Friday, May 15, 2009

The Ikea Effect

Today we went to Ikea, mostly out of boredom, partly for the cheap Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam. I was afraid it would make me pine for clever domestic things I can't afford, but I was pleasantly wrong. Ikea has these neat little alcoves set aside as fully furnished apartments with some astonishingly small square footage displayed like a badge of honor. "Look how clever we are, we can make this appalling space so comfortable, functional and welcoming."

So while peering into those, I was happily reminded of the process of kitting out my apartment back in Texas. I was living alone, on a modest teacher's salary in approximately 600 square feet, and for not much money, I made that place quite a nice little cave to spend a year in. Granted, it was hand-me-down furniture that really did the trick. And some cleverness of my own - repurposing extra curtain fabric, things like that. But it was fun, and I did a good job.

Ikea did not make me feel oppressed today, as I thought it would. But as I walked through aisles of clever, money-and-space-saving shelving and gadgetry, my mood drifted from happy nostalgia to wistful and then somewhat sad dreaming. I kept a running checklist in my head, ticking off what we wouldn't need, two grown people with their own pots and pans and beds and desks. I'd also imagine how we might transform a tiny apartment kitchen into a facility suitable for foodies, and my boyfriend, who will remain nameless, let his gaze linger on many of my chosen goodies. I'd picture what his son might draw or scrawl on the blackboard door of a wall-mounted cabinet, or how to portion-off rooms, so that three people might feel at home and welcome in too little space.

I have all I need and more than enough space now, with my roommates, but I would be so happy to make do on a small budget in a tiny space if that space were filled with people I love. But for that, he'd have to get a job in Madison. And so, I will continue to glory defiantly in my blue carpet, and to dream of some tiny apartment when I let my guard down.


  1. W and I did that a year or so ago. We talked about that kind of stuff, and then I sprayed him with one of those dangling kitchen sink hose sprayer things.

    Too bad it wasn't actually hooked up to water.