The Great British Catch-Up: Part 2


So we’ve got an apartment. I’ve got a fuckton (imperial measurements over here) of luggage. What to do next?

Shop. Shop in IKEA. Shop in IKEA until you only see in blue and yellow, and refer to everything in broken Swedish phrases.

The weekend before we signed the lease I went back to the apartment to measure everything. It turned out that our landlords were actually the architects of the building the apartment was in, so one of them very kindly sketched the rooms for me whilst we measured up. That evening I downloaded a copy of SketchUp, and went to work designing the rooms in 3D.

Last shot from the Pulaski Bridge

I’ve done this multiple times when moving, and it really works. If you’re shopping in IKEA – which most people in my situation are – then you’ll find almost every product they make has a corresponding 3D model in the SketchUp online store. Assuming that you plan out your room correctly, you can accurately model your rooms without ever having to step foot in an IKEA, let along bring the stuff home, assemble it, and then realize that it doesn’t quite fit.

Amazingly, AJ had pretty much identical ideas about what furniture she wanted, so when I presented my plans it was pretty much a case of ‘Great, let’s figure out how much it costs, then go get it.’

For those that are curious – and I just know it’s all of you – IKEA in America is just the same as IKEA in the UK. It’s big, it’s blue, it’s formulaic, but you love it because everything is right there. We ended up going to both IKEAs in New York over the following weeks – Brooklyn and Long Island – because we just loved it that much.

Okay, so that’s not true. IKEA has been wonderful to us because they have a ton of very good furniture for a starter home at very reasonable prices. But they also fucked us. Several times. This is that story.

It was the same time in 2016 that I had last visited IKEA, going to buy two drawer units along with my friends and ex-housemates Rob & Rachel, who were shopping for their newly-bought home. I distinctly remember us buying everything, then watching them go over to the Home Delivery section to arrange for everything to be shipped to them at home. It was such a familiar memory that, when I saw the delivery information on the US IKEA website, I was adamant that we would do the very same thing.

There were three of these trolleys at the end. We had to return it all. Fuck you IKEA.

Off we toddled to IKEA Brooklyn, and spent hours picking everything. All our ‘Phase 1’ furniture that was available at the time. Our king-size bed, our 8-drawer dresser, our two sit-stand desks, our daybed, our TV unit, our outside tables for the balconies. We spent almost two thousand dollars.

At no point did anybody in the process say to us ‘Oh, we don’t do the home delivery like that anymore’. The fact that nobody said it to us didn’t phase me, because I didn’t expect it. So when we WERE finally told it, on a Sunday at 9pm just as the store was closing, it came as a bit of a fucking shock.

We were forced to return everything and re-order it for home delivery. We finally got out of there at 10:30pm. I felt worst for AJ, who had to drop me at the Brooklyn house, then drive an hour home.

We ended up going to buy the bed ourselves whilst waiting for everything else to arrive, and I had the bright idea to try a time-lapse video on the iPhone whilst building it. If you haven’t already seen it on Instagram, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

This is what I was living in for a few weeks

AJ decided not to move in until we had furniture. Considering that we had nothing other than closets to put clothes into, nowhere to sleep (other than a hastily purchased airbed) and that she also came with a border collie and a hedgehog in tow, this proved to be a smart idea.

She’s taking the Bar Exam early in 2018 and had previously been concerned about the toll that us moving in and getting the house set up would put on her studies. I made her a promise that we could get in and mostly settled by November. At the time – just before I was heading to the US – she expressed skepticism but, now that we had achieved getting hold of a place faster than anticipated, I was determined to stick to that promise.

So I built. I built like I’d never built before.

After our bed (which was mattress-less until our new uber Purple Mattress arrived) I tackled the daybed, the next-biggest item that required an entire room to construct it in. Thanks to being tired and not using all of my brains, this one is in two parts.

In between, I managed to get some laundry done with our in-basement machines (annoyingly coin operated) and even tidy the living room! I am nothing if not the modern man.

At this point, the cardboard situation started to get a little out of control. Oh! How I had forgotten to mention this little gem. When IKEA finally brought all the stuff (six hours late) that we had purchased, returned, then purchased again, they missed one of the boxes for our TV cabinet, meaning it couldn’t be built, and just had to lie there next to the ever-mounting pile of rubbish.

Recyclers rejoice!

At this point I decided what the gigantic pile of cardboard really needed was more cardboard, so I built the desks and chairs.

But come on, how good do these look?!
Outside, it was all going to shit. This eventually became an 8-drawer dresser

It was around about this time that IKEA stopped by with the missing piece of the TV unit puzzle. Or rather, an entire new TV unit. Fucking eejits. We ended up having to return the now-surplus two boxes ourselves just to get rid of the damn things.

By the time mid-October rolled around, everything was finally built. In addition to what you’ve seen here, I also completed two bedside tables for the bedroom, and two chests of drawers and a bookcase for the study. We’d been to IKEA for what felt like the seventy fifth time (see our ghetto car rig above), but the house was pretty much done.

Oh, except we needed a sofa, some end tables, a coffee table, and to actually … put things into their final places.

Yeah, we weren’t done. Not by a long shot.

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