madly in love with the paper floor lamps. The catalogues were a wealth of beautifully organized shelving, with the occasional Swedish book in the photos as an Easter egg.

When I moved away from home, the first thing we did was go to IKEA. A miscommunication meant we slept on the floor for half a week. I’d never been so glad to see a mattress when it finally arrived, never mind that we didn’t have a bed frame yet. The only problem with buying an entire apartment out of IKEA? It took days of puzzling over instructions and wielding hex keys before everything was assembled. And then, later that year when we could finally afford more than just the very basics, we had to do it all over again.

That experience ended the romance for quite a while. We bought secondhand furniture instead, trembling at the thought of a hex key. Some of it was even from IKEA, which meant — bonus! — that someone else had had to put it together.

Now I’m in a position where I’m starting to think about IKEA once more. The frustrations of assembly have faded somewhat over time. I’ve been poking around department stores, but their prices are such a big jump up, and their style so much heavier and more old-fashioned (which I prefer for some things, like bed frames, but not for others, like tables), that I’m hesitant to make the leap. Maybe I’m not quite ready to abandon my old paramour just yet.

What associations do you have with IKEA? What’s your favourite home furnishings store?



8 responses to “My Love Affair with IKEA

  1. I tend to associate IKEA with college and Europe, since I didn’t discover it until I went to college in Madrid for a couple years. (We didn’t get one around this part of Texas until a while after I came back.) For a while I was a huge fan, more of their concept than anything else, but I’m rarely able to afford/find an excuse to buy the larger furnishings (my current computer desk is really the only FURNITURE I have from there), and it’s a bit too far for the small accessory runs. Still like the thought of them, though. And I love the random Swedish books. I’ve often been tempted to buy one of them just to add to my collection of books in languages I can’t read. ^^;

  2. (PS. Aren’t you glad I’m not spam? πŸ˜› )

  3. I have no idea how that spam got through! WordPress normally catches them all.

    Interesting about associating IKEA with college/Europe. Makes sense if that was the first place you discovered it. I noticed a lot of IKEA furniture (or at least that aesthetic) when I was in Norway, but I’d been a fan for a long time by then.

    IKEA is one of those places where I would happily go just to browse, even if I didn’t need anything. Like, say, a bookstore or an office supply store. And I’m less likely to walk out of IKEA with an accidental purchase.than I am the other two…. (Sadly, or perhaps luckily, the nearest one is a bit of a trek from where I am now. When I was in my teens and twenties there was one right near my house.)

  4. I really like the *experience* of IKEA. We didn’t have one close to where we used to live in Vermont, but when we moved down to Virginia, we hit IKEA for a new sofa and armchair and lots and lots of bookshelves. We went there one weekend when they were doing their “eat here and get the cost taken off at the register” deals and were happy to get the free lunch.

    And the BEST part about IKEA? Lingonberry preserves. Jars and jars of it to eat with Swedish meatballs. YUM!

  5. I ❀ IKEA bookshelves! There are two in my office, and I'm plotting to get more. And the food…my favourite is the chocolate torte.

  6. I’m pretty sure I was over thirty when Ikea finally moved into our neighborhood, so one of my strongest associations is having a place (the ball pit) to drop the kids off so I could shop for a little while in peace. Not that I would ever take advantage of that…

  7. I think the ball pit is beloved when you’re a kid, so win-win! (Obligatory XKCD reference: )

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