How Assembling IKEA Furniture Made Me A Better Person

how to assemble IKEA furniture

Three IKEA boxes came home in the back of my Subaru yesterday, each filled with the promise of something beautiful.   I opened the first box at noon.  Over the next ten hours, I experienced the full range of human emotions. I laughed and cried and raged against the universe.  At times, my feelings bordered on despair.  But even in the darkest moments (like when the drawers of the fully assembled filing cabinet would not open) I did not give up.

This morning, as I sip my coffee and reflect on the experience, I recognize that the experience tested both my physical and mental stamina, but it also taught me many things.  So, rather than writing an obscenity-laced rant, today I choose to express my gratitude…

DEAR IKEA PEOPLE (who I believe exist, even though they cannot be reached by phone or by live chat… ever!):

Thank you for creating instructions that do not use words.  Instead, they offer only a series of black and white drawings, akin to what I imagine existed on pre-historic cave walls.  This was a wonderful opportunity for me to let go of that whole “follow the instructions” thing that has probably been limiting my creativity for years!

Thank you for providing exactly the right number of teeny-tiny screws and nails and weird little wooden thingies.  Not even one extra widget (in case the cat swats everything off the coffee table and bits fly under the sofa and across the multi-coloured area rug).  You have taught me how precious each item in the universe really is.

While on the subject of teeny-tiny screws and nails and weird little wooden thingies, I must thank you for making them so similar (but not quite the same).  And for making the holes they go in so similar (but not quite the same). During the first few hours, I often got midway through assembling a drawer or a side panel before discovering that I had used the slightly too small or the slightly too big screws or nails or wooden thingies.  But by hour four, I had really upped my game.

Sure, I was talking to myself in the third person and I had an eye tick, but my success rate at matching almost-the-same-but-not-quite parts to almost-the-same-but-not-quite holes was much higher! I have always prided myself on being a person who pays attention to detail but I now see that this self-praise was unmerited… until now!  After this experience, I am a concentration ninja – with an eye tick.

And I MUST thank you for expanding my musical tastes.  After hour six, I began exploring itunes music genres that I had not previously considered.  I transitioned to Spanish selections because they sounded cheerful but did not break my concentration (since I do not speak Spanish, I wasted no mind space trying to figure out what Shakira was rhythmically hollering about).

And after the dark moment when the drawers of the fully assembled filing cabinet would not open, I turned to heavy metal.  I cranked the volume to drown out the sounds of my temper tantrum.  It was very cathartic… I may download some of that.

 I also ate some new foods yesterday; the result of sending my youngest child in search of sustenance (twice), armed only with my VISA and PIN number.  So thank you for expanding my awareness of local take-out options.

Perhaps most importantly, thank you for showing me how much I love my husband.  After so many years of marriage, I tend to take hubby for granted.  But at 8:00 pm last night, when he pried the screwdriver from my vicelike grip and sent me upstairs with a goldfish bowl of wine and instructions to soak in the tub, I remembered why I married him!  And when he put that office desk together all by himself… well… it was the sexiest thing I have ever seen a man do.  Seriously!!!

So thank you IKEA for the life lessons and, of course, for the fine furniture.  The filing cabinet top drawer doesn’t actually open, and there is a bungee cord attached to the back of the glass-door bookcase because of a design flaw that makes it topple over every time you open the glass door.  But these are just details.

I have learned not to sweat the small stuff.  I have learned to be happy with what IS and not obsess about what should be.  And I have learned that there are people in my world who will be there to support me in tough times – like my sexy husband, and my helpful daughter, and the friend who dropped off milk (because I missed getting the grocery store) and wine (because I simply could not continue without wine).

Thank you to IKEA for expanding my wine-drinking repertoire as well.  I never liked the sparking whites but yesterday, that bottle of moscato was so delicious that it brought tears to my eyes.  The tears may also have been from dropping the hammer on my foot but still… the wine was yummy!

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Author: Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of “Making Words Work”. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to Kim’s popular newsletter. Every second Wednesday, she shares practical writing tips, timely insights, and resources to make your work easier and your content better. To learn more about Kim, visit her website.

8 thoughts

  1. No, thank you for making a thankless task I would not have the courage to think about let alone try a memory to be both avoided like the plague and cherished for its courage in adversity.


  2. Putting furniture together is always such fun. That’s why the last time I needed a bookcase, I found one at Home Depot that simply folded and unfolded – no assembly needed. I hate screwing. …. oh wait, that didn’t come out right, did it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve had an IKEA-type laundry bin that I paid too much for (but it matched my stuff) sitting in the garage for over two years. It even had “cams.” What the h-e-doublehockeysticks is a cam when related to furniture?!? This past weekend a handy-dandy friend of mine said Why don’t I just put it together with screws, and screw the instructions? And he did… in a half hour…while I drank. And then I wept with joy and relief.


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