IKEA Eket: Great Design Versatility

Eket Design:  Colors

A great reason to consider the Eket series is the variety of sizes and colors available.  The IKEA page has all of the basics and individual components, but they also have pre-defined designs.  You can choose from these, or let them be your inspiration and change configurations and colors to meet your design needs.  There are also  a ton more ideas Pinterest .

Eket Series Colors

 

 

All of the series come in white, but the fun is that the cubes and various other pieces come in six other colors.  They are trendy hues and of course might go out of style at any time, but IKEA is always refreshing and if something is really not working after a few years, the entire line is reasonably priced and inexpensive to update.

 

 

 

 

Eket Design:  Configurations

There are base frames, feet, legs (yes, different from feet) and wall mounting options.  The cubes come in different depths, so you can add dimension to your design.  There are cubes with doors, and cabinets with drawers and/or doors.  There is even hardware for connecting the various components together to make for a secure installation.   As an example, IKEA has these designs already configured for you:

  • Massive storage--white and grey

For advanced design ideas, check out the Eket series on Pinterest.  Your imagination is the limit.  IKEA does offer a design tool to build your own design, but I find it very glitchy.  If you have an idea of what you want, I recommend going into IKEA and having them help build the design.  That also lets you see the colors and sizes in person before you complete your design.  Here is some inspiration from Pinterest:

  • Simple grey/white wall-mounted cabinet

Eket Assembly Trick

You know that the best IKEA assembly trick is to call Mamakea.  But honestly, this series is the easiest thing there is to assemble from IKEA.  It requires NO tools and has eight assembly parts for the basic cube.  The connectors are built-in, so no cam screws or cam locks.  But, if you look at the reviews of items from this line, there are people who give  one star ratings because of “design flaws.”  Everyone needs to accept right here and now, IKEA does not have design flaws– but there is plenty of assembly error.  I like this line so much I want to enlighten as many people as possible to this trick and eliminate the one-star reviews.

IKEA Assembly
IKEA Eket Insructions, Step 1

 

 

 

Admittedly, the instructions could probably be more clear.  This is the first step in EVERY Eket item.  It looks so benign that people miss the most important part.  See the “1” there?  It is on only “1” of the four sides, and it must be the side you start with.  IKEA being brilliant again, labeled it “1” for a reason.  If you pay attention, or win the 50/50 chance and choose the piece with the one on it accidentally, the remainder of the assembly is a breeze.  There are built-in pegs to attach the sides, which just slide on to piece “1.”  Then you slide in the back and slide on the last side.  After inserting the back locks to secure the back you are finished.

 

 

 

Eket Assembly Instructions
The grey peg side is “1.” See how the slot is deeper than the other three sides?

So how does it get messed up, you ask?  The reason “1” is “1” is because its slot for the back to slide into is deeper than the other three sides.  This allows the back to slide all the way down into the deep slot providing clearance for the fourth side to slide on to the side opposite “1.”  If it is done in any different order the backing of the cube will be sticking out of the slot and will not allow the fourth side to slide on cleanly.  Hence you read reviews of the gap (because the fourth side doesn’t fit) or people shaving the backing to make it fit.

Eket Design and Assembly

I hope this makes sense, but if not,  please call Mamakea for the assembly.  Don’t hold back incorporating this series into your home design because of the poor reviews: it isn’t Eket’s fault, it is definitely operator error.

IKEA College Ideas for Dorms or Student Apartments

IKEA College Ideas
IKEA College Storage Idea: Red Kallax with Castors

 

Some kids aren’t even out of school yet, but, if you have a son or daughter headed to college this fall, it is time to start thinking about their room and/or apartment needs.  Mamakea has learned it gets very busy during the college back-to-school time.  Even worse, last year by the time the boom tapered off, IKEA St. Louis was out of many of the most popular items.  To help you plan, Mamakea is going to give you some great IKEA college ideas for dorms or student apartments.

IKEA College Ideas–Storage

Whether you are living in a dorm or an apartment, storage systems are a must-have and IKEA’s are legendary.  A very simple, affordable system is their Kallax series.  This unit comes in various sizes, colors and there are plenty of basket solutions available that fit inside the cubbies and hide the jumble, and you can add inserts to divide the squares or add doors.  Kallax units are simple to put together and will move well after school is finished.

  • White with Red Inserts

IKEA College Ideas–Beds

There are at least three different approaches to beds for college students.  For dorm rooms a loft is often a good idea, and IKEA has a great option in the Stuva loft bed with desk and storage.  This can be custom configured and comes in a variety of accent colors so you can coordinate your bed with your new school colors!  This is a small bed, however, and probably will not be comfortable for a tall/big person.

Another space saving idea is one of the many trundle beds that IKEA offers.  There are two models, the Brimnes and Hemnes, that are both solid beds, have a pull out bed for guests, and offer bonus storage under the bed.  Keep in mind, though, for these to work you must have clear floor space that is more than double the width of the closed bed.  And they both work best if you buy the IKEA mattresses which are a narrow profile so they can be stacked when the bed is a twin and separated when the bed is open.  Between the two , the Brimnes is less expensive, but the Hemnes has a true daybed feel with a high head, back and foot board all around, so I think this makes it the better study option.

If you are outfitting an apartment and have a full size bedroom, you probably want to consider a full-size or queen bed and of course IKEA has many options. Their most popular options are Malm and Brimnes.  Both of these beds come with the option of underbed drawers and both have finish options.  The Brimnes can be purchased with no headboard (just the frame), or with a headboard that includes storage.  All IKEA beds also come with a choice of slatted base, which is the platform portion of the bed.  My recommendation is to go with the basic model Luroy because it seems just as sturdy but is less expensive and MUCH easier to assemble.

IKEA College Ideas–Dressers

Depending on how much storage is built in to the living quarters and whether or not your bed has storage options, you may want to skip the dresser.  But if you decide you need one, the most popular options are the Malm and Hemnes series.  They are both affordable and roomy: the Malm is less expensive, but the Hemnes will hold up better and last past college.  Both have different finish choices and an array of configurations.  And for a little added style, be sure to check out my last blog about creative and easy “hacks”.

  • IKEA College Options--Dressers
    Hemnes White 6 Drawer Chest

IKEA College Ideas –Desks

IKEA has 14 pages of items if you search “desks,” which includes study desks, computer desks, stand up desks, a variety of office chairs and many accessories.  This is really a personal preference and therefore hard to make a recommendation.  I can make two general statements:  first, you get what you pay for–the cheaper the desk, the less durable it is–and, second, all of the office chairs I have assembled have been very nice.  Having said that, I am going to point out a couple of my favorites.

As far as desks go, I think the Liatorp is very nice.  It is strong, has hidden storage and has nice finishing details.  It is available in white or this very nice grey. And as the images show, it can be faced against a wall or facing out and still look fantastic.

IKEA College Ideas
Bekant Desk in Black and White

 

 

A totally different option is the Bekant Desk, which is height adjustable (it can be used as a “stand up desk”), has a cable management “net” underneath, is very solid and has a variety of color options.  This model does not offer any storage, however.

 

 

 

IKEA College Ideas
Renberget Swivel Chair

 

In my experience, all of the IKEA office chairs are good quality and reasonably comfortable.  In the end it mostly comes down to features and style.  Considering all of this, my choice would be the very affordable Renberget swivel chair.

Of course, IKEA has everything else you need to set up a home, including kitchen and living room furniture, textiles, bathroom accessories and plenty of decor add-ons.  Please give Mamakea a call soon and we will help put together your shopping list and your furniture!

The Benefits and Drawbacks of an IKEA Kitchen

Renovating a kitchen is a big step no matter how you approach it.  But I am a big fan of IKEA kitchens and I am sharing ideas on how you can make a remodel less painful–and maybe more functional and beautiful in the end.IKEA Kitchens–Benefits

My fanaticism of IKEA Kitchens is based on all of the things that IKEA is known for:  design, price, and availability.  The offerings in the Sektion line of cabinets is as broad as any custom kitchen you can imagine. The choices start with 24 different finishes, including their signature sleek/modern designs and more traditional finishes.  Base cabinets are available in 52 different configurations, not counting the variety of 15″, 24″, 30″ and 36″ widths that most come in.  Upper cabinets have 31 different set ups, plus they all come in either 30″ or 40″ height and various widths.  They literally have every combination you can imagine, and it is all right off the shelf and ready to go home with you!

IKEA kitchens are cheaper than custom cabinets and more customizable than other stock cabinets.  Although the IKEA cabinets are made from MDF and not solid wood, IKEA’s construction design compensates for the lesser materials.  Another advantage over custom is the IKEA cabinets are “frameless,” meaning there is more actual storage space in the cabinet. One thing to note on the IKEA quality:  the hardware (hinges and drawer slides) are as high of quality as you will find in custom cabinets.  All are very sturdy and have the soft close feature.

IKEA Kitchens–Design Process

The best way to begin an IKEA kitchen design is with the planning tool on the IKEA website.  Tutorials are included on how to measure everything precisely, which is the most critical step.  After entering the measurements of your space, you get to start picking your products!

IKEA Kitchens
In process kitchen design–3D view

Mostly, you are selecting components from their inventory, with just a few tricks.  You can make the design generic, and at the end use the “change all at once” to select desired finishes.

One item to remember is that the boxes only come in white and wood brown.  This won’t matter in the end because the box color only shows on the inside of the cabinet.  However, you must choose end/cover panels to cover the end of a cabinet run.  The cover panels come in the same choices as the fronts, so then there is a uniform finish.  If the planner says that you need a cover panel somewhere, pay attention.  This is one of those times it is smarter than you are.  Lastly, make sure you save your design frequently!  The program can be slow and a bit glitchy and you don’t want to lose all of that hard work.

IKEA Kitchens–Support

Shopping List from IKEA Kitchens Planner

IKEA offers this service in store and they will send someone to your home for measuring.  But if you aren’t comfortable measuring the space yourself I suggest you check with your contractor for measuring.  Or better yet, call Mamakea!  Once you have the measurements you can play with the planner and then have the IKEA personnel check your work.  If you are going to have IKEA do the design from your measurements, plan on spending several hours in store.

The best feature of this planner is that once it is complete, you automatically have your shopping list. This helps keep track of how much you have spent as you are designing, too.  The same list shows the eventual assembly and installation configuration, so it is a useful tool from start to finish.

IKEA Kitchens–Appliances

Many people do not realize that IKEA offers appliances, but they actually have some great options.  They are made by the same manufacturers of brands you recognize, but often have better deals.  This review is the best way to compare IKEA options.  In many cases the prices are equal or better.  The standard warranty on IKEA units is 5 years, instead of one year offered by name brands.  And IKEA offers some cabinet depth (24″) options.

IKEA Kitchens–Options

Drawer inside drawer
IKEA Kitchens “hidden drawer”

As discussed above, the configuration options are almost endless, but there are a couple of specific things I love with IKEA cabinets.  First is the “hidden drawer.”  This second drawer is installed inside of a deeper drawer  (pictured at right.)  The practicality of this is being able to have a unified front configuration, but smaller drawers in front.  One specific uses for this is a secret drawer in a silverware drawer that holds less frequently used items like serving pieces and steak knives.  Another idea I love is having a secret drawer in the top of the pullout trash cabinet to store trash bags, right where you need them.

IKEA Cabinet Lighting
IKEA Kitchens In and Under-Cabinet Lighting

 

 

The other IKEA design advantage is integrated lighting.  To really appreciate this you need to see the store displays, but be careful: if you see it you will love it, and it becomes expensive very quickly.  This picture shows the lighting at the top of the cabinet and under the cabinet.  They also have options for in the drawers, which is just as beautiful.

 

 

IKEA Kitchens–Drawbacks

Legs & Toe Kicks

There are two major drawbacks to the IKEA Kitchens, but both are manageable.  The first and worst is their standard cabinet legs and the coordinating “toe kick”.  It is cheap, cheap, cheap.  The plastic feet snap into place on the bottom of the cabinet.  Because the cabinets are hung on a rail on the wall the legs are not load bearing, but they do serve a purpose. The toe kick is snapped to the legs that are snapped on the cabinet.  This entire setup is very precarious and not very attractive, and I will avoid it in my own kitchen.

But, there are several non-standard solutions that I think are better.  First and the most simple is to use the cover panel from your cabinet line and cut it into “toe kicks” that can be bracketed to the bottom of the cabinet.

IKEA Catalog Cabinet Legs
IKEA Kitchens Leg Options

For an added design touch, skip the toe kick and use other leg options and leave them exposed.  This results in a more furniture feel installation, but I think it is so much more attractive.  IKEA has several options, but really this hardware can be from anywhere to get the look and feel you wish.  You can see my sample design above has this option.

IKEA Hack Kitchen Toe Kick Drawer
IKEA Kitchens “Hidden” Toe Kick Drawer

 

 

 

My favorite solution to avoid the plastic feet and toe kick, however, is another “secret” drawer.  This hack is brilliant and adds more storage space in a previously dead space.  It involves using the IKEA drawer and front, but installing it below the cabinet. You can install flat (hidden) finger pull hardware so it is not obvious; or, I think the best solution is putting a push open latch on them so there is no hardware.  This is not just an IKEA cabinet hack, and there are plenty of videos on how to install them.

 

Assembly

The last drawback and one of the biggest complaints about IKEA Kitchens is the same as the biggest complaint about IKEA in general–the assembly.  For all of the kitchens I have done the contractors were not interested in assembling the cabinets, which is why the homeowner contacted me.  Based on my experience, I think it is best to call an assembly professional.  Obviously, in the St. Louis area, this would be Mamakea!  But seriously, any region that has an IKEA store has assembly professionals.

I do my part of kitchens in two phases: first I put the cabinet boxes together and have them ready for the contractor, and then come back to the job site after the boxes are hung to finish the drawer/door installation.  This makes it lighter and easier for the contractor to maneuver during installation and minimizes damage to the fronts.  And using a professional assembler and a separate contractor is the least expensive approach because an assembly professional can be much more efficient at this part of the job than a contractor is.

In addition to the assembly, I am happy to consult on the design.  I can help use the IKEA tools and make design recommendations based on my experience.  I can’t wait until I can renovate my kitchen, but until then I will enjoy living vicariously through yours.  Give Mamakea a call!

IKEA Restaurant Fare–Meatballs & More

Even if you have never been to IKEA, you have undoubtedly heard of their Swedish Meatballs.  I know people who wouldn’t agree with me, but for the most part I think they do live up to the hype—they are pretty tasty.  But the IKEA restaurant offers so many options that you can have an inexpensive, nutritious meal any time of day without meatballs showing up on your plate.

Ikea Restaurant Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs

IKEA Restaurant Breakfast Fare

I believe IKEA is one of the smartest managed retail establishments in the world, and one of the

Ikea Restauant Regular Breakfast
Regular Breakfast

great things they do is open the restaurant 30 minutes sooner than the store.  Especially since you can get a 99 cent breakfast and a free coffee (if you are an IKEA Family member).  This “Regular” breakfast deal includes turkey sausage, scrambled eggs and hash browns.  I have had better breakfasts, but not for less than a dollar.

The star of the breakfast menu is their famous cinnamon roll, which you can smell from the lobby of the store.  I am pretty sure they pump the aroma through the ventilation system.  It is an awfully big store to have that much cinnamon wafting at all times.  I have found that the cinnamon roll in the cafeteria is twice as big and a million times yummier than the Bistro cinnamon roll.  Not sure if my experience is a fluke or not, but I will never have another cinnamon roll from the Bistro.

IKEA Restaurant Swedish Waffle
Swedish Waffle with Lingonberry Jam

Besides the cinnamon rolls and Regular breakfast deal, they offer (what they call) traditional Swedish favorites.  And of course, you can always have the meatballs.  Swedish options (not together) are Gravad Lox, Swedish Waffles and Swedish Pancakes.  And at every meal they have kid’s specials, for breakfast it is a pancake and sausage.

IKEA Restaurant Lunch/Dinner Fare

They have separate Lunch and Dinner menus, but they are pretty much the same.  There are the standard offering of cold plates such as wraps, salads and sandwiches, and the hot tray line.  The hot dishes always include the meatballs and my favorite, the poached salmon. Then there are also dishes that rotate in and out of the menu, like BBQ ribs, Chicken Florentine, grilled chicken with various toppers, or herb roasted chicken.  The meatball offerings always include the veggie balls and chicken meatballs in addition to the traditional Swedish meatballs.  The sides offered typically include mashed potatoes, French fries and my favorite, the veggie medallions.  These are a small patty made with chopped veggies and held together with mashed potatoes.  They are available in the retail market, as are most of the restaurant offerings.

IKEA Restaurant Meals
Available Meals

 

IKEA Restaurant Beverages, Sides & Desserts Fare

As in all cafeteria set-ups, you have to grab everything as you go through the line, including your dessert.  All of the desserts look better than they taste (my opinion) but if you really want to try something skip it in the line and buy it in the retail section to take home for later.  Beverages include the standard fountain drinks and hot beverages (at the end of the line), but in the beginning they have packaged apple cider, elderflower drink and lingonberry drink.  In addition to the hot sides they offer side salads, soups and a bread offering such as cornbread or garlic toast.

IKEA Restaurant Fare Nutrition & Sustainability

IKEA’s website has a complete listing of nutritional values for everything they serve.  Besides the BBQ options, nothing comes in over 1000 calories and most of it is much less than that.  As an example my favorite salmon meal as mentioned above comes in at 850 calories WITH the hollandaise sauce.  These caloric values are  a result of reasonable serving sizes.

And like everything IKEA does, they have an ecological awareness in their food, too.  Much has been said about the pros and cons of eating wild salmon verses farmed salmon.  IKEA is only selling farmed salmon produced at Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farms.  This certification is based on removing the negatives associated with farm-raised fish and therefore producing a healthy alternative to expensive wild caught salmon.  And if this still goes against your conscience, they have many vegetarian and some organic options on the menu, too.

If this all sounds overwhelming, just get my son’s “regular”.  Chicken tenders (comes with two sides), double fries, a side of meatballs, garlic toast, chocolate overload cake and a can of apple cider, for a total of 1670 calories!  Did I mention he is almost thirteen?  But a promise of this meal is usually enough to convince him to come with me to IKEA when I need help with the heavy lifting.

Parker's regular--no cake this time
Parker’s regular–no cake this time

Ikea Beyond Furniture: Decor, Kitchens, Entertaining

Due to Ikea being a recent addition in St. Louis, not everyone is familiar with the wide selection of products they offer.  Everyone knows about their inexpensive furniture choices (that require Mamakea’s assembly services), but there are many other product lines that may surprise shoppers.

Ikea Home Decor

EIVOR CIRKEL Rug, high pile IKEA The dense, thick pile dampens sound and provides a soft surface to walk on.
Eivor Cirkel Rug

Most people are aware that Ikea offers home decor items in addition to furniture. They have an incredibly wide range of lamps, rugs, baskets, vases, and picture frames; you get the idea. All of these items are just as stylish and affordable as the furniture. As an example, the Eivor Cirkel rug is 6’7″ by 6’7″ square for $149.  In fact, 70% of their current rug offerings are less than $200.

FILLSTA Pendant lamp IKEA Diffused light that provides good general light in the room.
Fillsta Pendant Lamp

 

 

 

Ikea also carries all kinds of lighting: floor, ceiling table, LED, recessed. Their selection includes very modern designs as well as simple, more traditional models.  One of my favorite is this modern Fillsta pendant lamp–which sells for only $29!

FORMLIG Vase IKEA The glass vase is mouth blown by a skilled craftsperson.
Formlig Vase

 

 

If you are looking for vases that are high on style and low on your budget, Ikea is the place to look.  This 7 inch Formlig vase is only $9.99 and is mouth blown.  In fact, Ikea is the place to look if you are planning a banquet or wedding and need inexpensive centerpieces.  Combine the decorative vases with their abundance of candle options and voilà!, your centerpieces are complete.

 

Ikea Kitchens

In addition to the furniture, Ikea offers everything a designer needs to remodel a kitchen, including appliances.  A buyer or designer can start by using the planning tool to help choose and layout a kitchen design using their cabinets.  The beauty of this tool is that it creates a comprehensive shopping list for all of the items, including the details, that need to be purchased.  But besides the A small country kitchen with white drawers, doors and black countertops.cabinets, which honestly are just a type of furniture, they also offer high-end appliances.  But again, although they are high in design, they are very affordable options and of course are easy to coordinate with their cabinet designs.  You can see ideas in their gallery, which includes all styles from slick modern to homey to traditional elegance, all of which are extremely functional.

Ikea Entertaining

A ready-laid table with bowls and plates in dark grey stoneware.
Dramatic Table Setting

Ikea offers everything a host requires to set the mood for any occasion.  There are dishes that will work for everyday family dinners or are appropriate for an elegant dinner.  There is a wide range of table linens–place mats, coasters, napkins and tablecloths–that are of course affordable and coordinate with the dish selections.  Ikea also offers a wide range of serving ware that can dress up or down any table design.  And the glassware options are very practical, yet stylish, and the least expensive to be found. Ikea groups many of these as series, as seen below:

The ENIGT dinnerware series is cream colored with green designs and is dishwasher and microwave safe
Enigt Dinnerware Series
Färgrik series
Fargrik Series
Arv
Arv Series

 

 

 

 

 

IKEA Glassware & pitchers
Frasera Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, Ikea has an amazing food selection that allows you to set out a feast on any of these table settings without much time or money.  I am going to cover this more in the future, as well as more detail on topics such as the incredible children’s offerings and paper product lines.

 

Ikea Dorms: Furniture, Organization and style

Dorm living has changed a lot since my matriculating days. One common thread, though, is making the most of the space that is dedicated to living, studying, bathing and hanging out.  Ikea is a dorm-dweller’s dream because of the loft beds, desk, storage, organizing and décor options.  I am sharing some of my favorite ideas here, but there is so much more, including a Pinterest board dedicated to Ikea dorms!  And of course remember, for those of you heading to college in the St. Louis Metro area, Mamakea can shop, deliver and assemble at your dorm room for you.

Ikea Dorms: Furniture

Of course my emphasis is on furniture, so let’s start there.  A stable of dorm living is a loft bed.  This leaves space underneath for studying, storage or a living space.  Ikea has great AFFORDABLE options for loft beds.  Check out the Svärta, Storå, and Tromsö–all for less than $300.  My personal favorite is the Stuva, which is customizable with a variety of desk and storage options.  Here is an example of one I assembled for a customer.

20160610_124054
Flaxa Loft bed with desk.

In addition to loft beds, Ikea has incredible storage beds and trundle beds that are ideal for college dorms.  Check out the Brimnes and Hemnes options, which include a trundle option–so it stores as a single bed with drawer storage underneath, and can include a second single bed that pulls out with the drawers under it, like this:

HEMNES Daybed with 3 drawers/2 mattresses IKEA Four functions - sofa, single bed, double bed and storage solution.
Hemnes Daybed wtih 3 drawers and two matresses

Another option is the Malm, which I like because the drawers are not attached to the bed–they are on casters and just roll under the bed.  This makes it easy to move around for cleaning (probably not a factor in a dorm room) and easy loading/unloading.  My favorite for style is also the least expensive Flaxa, which also includes a pull out bed option and a great storage head board.

Flaxa storage bed. Linens not Ikea, but good Ikea options are available.

Ikea also has many affordable stand-alone desk options.  And to address a recent trend, they offer a stand-up laptop desk that includes cable management and extra storage–with a very small footprint.

Ikea Dorms: Organization

20160427_173149
Parkerkea and his Algot storage system.

Ikea has so many smart storage and organization options that it is impossible to show them all.  I think the best options are flexible and movable.  Almost all of Ikea’s storage can be built with wheels.  Some unique options include the Grundtal cart, which can of course be supplemented with a variety of storage baskets or bins.  Another favorite of mine, that I use in my own house, is the Algot system.  My son uses this to store his clothes, and the baskets are removable (or get the castor option) and take the unit directly to the laundry room and fold clothes right back into it!  They can also stack so you get more storage with the same footprint.

Ikea also has some unique storage/organization items.  Check out this colorful PS 2014 storage table.  Or this fantastic trolley cart (think bathroom caddy, on wheels!). Or, if you need a pop of color, check out the Kallax shelf unit that comes in white, high gloss red, green, black and several wood tones.

Ikea Dorms: Style

The most thorough way to check out the Ikea dorm style ideas is to visit the tab on their web site for “Back to College.”  The initial section is all about choosing your style and the give several options.  Also in this section are tips for shopping and packing with ease.  One hint:  remember the small touches.  Ikea’s inexpensive rugs, textiles and desk organizers are a great way to up the style factor with very little investment.

If you have any questions on these items or need help with assembly, please give Mamakea a call!  I am offering a $10 coupon for college assemblies greater than $100 through October 1, 2016.

 

Avoid the Most Common Ikea Assembly Mistakes

I truly have a passion for the assembly of furniture–especially Ikea assembly.  I appreciate the design and engineering of the items, and I think their instructions are very expressive: all with no words so they are multilingual.  I do realize, however, that I am not necessarily in the majority, so I am going to attempt to share some of the more meaningful tips for successful Ikea assembly.

A couple of days ago I was contacted to assemble a Brimnes bed.  After providing my quote the customer felt it necessary to tell me the following:  “full disclosure– I’m sorting out a terrible experience with a contractor from XXXX.com who misrepresented his ability to assemble Ikea. Bed is about 20% assembled with some minor mistakes (spacers left out of the drawer rails). No apparent damage done.”

20160527_102411
Ikea Brimnes bed after nine hours of effort from a competitor

The customer offered to pay me extra, but I assured them that I would sort it out and take care of it for the quoted, firm price.  When I showed up to do the assembly, the owner’s mother informed me that the original contractor had quoted three hours to put the bed together, and had given up after nine hours with it not even being close (or right). This is one reason I quote a firm price—not an hourly rate.  Any problems are on my time and my price structure is in line with Ikea’s, at a lower price point.

I took time to assess where the job was, but I should have skipped this step and just taken it all apart—which is what I did in the end.  My assessment determined that NOTHING was put together correctly, except one drawer.  In the end the bed was put together correctly and safely (total of 2.5 hours to disassemble and reassemble.)

I doubt this particular contractor will attempt Ikea assembly in the future, but I recommend everyone that is going to hire someone to do this for them find out what their experience is and ask for pictures of completed furniture.  My website has a gallery with a wide range of projects.

But if you are going to attempt assembly yourself, here are some tips to make things easier:

Assembly Tip One

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Mamakea Tool of the Trade: Sorting Box for Assembly Hardware

First step for any furniture assembly—sort and inventory the hardware.  Through all of my assemblies I have only come up short once from Ikea—and they were very gracious in replacing it—but it helps to know before you start instead of in the middle of the job.  Several times I have counted okay in the beginning and been missing something later, but I know it is there somewhere and I just need to look.  Furniture brands other than Ikea usually have a set of spare hardware, but it is still easier to build when the hardware is sorted.  Especially when it is sorted on a tray of some sort—a muffin tin can work well if you don’t have this great tray.

Assembly Tip Two

Second solid tip:  If it isn’t fitting together, then you aren’t trying to put the right pieces together the right way.  All designers include dowels and the cam screws in a pattern that allows the items to go together in only one way.  If these aren’t lining up, then the two pieces don’t go together the way you are trying to make them.  It is not a good idea to remove enough dowels/screws to make them go together.  Things won’t fit later and even if they do, nothing will be secure with missing pieces.

Assembly Tip Three

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Ikea Assembly Instructions–be sure to pick the designated hardware

The third tip to keep from making rookie mistakes is be sure you are using the correct hardware at the right time.  Ikea will provide a “blow up” of the part to be used and compared to similar hardware pieces but crossed out, so you know which one is correct. You need to be careful here, because the wrong one might work now, but later when you only have the wrong thing left it might not fit.  If the screws/bolts/nuts were interchangeable they wouldn’t have included both kinds.  Take the time to figure out the right hardware in advance.

Assembly Tip Four

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During drawer assembly look for the label on each piece of the drawer rollers and in the corresponding instructions.
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Note the location of the roller AND which hole is used to screw it to the furniture during assembly.

The last common mistake to watch out for is picking the right piece of drawer roller hardware for the right place.  The tracks come packaged in sets of four—two that go on the drawer and two for inside the furniture.  Hints to keep in mind:  the flat frame pieces will go in the furniture, the two pieces with the right angle go on the edge of the drawer.  In the case of Ikea sets, they mark each piece with letters indicating left/right and drawer/cabinet.  So DR is the right drawer piece, CL is the left cabinet piece.  If all else fails, look at the picture!  Pay attention to the location of the roller: is it in the front or back and on the top or bottom of the rail?  One last hint—there are multiple holes on these rails to accommodate all of the different furniture designs.  Different pieces use different holes to position them correctly for each piece of furniture.  Again, the picture will show this.

I hope this is helpful, but of course, my best advice is call Mamakea before you frustrate yourself!

THE IKEA HYPE–Why Shop Ikea St. Louis?

For people in St. Louis who haven’t shopped Ikea in the eight months it has been open, you are probably wondering “What is the big deal?”  Well, I think you have to see it to believe it, but even so, I am going to try and explain it.

Size

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Ikea St. Louis covers four square city blocks.

First is the sheer size of the property.  It contains 1300 parking spaces and the store is 380,000 square feet.  The unique set up of the store means that you will typically walk 2-3 miles as you follow the pre-set route.  Data shows that people average three hours on site per store visit.  The layout can be daunting—which is why my next two blogs will be helpful hints on navigating the store.

Restaurant

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Yum! Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.

Of course, the three hours may include a visit to the restaurant, which certainly contributes to the hype.  Between the free coffee and tea for Ikea Family members, the 99 cent breakfast and the scrumptious Swedish meatballs, the restaurant lives up to the hype, in my opinion.  Again, a future post will be dedicated to the restaurant and market food. 

 

 Value

The restaurant is indicative of the overall Ikea experience: Value.  The furnishings and décor are very good quality for the inexpensive price tag.  The adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t exactly apply to their products because they have streamlined EVERYTHING to cut costs and offer affordable items that have a higher quality than their competitors.  As an experienced furniture assembler, I can tell you that not all particle board is created equal.  They use higher grade materials, design items so that the assembly is very sound (this is your labor, so it doesn’t cost them) and they even design the packaging to keep size and materials to a minimum—saving money on packaging and shipping.  The attention to detail of all of their costs is what makes these products affordable—not because the products are cheaply made.  Having said this, there are higher quality and more affordable lines and another future post will help you to discern the difference.

Design

The last major piece that contributes to the hype is the universal design of the items and how they then appeal to a wider audience.  I call it universal because the design is typically basic and minimal, thus blending into different styles.  As a whole the store seems modern, but taken out of context I have seen pieces work in all styles of homes, offices and businesses.  In addition, the simplicity of the design has spawned an entire Pinterest category—Ikea Hacks.  I will share some of my favorites in the future.

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The one part of the Ikea legend that I don’t buy into is how difficult and frustrating the assembly can be.  As an engineer I appreciate the brilliance of their assembly design and the graphic-only assembly instructions.  But I am grateful that many people struggle with the assembly, because it gives me an opportunity to make a business out of doing something that I love.  So if you finally shop Ikea and find the perfect pieces to supplement your home décor, don’t let the daunting assembly instructions deter you.  Call me instead!