What $496.42 in Ikea Furniture Looks Like

My Ikea furniture arrived at the end of last week — if you haven’t been following the apartmenting story, I recently moved from a studio to a one-bedroom and, after searching thrift stores and Craigslist, elected to buy $496.42 worth of Ikea furniture instead — and I wanted to show you all the finished project.

(I do consider this apartment move-in project finished, by the way. There are still some pieces I’d like to add in the future, including frames for some of the art that I’ve Scotch-taped to the walls and that aloe plant for the bathroom. But it is, for all practical purposes, done. I spent $784.85 out of pocket, and the apartment has everything it needs.)

You can see that I did in fact put flowers in my green Mason jar — and yes, it makes all the difference with that table and chairs. (The other two folding chairs are currently hanging out in a closet.)

You might also notice that my apartment includes two Linnmon tables: the one I just purchased for $24.99, and the one I thrifted in 2012 to make my writing desk. I did that on purpose, because I want to be able to push the two tables together when I have dinner parties. (A Linnmonster table, as it were.)

The sofa is the $179 Solsta sleeper loveseat. The cushions unfold to make a “bed” that rests on the floor, and I use those quotation marks deliberately. Luckily, I have the futon mattress that I slept on in Los Angeles to use as extra padding.

Also: I CAN HOST GUESTS. I can feed ’em at my table, I can combine my two tables to make a bigger table, and I can unfold my Solsta and put an extra mattress on top so people can sleep comfortably.

Someday I’ll even get a projector so I can aim it at the wall above the table and we can watch movies. Or maybe I’ll hang a TV there. The world is full of possibilities!

That’s the new bed-in-a-bag kit I bought. (It’s Intelligent Design’s Clara set, in case you wanted a bagged bed of your own.) The two sofa pillows originally came from the bed-in-the-bag kit, but I ended up putting them on the sofa instead of the bed because I put myself on a partial spending freeze until the end of the month, and the sofa needed throw pillows more than the bed did.

As these things tend to go, I also decided that I really like the way the throw pillows look on the sofa, and I don’t plan to change the arrangement even when I take myself off the spending freeze. Win-win.

And yes, my definition of “partial” spending freeze means “you can buy one bunch of cheap Safeway flowers and split them between the living room and the bedroom, but you can’t buy a vase.” So my flowers are temporarily living in a wine bottle, but my parents are sending over a couple of vases (and a few other house supplies) as a housewarming present, so that’ll get fixed up pretty soon.

The dresser is Ikea’s $89.99 Malm dresser, because of course it is.

So that’s the apartment. I’m astonished at how much my life has changed since the furniture’s been up. It has been years since I’ve had a place to eat meals that wasn’t also my desk. It is so relaxing to eat at a non-work space, and even if I am using my laptop to watch TV, it’s far enough away that I can’t reach out and multi-task or answer emails with a sandwich in one hand.

I am also a bit astonished at how much my life has stayed the same. I’ve been decorating apartments by Scotch-taping postcards and other ephemera to the walls since my very first studio apartment in 2004. I like the cluster of found items that I’ve taped to the wall above my sofa, but there is a very strong part of me that wants every item in that cluster to be framed. The “tape stuff to walls” method feels like something I’ve outgrown — or maybe something that I want to outgrow.

So I guess that’s the next part of my lifestyle creep: getting things framed, getting some kind of projector or TV, swapping out my wine bottle for an actual vase. But I’m not thinking too much about that right now. I’m thinking about how much I love this newly-furnished apartment.

This story is part of The Billfold’s DIY Month.

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