Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Spotlight: IKEA

My wife and I paid our second visit to IKEA yesterday, the fabled Swedish furniture store. Perhaps you've seen it from the highway.

 Assuming your highway is in Singapore, where this photo from Wikipedia was apparently taken.

The problem with our first visit to IKEA a few months ago was that we really didn't know what we were in for. I thought we could walk in, pick out a shelf, and do some window shopping along the way. I was not expecting to go apartment hunting. We walked through a labyrinth of living rooms, dining rooms, bathrooms, each furnished with a consistent theme that prompted us to start categorizing these mock living spaces as, "wish we could have that," "wish we had a friend who had that," and, "meh." By the time we reached the end of the showroom floor, I was worn out.

Then there was an entire floor of rugs, lampshades, and picture frames that we hadn't counted on.

Followed by the gigantic warehouse where we actually picked up the box containing the assemble-it-yourself shelf that we had picked out a few hours before.

Followed by a checkout line comparable to the queue for a Star Wars premiere.

Followed by a small food court and a mini-mart with assemble-it-yourself Swedish food.

Followed by the trip across the bustling parking lot back to the car, and the realization that the do-it-your-shelf may or may not fit into the back of the car.

I suppose the huge food court at the entrance should have been a clue that you don't simply "go shopping" at IKEA. You're there for an afternoon, whether you're buying a potholder or a twelve-piece dinette set.

This time, we came prepared. We started our adventure by sitting down to a glorious meal of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggie wraps, and Mountain Dew. (The food was quite good.) We had a list, and we stuck to it: lollygagging was kept to a minimum by moving through the store with purpose, rather than the wonderment and promise of 50¢ hot dogs that characterized our first visit. We abandoned our previous mindset of, "find what's cheap, and then see if we like it," replacing it with, "find what we like, and then consider if it fits into the budget." Overall, our second experience was much more in line with what Jonathan Coulton sang about.

Now we're well on our way to making a home, as opposed to living in a place created by the haphazard mingling of trappings from our previous lives apart. Of course, that means I need to vacuum the carpet before we move everything into place. But that's a small price to pay for having somewhere that we can truly call ours.

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