Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hi. My name is Julie and I'm a furniture snob....

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.

24 comments:

~cari~ said...

"Ikea is Swedish for particle board!" That's hilarious! I don't understand the hype over Ikea either. I heard they have awesome storage stuff which intrigues me but the furniture...no thanks! It looks like the furniture they make on Trading Spaces.

Carrot Jello said...

My friend who's husband is from Sweden says in Sweden IKEA is like WalMart. Who get's excited about WalMart?

becks said...

i know what you mean about wanting quality furniture. my brother is a shop teacher now and the stuff he makes is amazing and good quality! me and jarred want him to make us some furniture when we can afford it. (we don't even have a cheap couch from wal-mart or anything yet...we just have 2 banana chairs that we borrowed from my parents. hehe)

Julie said...

~cari~: Yeah, I laughed pretty hard when he told me.

carrot: Apparently, a lot of people get excited about Walmart. I don't get it. I also don't get the attraction to Cabela's. (so shoot me...)

becks: Ah, the days of being a poor student. We bought an ugly yellow-green chair once at DI when we were first married and put a different leg base on it. Later, we took it back to DI. I swear we saw it on the back of a Voice Male CD.

compulsive writer said...

I am a school teacher's wife. And unless it was handed down to us, we mostly had particle board.

Sometime during my thirties I came to a conclusion. Life was just too short for cake mixes, margarine, imitation vanilla and fake furniture.

However, I do want to go to Ikea because I want to check out the inside of a great and spacious building.

(And Ikea also sells some great lingonberry preserves.)

Julie said...

I hear you, CW. Dad was a school teacher too, so furniture shopping was something I remember doing only rarely in all the years I lived at home. Luckily for us, he could build pretty much anything we needed (except for couches and reclincers). He and my mom even have a chair that he built and upholstered back when they were newlyweds. Kinda cool.

So will you mock those of us who choose not to enter the great and spacious buildilng? ;-)

Gerb said...

I can still remember the days when Allen and I would go to ShopKo and dream of all the beautiful furniture we could buy for our home someday. Now we, like you, are furniture snobs. Allen builds us everything, because nothing else is good enough. You'll have to come check out the woodwork in our someday-library when it gets done...amazing!

Julie said...

Gerb: I would love to come see your someday-library. Fun stuff! So does Allen ever go use my dad's shop? I'm sure he'd be more than welcome.

Elizabeth-W said...

The first time I went to Ikea I thought about the story of the king who had invisible clothes--I can't remember the name, the one in which the child speaks truth, that the king is in the buff. I felt like shouting out "You all know a lot of this stuff is crap, right??!!" but didn't for fear of being tossed out. That being said, they do have some cute stuff--placemats, etc.

Jen said...

I'm a furniture snob too...unfortunately my taste exceeds my budget.

Watch out for Ashley furniture. Low priced beautiful furniture...lots of particle board snuck in.

Skewedview said...

Lucky you for being related to a handyman with skills, plus the tools and where-eith-all to make REAL furniture for the family. Unfortunately most of us live in the particle board world. Now that I on the downhill slide of my life and can afford more of the nicer things in life, I too look for quality in all things. However, like I tell my wife, there are some things that I still refuse to pay the outrageous prices that are asked. One way to look at it, buying cheap stuff lets you replace it just about the time you are tired of it and ready for something new!

Queen Scarlett said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST!

...so I had to cap that above. ;-)

I'm with you 100% on Ikea... I don't get the fascination with particle board...give me something with dove-tails and good solid hardwood. That's what I like.

Seriously...the food...over-rated.

Ikea is also swedish for HELL.

Queen Scarlett said...

Maybe it's just the walmart's around here...but it's where the trolls come out in the day-time. I've only been to my walmart once...and that was enough.

Although...the walmart in Oahu was fantastic...

pflower10 said...

HIIIIIIIII JUUUUULLLLIIIIIIEEEEEE,

I've never been to an IKEA but the lingonberries sound delish.

Sounds like dad was great fun at the furniture store, How was he at people's homes?

Deborah Gamble said...

Right there with ya. But I still want to go to IKEA for soem plastic dishes for the kiddo and just to see the place!

b. said...

Furniture and cabinetry snob here too. Early on in our marriage, Hoss' best friend was a custom cabinet guy. He refused to let us have anything less than the real thing....and it stuck.
Hoss' dad also owned a furniture store most of Hoss' childhood, before RCW came to town...(you can get crap there too)

I want to see IKEA too. I'll probably buy some crap.

Gerb said...

You should see our garage setup that Allen has going...it's a regular woodshop in there! Park a car in the garage? Who ever heard of such a thing?? I do remember Allen checking out your dad's shop way back when. I believe he was drooling when he exited the building.

Geo said...

I agree with you 100% and in my heart of hearts I am also a furniture snob, but for me the particle board reality is that it's probably going to be Ikea book shelves or 16 more years of books in boxes in the basement.

Love the quote!

Laurie Anne said...

I too am a snob and a total sucker for dovetails. A lot of my furniture is second hand, but it's real wood and will last forever :0)

love.boxes said...

Even the one of the nicest pieces (nice = expensive) that I have purchased from a designer has a particle board backing.. I think a really nice piece should be able to "float" in the middle of a room.. meaning that it would be ok to be able to see the backing and not be embarrassed of it.... but I have no idea how to buy that kind of thing or where to get it.. or if I could even afford it...

soo Ikea here I come. ..
unless you have a better idea, which I would love!

Great post! :)

ps.. don't suggest my dad because he cannot fix stuff... really.

Mom not Mum said...

LOL I read a blog the other day where someone said that Ikea was Swedish for Crap - I suppose it's all the same thing. Ikea is good for a few things but I wouldn't furnish my house with it. I have an awesome cheese grater/container from there and it was cheap.

Aaron said...

they have the BEST meatballs!

Melody said...

All my living room furniture is custom made. I had the sofa made 1& 1/2 inches deeper (front to back) than standard because I'm am rather tall and I come from a tall family.
The man who built/upholstered it said, "This will last until the millenium..."

However, I must say that I LOOOVVE IKEA too! I don't care if it's cheap - the design, the variety, the affordability, the design, and did I say the design. RC Willey is an abomination just in the design sense, let alone all the other issues.

'nough said.

Annette Lyon said...

Great post! I came from a set of parents split on this type of thing--a father who was the child of the Depression and a mother who grew up with quality and sophistication. Constant battle of wills there--get it cheap and wear it out vs. wait until you can get the right, beautiful thing that will LAST. Hubby and I are lucky in that his grandfather was a furniture maker, so we have several pieces that are top-quality. No particle board crap on those bookshelves!