Thursday, September 14, 2006

There is an old saying that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I am sad to report that this week I have had a shame on me experience.

As I have been settling into Vancouver, two major problems have arisen. First, where do I put my clothes, and second, where do I put my computer? If you answered Rubbermaid bins and the floor, you would have been correct for these past few weeks.

Now for the shame on me part. The whole laying on the floor to use my computer thing and rummaging through bins to get dressed was getting a little tired. Joan and I happened upon an Ikea store while out last weekend, and despite all past experience went in and purchased a computer desk ($29) and a dresser ($129) for me.

I don’t know how they do it at Ikea, but in the store everything seems solid as an oak tree. I figure they have access to extra fasteners or more heavy duty bolts or something, or maybe they just use Krazy Glue. I will have to find someone on the inside who will tell me their secret. They must also put something in the air to give you temporary amnesia, since you never seem to be able to remember previous Ikea nightmares when you are picking out your new stuff.

Anyway, as luck would have it, both of these pieces were small enough to fit in the trunk of Joan’s car. One thing I give Ikea credit for is fitting enormous furniture into tiny boxes. It sure does make it easier for the Cabrio drivers of the world. I am just waiting now for the Ikea house - a 1000 square foot bungalow that comes in a box that will fit in the back of a minivan.

Now, as everyone who has brought something home from Ikea knows, step 1 in the process often takes the longest. Step 1 is bringing the box from your car into the house, since the box conveniently fits in the trunk of the car (out of sight out of mind), this step can take days. I am sure some people forget they bought Ikea until they go to throw their bags in the trunk when heading off on vacation. Imagine their surprise when they discover that china hutch they bought 3 months ago! For me step 1 took just over 24 hours.

I started by assembling the computer desk on Tuesday (my priorities will never change). One thing I have learned in my Ikea building years is that the instructions are not optional. If Ikea gives you a 20 step process for putting a picture in a frame, you’d better follow each step exactly or you know something will be screwed up. I meticulously laid out the pieces and found all the odd shaped screws and got to it. A few hours later, my desk that consists of 5 pieces of MDF board was standing proudly in the corner. I went to set up the computer on it and discovered that it was sadly not as solid as the in-store model. In fact, I am glad that I got myself an LCD panel recently, because I am pretty sure if I put a CRT monitor on this unit I would end up with a pile of MDF sawdust. If this blog entry seems to end suddenly, you will know there has been a disaster.

After my reasonable success (hey, I didn’t accidentally build it backwards or anything) with the computer desk, I decided to take a crack at the dresser on Wednesday. The dresser, as you can imagine, was a little more complicated. When I saw the step-by-step guide was as thick as the New York City Yellow Pages, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Again I laid everything out and got to work. The thing I love about Ikea is when the pieces they say are supposed to fit together do not. In this case, once I reached the assembly of the drawers stage, the groove that the drawer bottoms was supposed to slide into did not extend all the way to the corner of the drawer. I learned long ago that from time to time undocumented Ikea modifications are required to finish an Ikea assembly project. So I proceeded to ding the corners of the masonite to make everything fit just so. I learned that trick from Bob Vila… honest. Somewhere around 10 PM the project was complete, and I now have a nice looking dresser – “looking” being the keyword.

At the end of the day, despite the below-par quality, and the hassle of RTA furniture, Ikea has solved a problem for me in an affordable manner. I now have a place to put my computer and a place to put my clothes. It may not be the swankiest solution, but it is a solution. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that somewhere in Sweden there is a man who is laughing at me.


Sven said...


4:33 PM, September 14, 2006  
Bjorn said...

Andrew, you are a riot, but you're giving us a bad name!

5:46 PM, September 14, 2006  
Andrew Baxter said...

I knew it!!!!!

1:31 PM, September 15, 2006  
Susie said...

I think you have the same desk as me! Must be genetic...

6:06 PM, September 25, 2006  
Mom B said...


6:31 PM, September 25, 2006  
Andrew Baxter said...

Hmmm... we both bought the cheapest possible desk... was it genetics or environment? :)

11:26 PM, September 26, 2006  
Mom B said...

It was sheer good sense :)

11:34 AM, September 27, 2006  

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