“They’re going to build an IKEA in Exeter soon” was one of those conversations I have been part of more times than I care to remember. The rumours had been flying around for so long, it was starting to feel more like a typical Devon urban myth, the type right up there with the Dartmoor hairy hand and you won’t suffer serious, life-threatening burns if you run through the streets of Ottery St Mary on Bonfire night with a blazing tar barrel on your back. (True story, btw, that actually happens. Not sure about the not burning thing, or how they survive it though) Back to IKEA though…
The whole will they won’t they argument was ongoing and I never truly believed it until the familiar blue box structure started going up on the outskirts of Exeter, just past Sandy Park, home to Exeter Chiefs rugby. Excited, yes, yes I was. Instead of having to make day-long trips up to Bristol, I could now pop into IKEA’s 21st store and most sustainable to-date in the UK, to keep my home looking tip top and trendy without spending a fortune. I’d neglected my home for 2 years while things were going through a period of transformation in my personal life and it was long overdue a bit of TLC. As my divorce completed and I yearned to make it feel like a fresh start in my home, IKEA was the place to make that happen. (No pressure!)
So when the store opened it’s doors to the general public, following a run-up of a series of events around the city in it’s Wonderful Everyday Tour, I was straight there with a vague idea of what I would buy. I say vague because I knew that once I mumbled around the inspiration rooms I would end up with a head full of buzzing ideas of what I could achieve.
Top of my list though, for certain was a new office chair, something not too officey and comfortable, which would blend in with the rest of the decor in my open plan lounge and dining room. Cue 20 minutes of me sitting, twirling and bouncing Goldilocks style on every chair I could find. It worked though and I came away with my cream, padded and most importantly, comfy chair which I’m sitting on as I type these very words. Don’t let the whole flat pack thing put you off either, I was offered help carrying it to my car by not 1, but 3 people (I declined, it didn’t sit well with my strong single mum thing I’m going for right now) and put together in under 20 minutes without a single swear word uttered.
As I continued my journey my mind buzzed with ideas, I sent photo after photo to my man telling him what I would like our together home would look like. ( I also wanted to see if he ran for the hills at my suggestion at a big, grown-up relationship; his nervous, but tactful replies keeping me entertained as I wandered around the store on my own)
I put products in my trolley which I never knew that I needed but could now not manage without. Like the wooden block which keeps my phone upright (£1.95) as I Facetime instead of holding it in my hand. The dish brush with a suction on the end (95p), the plastic container/basket (£5) which sits on the wall in my shower keeping the toiletries at the right height and freeing up the shower floor (held on by suction). The bath toys now sit in a plastic bag, on the wall rather than strewn all over the bath, held up by a, you guessed it, suction hook at a grand combined price of £7.90)
I have a device which looks like an octopus to hang on my washing line where the socks and pants can go, freeing up space (£3) and a stopper to go in the sink plug hole to catch the solids stopping it from getting clogged up. Now that I knew I needed but never got round to buying.
I treated my sons to small mirrors on stands as they were always coming into my room to use mine, I also bought the man one so I could put my makeup on at his house without waiting for the bathroom one to demist. A steal at £4. The youngest has been having trouble getting to sleep at night, a 100 worries popping into his head followed by an endless run of questions, so I bought him a bed tent to make it feel a snug and cosy place to drift off ( £12) and new bedding set which we’ve decided are dinosaur footprints (£4.50) They finish of his dinosaur themed room perfectly.
And wine glasses, I was down to 2, I lived in fear of anyone else coming round to share vino and had nightmares of us huddled around the last remaining glasses. Luckily, I can now cater for 6 more wine drinkers and at £3 I’d happily buy another box should 6 more want to come round. For non-wine drinkers I now have 6 more small glass tumblers which cost a whole £1.
It didn’t stop there. Toilet brushes (89p) were replaced, felt tip pens bought (£2), a dustpan (95p) I had been meaning to buy and new A4 frame (£1.75) for a wifi code sign I’d made.
And I’m going back next week, for a small bistro table and chairs and a new kitchen tap.
* Now that the store has opened the celebrations continue, with a number of workshops and events taking place in-store. To book a space on an activity or to find out more information, visit: www.ikea.co.uk/Exeter *
This is a collaborative post with IKEA