I love - no, make that adore - IKEA.
There. I said it.
(Not such a fan of the upper case letters here, though. I feel like I'm shouting, but I'm pedantic and like to refer to names properly... so, upper case it is.)
It's something about walking through all the displays, so bright and full of promise... Yes, your home could be the epidemy of funkily organised, no matter how small it is. Well, that's what is whispered into my ears when I visit. There's usually a substantial amount of caffeine under my belt.
IKEA has saved our broke arses on many occasion. I don't understand the snobbish resistance that some people have to it. Things for the home that are designed to look nice, and also happen to be affordable? What's so bad about that? I can't justify blowing three or four grand on a sofa, when there are decent ones around for a fraction of that.
I'm not fussed at the thought of untold thousands having the same furniture pieces in their home, because there are a million ways to personalise a space and make it your own.
Maybe it's the weekend rush crowds that deters some - granted, that does put a damper on the experience. I'm lucky that I have the option of going during the week, although that means dragging the two little ones along, and that can be its own special brand of hell.
I also laugh when I hear people complain about assembling IKEA furniture. I actually enjoy it, and am well-practised from many, many purchases over the years. Sure, it can sometimes be the same as embarking on a large 3D puzzle... but the instructions have never let me down. I don't consider myself particularly gifted, but am guilty of feeling a little smug when I hear people say the flat-packs are wrought with problems (they're not).
For many years, whenever we brought home a flat-pack, I used to shoo J away so I could do it myself. Really. There was even one time - not long ago - when I managed to go, purchase, bring home, and assemble two small bookcases in 36ºC heat... and I was 36 weeks pregnant with Miss Pie. I put that moment of madness down to severe nesting - induced from having just moved house and wanting to pretty things up a bit. These days, however, I'm somewhat lazier (and more tired), so now I sometimes 'allow' J to do be the handyman. Isn't he lucky I'm so nice?
You're probably getting a deeper sense of how I feel about IKEA now.
When we moved to LA, we decided to mostly start from scratch in terms of furniture. We didn't want to potentially wait three months for our shipping container to arrive - we needed beds and so on immediately. Such a big move had a lot of upfront costs, and despite having a generous relocation budget from J's employer, we still needed to watch the pennies. It made sense to get much of what we needed from IKEA.
The first week that we were here, we stayed in a hotel in Burbank. It was walking distance to IKEA. Every day, I trudged over - with both girls - to stock up on bedding, pillows and kitchen basics that we'd
need immediately after moving into our apartment. Every day, I returned to the hotel, with Miss Pie's stroller weighed down by as much as was safe to stack under and on top. I received a lot of funny looks in that hotel foyer.
By the end of that week, the kindly greeter just about knew all our names and even I had reached saturation point with IKEA.
These days, IKEA is a ten or fifteen-minute drive away. I don't go often enough, mostly because it's less fun when carting along a toddler and preschooler. When I do go, the Faery loves to go to the childminding play area... but that one hour always zooms by too quickly. Then there's the matter of Miss Pie. The older she gets, the less happy she is to be passively pushed around in the stroller. This means IKEA missions are hasty ones, best completed before one of them loses the plot.
Yesterday was Sunday, and J suggested I go do a solo-trip to IKEA to grab a couple of little things we'd been wanting. I think I may have left a smoky trail in my wake.
Crowds? What crowds? All I knew was that I wasn't pushing a stroller through the store, and that made all the difference. I disappeared into the nooks and crannies of the display studio apartments. I opened drawers and cupboard doors. I sat own on various seats. Fingered shower curtains. I had no intention of purchasing any of these items, but did those things just because I could. No bored or stroppy kids. Me time.
I was oblivious to any hustle and bustle. I felt free.
Half a dozen photo frames, and a box of Anna's Ginger Thins later, I emerged.
Deliriously happy. It's the simple things in life, right?
I'm going to do that more often.