Well, actually it was this past weekend, but, y’know, “This past weekend” just doesn’t have the same oomph for a blog post title.
Rachael and I went with our friends Becky and Houston to Atlanta to visit the IKEA store. Becky had never been before, so we decided to do an impromptu road trip (in her fancy new car!) out to Atlanta so we could all shop for affordable furniture that college students love. It was quite festive, with Rachael putting together an excellent mix for the road (she queued up an 8 hour playlist, so clearly she was expecting we would get lost) and Houston volunteering to be our driver (Atlanta traffic is no joke; we got stuck taking a wrong turn that took us about 500 feet out of the way, but required a half hour detour to get back on track). Becky was going to experience IKEA, and I came along because meatballs.
IKEA has delicious meatballs.
It goes without saying that we had a blast.
What we did not count on with our IKEA pilgrimage was the mass of people there. See, middle August is when the fall semester starts at most state schools in Georgia. We did not take this into account when we planned the trip.
In the middle of August, a lot of college students need furniture.
For anyone who has not experienced the joy of IKEA, the store is typically organized with a showroom floor and a warehouse floor. The showroom is the really magical place, because it’s nothing but room after room of arranged spaces using only IKEA products and a metric ton of books in Swedish. There’s a magical quality to these showrooms, because they are invariably better organized than any real person’s living room (at least that I’ve met; maybe my breadth of living room experience is rather narrow) or kitchen. The fact that you can open any cabinet in a given showroom and find something that belongs in that space just enhances the illusion.
My personal favorite parts of the showroom are the areas that are designed to imitate a complete living space (living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bath) within a very limited square footage. The largest one is about 480 square feet, and they just get smaller from there. It’s the sort of set up that’s perfect for pretending you could hide inside the store and just live there comfortably after everything closes down. The fact that the kitchens and bathrooms are fake (all the toilets are filled in with plaster, probably to prevent anyone getting any bright ideas) is not a detriment, because IKEA has a fully stocked cafeteria with a kitchen located right next to the store restrooms. As long as you’re okay with taking wash basin baths, you could totally pull it off.
Descending from fantasy land, the lower level (at least at the Atlanta store) is the warehouse where all the furniture can be found and hauled away. It’s not nearly as magical, but it’s where you go to actually find stuff you want to buy. For our part, Rachael and I got some new curtains (which we installed the next day, and they look awesome!).
Even though IKEA has a very specific vibe to it, it’s still a really fun place to visit. Don’t listen to what Fight Club says about buying stuff from IKEA (aside from the fact that you shouldn’t be hung up on acquiring stuff in the first place), or what Futurama says (it’s definitely affordable, and it’s definitely Swedish, but it’s not crap).
Instead, trust what Jonathan Coulton has to say about it.