Monday, September 17, 2007


We all love IKEA, right? Sure we do. It's the whole package: a socially-conscious purveyor of inexpensive, space-saving and attractive European-style home furnishings, and a place you can take your kids where they'll actually look forward to hanging around while you're pricing sofas. If you stay through mealtime, no problem. Another family-friendly oasis awaits you in the store's cafeteria. What more could you ask for?

As if that weren't enough, IKEA is also the place where my dad has been happily employed for many years. So my loyalty runs deeper still. Dad is one of two store carpenters, which means, among other things, that he builds the larger parts of the "rooms" on the showroom floor (walls, kitchens, and so on). They have other employees (or in Scandinavian social-democratic IKEA-speak, "co-workers") whose job it is to assemble the furniture for display, but my dad can usually tell me the difference between the base model and the next best one, and steers me away from the real lemons. There's a difference between the fiberboard-and-melamine nightmare that'll only last you a year and the more durable pieces (for example, my steel-frame bed, purchased c. 1999-2000, that's been disassembled and reassembled over the course of five moves and is no worse for the wear).

Jacob had never been to an IKEA before he met me. If he had a nickel for every time I've told him, "You know, they have that at IKEA," well...he'd probably have enough for a delicious IKEA breakfast. And that includes coffee.

That all being said...IKEA's not the be-all and end-all. Since we moved into the small red house, we've been itching to put away all our boxes of books, but we had nowhere to put them. Our first instinct was to run to IKEA and come home with 300 dollars' worth of BILLY bookcases, but then we thought of the fact that a) 300 dollars might be a pretty good deal, but it's still a lot of money and b) we've been trying to quit buying newly-manufactured things when we could be saving something from the landfill.

So we decided to check out Community Forklift, a local organization that sells salvaged and surplus building materials at drastically reduced prices. What should we find on our first trip to their huge warehouse in Edmonston but a set of bookshelves, recently removed from the GWU law library:

Cheaper than BILLY, and solid oak to boot. We haven't unpacked all the books yet, but for now that bottom shelf has been serving as a "cat cubby."

Bonus: Want to get more mileage out of your IKEA stuff? Get inspired by ikea hacker.


Amanda Holloway said...

Ooh, I wonder if my beau has seen this post... We've been trying to figure out the best way to procure/build bookcases and a desk for the odd, small spaces left in our itty-bitty apartment. Thanks for the tip on Community Forklift!

maria said...

let us know if you want a ride there sometime! we need to go back and look for blinds. it's a neat place.