Wednesday, 7 December 2011

IKEA: Don't forget to count the pieces

Today, I will have another reason not to live in the West End of Ottawa.

The Swedish purveyor of fine furniture made from pressed wood chips and molded plastic is opening its flagship store today and all the mavens of modern, crappy, put-it-together-yourself desks and dressers are already lined up down the street for all the great deals.

Hope they're bundled up tight, God bless 'em.

They will be lined up until March, I reckon.

They may even outlast the NHL season.

Let's hope they're not mistaken for a flash mob, or worse. The new site of the Occupy Ottawa movement.

Mind the pepper spray, good constables. They come in peace to buy things that come in pieces.

I am truly perplexed by the popularity of IKEA and I can't understand the motivation of those who worship the Allen key.

I admit it. I have bought lots of IKEA over the years but I did so against my better judgement and out of necessity.

Back in the food bank years.

As a single mom I learned to deftly slide the dreaded Allen key into places an Allen key could not possibly go to put together desks, dressers, cabinets and bunk beds just to show the neighbors I could afford furniture of any sort.

I remember presenting a new desk to my daughter, Marissa, all nice and shiny with the fine plastic handles, the cardboard on the back held together with not much more than a prayer. Minutes later, I watched in horror as Cleo the cat lept on the desk and destroyed all my hard work. It came down in 60 seconds like one of those failed Vegas casinos, folding in a heap like a deck of cards.

I must have thrown out 12 piles of IKEA garbage over the years, leaving for recycle or landfill once mighty looking structures, reduced to piles of rubble and screws. I watched cabinets and desks melt into the gutter like marshmallows on a campfire, conquered by even a light dusting of snow.

The worst pieces of crap were the dressers with their drawers only strong enough to hold four sweaters before they caved in the middle and became part of the drawers down below.

Good times we had, IKEA and me.

IKEA was like the bad boyfriend from the other side of the tracks who looked nice on the outside but was rotting flesh within, his true character exposed easily with the slightest brush with integrity.

I got rid of all the IKEA when I came into some money a few years back and I was able to buy real, Canadian-made furniture which came on a delivery truck full of strongmen who had expertly wrapped it in plastic instead of throwing it into a cardboard box with instructions that made no sense, no sense whatsoever.

Though I am poor once again, I take heart in knowing that the accountant's desk I am writing on, with its beautiful gold leaf inlay, will be passed down or sold to others who appreciate fine workmanship. I am surrounded by exquisite pieces made by the hands of humans rather than on manufacturing lines using automated machines run by low wage earners with drinking problems.

If IKEA taught me one thing, it was to buy quality furniture. It is environment-friendly, it is made by people who respect their raw materials and it speaks to a sensibility that things should be made to last.

It may be old-fashioned to believe that good things should come from the earth instead from the land of many boxes. And it may be conservative to believe that it's wasteful to buy stuff that must be replaced in a year, or two.

But I'm still from a generation who believes in being true to one's school. I believe in, and buy from, my neighbors in Almonte or Quebec, hard-working folk who understand the difference between things that are hand-made and things that are home-made.

So good luck to all of you who are standing out freezing in the cold this morning. You can have your plastic ball rooms filled with germs and toddler poo. You can have your sawdust stuffed Swedish meatballs and eat them, too. You can have your rugs that smell like they came from a pot farm.

Have fun building your crap kitchens and bathrooms out of cardboard and screws.

Don't forget to count the pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Kids have lots of stuff so the room can be quite crowded anyway. By adding a large bed or two separate beds you can say goodbye to free space. Not to mention that you can easily find kids bunk beds for sale online easily. You save both space and money by going for this option. Not only these, but an actual academic study has shown that kids prefer this kind of beds more than any other type.