IKEA is Swedish For Clutter

Saturday we went to IKEA. I felt like I was walking into the lion’s den.

When we began redoing my 10 yr old son’s bedroom (we live in a big old house that we are restoring for those who don’t know) I brought him to IKEA one day and he decided he really loved the loft beds. I had told him that when the room was done we would head back there and buy him one along with a desk, a light, a rug and a dutch oven. Right now he sleeps on a mattress on floor, and while I try to convince him that this is really cool and tell him that in fact when I was his age I begged to be able to put my mattress on floor, he doesn’t really buy it.

Lo, so many months have passed as we slowly worked on the infamous room. Stripping wall paper, replastering damaged walls, painting, repainting, reglazing the windows, rebuilding the closets, refinishing the hardwood floor… let’s just say that it was a long, very long drawn out process. But now, it is finally *almost* finished. We need to hang the closet doors, after I paint them, and put up the crown molding.

We tried to get down to IKEA the week before New Years when my husband had the week mostly off so we wouldn’t have to go on a weekend when it would be all crowded, but were unsuccessful. I think it snowed that week? Anyway, Saturday my husband suggested that we go and finally get the poor deprived and neglected child a bed.

And that is why on Saturday afternoon I found myself at IKEA caressing that dutch oven in a way that is probably illegal in several southern states.

My husband actually said I was no fun in IKEA because I questioned every purchase he wanted to make.

In the end we didn’t even end up buying the loft bed because on closer inspection it was a piece of flimsy crap. And as much as I am all about not spending money unnecessarily I also do not believe in spending money on things that are not going to last.

We bought pine bunkbeds from an unfinished furniture store many years ago. They didn’t last. I ended up pitching them out the window in pieces one day and then burning them in our fire pit. That was nothing but a waste of money and I vowed as I roasted my marshmallows over it that I wouldn’t do it again.

In the end that day we left IKEA with an area rug for his bedroom, which we need to protect the newly refinished floors lest I be forced to kill him when he drags his desk chair across the room, and a plastic mixing bowl. The plastic mixing bowl was to replace one that broke about six months ago. One that I duct taped back together and have continued using because it was the perfect size for all my mixing needs.

Rest assured, people, I am not going into stores just to torture myself.

41 Responses to “IKEA is Swedish For Clutter”

  1. Alisha Says:

    I think you made the right decision on the loft bed. I know someone who had a loft bed from Ikea and while it was nice to have all that extra floor space, it wasn’t so nice to have a bed that swayed every time you moved.

  2. Catherine Says:

    We have a flexa junior loft bed and like it quite well. One of the reasons I chose flexa for my son’s furniture is because it is modular. Today his bed is a few feet off the floor. When he needs a desk, his bed will go to standard bunk height and the desk will go under it.

    I’m searching for a big girl bed right now. And have settled on the mattress on the floor. I hate spending money on something that’ll only last a few years (if we’re lucky) and I’m not ready to fork over the money for an “heirloom” piece of furniture :)

  3. arduous Says:

    I had a friend who had an Ikea loft bed. It was so rickety, that he wouldn’t sleep there. He just had it for show. I think he slept on a sleeping bag on the carpet.

  4. Geri Says:

    Chris, I find this blog truly convicting (in a good way) and the perspectives enlightening (not always in a good way). Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  5. Heidi Says:

    Nothing I have ever purchased from Ikea has lasted a reasonable amount of time. The stuff is disposable. I try to buy from my local furniture store.

    My son’s bed is the same bedframe that my father used when he was a little kid, and that was a LONG time ago. I actually posted about that once. But it really shows how well made furniture used to be compared to now. But if you search, you can still find the good stuff.

    Much luck! Sounds like you did a great job on the renovation.

  6. Lilly Says:

    You could check out your local http://craigslist.org…. Often there’s nearly new furniture for sale there.

  7. Jeana Says:

    “I had told him that when the room was done we would head back there and buy him one along with a desk, a light, a rug and a dutch oven.”

    That is the best sentence I’ve read in a while. Too funny. But what about the BBQ tongs you promised him?

    Chris says: Well, I didn’t want the other kids to get jealous. ;-)

  8. Anna Says:

    I dream of Ikea…I don’t have one in my state…probably just as well, it sounds like!

  9. Natalie Says:

    My 6yo daughter has one of the lower loft beds. I hate it (agreed - their loft beds are cheap), but she begged and begged, and daddy said he could convert it to the stable bed like you can find on the Family Fun site. Except that, um, daddy is no carpenter. KWIM?

    Anyway, all of that to say that my daughter sleeps on the Ikea mattress ON THE FLOOR, under the loft. She has a perfectly nice extra-plush Simmons mattress on top, but eh, the floor is where she wants to be.

    I love the very cool Pirate bed currently at Costco, but alas, I have no pirates for whom to buy it.

  10. Leeann Says:

    The best indestructible boy furniture in the world is from This End Up. That stuff is un-freaking-believable. I got my son’s full bedroom set (bunkbeds currently set up as two twins, two night tables, desk, hutch) used from the Pennysaver. Like someone else said, Craigslist is good too. My other son’s bed and trundle is from pier One kids. But I tell you what, it is hard to find good, well built kid furniture. Good Luck and as always, love the blog(s)!


  11. Jane Says:

    You might try looking around at the bulletin boards on a college campus’ campus center for loft beds. Most dorm rooms need them, and some are astoundingly overbuilt (and therefore sturdy). At the end of the school year, there might be ones left behind, as well, as students leave town and move on.

  12. The Simple Family Says:

    Again, just let me go fart in your child’s direction and all will be settled.

    Where ya going next, consumer? Huh? Huh? TJ Maxx? Macy’s? Target? WAL-MART? We all know you really go in there, walk around with a basket full of stuff and then leave it in the middle of the store.

  13. Elizabeth Says:

    I really thought more about your previous post and comments. So to NOT be purchasing things as I did in the past, which really means - hardly anything anymore - means (to some) I should NEVER venture into the stores at ALL? For me - it got me thinking I CAN shop in any store for anything (my prescriptions are at Target) but not over indulge any longer. That I can go in an IKEA for whatever reason, and drool over something - but resist. What I am learning is a tempering of my spending not a discontinuing of ever leaving my house…

    We found really decent bunk beds at Sam’s Club (suprisingly) - and in the past my loft bunk bed was hand made by friends - of solid tree trunks or something amazingly solid - as my mattress was a waterbed!

  14. Toby Says:

    I am enjoying this blog and finding myself saving both money and time… unsubscribing from junk mail lists and not even thinking about what I would buy, just say, “That’s a want, not a need” and move on to something more productive. Thanks again!

  15. Julie Says:

    I was looking for bunk beds the other day (for when our two kids from Ethiopia get here!) and stumbled upon this site where you can buy plans to build a REALLY sturdy loft bed. There are a ton of pictures of lofts people have built. Total cost for materials supposedly runs about $300.


  16. JO Says:

    I have worked in furniture service and even names famous for quality are not. Your best bet is to get tested….read used,,,,furniture. Pre WW II is best. The hard wood just isn’t there anymore and wood is not properly dried and therefore splits. That’s just the truth of the matter.

  17. Dan Says:

    I was reading through your blog briefly, since my girlfriend decided it is to become required reading for us (I love you Becky… lol), and I just wanted to drop in my two coppers.

    If your child wants a loft bed, I would highly recommend building your own from lumber you can either buy from a local hardware store, or perhaps you may be able to salvage.

    If you buy the lumber new, you should be able to buy the whole lot for $50-100, and all you need are some heavy duty washers, long bolts, nuts, and a drill with which to drill holes and put everything together. Some nails for the frame rails for the box springs, and you literally would have a piece of furniture that will last forever and will survive a bomb going off. I built one in college and ended up selling it for more than I paid for all the materials… after, of course, I used it for 3 years.

    I am quite sure you can find plans online, or if you feel like trying it, go down to Pitt or CMU campus around the first week of may, and I bet you will find PLENTY of those lofts being chucked to the curb.

  18. peepnroosmom Says:

    Down here in Ga. it is not illegal to caress dutch ovens from IKEA. Ha!

  19. marta Says:

    My three children (2 boys, 1 girl) still share a bedroom. The older two are in a metal bunkbed from Ikea and the younger is in an iron small bed that used to be my Dad’s when he was a boy. The little iron bed is far better built and surdy than the bunkbeds but they were the sturdiest we could find at Ikea - I asked one of my brothers’, who’s nothing but small, to hang on the railing to see whether it would move and it didn’t.
    Still, loft beds need to be sturdier.
    You could also look up Stokke furniture online. They’re Scandinavian (not sure exactly where from), strong and expensive. I know several people who’ve bought their cribs (expandable into kids beds) and multi-purpose high chairs and consider money well spent.

    Marta from Lisbon

  20. Sister Honey Bunch Says:

    I am really enjoying your blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. wookie Says:

    I loved my loft bed in my teens and now use it (as it’s bunk-bed halves) for my two oldest kids.

    http://www.cratedesigns.ca, I have nothing but good things to say about them.

    Quick question… I’m guessing most of your kids share a room with a sibling, or that in the past the renovations and such have made it work that way? I have a 5 and almost 3 year old and 2 bedrooms, but a baby on the way. I could set their current beds up as bunk beds, but I understand that this is not safe for kids under 6 …and my 5 year old is not very agile, I’d be worried about her ability to navigate a ladder in the middle of the night. Other than setting up each bed seperately and loosing the vast majority of the floorspace in the room, do you have any reccomendations for creative or space-saving ways for two small children to share one medium sized room?

  22. Jennifer Says:

    Just a note to say I love the new site. Fun and inspiring!!

  23. Lisa Says:

    Oh, Chris, why are you torturing yourself like this? First Target, now Ikea. If I can’t buy anything, I’d rather bamboo shoved under my nails than see all the stuff I won’t be taking home.

  24. chanelireli Says:

    I (well my 10 year old daughter) have a loft bed from ikea and we’ve had it for four years. It’s gone through 2 moves. Been assembled and disassembled and still looks great. No swaying or rickityness. We even chopped it down 4 inches because it was too tall. I did buy the finished, full size, most expensive one though. She is a girl too, but has four small brothers and I have caught some hanging off of the beams and jumping from the ladder.

  25. Barb Says:

    We (okay, my husband) built the loft bed from an online source (listed below) for my son when he was in middle school. It is extremely solid and not bad looking. (We painted ours a glossy black.) Total cost was $300-400. The only thing my son didn’t like about it was that it was too close to the ceiling and very hot in the summer, so we converted it into a twin bed closer to the floor a few years later. We live in a typical suburban 1990’s ranch style home with 8-foot ceilings, and there wasn’t much head room, but since you probably have higher ceilings in your older home, it might be perfect for you. (All of your boys could pile onto that thing and it wouldn’t budge. Seriously.)


  26. Need A Nap2 Says:

    We bought a bunk bed set from Sam’s 5 years ago and it’s still standing. We’ve had it apart as twin beds too. I had a loft bed that my dad made, it was scary! But I think if you make it well it will be sturdy enough.

  27. Penelope Anne Says:

    My boys did the mattresses on the floor for years. Hubby will be building them the loft beds with desk and drawers this summer, after we redo their rooms.
    Good idea to check the quality of what you might buy.

  28. reen Says:

    I applaud your effort to consume less this year, Chris. Clutter and too much stuff has always equated with mental chaos to me, as well. It’s so liberating to let it all go! I’m looking forward to reading more about your progress, thanks for sharing that gift with us.

  29. jody Says:

    I must recommend Cargo Furniture. We have the bunk set…full on bottom, twin on top, and it is fantastic. It is super heavy and my boys have abused it to the hilt and all is well with it. They have wood, crate style book shelves that you can add on to, and well, it is just fun furniture.

    I was thinking your son need the BBQ tongs as well.

  30. Carolyn Says:


    We have 2 bunk bed sets in our house. One is a metal one that was given to us, the other we purchased (after the first one SPLIT and the top bunk came crashing down). Both were oak. The one that split I can tell was WAY more cheaply made (given it had slat boards vs full bunky boards).

    Both sets are twin over full and honestly, if I didn’t have those I think I’d go stark raving mad attempting to make the f*&#*% beds. As it is, I STILL have to twist myself into some positions that even the most flexible of yoga instructors would envy (and feel the pain for days) to make those AND I’ve pared down their actual bedding to fitted sheets and comforters (with folded blankets on top if necessary…Minnesota winters…usually necessary). Being able to stand on the full and reach SOME of the twin has been HUGE (and I”m tall at 5′10) So, if you are still considering purchasing a loft bed (and unless you have figured out an easy way of changing the bedding, I’m anxiously awaiting that post), I’d make a deal with the 10 yo that all beds would be made by him and him alone.

  31. Shash Says:

    I have This End Up beds, and I love them. I just wish I was having more kids so I can pass them down more instead of having to sell them.

    Here’s a link to their beds. You might find one you like:


    Happy hunting!

  32. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    I think our experience is like the one chanelireli mentioned. We bought a wood loft bed from Ikea and my husband cut about 6 inches off its legs b/c it was sooooo tall, my 6yo couldn’t have sat up in it without banging her head on the ceiling. Maybe b/c it is a little lower, it is sturdier? I’m not sure, but it seems fine and has had kids jumping all over it. Of course, she is afraid to roll out of it (which wouldn’t be possible), so she sleeps UNDER the bed, but the bed itself seems fine.

  33. carrie Says:

    It took me months to find the perfect bed for my daughter . . . I wish you lots of luck!

  34. hilly Says:

    Brand new here–I started a purge 3 years ago getting ready to move. Sold stuff on ebay, gave stuff away with freecycle and donations to the thrift store, 2 small and 1 HUGE dumpster, NO MORE RUMMAGE SALES!! Anything I brought into the house had to be followed by 3 things OUT. I still filled a semi. As I’m unpacking I’m rethinking some of the stuff I drug down here (like the 300+ pound Art Deco way cool but not yet working kitchen stove that won’t fit in my kitchen and its gas but the kitchen is electric) And the smallest side of my brain looks at it and sighs “but its sooooo cool!”
    Look on freecycle for a dutch oven, someone will give you one, probably an old cast iron one though, not a pretty enameled one.
    And I confess to backsliding, I dripped stuff off at the thrift store but walked out with almost as much as I brought in. Purging is a nonstop activity, knowing the difference between a want and need is HUGE, but sometimes it is OK to simply want something.

  35. Renae Says:

    My husband and I built our son a loft bed out of free materials. It is very simple as we are not carpenters in any stretch of the work, but he loves it. We put the bed on a large bookshelf we cut in half.

    He slept on top of it for awhile, but now he does think it is cool to sleep on the floor. I am having more problems with his mattress being on the floor than he is. :)

  36. Keri Says:

    Chris - I laughed out loud when I read the same sentence Jeana quoted about. :)

    I realize that you didnt ask for where to buy a bed in this post, but figured you wouldnt mind reading my unrequested input :)

    My cousin just got her son a nice sturdy set from value city furniture - I wouldnt have thought to look there (No offense to value city). It is a double bed, but has a bunk at the top. Its really sturdy & looks great in his room.

    I dont know if you have a value city near you, but they are online too…

  37. Erin Says:

    This post made my day. It’s nice to know there are other mothers out there that have “thoughts” in their head about their home, children, husband, shopping, etc. I’ve had a great laugh today so thank yoU!

  38. Gena Says:

    I haven’t read the other comments, but I can tell you that the IKEA loft beds are awful. My friend bought two of them and they haven’t lasted 2 years. We bought solid wood Cargo bunk beds many years ago and they have been moved, stacked and unstacked so many times I couldn’t even count them. They are indestructable. I have a friend whose 6 boys have gone through all of their Cargo furniture and it is still going strong. They will also replace things for you as long as you are the original owner of the furniture. It is a little pricey in the beginning, but it is awesome. Good luck with your decorating.

  39. Tracey Hewison Says:

    Thanks to this post (and Julie’s link, thanks!!), we will be making our son his very own OP Loftbed, after hunting for over a YEAR for a decent (and decently priced!) loft bed, to no avail. Yipee!

  40. Lisa Y Says:

    We bought an Ikea loft bed for my son 6 years ago, and it has been great. It is still in really good condition, except for the scratches from the cat climbing in and out of it, and will last until he goes to college in 4 more years. He loves it, and it saves space in his room.

    We do tighten all of the bolts every 6 months, which you should do with any raised beds. I also put massive eye-hooks in the wall (just under where the bed platform is) and tied the bed to the wall. We live in earthquake country so it seemed a reasonable thing to do.

    We liked it so much we recently bought our daughter one for her room.

  41. Visitor Says:

    I agree to scrutinize the quality before buying.

    I’ve shopped Ikea with a very selective eye for quality, and have had massive success. Best buys include: an industrial strength large potholder, a 99-cent pancake flipper that is just the right size and won’t scratch my non-stick pans (7 years and counting), rubbery-plastic cutting board that will not dull knives and goes into the dishwasher (7 years and counting), a great gadget for holding plastic grocery sacks under the sink (7 years and counting; has saved me tons of time looking for bags!), jars of lingonberry jam that cost 4x as much in the city, spice cookies and other Swedish foods that are nearly impossible to find and if I did DIY would require stocking my baking supplies with spices and tools I use only once a year. My husband and I have a set of Ikea wardrobes which have lasted 5 years already and are much cheaper than building closets in our tiny NYC apartment.

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