The Only Flat Pack Hack You Need
Ikea – the place where marriages go to die. The veritable cardboard casino of Sunday in suburbia, with no daylight and room after well-appointed room full of the glory that could be your life if only you stayed that little bit longer… Not one family day trip to Ikea goes by without it ending in disaster. And that’s before you even attempt to assemble the bloody stuff.
Yet persevere you must…
Armed with nothing stronger than a giant crinkly yellow bag and a head full of Pinterest projects and online LAK hacks, you drag your miserable husband and overzealous children through the maze of walkways to the promised utopia of style.
Oh, how you skip around the cheap square sofas and wobbly Formica tables internally oohing and aahing at the pretty show homes. Oh, how your fantastical visions of domestic bliss are quickly shattered when your husband hisses through gritted teeth that he wants to skip the Basement section and ‘get the fucking boxes so we can escape this hell hole’ and you realise that your toddler is trying to take a crap in the pretend bathroom.
But you need your new desk and the children need their new bunk beds and you won’t leave until you have it all and while you are at it you need to stock up with frozen meatballs because – well – you can’t buy flat pack furniture and drawer dividers without throwing in a pack of fatty Swedish pork balls. Resigned to your inevitable fate you tell yourself that Ikea is the Easy Jet of the furniture world, it does the job and it’s way cheaper than the competition, so for the sake of a few hours discomfort you will risk the wrath of your family and you plough on.
With every blue arrow you follow, you delve deeper and deeper into ScandiWorld, your shoulders clenching with every one of your husband’s heavy sighs, bracing yourself for the journey home. The half an hour you will spend stuck in traffic with a lamp wedged between your thighs, your exhausted kids sitting on boxes in the back and crying because didn’t buy them a hot dog on the way out, the boot partially open and tied together with paper measuring tapes and your seething husband muttering something along the lines of ‘you can forget me putting all this together tonight’.
Well it needn’t be like that.
Like the gazillion blogs and websites dedicated to turning a five quid shitty coffee table into something that looks like it should grace the pages of Wallpaper magazine – I have a breathtaking must-have step by step Flat Pack Hack to not only help you survive Ikea, but make it an enjoyable day out for the whole family too.
Okay… well, a bearable day out.
1: Do your research
You mean you were going to have a lazy meander around the store and simply take a look at what they had on offer, like that excitable man over there with his newly pregnant wife? Or the eager strapped-for-cash students that are feeling very grown up? Or that stylish gay couple that you know will actually make their living room look incredible for under a hundred quid? No. You are a busy family with two whining kids and no clue what you are doing. So go online or take a look at the catalogue (it’s not as if you didn’t have the latest one stuffed through your letter box last month) and make a note of what you need, prices, measurements and whether what you want will fit the space and is on budget. Then skip the other sections and just go to the relevant parts of the store.
2: Put the kids in the crèche
If they are not too young and not too old then put them in the play area. They can stay an hour, but sometimes they can come back again… I know, I have been that begging mother countless times. There’s colouring-in, a ball pit, toys and lots of room to run around – and most importantly it’s FREE!
3: Don’t forget your pencil and measuring tape
The pencils are free, so get more than one. Actually get as much paper, pencils and measuring tapes as you can because they are always useful and kids love them. Write down what you want as you go around the store. Yes some fancy pants people take photos of the labels as they go around, ooh those young and trendy hipsters and their latest iPhones, but take my word for it – it’s so much more satisfying when you finally get to the warehouse section and get to cross it off in dark black pencil!
4: Stick to your list and your budget…
I don’t know why I am saying this, because it’s impossible, but all that cheap stuff will add up. I know it might just be a three quid cushion and a ten quid chair but before you know it the bill will be over a grand and your argument home will make a nuclear bomb look like a dog’s fart. So. Put. The. Candles. Down. You don’t need any more, you never even use them. When was the last time you actually had an electrical cut?
5: …but get it all on the one trip
Don’t spend a lot BUT don’t say you will come back later. Because you won’t. Because your partner and your kids will say they are never setting foot in that place again and you’ll get it in Argos instead and then be upset about it. So get it all now. Especially if you plan to pay for delivery as then you are saving money. See… perfect excuse to go grab another crinkly yellow bag to fill. You know they do them with wheels now?!
6: Use your Ikea family card
You don’t even have to have a family to get one but you do get free coffee (you will need it) and a free breakfast in some stores (I have furnished houses with Ikea crap in three countries, I know these things). Plus offers and discounts, I saved hundreds on my last trip – although I did buy half the shop.
7: Get boxes 1 & 2 and point them the same way
Ah the warehouse section. If the showroom is the fantasy part and the basement is the Supermarket Sweep fun section, then the last step, the enormous warehouse, is the hellish reality. Make sure your man (or strong friend) is still beside you at this point as you will need them. Now take a look at your cryptic numbers on your piece of paper written with the stubby free Ikea pen and get collecting. At this point your hour at the crèche will have run out so let the kids sit on the boxes on the trolley, they love it. Make sure you grab both parts if it says you need boxes 1 & 2 and point the barcodes the same way. By the time you get to the tills you will want this hell to be over… trust me… so having all parts and barcodes on show will save you time!
8: Get it delivered
It’s worth the money. You can buy more, you don’t have to pack and unpack your poor little car and the delivery people will carry the boxes to the appropriate rooms. Last week I had to have a sofa winched by a rope to the second floor of my Dutch canal house. It was worth the thirty quid just to watch two guys try everything they could to get seven boxes through a narrow window in the rain.
9: Treat yourself
You’ve chosen, you’ve collected, you’ve paid and you’ve sorted out delivery… so now you can buy some random Swedish food or go up to the cafeteria and treat yourself to salmon and meatballs. And cake, there’s always shit loads of cake options. And if you are a tight arse like me, choose a coffee mug but fill it with juice at the drinks station and save a few pennies; you can fill that mug up for hours. Plus the shop sells dried Reindeer jerky and frozen Dime bar cake. It’s like being in a foreign supermarket but with better accessories.
10: Read my next article ‘How To Assemble Ikea Furniture Without Stabbing Your Partner With A Screwdriver’.
This is the most important part of my list, because the fun isn’t over yet and tomorrow you will have a house full of boxes, a pissed off husband and no energy. So check back next week for my follow up article – it may just save your life… and your marriage.
Happy home interiors shopping everyone, or as the Swedish say ‘we would never fill our own homes with this shit, you mugs… AND we eat more than just meatballs’.