I was inspired by Stuart’s post of “Street Furniture” yesterday, and the lengths people will go to score cheap or free furniture. I’ve scored my share of street finds, but sometimes weird wooden thrones just aren’t very feng shui. Having just moved into a new place with no closets, I find myself throwing myself at the feet of the cruel mistress that is Ikea. It all starts when the glossy catalog arrives in the mail with all their perfectly styled rooms and exotic sounding Swedish names. So you find yourself buying weird spice racks you never needed and bookcases that have a shelf life of one year. Oh the Swedes, who ever thought compressed particle board could look so good?
I mean just look at it, you too can have your apartment look like a set from Masterpiece Theater. With just an Allen wrench and a credit card, all your cheap designing dreams can come true! But those dreams will crumble just as quick as your furniture. Just do a quick search on Craigslist and I’d say 80 percent of the furniture listings are all Ikea. The stuff is just not built to last. Salon.com, writer Stephanie Zacharek recently talked about the new book, “Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture”, by Ellen Ruppel Shell. Shell sheds some light on this seemingly uber-liberal, progressive company. She talks about their wood consumption practices, and how everything is disposable, seems to be their selling point in their commercials.
For obvious reasons, most of us can’t afford custom carpentry pieces, or go ‘antiquing’ (god I’m glad the economy squashed that business), but there are other solutions. Looking to Craigslist again, you can find amazing deals on some beautiful furniture. People are moving all the time, and if you check near the end of the month, people are desperate to get rid of all their shit. I’ve gotten antique dressers and high end sofas for pennies compared to their original prices. But if you’re still going to go the Ikea route, at least try and give it a little flair. One of my favorite sites, Ikea Hacker shows you how re-purpose any Ikea product into something more useful or decorative. Wanna turn your Billy Bookcase into children’s play kitchen? Or turn a sink into a BBQ grill? If you can decipher Ikea assembly instructions you can master any furniture hack just as easy. So until I wean myself of cheap furniture solutions, you can find me at the cafeteria eating Swedish meatballs.