I'm a shop teacher's daughter. For my whole life, the smell of sawdust, Fullerplast, and sweat has been comforting: it represented a day of hard work and beautiful results. Unfortunately, it also meant my induction into furniture snobbery.
As a child, on the rare occasions when my parents needed a couch, we would make a trip to the furniture store where Dad would proceed to embarrass us. Grabbing a piece of furniture, he'd shake it vigorously, exclaiming, "This is a piece of crap! Look at the joints! Look at the doors--they're not even level! Even my 7th grade students could build something better than this." Meanwhile, we'd skulk behind the nearest couch, trying not to look like we were related.
"Dad!" we'd hiss, "There are salespeople right there! They'll hear you! You're going to get us kicked out!"
He ignored our misery and continued criticizing the couches, cabinets, and chairs. And rightly so. They were poorly built.
As a result of this unintended educational experience, I am highly suspicious of furniture stores and the quality of their merchandise. If I want a nice table, a china hutch, or a roll-top desk, I can have Dad or Phil build one for me that is exactly what I want. Why would I want something that everyone and their dog already has? Who needs a hutch with a piece of plastic for a back? Piece of crap, if you ask me. And don't get me started on those hunks of junk that they call "bookshelves," available at your local ShopKo, Walmart, or Target. Now, I understand that they have their place when you have limited funds, but then again, a piece of furniture is an investment. Why spend that money on something you'll have to replace--again and again--when you could get something that will last you forever?
Needless to say, I was not among those who were near wetting their pants over the opening of Ikea. Pre-fab furniture that is trendy, put-it-together-yourself stuff has no appeal to me. (My dad's favorite quote for several days after reading this was "Ikea is Swedish for particle board.") No matter what the salespeople tell you, particle board, even if it's made of hardwood, is still just sawdust compressed and glued together. It is not stronger than hardwood in the long run. Particle board shelves will sag visibly under the weight of books. Why would I want a couch built out of something that sags under the weight of books? (Even if I hear that they have great meatballs.)
Piece of crap, I tell you.
See . . . I told you I was a furniture slob.