As I sit here, re-reading the text message I received from you this morning about my new couch’s delivery time tomorrow, I can’t help but feel that heady, familiar rush of infatuation. Even when I rushed to Google in an anxious frenzy, wondering suddenly if I was actually going to receive the couch in several small pieces that I would be expected to haphazardly put together à la Silver Monkey, I was fully ready to abuse my flimsy screwdrivers for the task. When I started to type “Do you have to as–” and was prompted by “Do you have to assemble an IKEA sofa yourself,” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. Oh, IKEA, you know us so well.
There is just truly so much to love about you. Sure, as an urban-dwelling 20-something professional, I’m most certainly in your ideal demographic. But our relationship extends so much further than my labored selection of a good table that can function as both a work space and a dining space, as the occasion may demand. In many ways, you’ve grown with me — always featuring items at price points that suited my lifestyle and space needs. When I lived in my first rented room in a big house, you were there with the ludicrously inexpensive storage units that could also be used as chairs in a pinch. When I made the move to a big city without much in the way of disposable income and a 95 square foot apartment — yes, you read that correctly — you saved me from the brink of self-immolation by giving me loft bed options that maximized the space. And when I got my first real big kid apartment that necessitated the furnishing of several different kinds of rooms, you had all of the equipment at a price point that made me feel like a capable grown-up (and didn’t require me to sacrifice bath towels to buy a bedspread).
Sure, there are times (read: nearly every day) when I go to friend’s apartments and feel a flare of embarrassment over the alarming amount of home furnishings we have in common. Oh, there’s Ektorp. There’s Grundtal (hehe, grundle). Look, it’s Kolja. Sure, we might have purchased them in different colors, but that doesn’t obscure those same clean lines, that unmistakable particle-boardy goodness. There is an unspoken agreement between all young people who are trying desperately to make their living spaces look more like homes and less like train station bathrooms — and are doing so on a budget — that IKEA is just a part of our lives. No one is here to judge you for your armoire that appears in 70 percent of Brooklyn apartments.
And even for legitimate adults who have the disposable income to start branching out into the Peir 1 or Crate & Barrel echelons of home decor, IKEA has those classy upper-level items that one could actually envision in some fancy loft. Who hasn’t walked through their wizard labyrinth of pre-made rooms and thought, “Holy crap, with a little dark blue paint on the walls and a couple plush leather chairs, my shitty living room could look like a millionaire playboy philanthropist’s estate.”? It’s the miracle of their products — the ability to make even the most poorly-laid out rooms look somewhat generous in scope.
I guess I just have so much to thank you for. Between your delicious, nourishing balls of Swedish meat, your giggle-inducing product names, and your little table that comes in an array of highly-saturated colors and costs, like, 5 bucks — you have saved me. Without you, I would be relegated to the pretentious, overpriced home decor stores in my city that put out a single set of handmade art deco spoons as if to say, “Hey, asshole. You can’t afford to shop here. Stop breathing on our precious wares.” For the price of those douchebag spoons, I was able to furnish my entire kitchen. (Not to mention all of your precious, precious storage units that soothe my anal-retentive need to constantly clean/rearrange things.) Thanks to you, people often mistake me for a functional human being with a coherent living space. For that, I will never be able to thank you enough.