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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.