Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In which I ponder our IKEA experience

About three weeks ago, Greg and I locked up the building, threw the dog in the back of the station wagon and headed down to Connecticut via Boston and Providence, RI.  One of our tasks was to go to Ikea and scope out their kitchens as an alternative to what we had planned to spend a lot of time creating.  We got there and were immediately put in front of a computer kitchen planner.  The planning tables are surrounded by examples of cabinets, counter tops, accessories, etc. and after a little fumbling around, we laid out our room dimensions and started plugging away.  The planner allows one to put in window and door openings and walls, etc.    Below is our kitchen space.

Now keep in mind, we are trying to save money, but also have a kitchen for our rental until that reflects a certain high-end sensibility.  We actually had a good time with the process, but were overwhelmed after several hours of switching out colors, countertops, styles, etc.  We were told that once we saved the plan on our planner in their system, we could finish it at home and then order the kitchen we wanted.  We assumed that we could call up, order a kitchen and then come back down to Boston and pick the whole thing up...simple as pie, if we wanted to go that route.
As we were leaving the store, we heard the announcement that any kitchen planned and purchased by the end of April would be on sale.  If we spent $4500 we would get 20% off.  Not too bad, and that would pay for the upper cabinets that we thought we could do without in our previous plan.
We got home and didn't look at the planner because we were not really sure if Ikea was the way we wanted to go.  After a couple of weeks we jumped back on and rearranged some things and decided that this was the way to go.  One great thing about the planner is that you can save your changes and then see what the final cost will be.  It took me about four tries to make it from $4300.00 to $4500.00 so that we could be eligible for the discount.

The photo below does not show our kitchen...too bad, but it does show the cabinet style and color we chose.  

What I love is the hardware we got for the drawer fronts, 16" silver handles that match our Maytag appliance handles pretty well.  See them here in this photo.
I hopped on the phone to call and order our kitchen....which is not what happened at all, much to my surprise.  Ikea has what is called a "first come first served" policy, meaning that pretty much, the company wants you to come to their stores and order what you need.  The operator on the phone told me that he could ship me about 50% of what we needed for the kitchen, but "the warehouse" inventory was pretty much sold out of the type and style of kitchen we wanted.  He told me we had probably designed the "it" kitchen that everyone wanted, (see above) and that grey was the "it" color.  If he didn't stop saying that we had the "it" kitchen design, I was going to hang up!  He discouraged me from having my idea of an all drawer kitchen rather than doors on the lower cabinets and said that if I changed a few things (the color, the configuration, and the cabinet doors), I could have my kitchen in about a week....otherwise he was not sure when I would be able to take delivery.  He asked where my closest store was and then checked their inventory, telling me that my best bet to get the kitchen I wanted was to go to the Boston store again and order it from them because that particular store had more in stock than the distribution warehouse in NJ.  I told him I would have to reconsider and then I got off the phone, more confused than ever.  How were we ever going to get this done!!

We spent a few days in Florida for the Easter weekend and decided that after getting home Monday night, we would simply load the dog in the back of the pickup and head back to Boston the next morning, leaving at 6am.  By the time we got to the store, there were already about five people on the computers ahead of us.  It was probably best that we went back in the end because the planner is in animation, so if one hasn't seen the countertops in real life, one is going to be disappointed when they arrive!  We had chosen what I thought was a black stone counter top on the planner, but what was, in reality, pressboard with a photo laminate of stone on top.  YUCK!  
We chose a beechwood butcher block counter instead, which bumped our overall price up a bit, but we also chose not to add cornices and case trim to the upper and lower part of the wall cabinets.  Once we saw them in place again at the store, we realized we didn't need or want them.  We also decided against going with IKEA under cabinet lights as they turned out costing about $100 a cabinet and we can probably do the same thing for less money ourselves.  

Once we finished tweaking our design in the store, a kitchen planning employee came over to help and she was GREAT!  She spent time going over the design and tweaking a few more details here and there.  When it came time to find out what they had it stock for our kitchen, they found about 80% of it in the store.  661 lbs of pressboard kitchen in 111 flat boxes, which took almost 90 minutes to put together for us so that we could take it down to the truck to load.  

Our kitchen planning helper told us that a further 12 boxes of items would be shipped to us, including the four 8 x 2' sections of butcher block for the counters, but that another 11 items (including 6 of the drawer fronts, the corner cabinet, and a few other things were out of stock and we would have to find them ourselves by continuing the check back on the website over the next week or so to see what store had what items in stock! 
Oh, and then the system said that they couldn't deliver the 12 boxes to us because we were outside their range of delivery and did we know someone who lived closer, was over 18 and who would be home the whole day they scheduled to deliver the packages.  We ended up sending them to my sister in Yarmouth, ME and we will go down and wait for the packages to arrive so that she doesn't have to do so. 
Ok,  since I am headed to NY in few weeks, I have been checking the IKEAs in New Haven, CT, Elizabeth NJ, and Hicksville LI for the missing pieces.  (I found that the Long Island store has 8 of the 11 pieces we need in stock today...but their stock probability table (no, really) shows that they will not be in stock by next week!  The Ikea website lets one store their "shopping list" on the site for a year  (a year??) and I can periodically go into the list and choose a store location to see if that store has the merch available.   I have also taken to checking the Kansas never knows when one will be contacting one's favorite in-laws for a little shopping and shipping trip!  

Fingers crossed that the IKEA in Gnu Haven has the items I need in stock in the next 10 days as that store is right on my route to NY.  

No comments: