IKEA: Some Assembly Required

From on December 08, 2008 in General

Ikea Website

I was browsing IKEA’s online store the other day and decided to check out the assembly instructions section before getting too excited about making a purchase. I’m no stranger to assembling things, but I know my limits, and there’s a point where putting something together is too complicated to be fun. Sometimes these projects are fun to do with a friend – again, if they aren’t too demanding. I know I can always hire a handyman to do the job, but factoring in that expense is a consideration that affects my buying decisions…

Anyway, back to the assembly instructions page at IKEA. It shows a photo of a woman’s hand holding a little Allen wrench – very clever, I thought – makes it look easy and like a girl can do it. The number of products listed is sort of mind-blowing, so rather than clicking at random to view the instructions (via Adobe’s Acrobat Reader), I decided to go shopping first.

I like IKEA’s vision “to create a better everyday life for many people by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.” And I was in an IKEA store in San Diego once, and really had a good time going through it – Allen Wrenchlots of ideas for design solutions that are based on economy and scale. I could see the appeal for a wide spectrum of people decorating on a budget in small spaces. The European flair is lovely, too.

Shopping the website felt sort of overwhelming at first, although I liked the big, bold message announcing Support and Guidance Every Step of the Way when I went to the kitchen section. Sheesh! Lots of options, to say the least. You can “become your own interior designer with the help of the IKEA Planner Tools. Drag and drop your choice of furniture into the room and fit them to the exact measurements of your home. Rearrange and try different styles until you’re satisfied with the result. View it in 3-D and print with all the measurements, just like an architect. See how much it will cost and get the list of all products.” Rather than downloading the Planner, I went back to the product catalog.

Finally, I found a sleek corner cabinet I liked and went ahead and downloaded the assembly instructions. The instructions were mostly illustrations, with words in English, French, and Spanish. One of the first illustrations, after showing the requisite tools – in this case, flat and Philips screwdrivers and a hammer – was of a cartoon customer calling the IKEA help line with a smile on his face, indicating that you can talk with a real person at any point during your self-assembly process.

I admit, I was daunted by the complexity of the instructions, although they were very well done: clear and simple for the knowledgeable do-it-yourselfer with some basic carpentry skills. Many of the steps looked impossible for just one person to do alone – although a strong, carpenter-person might not see it that way.

My upshot opinion after this online shopping excursion was that I was glad to know about the resource, but shopping in an actual IKEA store was more fun. And unless the product(s) I selected were ultra simple, I would definitely want skilled help for the assembly process. If you’re single and not that confident of your carpentry skills, you might find this information of value as you browse IKEA’s website.