Earlier this month we headed for the coast with an important stop planned along the way: IKEA. Our plan was to buy the cabinets for the kitchen and laundry room on Friday, assemble them over the weekend, and head back home for Idaho on Tuesday. We really didn’t know how long it would all take, but we’d been warned to allow at least 4 hours just for the ordering process. So we headed out early with three of our daughters along for help and moral support. Little did we know how very much we would need them all.
Along with all the cabinets, we were planning to pick up some of the appliances; the range will need to be in place along with all the kitchen cabinets when the granite people come to measure next month. So when we landed in Portland around noon, our first stop was U-Haul where we rented a truck.
At IKEA, I encouraged John and the girls to find something to do, because sure enough, cabinet-ordering took a LOOOOONG time. I had my cabinet sizes figured out, but it turned out I also needed to know the size of the microwave and the drinks fridge that I hadn’t picked out yet. And of course it was important to know how far apart the windows were, because it affected where the stove would be centered on the wall.
In the midst of all that figuring, the power went out (yes, at IKEA) and though they had emergency generators that kept the store lit, wouldn’t you know, the computers on which we were ordering cabinets weren’t on the generator. There were groans from all over the kitchen planning area as people realized they’d lost work.
Thankfully the lady I was working with had saved recently, so when the power went back on 20 minutes or so later, we hadn’t lost much at all. I used the down time to contact our contractor and look on my own computer for my missing appliance measurements. Unfortunately I drained my phone and computer battery in the process, a fact that would come back and bite us later. (cue ominous foreshadowing music…)
By 4PM, we had a very long list of items printed out, ordered, and paid for. (For anyone interested, cabinets for our 10×17 u-shaped kitchen-with-island ended up costing $4700.) Since it would take the guys in the warehouse down the road an hour to ‘pull’ the hundreds of parts that come together to make a kitchen, we grabbed an IKEA lunch/dinner, and then drove both vehicles down the road to the warehouse to pick up our kitchen.
Thankfully the IKEA guys had our order together. It consisted of FOUR flat carts loaded like the one below. It looked like lots on the cart, but didn’t actually take up too much room in the UHaul. By now it was getting dark, and we still had about three hours of driving, plus a stop at Lowe’s in another city. We were planning on picking up two washers, two dryers, a fridge, a sink, a range and microwave, all on excellent sales. Whew. This truck was gonna be crammed.
As we were leaving IKEA, we realized that the U-Haul needed gas before we headed out of town. So John led and I followed him on a trek that ended up miles down the road at the nearest gas station that we were able to find, in the dark, in busy Portland, AND with no way to call each other since my phone battery was dead, and wasn’t charging worth a hoot for some reason.
After getting gas, we then needed to find the nearest freeway on-ramp, which would have been easy if my phone had been charged. I led this time. But I was relying on our van’s old GPS that had about a 20 second delay, which caused me to repetitively miss turns.
After turning around in a rather sketchy area, I finally figured out the right turn, but unfortunately got ahead of John in traffic, and so had no idea if he’d seen where we turned, and no way of calling him, because, again… dead phone. Grr.
At least he and our 18 year old daughter Zeytuna had a working phone which meant they had reliable GPS. John also had a driving-age navigator, something I really was wishing for. So I headed south on I-5 for the Lowe’s in Albany, hoping they were following.
In true 6PM Portland style, traffic crawled til we got past Salem, and after about half an hour of looking backward thru traffic hoping to spot the U-Haul behind us, Julianna got thoroughly sick. Good times.
It was about this time that I realized in my jubilation over finally getting the kitchen figured out at IKEA, I had totally forgotten that we were planning to order 5 laundry room cabinets as well. Shoot. I made the quick decision to let our contractor pick those up at Home Depot for us, since I wasn’t about to venture back into the IKEA cabinet department.
We made it to Lowe’s around 7:40PM, and got out, still not sure if John had found his way. But glory be, the U-Haul rolled in two minutes behind us.
Since we’d ordered the appliances a couple weeks previously, and had verified the day before that they were there, we really didn’t expect this bit to take too long. But it turned out there was ONE guy authorized to pull appliances, and we had a lot of them. We didn’t get on the road again until after 9 PM Oregon time, 10 PM Idaho time.
We’d left home at 6AM.
(Here’s a photo of our washers and dryers all lined up. Having two of each is going to be a great help when it comes to doing laundry at the house!)
Typically the drive from Albany across to the coast is maybe an hour and a half. However this time we were doing the drive in the dark, in the rain, with a lot of spendy appliances, and in two different vehicles. To top it off, up ahead there was an accident, and we ended up completely stopped on highway 20 for a solid hour. Good fun. On the bright side, we’d bought a better car charger, so at least we were in phone contact with each other now.
We finally, finally rolled into Waldport around midnight Oregon time. Whew. We headed off to bed exhausted.
In the morning, our first stop was the storage unit. We needed to off-load all those appliances before we could get to our cabinets. Then it was back to the house to sort cabinet parts- a formidable task indeed. By a stroke of very good fortune, our vacation rental that week had a double car garage that was almost completely empty– a perfect space to spread out, sort out, and start building.
John started in on cabinet boxes, which went together quick and easy. Since many of the lower cabinets contain three drawers each (a 5 inch, a 10 inch, and a 15 inch) there were many drawers to assemble. The girls and I all sat down with drawers, planning to assemble (and learn) in unison. Here’s where we made our big mistake.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the different sizes of drawers have to be assembled using different holes in the drawer faces, indicated only by a tiny difference in the photo instructions. Until we finally figured out our error, we had a whole bunch of cabinets that looked like this.
John continued to assemble cabinet boxes, which continued to go together beautifully. But for several very long hours, we could not figure out what we’d done wrong with the drawers.
Here’s a great shot of John and Emily in the midst of the assembly process. John was ready to throw the whole lot in the middle of the lake, nevermind the money we were saving by doing this ourselves.
Zeytuna and I stubbornly persisted in trying to figure out where we’d flubbed up. And finally, finally a light dawned and we figured it out. (I’ll upload a video soon just in case those drawers have tripped up other people.) Once we solved the mystery, the assembly process went really well. However, it ended up taking all five of us about 16 hours over two days time. And that was with all five of us working pretty steadily, with breaks only to sleep, drink coffee, and eat Chinese food. Oh, and run the completed cabinets over to the storage unit. It was quite a marathon.
Thankfully the marathon was done by Sunday evening, and we had Monday free as birds. Boy, we needed the break by then. Here’s a shot of our storage unit, full of appliances and pretty cabinets.
And miracle of all miracles, we had every single piece we’d needed. We did ruin one hinge assembly by installing it wrong, so we’ll need to go pick up one more pair of hinges, but other than that, everything we needed was there.
I’m so excited to see those cabinets installed in our house– I think they are gonna be great!
But– whew– I don’t want to do that again anytime soon.
PS– If you’re interested in seeing how IKEA cabinets come together, here’s a quick 6 minute video.