Get off your Grönkulla and hand me that Fyrkantig, would ya please?

Well, for the very first time in my life, I’ve finally done it.

Living just a short drive away from one of the world’s most amazing stores for almost half my life, I’ve never actually attempted to build a piece of Ikea furniture.

But now I have.  Three pieces, actually. All by myself.

A few weeks ago, I figured I couldn’t wait for someone to be around to give me a hand, and I really needed to get some bookshelves so I could finally get all my books and games out of boxes. Plus I had company coming to stay, and I really needed to clean up the mess. So I decided to go it alone.

After careful on-line consideration—size, weight, color, price, and all—I borrowed my son’s SUV (he was off cavorting around in Korea at the Olympics making TV) because I knew how to fold the seats down (note: I now also know that the car I’ve owned for about three years does, in fact, have fold down seats—I just hadn’t figured that out yet.  Good lord, I sound stupid.)

I headed to Ikea just before lunch on a Saturday, the busiest day of the week there, I think, and actually managed to find a decent parking spot among the snow piles and poorly parked minivans. Lines too long for meatballs, I had an egg salad sandwich (which, in Swedish, is Äggssalladsmörgås, in case you care to know—I just looked it up, and there’s a point to this I’ll make shortly—but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what it said on the plate—I don’t think I would have gotten it.).

Then I set to work.  Found the items on the floor, jotted down the location in the giant warehouse aisles, and loaded up my purchases—three 40 pound boxes of shelves. And two canvas boxes for somewhere else.

I somehow managed to get them into the jeep, then into the apartment, then up the stairs into the loft.

Now, that’s just muscles and sore back.  The big work was still to come.

When it comes to spatial reasoning, I am quite deficient.  I’m not afraid to admit it—I cannot read a schematic to save my life.

Ask me to interpret a chart or read a road map, I’m there–top of the class.  But build something off a piece of paper with a bunch a pictures? Hah! Nope.

Let’s have a little Ikea intermission (this is an except from a FB post in 2016):


Two years ago, my dear friend Michelle was celebrating her birthday (don’t know which one, don’t care, she’s younger so it doesn’t matter), and she decided she wanted to have a party at….IKEA.

That may seem a little odd at first, but when you think about it, it’s the perfect place to set up an underground event. Food, places to relax, lots of space… (Disclaimer: I am not endorsing this as an activity everyone should go out and attempt, unless Ikea feels differently, which I’m sure they do not. They were not complicit or informed in any way of this event. But thanks very much to them for letting us have a great evening!).

We started out in the dining hall (because who can resist those little meatballs? Which I’m happy to report now come in chicken and veggie). And who knew they served wine and beer?! Well, they do.

Once we gathered and finished our meals (and wine), we headed for the showroom floors and found a lovely living/dining room combo. Four of us played a few rounds of Taboo, and the rest of the gang (there were a dozen of us) played a fun card game called Rummoli. When you think about it, it’s a great way to test out the furniture and see how you might make use of it in your home.

People walked by and asked if we were part of ad or a photo shoot, and when the staff started walking by repeatedly and eyeing us, Michelle decided it was time to move on to Phase 2: the Scavenger Hunt!

Our lists included (with photo proof of course):

-Most people on a couch 
-Placement of those little suction cup washing wands in odd spots (we did that a lot

-Sitting still for five minutes (someone has the video)

-Hiding coins for a child to find 
-Buying someone an ice cream cone
-Finding clothes and dressing up 
-Lampshades on the head (of course) 
-Selfies with staffers 
-Helping someone load their purchases

-Finding the silliest name for a product (or was it making up the silliest name? Does it matter at Ikea?!)

-Trying out a bed with a sales associate (didn’t happen–by then they’d caught on to us and we were told that “LP” (loss prevention) was watching us….sigh. (I can assure you Ikea, none of us took anything we didn’t pay for…but Michelle’s shopping cart full of party stuff was surely confusing) .  Also, I’ve somehow made it this far in life without ever being arrested, and I was pretty sure that Ikea was not the place where that should happen. So it was time to go.

All in the span of about 3 hours–great way to spend a Friday evening. I met some new friends, got a pack of those little votive candles I needed, and was home by 9. Happy birthday, Michelle, I hope you had fun! Congrats on thinking up the most original party I’ve been to in years!

Ok, back to the work at hand.  The first piece, a Billy bookcase, was the hardest, but I took my time, and, much to my disbelief and surprise, I did it!  It was actually pretty easy, once I able to figure it out. The second piece was an identical bookcase, tall and thin.

The middle one, which had some other name I now forget, was a little tougher for me.  Maybe it’s because I’m impatient, maybe it’s because I really can’t read those stupid picture directions, but I put the bracing shelves in/on out of order and, as a result,  the backing would not fit properly (it was supposed to slide in, but the notches didn’t line up, so I tacked the backing on.  It looked terrible.)

So I left it overnight and thought about whether it was worth taking it all apart to make it right…and I decided it was.  Sigh. So, another half hour later, it was done.  Except for the anchoring to the wall, which Ikea now says everyone should do.  My (ex) father-in-law gave me a hand with that, and now it’s all done and it looks fab-u-lous.

So bottom line advice from me for Ikea?  Ten tips:

  • Go on a weeknight, or in the middle of the day.
  • Have the meatballs, and maybe some wine.
  • Wear your walking shoes (Ikea is no place for heels).
  • If you get invited to a pop up party there, go.
  • Learn the shortcuts.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Don’t be afraid to pronounce something new.
  • Get someone else to help you load it (maybe someone will be having a party?).  That shit is heavy.
  • If you build it, it might work. If you get someone else to, you have a better chance and it’s far less hassle.
  • It’s still the best deal in town. And don’t forget to buy a dish soap scrubber-wand!
ikea shelves
The finished product.  And yes, that is a rare jacaklope–my mother bought it for me for my birthday when we were in South Dakota a few years ago. Most people don’t know this, but this rarest of creatures is found in  only a very small geographic part of North America.  Also they are made from road kill, so don’t yell at me.  The mask? From Venice Carnivale, and the photo albums…so much scanning to do…


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