Moving to a smaller house, I thought, would mean that we should be able to comfortably settle in without buying any new furniture. That was before I got rid of a lot of our stuff in a recent decluttering frenzy though.
So now I am - once again - the proud owner of a Grundtal loo roll holder, a Mysa Rosenglimm (warmth rating 5 on a scale from 1 to 6) duvet to keep me warm at night, some nifty Skubbb drawer dividers, an Enudden towel rack, a little plastic stool named Frosta and some things that I so don't need that I don't even want to list them here (why is it that I can never leave a certain Swedish furniture superstore without buying paper napkins and plastic food containers?).
For the past eight years, going to Ikea always marked the transition from one country to another. In England we arrived without children's beds, as we decided - just before we left - that both our children had miraculously outgrown their cots. The nearest Ikea to our new home in Timperley was the one in Warrington, which was kind of tricky to get to as it involved various busy motorways on which left hand driving was required. I nonetheless managed to get beds, curtains, a two seater sofa
and some garden chairs home.
When we visited Bologna last spring, the first thing both children instantly recognised was 'the way to Ikea'. It must be said that during our years in Italy we single handedly kept the local Ikea afloat. Our beautiful appartment was, as is quite normal in Italy, completely devoid of fixed ceiling lights. As a consequence we still own about twelve identical Hemma floor lamps (go on look them up, I know you want to). The cheap fabric lamp shades are all a bit wonky, but since we have them, we might as well use them for the next twentyfive years or so.
In Switzerland we came precariously close to buying a whole series of Billy bookcases. Thank God we managed to stop ourselves just in time. We didn't show such restraint when it came to various chests of drawers and desks. And I really wish I had kept myself from buying a zillion plastic boxes to keep on top of the rigid Swiss recycling, but hey-ho you can't have it all.
The thing with the Swedish furniture that we have purchased all over Europe is that we always thought that we would get rid of it, the minute we would return to the Netherlands. For the 'real' house that we were one day going to buy, we would purchase only stylish, well made pieces that
would really stand out. The truth of course is that by the time we will have replaced all of the Ikea things, we are never will be able to afford to actually buy a place that we like. In effect we are doomed to live in an Ikea showroom for the rest of our lives. I suppose there are worse things.
There clearly must be, because I manage to spend a hundred and fifty euro's in Ikea today. As I am loading various bits and pieces into the car, it hits me. Going to Ikea is a very important part of the transition process. It goes something like this: 1. I can manage to find the local supermarket and I have unpacked just enough pots to cook and feed the family; slowly changing into 2. Two months of living surrounded by boxes is enough, so time for some more unpacking; quickly followed by 3. There is nowhere to put loose screws, pencils, paper clips, lip balm, underwear, nail fungus cream, fondue sets and children's paint; seamlessly leading to 4. Find the nearest Ikea NOW!
I take the familiar route starting from 'living room' (at the top of the escalator), to 'work', 'kitchen', 'dining', finally reaching the restaurant via 'bedrooms', 'bathrooms' and 'children's rooms'. After the ubiquitous meat balls I move on to 'home organisation', my favourite Ikea section by far.
After all these years of living with myself I still believe that the only thing that stands between me and an organised house is a lack of 'clever storage solutions'. So I keep buying plastic, fabric and cardboard boxes that all promiss to keep chaos at bay. And I completely fall for drawer dividers, toothbrush holders, towel racks and see-through shoeboxes.
The truth is however, that I am not a tidy person. In fact I am very lazy when it comes to tidying. So much so, that I quite often find myself filling lunch boxes in the morning, whilst being surrounded by the dirty pots - foodscraps still in - that I used to cook last night's dinner in. What I do like is to spring clean and organise my house once a year. I also like to dream about a household run with military precision. I even like - once in a blue moon - to throw out things I don't longer want or need. But most of all I like to fool myself when shopping at Ikea.