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STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

If anybody ever asked me what my ideal date would be, after contemplating whether or not to answer ‘April 25’ à la Miss Congeniality, I would have to say IKEA. It wouldn’t matter if they meant a romantic date, a platonic date, or a family date; my answer would remain the same.

IKEA, for the unfamiliar, is one of the world’s largest furniture retailers that sells home accessories and ready-to-assemble furniture. It is also, as Ryan Reynolds so eloquently put it, Swedish for ‘fuck you’ because their instruction manuals contain no words and the furniture isn’t quite as easy to assemble as you might think. The resulting frustration can start family fights and end relationships.

Despite the impending clashes that a visit to IKEA may bring, it is still one of my favourite places because it provides everything a broke student like me needs: free Wi-Fi, cheap and unhealthy food, and most importantly, the illusion of getting my life together.

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I make a mental note of the section I’m in as I park my car in IKEA’s underground lot and step through the automatic sliding doors onto an ascending elevator. I get off at the showroom floor, let out a deep breath, and take it all in: the smell of Swedish meatballs, the sound of children shriek-laughing, and the punctuating, flight attendant-like announcements over the PA about IKEA’s current deals. I belong here.

I start my journey in the Living Room section, sitting on this couch and that one, running my fingers over the smooth wood of the MALMSTA coffee table — all of the items come with their own Swedish names. I move on to Living Room Storage to meet the BILLY bookcases. Though I have one of them at home, I still feel like I LACK something. I breeze through the Kitchen section — the only part of the kitchen that matters to me is the fridge — and continue to the Bedroom section.

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Beds of all shapes and sizes issue a silent invitation to lie down, and I wish I don’t have to decline them. With a heavy heart, I walk past the beds and into the Wardrobes and Storage section. There, I look at the beautiful, organized, expensive wardrobe systems and vow to one day amass clothes worthy of them, so that I can fill them to the BREIM.

True temptation doesn’t hit me, however, until I step into the Work section. Desks, chairs, LED lamps, filing cabinets, cable organizers, cork boards — I feel a sudden urge to completely redo my study space until I glance at the price tag of an office chair. I back away in horror and head into the Children’s section. There, I crawl into a tiny tent and placate my furniture-hungry heart by promising to buy myself a swirl frozen yogurt.

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Appeased, I emerge from the tent and make my way out of the showcase area, through the marketplace, and into the self-serve furniture area to get to the Bistro. I realize that the self-serve aisles are nearly empty and so is an abandoned trolley.

Several trolley rides and one crash later, I make my way out of IKEA with a swirl cone in my hand and dreams of a future IKEA-filled home in my heart. Despite one hand being empty and the other sticky from the rapidly melting cone, I know I’ll be back. After all, home is where the HÅRTE is.