The Bookshelves: A Complicated Case

These beautiful tiles are not on our bookshelves. They are at The Met. But we would definitely put them on our bookshelves if The Met gave them to us someday.
[source:, public domain]
When Ikea opened in our town a number of years ago, I thought it would be fun to check it out. What I didn’t know was that the store is set up so that you are shuttled through every single section until you reach the end. You are swept along in one relentless flow through department after department, with no sense of When It Will All Be Over. You are surrounded by shoppers just as lost and helpless as you. A sense of panic permeates the entire space, seemingly emanating from everyone all at once. Cut to me frantically trying to find my way out of the maze, eventually wrangling the kiddos into a shopping cart, which I used as a battering ram to push my way through the crowd and out of the store, vowing never to go there again.

Yet we began to notice that whenever we’d compliment friends on their latest home acquisition, they’d say something like, “We just got it at Ikea. Isn’t Ikea wonderful?” And I’d tell them about my little maze story, and they’d laugh politely but exchange meaningful glances, which I interpreted to mean Obviously, She Needs to Get With The Program Because Ikea Is Everything.

The number one thing we wanted was a lack of clutter in our lives, and the Expedit bookshelves seemed to be everywhere, calling to us, so one day we found ourselves headed to Ikea. The second time was far better, I must admit. Husband had the get-me-out-of-here look on his face this time but *I*, now a shopper with one whole Ikea experience under my belt, was calm, motivated, and focused. I’d even discovered a few shortcuts that eliminated the flow-through-every-department rigamarole. The result: we walked out with several new bookshelves, and soon the clutter at home was contained, which was every bit as glorious as we’d imagined it would be.

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few issues along the way. For example: the adorable and affordable drawers for the bookshelves called Drona Boxes, which nowadays you can buy in a variety of colors, but before only came in pink and black. And the black ones just flew out of the stores. And you couldn’t buy them on the website. And both the pink and the black had the same stock number, so even if the website said there were 100 in stock, they might all be pink. The only way to know if the black boxes were in stock was either to drive over and look with your own eyes (which I did five times only to find a sea of pink boxes taunting me) or to call and beg an Ikea worker to look before you drove over (which I did once). Finally, on about the tenth drop-in, I found what had started to seem like mythical black boxes and stocked up. A happy ending, but I wouldn’t mind having the 467 hours it took me to find them back.

Also, putting the bookshelves together using the mystifying illustrated instructions, which look all cute and do-able at first glance, in a Super Easy Instructions For All! kind of way, proved more challenging than anticipated, but we did it.

Lastly, when we needed more bookshelves, we found out that Expedits had been discontinued. So. There was that.

Still, we love our (now slightly mismatched) bookshelves! So much love! (In fact, I probably should have just written a poem about the bookshelves instead of recounting this whole sorry saga.) And occasionally, I will even brave Ikea by myself these days–such as with the Great Sofa Pillow Replacement Project of 2015. But that’s a whole different story.

Are you an Ikea Fan or Not a Fan? Or somewhere in between?

21 thoughts on “The Bookshelves: A Complicated Case

  1. Yes on frustrations with the crazy maze (I’ve had the same panic and irritation, and I’ve fought the tide by going backwards too!) and yes too on some frustrations with items/colors being discontinued. We love the Billy bookcases—but why can’t they keep the same colors, so that when you want more….. ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Going backwards? Brilliant, Art. Never even occurred to me!

      And yes, it would be great if they’d keep the same colors and just add new ones instead of switching them all around! (Same thing with the dining chairs we bought there…they changed the leg colors. I guess we could paint them but…sigh.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not to mention, Lancôme et al have been pulling this same trick for years with my favorite cosmetic colors. So frustrating.


  2. I’ve been in Ikea a couple of times, and like you I find the maze overwhelming, even with the shortcuts. Never bought anything from them, either. Then again, I don’t tend to buy much furniture. I’ve got that whole lazy bachelor thing going for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, Ikea. I’ll only go if I have all day to be there. Partly for driving, partly for being there. I love the down comforter I bought – but Ikea’s king size is different than Everybody Else in the Universes’s king size, so I still haven’t gotten around to buying a duvet.

    And forget the assembly instructions. I let my husband and son do it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent assembly-instruction strategy! And you’re so right about the sizing: we bought a comforter to fit a duvet we already had and it did not work at all! It’s kinda genius of them because we all have to buy the duvet there too, but it’s not really helpful. 🙂 I hope you find a lovely one that fits perfectly!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cynthia, I don’t think you took into account the power of that Swedish meatball and (loganberry?) dinner combo for 3.94. My kids loved them until that horse meat thing. (Was that true?)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG, you totally captured Ikea Panic! They just opened the largest one in the country in Burbank and a thousand people showed up for the opening. My bookcases are 20 years old and still great. Now I go for the Swedish meatballs.

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  6. I have never been to an Ikea store in my life (probably helped by the fact that there isn’t a single one within miles of where I live, and since I can’t drive anyway, that saves me from having to go searching for one). Their commercials are on TV a lot, but they never bother to say where they’re located at, or if the only way for us to shop at one would be online (assuming we ever wanted to, that is). Some of their stuff looks good, but for the most part I can get whatever I need at Walmart. If Walmart doesn’t carry it, or one of the dollar stores in town (we have both Dollar General and Family Dollar, but I keep hoping one of them will go out and Dollar Tree will come in…even *I* can afford that place, and I’m perpetually broke) doesn’t have it, then I don’t need it that badly. Also, there’s the whole lack of money thing. 99% of the time I don’t have any, so what I *actually* need versus what I want gets a whole lot easier to choose between. If I or my furbabies don’t actually need something to live, it doesn’t get bought. Although I try to have at least some money on their birthdays so that if nothing else I can get them a birthday doughnut or cupcake. My cat Gidget loved sour cream doughnuts and cake doughnuts, especially the blueberry ones, so I would always try to get her at least one for her birthday, which was all for her, once she decided she didn’t want any more I’d put it up for later until her little tummy was empty again (or at least when she thought it was) and then get it back out for her. No one else got to help her eat it, it was her birthday doughnut. 😛 Once she decided she was completely done with it, I’d finish it off (unless it had gotten all crunchy by then, then I’d throw it out for the birds and squirrels).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She loved them. She liked the cherry flavored cake doughnuts too, but her favorites were the blueberry and sour cream! So now whenever I see them, I have to get them, in memory of her. Her sister Mudd liked doughnuts too, but wasn’t as picky about what kind I got her, and her brother Ed would eat pretty much anything put in front of him, especially if it had frosting on it. 😛

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