Despite some wretched memories of Ikea furniture assembly projects of the past, I found myself entering the gaping maw of the huge blue and yellow building. I remember the pain in my right palm caused by the back end of a stubby screwdriver?hours of screwing in hundreds of cam lock bolts and other screws will do that. I remember the back-breaking weight of the flat packs. Helping a young daughter furnish her first couple (or was it six?) places meant that Ikea was part of our lives for several years.
The Swedish innovator’s modern design is legendary. It is space-saving, clever, and clean-lined. TV designers working with a budget use Ikea products in their designs all the time. To most of us they are readily identifiable: accessories like vases, art prints, lamps, frames, and organizational tools tend to be well-priced. These are items that are replaced often, as tastes and trends change.
It’s when you look at the furniture that quality drops and frustration mounts. We all know that affordable means compromise. We give up real wood construction for particle board or MDF. We give up longevity for being on-trend. These are not heirloom pieces; they are until-we-can-do-better items. At Goodwill I’ve found awesome old dressers that are 50 years old. Not gonna happen with one from Ikea.
But today my mission was clear: Pick up a catalogue and buy a metal Helmer drawer unit. I’ve got a grey one under my desk, holding small office supplies. I wanted another one for the closet, to hold my costume jewellery. I borrowed the idea from a segment on The Nate Berkus Show. A fashion stylist showed off her custom closet design and how she stored all her baubles in drawers. What an incredible way to see and select just the right necklace or bracelet! Naturally, I had to modify (and downsize) the idea.
While there, I strolled through the room displays, because they recharge my imagination and creativity if I’m receptive enough to seeing. Eventually Alex, a bigger and more expensive drawer set than I’d originally planned to buy, came home with me after a strapping young man hoisted it into my car. I also bought two Komplement hangers to hold my growing scarf collection. By looping the scarves through the 28 rings you can see all of them at once in not much more space than a hanger takes.
I spent a few hours assembling Alex, and it wasn’t so bad. Maybe It’s the assembler’s state of mind or degree of motivation. In the time I would have spent convincing Roy to do it, I had it done. Next I added drawer liners from the dollar store.
The best part was transferring my jewellery from zip-lock bags into the six drawers. For several years I’ve had my necklaces sorted by colour families. That idea, too, was borrowed.
Learning from others is good. In fact something borrowed can turn out to be something awesome, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.