Thursday, June 01, 2006

Adventures In IKEA

Hunter-Gatherer Mel took the day off work yesterday to take the bus out to IKEA on a fact-finding tour of kitchen cabinets. I'd been told by someone in the know that weekday mornings were the best times to get assistance in the Kitchen Planning Department.

The Kitchen Planning Department, however, turned out to be one harried cashier standing in the middle of the cabinet samples, ringing up cabinets that people had already selected. I realized I needed more information before I was ready to make a choice. I did, however, get the name of a contractor from a fellow customer.

"Uh, well, actually more of a handyman. But he's really good."

Cabinet intentions fulfilled, I explored the rest of the store. IKEA in Elizabeth, NJ has two floors, with the upper floor devoted to furniture in model rooms. My favorites were the cubes of 250, 400 and 650 square feet, designed to show you how an entire apartment of furniture could fit into each of the spaces. This is only possible in an ideal world where all plumbing, windows and electric outlets are exactly where you need them to be; perhaps if you're building a studio over your garage and have sunk so much money into that enterprise that you can only afford to furnish it at IKEA.

The Swedish meatballs are still available in the store's restaurant, but are no longer free. They were reasonable at $4.75 though, and it was relaxing watching the planes take off across the highway at Newark Airport while having my lunch. I'm surprised there isn't an IKEA cookbook with the recipe, since there seems to be IKEA freakin' everything for a jar of lingonberry jam?

The lower level of the Elizabeth store is devoted to countless shelves of smaller, more portable merchandise: Dishes, bedding, bath stuff. After a while, I started feeling like I was stuck in this early video game I used to play where you would get this prompt saying, "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all different." And as on previous shopping expeditions, I knew it was time to call it a day when I started getting a sense of deja vu, which I think is the name of one of the IKEA bookcases.

When I got home and re-measured the kitchen, it turned out to be a very good thing that I hadn't made my cabinet purchases that day: One of the measurements had been way off and would have resulted in a very costly mistake. So I'll have to call that contractor/handyman. And besides, I need to research cabinet handles more thoroughly: Do I want the Ingmar Bergman or the Gunnar Knudsen? More on this as it develops.

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