Saturday, October 18, 2014

IKEA Virgin No More

Until last week I had never been to an IKEA store. I have been aware of IKEA for years. I see so many bloggers posting about visits to IKEA and using IKEA products in their homes. And, I have enjoyed the eye candy in a few of their catalogs. I had been wanting to go to IKEA to see for myself what it's all about but with the nearest store 2 hours from where I live it wasn't all that easy. Until recently I was working 6 days a week most weeks and I didn't have time to go across town to Target much less make a 4-hour round trip to satisfy my IKEA curiosity.

We were on a long-weekend trip away from home and were close by so I had the opportunity to make my first visit to IKEA. I planned to have my husband to snap a picture of me outside the store to commemorate this momentous occasion but it was pouring down rain, so I took a few pictures inside the store just to prove that I had been there.

Here is the famous EKTORP sofa. This would fit well with my vintage, eclectic decor and the price is good but it's too large for our vehicle.

Another well-known IKEA product, BILLY bookcases. The quality seems a bit better than other build-it-yourself bookcases that are available and the option to add doors opens up so many possibilities. I can certainly see why they are so popular.

The navy and white fabric used for these curtains and pillows caught my eye. It reminds me of vintage book illustrations. Navy and white is a classic for a good reason. This is not a great picture but the pattern is called BLAVINGE and you can see it better on the IKEA website. I think they have ready-made pillows made out of this fabric and the fabric itself is available.

So for anyone else who has never been to IKEA here are a few things I learned about shopping at IKEA:

Give yourself plenty of time. We were in the store over 2 hours and we were just browsing and not doing any serious shopping. 

Eat before you start shopping. I knew they had a restaurant but I didn't know there was a snack bar near the entrance. If I had figured that out, I would have had a cinnamon roll or an ice cream cone to fortify me for the shopping. 

As you go through the displays make note of the location information of any item you are interested in buying, even the small items. In the display area all the items are tagged with the location where you will find them if you wish to buy them. We weren't buying any furniture or large items so I didn't make note of any of the location information as we were browsing. I assumed that it would be easy to find the small items that I wanted in the Marketplace area but it wasn't as easy as I expected. There is just so much and you might forget to look for something until you are halfway through the Marketplace when it's not easy to go back.

For the most part, the quality seems better than expected for the price. I had heard this but wanted to verify it for myself so in the future I know if it is worth making the 2-hour trip for something I am interested in.

Are you wondering what I bought? The only furniture we need is a new sofa and otherwise our house is really pretty full, so we limited ourselves to just a few practical things: an inexpensive rechargeable drill (because our's died a couple days before our trip), 79 cent dishtowels, a hanger for the iron, a strainer, and an umbrella. The only purely decorative item I bought was a lantern that holds a candle to use on the front porch. My husband picked up some light bulbs and batteries for his business. 

Although our purchases were on the boring side, I had a blast looking at everything. Even my husband, who usually hates to go to big stores, had fun (I think he did. If not, he was pretty convincing pretending to enjoy himself).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Farewell, Old Fridge

Our old refrigerator finally gave up after 20+ years of faithful service. It had been making a strange, loud noise for about 2 years, so it wasn't sudden or unexpected. I had been expecting its demise at anytime for the past couple years although my husband was of the opinion that the noise was just a vibration and nothing more serious. The old refrigerator served us well and it even had the decency to stop working when there was very little food inside. We had just returned from our vacation the night before and had pretty much eaten everything edible before we left.

We had been home for a couple hours when I noticed that it was no longer making the almost constant really loud noise that we had become accustomed to but was now making a different strange noise .

I said to the husband, "Have you noticed that the refrigerator has stopped making that loud noise? And, now it's making some other weird noise."

To which I received no response.

The next morning, I got up, went into the kitchen and opened up the freezer to get an English muffin. It was then that I noticed that there was water in the ice cube trays instead ice. A bad sign. I might or might not have said a bad word. I decided that the best response was to just go back to bed.

We were leaving again the next day, so I put off shopping for a replacement until this week and the new one was delivered today.

I haven't talked much about our house yet, but it is a small (under 1,000 square feet) cottage that was built around 1929. The size of the kitchen and the placement of the kitchen cabinets, as well as the size of the entry doors to the house really limited the available choices for a replacement fridge.

The old refrigerator and all of the other appliances are white, so I wanted to stick with white and that narrowed down my options even further because so many models were only available in stainless steel. Stainless steel is so popular and I have nothing against. If I was doing a whole kitchen I would likely choose it. My frugal ways prevent me from even considering replacing appliances that are still working and I want all the appliances to match so I'm sticking with white.

The other thing that really eliminated a lot of choices was the height that would fit under the existing cabinet. Evidently, refrigerators have been growing taller over the past 20 years and many would not fit under what was once a standard-height cabinet.

I ended up with a Whirlpool from Lowe's. It was on sale (not sure how often appliances are on sale but I felt lucky that both Lowe's and Home Depot had them on sale the very week I was shopping for one)  and there was free delivery and they took the old refrigerator for no extra charge (not sure if they always do this but it was great).

It's a pretty basic model but it fit through our front door and it fits in our kitchen and it should meet our needs, which are pretty simple--cold food, ice. Four days of living out of a cooler and shopping for groceries and ice every afternoon were enough. Glad to have all the modern conveniences again. So here it is in a quick cell phone photo, making the kitchen cabinets look decidedly less white.