Monday, February 7, 2011

Play: A love letter to Ikea

When I woke on Saturday morning, I was confronted by a week's worth of untouched mess and clutter and the nagging sense that I had definitely missed some vomit in one of the many middle of the night emergency cleaning efforts I'd conducted as a result of the stomach flu that swept through the house last week. 

I had, in fact, spent much of the week searching out errant puke, along with working, shoveling and feeling not quite so achy, nauseated and awful that I could justify staying in bed, but enough so that I wished everyday that I had.  So, yearning to be held in strong, competent hands and convinced of the curative powers of Swedish hospitality, I popped an ibuprofen, packed up the girls and headed an hour south to Ikea.

I wondered on the way down whether I were delirious.  Normally, I would consider a shopping trip of this magnitude  --long drive, sprawling furniture mecca-- a full family affair, but with my husband stilll suffering through the thick of the illness, I was on my own.  I'd badgered promises of best behavior from both girls, but I was skeptical.

Oh, Ikea, how ever could I have doubted you?

As we ascended the escalator to the showroom floor, our pockets stuffed with free golf pencils, I felt the burdens of a long, dark winter slip away.  How could I not find hope in a place that so aptly demonstrates how fabulously one can live in less than 600 square feet?  There is something miraculous about furniture so capacious as to conceal all evidence of the clutter of human occupation and yet so compact as to come in a box that fits in the back of my car.

Comforting, too, is Ikea's universality.  The bunkbed that delights the girls on our jaunt through the showroom probably does the same for little girls in Paramus and Paris.  I get just as much pleasure now knowing that while they're at the Jersey Shore Ronnie and Sammie sleep in beds that match my Ikea Malm dressers and nighstand, as I did ten years ago on recognizing my own Ikea cafe table in an actual cafe in Budapest.

By the time we were enjoying our reasonably priced lunch in the restaurant, it was easy to pretend that we had somehow escaped dismal, snow-battered Massachusetts and found ourselves in happy, efficient Stockholm.  I was so absorbed by the fantasy that I twice left the girls alone at the table while I went for napkins and utensils.  I might hesitate to do this in the mall food court but couldn't imagine how anything bad could happen there where wheeled carts are provided for maneuvering heavy trays and tastefully designed signs pleasantly explain the personal benefits to bussing your own table.

However, because the Ikea shopping experience is sometimes more satisfying than the owning experience, there was also the matter of replacing the mid-beam of our bed, broken by the girls' over-zealous jumping. 
Browsing the showroom, eating in the restaurant, shopping in the marketplace: sure, these were delightful, but the self-serve warehouse was where I feared our whole trip might fall apart.

Again, my doubt was unfounded.

The lyrically named Skorva was in plentiful stock, light enough to carry under my arm, packed for easy travel, and about $40 cheaper than I had imagined.  After we'd stocked up on Swedish snacks for the ride home, an automated ramp called a "Travelator" bore us gently back to earth, cart and all.

Thank you, Ikea.  I needed that.


  1. LOVE this. I've been needing a trip to IKEA myself lately.

    Found you a minute ago when blogher shared this post.

    Made me immediately think of this as well:


    And I'll be back :)

  2. Laura Jane, thanks for visiting! The video is great --and I saw my nightstand. :)