How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you tell someone who has never heard of IKEA what IKEA is?
I got a comment from Janell on a previous post asking me what is IKEA? Janell lives in the Heartland of America that is also known as Nebraska: lots of corn fields, I mean LOTS! And NO IKEAs for miles and miles and miles (we're talking thousands). She doesn't know what IKEA is.
I thought answering this question would be as simple as a return email which stated that it was a low priced but good value furniture store. But it is, oh, so much more! It's a lifestyle!
The company originated in Sweden. All the furniture is flat packed and you have to assemble it at home. It is a bit like Legos for adults except it is more expensive, the instructions aren't always easy to understand (and the pictures can make it worse rather than better) and sometimes parts are missing. They do have an easy return policy if you can be bothered to drive back there and stand in the queue again.
The stores are huge and you walk through rooms designed using all IKEA products which demonstrate the art of the possible (and the what were they thinking?) in big and small spaces. Neither of which generally represent any space that I've ever lived in. They use a lot of colour and imagination. The stores are crowded and the car parks are impossible especially on weekends.
But it is very easy and some of it is very good. Marc and I furnished our first home with all IKEA furniture. Both of my children are sleeping in expandable IKEA beds with IKEA sheets. Book shelves are what they do best and we've got loads of IKEA book shelves scattered about the house. I've got blankets from IKEA and cushions and blinds and curtains. My kitchen has glasses and pots and plates. All my children's dishes, cups and cutlery are from IKEA.
One of the best things about IKEA oddly is the cafeteria and their Swedish meatballs with sauce. My children love them and I love them. The restaurant is very very very child friendly.
One of the worse things about IKEA is that no matter when I go there or what I go there for I end up walking out of the store with loads of things I didn't really need but felt compelled to buy and felt like I was missing out if I didn't just snatch it up.
This last visit was a case in point. Found nothing there that was actually on my list. Somehow still spent £200. How did that happen? What did I buy? Why didn't I know I needed it before I got there?
So Janell, what is IKEA? An incredibly useful and useless shop all rolled into one. Go check out the web page: http://www.ikea.com/ and be amazed