Ode to IKEA – The Hyggiest Place on Earth

Hi folks. This lengthy love letter was written 3/4/17, soon after the NEW, MASSIVE Burbank Ikea opened, bigger/badder/better than ever, bringing joy to the greater LA area once more. I would apologize for taking so long to post this, but then we’d be here all day exchanging niceties when we all know it’s been nearly a year since I posted (thank you to my 2.6 readers). Instead I will dedicate this to the memory of Ingvar Kamprad – the man with the dream who made so many other dreams come true. Might sound cheesy, but the love is very real. Here’s to you!

3/4/17: I’ve always loved Ikea. Growing up, it was always an adventure to visit, and an especially yummy adventure when our visit coincided with mealtimes – my pleasant memories informed as much by Swedish meatballs, gravy, and lingonberry sauce as they were by playing “house” in 42 different carefully crafted scenarios or by the magic of a living room’s worth of furniture fitting into the flat bed of a pickup.

Today this love has been rekindled. I’ve fallen in love all over again. Driving up to its massive euro structure, colorful flags waving their welcome, orange cones and men in reflective vests guiding me toward a vast amount of open parking – I was positively giddy. It’s here! I’m here! I live roughly 10 miles away and this visit is absolutely thrilling to me. With fancy latte machines, ample cafe seating, easy adjacent parking, and knowing that I’m seeing literally EVERYTHING that Ikea has to offer, Burbank’s new mothership Ikea location, the largest in the United States, is my cup of machine-generated coffee.

Don’t worry – it gets worse later.

I arrived at 09:35, only 5 minutes after the cafe had opened, and there was already quite a line, inching its way along. But when $2.18 gets me a tasty and filling cafeteria meal (and free cappuccino before 10AM!), why should I complain? As I enjoyed my meal in the relatively calm (and progressively growing crazier) environment, my friend met me and we went on our walkabout-christening-adventure-voyage.  Found plenty of stuff we needed (or didn’t) for prices we loved.

Here they come!

Lots of them!

Admittedly, I’m less in love with the crazy crowds of people waiting in a line that resembles Peter Pan’s flight at Disneyland. And the grumpy attendant managing that line of people that follow instruction about as well as a bunch of deaf sheep. And the irritated customers who are dissatisfied with the speed at which things are running- but come on now, the entire staff is adjusting to a whole new operation- PLUS EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER ARE HERE! 

Can we say, “Mooooo“?

Fortunately the crowds seemed to have reduced slightly to a more manageable hum once we made it downstairs. I’ve been here for almost 4 hours now and have loved every minute. And my fancy new iPhone has recorded 5k steps already, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself. (Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve spent $102 on stuff that I do not technically need and enjoy the fact that:) This delicious machine-latte is free. 

Yesssssss – my reward.

And I’ve got the luxury seating all to myself.

I’m reminded briefly of Kathleen Kelley’s line about Joe Fox’s “mochachino land” and the insensitivity of selling in bulk. I’m tempted to feel a tinge of guilt that several of these designs are ripped off from other (much more expensive) designers, but I don’t. Yes, I do drink the lingonberry-flavored koolaid, and I will not stop. 

Those pancakes and sausages were especially yummy! Skip the syrup.

It has never been uncommon for me to come to Ikea for a weekday evening or a Saturday afternoon. Maybe I would return something, or maybe I would just wander for three hours and leave with a pack of tealights or a few dish towels. Meet friends here for coffee. Meet family here for meatballs. I’m not kidding, I love Ikea. When I was old enough and earned enough to afford the furniture, I was PSYCHED. Like, forget Pottery Barn, I had ARRIVED. I didn’t need a new reason to visit, but now that everything is big and new and shiny, you can bet your Swedish meatballs I’ll be back soon.

Doesn’t this look pleasant?

Worth a visit if you like Ikea or have ever been curious about Ikea. Plan for 3 hours if you’re shopping, 1-1.5 if browsing only. Bring water and walking shoes and $6 for meatballs. Get the (free) family membership card and enjoy 2 cups of free coffee/tea per card (with free refills!). If you’re planning an actual home, check out the catalog first and bring a notebook for notes and measurements. This is basically Disneyland. (They have their own street name, for KALLAX sake.) So get ready to have some magical fun!

2/1/18: This week someone shared this true & encouraging reminder from Mr. Kamprad, and now I’m sharing with you (translated from Swedish):

“Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!” 

Bonus photos for the curious/gluttonous:

I wasn’t kidding about the street name.
Finally – a spacious loading zone!

Fancy new digs – super friendly cashiers.
My new best friend – Franke.
SO many things to see! (And so many bodies.) (2/1/18: ALSO, that salmon burger on the right has been calling my name ALL YEAR!)
Another glamour shot of Franke. Killin it.
Can’t wait to go back! :]

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