Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Ikea Is Evil (and Why I Love Them So)

Oh, Ikea, How I Love Thee...

Ikea is a wonderfully magical place with so much quality furniture at such excellent prices. Their store is a magnificent example of the modern capitalist economic model: 

  • Perceived value: Ikea offers “family cards” that lure you in with special discounts that are never quite what you need, but you’re convinced that the free cup of (weak) coffee makes up for this disappointment.
  • CHEAP and well-made for the price. (Seriously, do I have to explain this one?) I just have to keep my mind off of the working conditions of the Indonesian orphans who craft this stuff and hand my money over to the smiling cashier. If my conscious does prick me, I remind myself that I’m giving them a job they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
  • Shopping is an experience, mainly because you lose your way through the winding aisles and find beautiful things you inevitably want to buy (because it’s so CHEAP!) that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.
  • Shiny displays. Their main floors feature beautiful, functional set ups that say how you could display things, but in your heart, you know you can’t pull it off. (It never stops you from buying the furniture to try anyway.)
  • Warehouse shopping and cheap items at checkout. Their lower level consists of a self-shopping “Marketplace” warehouse to reduce staffing needs containing tiny kitschy items that don’t cost a lot individually (key word: INDIVIDUALLY). 
The reality of shopping at Ikea.
As an example of Ikea’s perfection, I present Exhibit A: The Rail Debacle.

Why I Need Ikea

See, I like to collect coffee mugs and have accumulated quite a few over the years. Having moved to a real house, I figured that the subsequent increased cabinet space would mean I could take out all my mugs. Turns out, the guys thought the same thing, which means our cabinet space was quickly flooded with crockery.

While we have a lot of cabinet space right now, I anticipate needing this space in the (relatively near) future. Plus, I think my mugs are beautiful and should be displayed. So, while walking through Ikea, I found this rail and hook set

They’re gorgeously black and wonderful in every way and after a little browsing and squealing (I think Ash pretended he wasn’t attached to me during this geek out), I found a wire basket that hangs on the rail. 
The metal tray's removable, so sponges can drip dry :3
The example had, like, fake plants and pots and whatever in it. But do you know what it’d be even better at?


That’s right, people, my sponges and soap pumps will no longer just mold and slime the sink side—they will be suspended in wire mesh in the open air to dry and sterilize them. (Ash didn’t quite understand my excitement about this, either, but that’s okay.)

Ikea's Diabolical Schemes Against My Bank Account

Taking into account that I’d need two longer rails ($10 each), one shorter rail ($8), four packets of five hooks each ($3 each or $12 total), and a wire basket (most expensive item at $12 BUT WORTH IT), I was looking at a bill of $52 for my organizational revolution.

I go home, plotting about my purchase, and several weeks later when I can’t take the sponge on the sink any longer, I drive down to Ikea, where I make my first mistake.

Turns out there’s a sale where my Ikea family card would actually be helpful—there’s a silver rail on sale for $3 with matching hooks at $1 for a pack of 10. That means that instead of $40 for my rail system, I could’ve had (functionally) the same thing for $11.

I decide my kitchen is too awesome for silver rails and proceed to spend four times as much on the black set. (Ash and my family will read this and facepalm like Sokka when they read this.)

Knowing Ikea’s evil propensity to lure me in to buy little things, I purposely don’t pick up a bag or a cart so I have to carry all of my items and thus don't have hands for anything else. Except, of course, I have pathetic girl arms and can’t corral the little packets and long rails. I cave and find a (huge, dammit) shopping bag, spending the rest of my shopping time lancing little kids with these three-foot iron poles like Don Quixote with hyperactive windmills.

(Not really, but it was close.)

But then Ikea’s brilliant marketing kicks in, and by the time I leave Ikea, I’ve spent over $100—remember, I could’ve escaped with only $23, including the wire basket—on incredibly important items like:
  • Three picture frames, one of which is too small altogether and the biggest is too big
    Your eyes do not deceive you. That is
    Link and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim fanart.
    We frame that shit like a BOSS.
    (damn your European standard photo sizes, Ikea!!)
  • A squirt bottle for my plants (and disciplining our future puppy baby. SEEING DOG ON FRIDAY!)
  • A squeegee for the shower to wipe down the walls (entirely unnecessary but I liked it)
  • A set of screws (…because you always need screws…?)
  • A set of tacks and other hangy items (because we don’t put up frames with command strips and tack anymore ‘cause we’re adults and stuff)
  • A $5 electronic screwdriver. This screwdriver is a wimpy power tool, probably not legally allowed to be called a drill or anything, but this SAVED MY BUTT. Seriously. I should’ve just stopped at the $5 fake-drill and not gone overboard.  
AND IT'S RECHARGEABLE! I will get into so much trouble with this thing.

"Some Assembly Required"

When I got home, I proceeded to rip everything open and decide that I wanted to put up my rails without any outside help. At all. From anyone.

(…Right. This can only end well…)

So I grab my level and the power-driver and the screws—SEE?! I KNEW I’d need those—and start measuring out my rails and installing them. Due to the single-person nature of this install, I have no pictures to narrate the installation, but I’ll just leave you with these videos to illustrate the frustrating nature of “Some Installation Required” Ikea purchases…

A List of Things I Need to Remember Next Time I Think I Can Do This By Myself:

  • Measure seventy times and drill once. That’s not an exaggeration. This is especially important when you realize you’ve measured and placed the rail holders exactly as long as the rail is, which means the end caps can’t fit on and your rail will slide through the holders and you curse and you end up with two extra holes in the wall than you actually needed.
  • Level is important. At least I (finally!) remembered to check that before I drilled anything.
  • Measuring spaces before purchasing items is important. The wire basket dimensions were online. If I’d bothered to look at them before buying it in the store, I would’ve noticed that the basket was too big for the sink space. It squeaked in by a hair—yes, Ash, that basket is actually SUSPENDED and NOT resting on the sink—but it was a close one.
  • Check for studs next time. I don’t think this is going to be a problem, but after all the flak I got from my dad and an engineer-friend, I am not going to go through that a second time. 

Objective Unlocked!

After all that hate and rage and discontent, I did it! Here are my lovely mugs and basket rail! How pretty are they? As evil as you can be to my bank account, Ikea, I’m so happy you’re right around the corner. They look magnificent, work like a champ, and they haven’t even fallen down yet.

Beautiful! (And I've been instructed to inform viewers that the blue "A" cup is male-Ashley's, not mine-Ashley's.)
The caddy holds the sponge, TWO things of soap, and the can we drain fat into so it stops rusting on the sink.
BEAUTIFUL. Plus, the rail doubles as a towel rack when we use wash cloths.
The second rail! I swear, it's a much higher resolution IRL.

So what have you bought from Ikea? Were you, too, suckered by the shiny but it was so functional and cheap, you couldn't bring yourself to hate them? But before you answer, watch this. This will make you love them all over again--and wonder how many people sneezed in the making of this commercial.

And honestly, Ikea, I love you more than words can say. I don't know how I lived without you for over twenty years, but rest assured, such censure shall not occur again. Let me know of your own Ikea exploits in the comments! (WITH PICTURES or it didn't happen. ;)

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