An Ikea Odyssey: Part 2

I am not female, so this is entirely speculation on my part, and may just result in either censure or hysterics from the women in my life who know better. But I suspect that building Ikea furniture is a little like childbirth: the pain of the act eventually fades until you reach a point where you are bafflingly willing to consider doing it again.

Recognizing that assembly would be a mammoth undertaking, I had in fact booked off two days to assemble all of the various bits of Ikea. This might seem excessive to some, and laughably inadequate to others. It was, on balance, my best-guess estimate of what it would take based upon previous assemblies. Like I said, the pain fades…

It had been my original intent to start with the wardrobes, and move on to the bookshelves (under the basic presumption that if you tackle the worst of it first, it all starts to look downhill from there). Unfortunately, those plans went out the window pretty much at the outset. I couldn’t lift the wardrobes on my own (one box weighs in at something approaching 140 lbs. of unwieldy, eight-foot long box) and the help that I had beseeched wouldn’t be arriving until later in the morning. So we’ll start with the bookshelves instead.

One bookshelf down, four to go. Unpack, frame, assemble; repeat as necessary.

Over the years, I have built many Billy shelves. It is the ubiquitous, go-to solution for large, cost-effective and relatively sturdy book storage, and has been for some time. Although I have to say that the quality of Billy has declined over time; like so many of us, his early strength and burnished looks have sagged and faded. The overall finished product look roughly the same, but the quality of the parts and materials has declined—presumably in an effort to keep costs down. Higher density fibre board is now particle board; metal parts are now plastic. Had I been aware of how much they have changed between now and this time around, I’m not sure I would have still gone there.

While this might just be a case of buyers remorse, it wasn’t going to get the bookshelves assembled. There was really nothing for it but to get on with building them. The mechanics of assembly is pretty straightforward, and you quickly fall into a zen-like routine of unpacking, framing, sliding, hammering and inserting fiddly doo-hickies. The entire process is hard on the knees, but otherwise surprisingly meditative.

I didn’t realize quite how well they would fill the wall…

I had measured the room to figure out how many shelves would fit along the wall, which gave me five boxes to assemble (plus extensions). While I knew they would fit, I didn’t realize quite how closely they would match the room’s dimensions. By the end of the day, I had a wall of shelves. They actually fill the room quite perfectly. And match the colours of the existing woodwork surprisingly well. After some adjustments to deal with the fact that the floor is not as flat as I might like, I was able to finish my day with the bookshelves completed.

One day down, one completed wall of shelves.

For pre-fabricated shelves, they are perfectly serviceable, although I do miss the Billys of old. I have no plans on moving these any time soon, however. So as long as they stay where they are, they should hold up reasonably well.

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