Monday, February 3, 2014

Another Day in Paradise

Ok, nothing comes easy - as we've all learned - regardless of the circumstances. Not buying a simple, gray, heavy traffic carpet for the basement, which was an 4 hour ordeal for Megan at Home Depot, nor getting the stuff needed to furnish it. Obviously as a couple you have to share, the good and the bad. So Saturday was going to be my turn, my ordeal, my cross to bear. Not at Home Depot, but at IKEA - a name that creates goose-bumps and gives me shivers, as soon as someone mentions it. My most hated shopping experience of all times, and shopping itself is not my favorite thing anyways.

Megan's ordeal with Home Depot turned out to be worthwhile. It worked out so perfectly that we found ourselves a few hours later with wall to wall carpeting and a need for furniture to complete the room. We were thrilled to gain a room back, one that before wasn't habitable at all before (as some might remember from an earlier blog post, the little '70s wood-paneled porn studio that didn't really speak to us, neither to Megan, nor to me).

Saturday morning, 11:00am - We are in the need to go to IKEA. Megan has been waiting for this for a week now, me, grrr. A necessary but completely undesired trip, just one of those things that needs to get done, like changing toilets or needing to pee.


Our idea was to turn the space into a kind of mini studio for the two of us, a workspace for me and an art and craft area for Megan. And also a place for regular home office stuff- binders, bills, policies, and whatever else.  A storage solution and some kind of desk area is needed, and sure, IKEA. It shouldn't exceed our budget, which the further the reno on this house goes, the smaller it gets. So we do it all ourselves - which is what we want anyway. Okay, IKEA day it is. 

It started quite nice. No traffic on 880 North, immediately found a parking space, hey, it's okay, not too bad for Saturday in the Bay Area at IKEA. But everything changed as soon as I walked in, the nightmare begins, up the escalator straight into the showroom, worldwide the same procedure. That long, never-ending, curved path that sucks you into the world of IKEA, trying to blind you with the "wanna be nice" interior ideas, regular priced, but produced as cheap as possible, you even forget why you are here or what you're looking for, but given the feeling that you don't really want any of this at all. 

Arrive at the kitchen department - finally, a guy at the counter willing to help us out. We need 3 base cabinets - 2 countertops, all the doors and drawers, not to build a kitchen, nor a kitchen island, but a workspace. God, I don't know why. Luckily we didn't take any pictures at IKEA, otherwise it would only show my miserable expression - which is not something one would like to run into - it must look pretty scary from what people told me. I never look into a mirror when I'm miserable, so I don't know. Megan's good spirits only irritate me more. ;) The misery lies in the fact that on the way to the kitchen department I had to see all this - more or less "designed" living spaces that people take literally and try to recreate it at home. I know, not everyone shares my opinion about it, there are actually people out there who seem to enjoy the stroll on IKEA's long, never-ending curved path and explore the possibilities, who get inspired and get excited about all of this, as I would probably strolling through MoMa - but, please … not at IKEA for god's sake, this is not exciting, its a creepy consumer temple whose only reason is to get the money out of your wallet to come back ASAP, to replace the parts you've either broken or that didn't survive the last move. 

Oh yes, sorry, I forgot, the kitchen department and the guy trying to help us with all the parts for our self construction workspace idea. First we decided to choose a different option for the doors and drawer covers then we intended to - thanks IKEA for making the choice to switch ideas so easy, by displaying the better looking one next to the one we've chosen originally. Okay, lets go with the better looking one, doesn't show any price tags, nor could one imagine why it should be any different in price than the other one, they are basically the same, just a different surface. So, running everything through the sales rep computer, wrapping it up, get the copy of the order list … boom… - 1000 bucks - wow! am I thinking, what did I do wrong in the math at home, figuring it was around 450 with all parts needed for this workspace assembled, repurposed DIY project. So I asked him what exactly he put into his computer as parts, since the math I did at home came to the conclusion that we shouldn't be spending more than half of what he's asking now. The answer is pretty easy, amount of parts were right, but the surface, or as they call it, the finish was different, we accidentally choose IKEA's most expensive finish ever, a glossy gray. The stuff and make is still the same, some parts will break apart during the assembly process, some won't make it through the first year, but bottom line, same base cabinets, same doors, same everything, only more than double of the price than some other "finish" … ha ha, not that I understand, nor want or need to. But I understand money, so lets go back to our original idea and wrap it up, to get out of here, it's 2:00pm already. We left at 11:00am and haven't accomplished anything yet, other than we learned same make, same model is not the same, glossy is double the price than matte. And also, it's Saturday, who wants to spend his entire precious day off at IKEA, only to learn that glossy finishes cost double of what a matte finish costs. Three more obstacles to go through, first the check out, can usually take quite a while, second the pick up line, usually takes even longer, and lastly, try to get these heavy boxes they hand you into the car. You have to lift them first over this barriers that they mounted in front of the pick up parking spaces. Who's idea that ever was, it wasn't a good one, unless it's one of those IKEA tricks, that they hope you drop the one or the other piece while trying to lift them over the barrier, to be in need of immediately replace. I mean who wouldn't, you're here already, so why not now?

At least we managed to get everything in the car without breaking anything. But better believe it, it won't stay like this. All I'm saying is, "Murphy's Law". So now everything in reverse, all the boxes out of the car, into the house, unwrap the parts we need to assemble everything. And - lessons learned in the past - always study IKEA's assembling instructions, even if they don't mean anything to you, they meant something to someone, and the devil is in the details, so take a closer look, you may find hints you never, ever thought about. Like the instructions for the drawers. They are all identical, regardless of what kind of drawer you're talking about. In our case it meant, big drawers had the same instruction as smaller drawers - who would expect it. I wonder if those glossy drawers would have had more specific and detailed instructions or not, double the price - I'd guess so. Anyhow, these are now very generic and one can't make out that there's supposed to be a difference between the small and big drawer bases, but guess what, in real life there is a difference. No problem, lets take off the smaller cover and put on the bigger cover and fix our mistake. This is where the tricky part starts, or shall I say the IKEA part. A generic, very unspecific assembly instruction, yes, but now how to dissemble it, no word. Yes, you guessed right, after pushing and pulling it gently, to figure if and where there might be a way, it just breaks apart, not just a little but completely, too bad that the only thing left to do is take the bits and pieces left, clean up the mess, walk to your trash bin and try to decide which parts go where, recycling, regular trash … thats it. IKEA easy!

So with one cover fewer than we had 5 minutes ago we decided to continue assembling the stuff as far as we could get, which isn't always easy, especially with me being miserable already from the shopping experience, but Megan somehow is able to deal with it. Finally we got it all together, but the missing drawer cover so... back to IKEA that evening, and play their game. Not that those parts can be picked up in a specific aisle, like aisle 9 bin 35, no, for those parts you have to go up the escalator again, make your way through the curving trail of the showroom, all the way to the end, where the kitchen department is, find a sales rep, get your order in, get the printout, check out, wait in line to ask for your part, another line to pick up your part, same procedure as for an entire kitchen. However, we got it done. Just FYI, the idea of the curved trail that sucks you in with all its special offers guaranties IKEA on average 150 bucks more from each customer, than they expected to spend their, I'm just saying. 

Back home getting the last bits and pieces together and finally- we got it done. This is IKEA at it's best- feeling accomplished and seeing the result. What's even better, we actually gained a room in our little house, a room that wasn't really there yet. It totally changes your habits, the ways you walk through the house. By sudden there is an extra room to hang out, place to be, and it's really great. 

The room's first day of existence here. It was obviously necessary to have a new, additional space like this ... ;-) Megan's side on the left, mine on the right.

Still work to do on both sides, figuring out what goes where, if at all.  And from now on, Megan says she's leaving me at home when she goes to IKEA. ;)


  1. Wow! What a change from before! Can you guys do one more before and after shot of the whole room? I love the new desk and the carpet!! Sorry it was such a hassle. Do I happen to see a "California Soul" shirt on you?? :) Glad you liked it! I'll show James. :)

    1. Glad you spotted the shirt! Yes, I'll do a before and after again from the same angles. It's so different. :) not so creepy!