IKEA Nesting Instinct

February 25, 2009 By: erik Category: Complaining, House, Photos, Timelapse, Videos 2,782 views

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Office ShelvesThe first time I heard the phrase “IKEA nesting instinct” was in Edward Norton’s narration of Fight Club. I’d never heard of IKEA, despite living in Scandinavia at the time. When we bought our house in England, almost all the new furniture we bought was from IKEA. Our first load of new flat pack furniture required the use of a rental van. We went to IKEA once or twice when we first moved to Spain, and we haven’t gone back or made any domestic layout changes for years.

So this time I saw IKEA with somewhat fresh eyes. What amazed me the first time, and amazed me again this time, is the sheer efficiency of the whole store. The entire retail is as well designed and consumer-driven as their furniture. Presumably they’ve made some iterative modifications to The IKEA Process over the lifespan of the company, because they’ve really perfected the process of maximizing sales of cheap, not-at-all-ugly furniture in bulk. I’m very impressed.
My only complaint about the way IKEA is run – and I can’t honestly say I’d do this differently if I were in charge – is that the example furniture layouts that they have exhibited in the store don’t always match the living spaces of the country the store is in. In England it used to annoy the crap out of me that none of the example living room layouts contained a space for a fireplace. It is damn near impossible to find a house in England that does not have a fireplace in the living room. “It adds character”, say all the myriad housing and property investment shows on British television. British houses are still designed as if we are in the 19th century and the central point we organize our furniture around is the fireplace and not the television. The result is that the lovely IKEA layout that uses furniture along all four walls doesn’t work in a British house. Ideally IKEA should adapt their designs to match the archetypal house of the country they are selling furniture to. The same applies in Spain, but it’s harder to put my finger on exactly why the room layouts are “not Spanish”.

Nesting Instinct

We have been living a very minimalist lifestyle. Neither Marga nor I have very strong opinions about how our house should be, so we just live in the space more or less as it was left by the previous owner. We live like we’re renting. It took us three years to start hanging pictures on the walls. With the baby on the way, however, all this is changing. Both of us have an instinctual desire to “make the house better for the baby”. It’s weird. The word “nesting” fits it perfectly.

IKEA purchases

Our haul at IKEA. Less than 500€, which seems amazing for all the stuff we acquired. The most expensive item was a new rug for my office. It really ties the room together. We picked up a very comfortable chair with footrest for only 40€. We also got some shelves for the office, and about a thousand plastic boxes to store things in. We’ve got a storage room that has been conquered by entropy and we need to fight back.

Here’s a video of the shelf installation. Things to watch out for:

  • My black cordless drill died mid-installation and I had to buy a new non-cordless (corded?) green one.
  • I cut out a cardboard outline of my printer to sit between the printer and the desk.
  • Yes, the light bulb is still naked.
  • I build some awesome cardboard IKEA storage boxes that happen to fit perfectly on the shelves.
  • Watch how the afternoon sun perfectly and annoyingly illuminates my monitor.

It sure is annoying how easy 6 hours of hard work looks in a timelapse montage!

Watch in HD on YouTube! Also available on Yahoo, Metacafe, Google, Break, DailyMotion, Blip.tv, Veoh, Imeem, Stupid Videos, Sclipo, Viddler, Howcast and 5min.

Screwdriver Blister

A bad blister on my tender little keyboard-dancing hands I got from the screwdriver. Ouch!

Office Shelves

The final result in the office. Yay!

  • I kept wincing watching your head in such high-speed close proximity to those stabby shelf supports. Everything looks good though and you appear to have survived without any extra orifices being introduced into your cranium.

  • Paul

    The shelves look level. Did you download an iPhone app for that?

  • There were several times when I was pushing with all my body weight on a screw with my temple touching the Vlad-The-Impaler spikes and I was more than a bit nervous.

    I’m quite happy with my orifice count as it is.

    Since there was nothing to actually set a level on, neither a real nor virtual level was appropriate. We did it by measuring the distance to the floor about four hundred times for each shelf.

  • Good job, Erik. Looks like you inherited some handyman genes from me and your grandma, no offense Paul.

  • Marga might disagree. I’m about the least “handy” man she knows, I think. Drill, screwdriver and hammer are about the extent of my handyman-ness.

  • aquariumdrinker

    The office setup looks great! I was at Ikea on Saturday, getting Sg’s big girl bed. The place makes me miserable in a way that’s hard for me to put my finger on, but there’s no denying its special place between Target furniture and craft furniture. I realized while I was standing in line that my first Ikea trip may have been the last time I was waiting to checkout in anything resembling a good mood.

    I agree with you about layout. The store is full of “put your entire life in 375 square feet!” displays. In the US, 375 square feet is a mere step above homeless.

  • Once again, I must implore everyone to review this handy guide before entering Ikea.

  • Jane, I love it! Going to IKEA will never be the same again. Especially this line:


  • Those plastic bins are the key to a happy, productive life.

    I’m surprised you didn’t show us this rug that you claim really ties the room together. I hope you realize that with a kid on the way, it is only a matter of time before it is micturated upon.

  • There’s no good angle to photograph the rug from, unfortunately, as most of it is under my desk.

    At least with rug micturition comes the opportunity for more Lebowski quotes. Pros and cons.

  • We have exactly the same shelves… and the matching television table, bookshelves, sofa, chairs, cushion covers…. and of course the rug that ties it all together…. i think the room layouts never look quite spanish because they’re not stuffed to the brim with reproduction queen anne (or whatever period they’re supposed to be) pendulum clocks, standard lamps etc, and hideous china ornaments… and usually they have enough floor space to navigate the room without tripping over one of the said accessories… oh and also, they’re usually not painted in shades of acid green, horrifying blue or shrieking yellow…

    jane, the handy guide is hilarious

  • Very HANDY Man…