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In Her Ikea-Furnished Cave, This Mom is Ready for Writing

A room of my own is furnished, thanks to some genius Swedes and a hard-working husband.

Columnist Laura Cassar is creating a room where she can escape to in her own home. She's calling it the Mom Cave, and she has chronicled her progress here.  Read Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4  and Part 5 .

My husband was a man on a mission.

Tired of seeing me sitting on the floor of an empty Mom Cave, working out of a basket, he declared it was time to finish the Mom Cave.

So on an overcast Saturday morning, we cleaned out the minivan, folded down the third row of seats, loaded the children in the second row and headed to Canton, the Michigan city that Ikea calls home.

Serious shoppers, come prepared

I was a little apprehensive. All four of us were extremely overtired from a night of sleepovers and celebration. It seemed like it could be a recipe for disaster, but we had two powerful tools working in our favor:

  1. I had already spent a significant — actually ridiculous — amount of time poring through my Ikea catalog. I had measured the Mom Cave, dog-earred the pages with "furniture of interest" and consulted with Jean Bean from Jean Bean Interiors. I felt pretty confident walking in.
  2. Ikea will entertain your children for one solid hour in a secured playroom known as Småland, and on a shopping trip of this magnitude, that's HUGE. As any parent can tell it, it's hard to concentrate when the "how-much-longer" birds are fluttering around your ears.

With the children happily stowed away in a giant ball pit, my husband and I rode the escalator up to the Ikea showroom. One look and I was instantly overwhelmed. I desperately needed a brown paper bag to breathe into.

But better than that, I had my husband.

"Hey, check out that desk!" he exclaimed.

And there it was, first thing off the escalator, my favorite desk from the catalog. I took a deep breath. Stubby pencil in hand, I was ready to shop.

The Ikea way

If you've never been to Ikea, let me tell you how it works.

The upper level is a giant showroom. Upon arrival, you grab a shopping list and a little pencil. And then you walk in.

Everything Ikea offers has been configured in endless rooms of possibilities. Living rooms, kitchens, mud rooms (I tried not to drool at that one), bedrooms, even entire apartments are laid out in perfect Swedish order. (Ikea was founded in Sweden.)

Each piece of furniture has a red tag with an article number, price, aisle and bin number. If you want it, you copy this information down on your shopping list.

Much like a Vegas casino, there are no windows in Ikea and no working clocks. (My friend even suspects they pump in oxygen.) Like a rat, you wander the endless maze, with the promise of genuine Swedish meatballs at the end.

But there was no time for meatballs on this shopping trip.

Småland will keep your children for only one hour, and our clock was ticking.

Ground-floor action

The showroom ends with the children's section, and then an escalator takes you back down to the ground floor and dumps you in the Marketplace. These are the home decorations, accessories, frames, textiles and other items that you can simply throw in your shopping cart to buy. I grabbed a cool rug and bunch of frames for the Mom Cave. Although I'm not sure what I'll put in them, with a two-pack selling for $3.99, the frames were hard to resist.

Just as we finished in the marketplace section, our Småland time was up. (Those clever Swedes have that perfectly timed!) We collected our children and headed to the self-serve furniture area.

We grabbed not one but two huge carts and headed in. With the shopping list as our guide and some very helpful assistance from Ikea workers, we got all the pieces we wanted, flat-packed for easy take-away. (And I'll tell you, it's amazing how much Ikea one minivan can hold!)

To my surprise, at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, there was no line at the checkout. Two hours and $937.99 later, we had all the furniture for the Mom Cave — some assembly required.

Like the Energizer Bunny

When we returned home, I'll be honest with you: I was wiped out. Not my husband. He immediately started assembling. 

On Saturday evening, he put together my desk, two chairs and started on the credenza. On Sunday morning, he was back at it, finishing the credenza and putting together the massive bookshelf. 

As he worked assembling furniture, the kids had fun building robots and hideaways with the boxes. Dare I say, I sat and read the Sunday newspaper in peace and quiet? The Mom Cave was already making my life better!

By 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, all the furniture was assembled, and my original inspiration piece from in downtown Rochester was hung. I began decorating and making it my own.

I even submitted a couple of Patch columns from my new desk, including this one.

Colleen Stormer June 27, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Aren't Mom caves GREAT!!! Congrats on the new diggs! I took it a bit further and hung a couple of bird feeders, a squirrel feeder and a humming bird feeder in the tree outside my window. The other day I looked out to see a deer eating from one bird feeder, two male cardinals and a couple female cardinals, two bluejays, a black squirrel and a brown squirrel all at the same time!!! Add a bird feeder to the outside of your cave. You will be amazed at the different types of birds that will visit!
Laura Cassar June 27, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Great idea! I actually have a bird bath and bird house in the tree outside my Mom Cave windows but a feeder would definitely add to the action! Thanks, Colleen!
Sherry June 27, 2011 at 08:44 PM
looks beautiful!! and the colour is so peaceful.
pam zdrojewski June 27, 2011 at 11:46 PM
where is the "LOVE" button!!! ps. i LOVE the idea of adding a bird feeder to your outside oasis! :)
Kristin Bull (Editor) June 27, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Thank-you for sharing your redecorating adventures with Rochester Patch readers, Laura. May you write many insightful columns from your new Ikea desk!

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