Since I have become a mom, I have found that my sons are happiest when they are well-rested, fed, and given some time throughout the day to do as they please (safely) without hearing "no" every 10 seconds. This time may be rolling and running around on the (padded and netted) trampoline, playing with play-doh (without me cleaning up every time something is dropped on the floor), or playing tag around the kitchen island until everyone is out of breath. I suppose that it shouldn't be a surprise that I, too, am happiest when I am well-rested, fed, and given some time to do as I please without hearing "MOMMY" every 10 seconds. Coincidence? I think not.
It wasn't really until after my youngest son, Liam- now almost 11 months, was born that I realized the awesome impact that a little "away" time had on me, and I allowed myself to have it - without guilt. Uninterrupted time for me to get my nails done, take a leisurely shower with the door shut, go to the gym, or go food shopping, became necessary for maintaining a healthy balance for myself and relationship with my kids and husband. Even my time working for MRC counted towards this happy time. I would always return from these hours alone renewed, refreshed, and ready for a game of tag or a romp with the kids on the trampoline.
Recently, I found a new place that grants me the solitude and anonymity that I crave. Ikea.
At Ikea I can walk in circles at my own pace for hours on end, lollygagging around, pausing to rest my weary head on an EKTORP chaise, propping my feet up on an ALSEDA stool. Nobody questioning where I'm going or what I'm doing. (Literally. Walking. In. Circles. I have never been able to figure out the route in that place. I once found myself circling the cafeteria for 20 minutes trying to get down to the Marketplace, unable to figure out where I went astray. My only choice was to get some Swedish meatballs - lingonberries on the side - and regroup. I made it eventually.)
I'm sure most of you are no strangers to the wonders of Ikea - sleek, Scandinavian-styled furniture in flat, inexplicably heavy boxes, always containing approximately 3 extra pegs, 2 supplementary washers, and 1 too few screws. (It's together... It took me four hours... It should be fine without those. Right?)
I am always amazed, wandering from room to room, each one staged and fully furnished with wares you can "self-serve" yourself just below. Tables, couches, ottomans, tablecloths, vases, frames, bookshelves, bookshelves, and MORE bookshelves! (SIDENOTE: I read an article last year about how the impact that the growing popularity of e-books and decreasing number of physical books is having on the industry. One of the most blatant? The new, deeper dimensions and addition of glass doors on the classic Ikea Billy bookcase. More tchotchke-friendly, less paperback-friendly. So many bookshelves, so few books! An interesting dilemma.)
On my most recent "time out" trip to Ikea, I purchased this gleaming, lacquered Expedit Shelving unit in an effort to corral the toys in our great room. It looks more like something from Design Within Reach than Ikea - I loved it immediately.
Granted, the act of purchasing this unit was far from relaxing. It started with me with the wrong kind of cart in the "self-serve" section, realizing it's only really "self-serve" if you are the kind of person who can dead lift 60+ awkward lbs. Once the boxes were located, loaded, and paid for, the attempt to get them to the car by myself was comical. After remembering that the carts aren't allowed into the parking lot, I was forced to lock the unwieldy cart and my assorted purchased goods in a "cart locker" that look, at best, like something out of a scary Harrison Ford movie in which someone has been kidnapped and held for days, while I fetched my car. Attempting to sliiiiiide the boxes into my SUV trunk and failing miserably was humbling. I finally admitted to myself that this was not a job for me, and found a lovely gentleman with a bright orange back support belt (who may or may not have worked there?) to assist me in getting said boxes into my car. After returning the unwieldy cart (does anyone ever check those wheels? Or am I on some kind of hidden camera show?), I collapsed in my front seat only to realize I was about to sit in rush hour traffic in an attempt to get home to my babies. An excellent place for solitude and self-reflection without the fear of being interrupted? Yes. A solo-friendly place? That's a big N.O.
That said, would I do it again? Absolutely. And I did - the next week when I realized the glossy white was sexy and timeless, but the orange-red would seriously pop in that room (especially with the new rug!). I did it all again, in reverse order, and succeeded. It was kind of empowering, actually.
For those of you who are DIY inclined (I, unfortunately, am not.) you may enjoy Ikea Hackers. Ikea Hackers is a site devoted to repurposing Ikea products. Some of the results are astounding. This genius plant-pot-holder-turned-pendant-lamp is a pretty nifty idea, as are these cute Lack Ottomans. Some are a little more abstract, some are for the lazy, and others are just kind of strange.
You can search the web for Pinterest for "ikea hack" and come up with all kinds of great ideas.
This desk is beautiful - you'd never know it came in a flat-pack box.
These built-ins look custom, but in fact they were fashioned out of Ikea Hemnes.
This Rast dresser-turned-campaign-trunk would fit in with a wide range of decor.
This rope mirror hack looks just like a much pricier version from Restoration Hardware.
There are some very talented and inventive people out there...
Anyone up for a trip to Ikea with me?
Ellie Mroz is the C.A.O. and Design Specialist for Michael Robert Construction, a Westfield-based Design/Build General Contractor. http://www.MichaelRobertConstruction.com
She can be reached at Ellie@MichaelRobertConstruction.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Michael Robert Construction, its affiliates, or its employees.