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Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's All In The Instructions

You know how in all the Harry Potter books, the young wizards all follow the same instructions from their books to brew those potent potions or weave one of their powerful spells...but only a select few, ever create the right potion or spell the first time around? Let alone, the second or third time. It takes practice or sometimes luck, the right flick of the wrist, the exact pinch of this and that, and then...BAM! Magic.

SPOILER: Well, I'm in the middle of reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) right now, and have found it pretty interesting that Harry has discovered a book with handwritten notes jotted next to the potions and spells. These notes, left by the mysterious Half-Blood Prince are very exact and sometimes contrary to the book instructions. But, Harry gets perfect results the first time around. ***TINY SPOILER ENDS.

I was thinking about Harry's book on Friday, when I was trying to put together my eldest daughter's new desk from IKEA. I'm a big believer in cool desks for kids, but when the price tag for some of the dreamy kid's furniture out of those catalogs is more than my monthly car payment, I get a bit stressed and start looking for other alternatives.

A friend told me about IKEA and how it was amazing and all, so I had to go see for myself on Friday. And I found the perfect desk with cool shelve spaces that my daughter was drooling over when she looked at the said catalog. Did I mention you have to put the furniture together? That didn't scare me. I'm actually have my own tool box. Three packages and one desk leg later, I came home, looked at the instructions, and started to assemble Box #1.

Now, the people at IKEA either don't have faith that people are going to read the directions the right way, or think the visual illustrations are easier to understand, or both, because all they give you are drawings. No written instructions. Just a couple pages of drawings showing what tools you need, and what goes where. All the pieces are predrilled. No phone number for customer service, in case there's a problem. Clearly, they're pretty confident in this method.

Fifteen minutes later, I'm cursing myself, wondering why the pieces aren't lining up properly. I'm looking at the drawing, then at how I put things together, when the lightbulb went off in my head. I took everything apart, then tried to take out all the screws and nails that I already had in the thing. Thirty minutes later, I finally was able to start again. And I scrapped those visual directions and put together the thing the Half-Blood Prince's way, tweaking things here and there to get the right results. I finished the first desk shelves in twenty minutes.

It was so much easier to put together the second set of shelves. Fifteen minutes and on to the next step. Fifteen minutes later, the whole desk was assembled and ready to go. Here's the finished desk.

This desk is plenty big enough for when I sit with third grader and review her homework. Or if she has a friend over and they work on their homework together. I'm not going to stress if I see dings on the desk, or stickers, or dried up glue, or pen marks, or drawings or whatever on this desk. Perfectly functional, which I love. Though the best part is...my third grader loves this desk! She loves how she can do all her homework on the desk and all her big artwork without the paper falling off the table. The perfect creation!


Jackie Parker said...

At least you had all of the pieces. Last thing I got from Ikea was missing a rather crucial nut. Took me AGES and two hardware stores to figure out that the bolt was METRIC and not just any dang nut would fit. I needed a SPECIAL one.

The desk is Adorable, though.

Mary Lee said...

Looks to me like the best two things are the window view above, and the heater below!

PJ Hoover said...

Impressive handiwork! I love IKEA desks above all other things there. They are so roomy and so reasonable. I hated to part with mine from college (but it had glue, etc. all over it :)).

Liz in Ink said...

Their desk CHAIRS are pretty cute, too. My husband built my girls' desk, but we got them hot pink IKEA chairs (which required very little assembly at all, thank heavens). All in the name of art. Or homework. Or journaling. Or something...

Erin said...

Your first paragraph is a great picture of writing, too!

Camille said...

How have I missed this desk? Love the shelves.

emmaco said...

The desk - and the room! - looks lovely.

We've just finished with our IKEA flatpacks and I also found the picture-only method of instruction strange. I admit though that as I have been working out of the house I have missed a lot of the instruction reading/skipping.

MotherReader said...

Love IKEA! My whole house is a mix of 1940's furniture and IKEA.

Kaza Kingsley said...

Lots of comments about the desk ... but what about the book? Did you like it? Book 6 in Rowling's series was one of my favorites. Are you done with it yet?
Do tell!!
Kaza Kingsley
Author of the Erec Rex series