Monday, March 31, 2008
A Slice of Pie
With an unfinished basement and this baby coming soon (I hope), we are short on space. Friends and family have been incredibly generous with gifts, and I have nowhere to put all of these lovely things. I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to get a dresser.
Those of you who know my family know that furniture is something that we don't just go out and buy. Why buy something you can make? And the quality of furniture that comes out of the family shop is unbeatable. However, I know that Phil doesn't have time to build anything right now, and my dad's health is such that I couldn't in good conscience ask him to do it either. So I had to start looking at (heaven forbid) furniture stores. Yuck. I looked almost everywhere. I even got Phil to go with me, and he was absolutely disgusted with the quality (or lack thereof). Finally, I decided to go online and look at Ikea. (Some of you remember this post, so you can understand my desperation.)
Well, folks, I ate a huge helping of humble pie this weekend. We took the boys and went for our first ever visit to Ikea. Granted, some of the things we saw were not "shop quality," but we were amazed by most of the things we saw. Phil the Engineer was absolutely floored by the European efficiency of the store design. We fell in love and came home with this, in blue, and these.
Saturday evening, Phil and the boys started putting together the dresser. I worked on other things, but I was listening carefully from the background as Phil worked. This is what I heard:
"These Europeans are incredibly efficient! Why can't we do this here?"
"This is absolutely amazing."
Over, and over, and over.
At last, I had to come in and see exactly what he was talking about. First, he showed me the instruction manual. It was all pictures—no words. It was so well done that T--, the 4-year-old, could figure out what they were supposed to do next. That's impressive. (Granted, T-- is a very smart, mechanically-minded boy, but he's still only four.) Next thing to impress Phil was their cam lock screws, followed by the finger joints in the wood, the efficient use of steel in the roller hardware, and how they predrilled the holes in the pieces so accurately. Coming from Phil, who is an accomplished carpenter in his own right as well as an engineer, these words of praise do not come lightly.
Because Phil is a carpenter and knows what it takes to make furniture, he added some extra steps to the assembly process: we glued all the joints before tightening the hardware. That meant extra time, but it makes the dresser far more sturdy and stable that it would be if we'd assembled it according to Ikea's instructions. Even though the dresser is made of pine (not the hardest of woods—it dings very easily), at least it won't come apart when we move it. For what we paid for it, Phil and I were quite pleased with the quality.
Now, all was not romance and roses. The honeymoon ended very quickly when we tried to put the first assembled drawer into the dresser and discovered that Europeans are not as perfect as Phil believed. It didn't fit. We could get it in, but it wouldn't shut all the way. From that point on, Phil's praise turned a but sour. However, as we discovered this morning, it was only one drawer that had a problem, and Phil can fix it. (I feel sorry for those who don't have the knowledge and training to make such a fix—that would be a royal pain in the patootie to have to return the dresser after you'd spent that much time putting it together, and it's a mistake that you wouldn't find until you were nearly finished.)
So I'm enjoying my slice of humble pie today (in the form of a blue dresser), and I take back every bad thing I ever thought or said about Ikea. They must be pretty amazing to impress my quality-snob husband. Yes, the quality isn't "shop quality," but it's pretty darn good for the price.
My hat's off to you, Ikea. Thanks for solving my storage problem.