The Unbelievable Saga of the Ikea Bed (or – Hell of a weekend)

By - March 8, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

As all things in our life these days, getting a bed for our spare room turned out to be more of an ordeal than it should have been. Hell, we live five minuets from an Ikea, how hard could it be…?

We started with the best of intentions. We had decided to pass on the bed we wanted for our room and stick with the one that we had. We would be budget conscious and buy a cheap bed for the spare room and make do.

How much stuff can you stuff in a Volvo?

Because it was Saturday afternoon (the worst possible time to go to Ikea, with the possible exception of Friday nights… go figure) we decided to fuel up in the cafeteria first. The last place on earth you want to be Saturday at noon is the Ikea cafeteria.

After kicking a few screaming kids and hip checking an old lady we got a table. (Ok, not really but we sure thought about it). We ate our (interesting substitute for) food and over coffee looked at the catalogue to find a bed.

We examined every option. Short of getting a cheap sofa bed (you know, the kind that can cripple you after one night of attempting to sleep) which we didn’t want to do to our friends and family, there was no cheap option. No matter how we looked at it, the bed that we wanted for ourselves was the cheapest option.

Resigned to spending much more money than we hoped, we headed for the bed department. The bed frame we wanted was available. After few tests, we found a mattress that would do the trick. The problem was the slats.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Ikea bed – there are two main kinds. The first is what we had originally – a box spring with legs that you put an inch thick mattress pad on. The second choice is the bed frame which has wooden slats instead of a box spring and then a mattress on top.

As we were standing in line to order our bed, we caught bits of the conversation that was going on ahead of us in Dutch. All of the slats in the size we needed were on back order – all across Belgium.

Not as much as we used to stuff in a Mondeo.

When our turn with the clerk came, he explained the situation to us in English (the poor guy had been telling the same story in three languages for days – one can assume with occasionally unpleasant results). He did have 2 single slats left that could be combined to work on our bed but (of course) they were the more expensive ones. He did suggest that we could buy those ones today and return them within 90 days. In for a penny, in for a pound. We took the expensive slats.

As we were winding our way toward the pick up area realization dawned – we have only one set of bedding. Two more pillows, a comforter and a bloody expensive set of sheets latter we made it to the pick up area. The only glimmer of light was that all of the pieces we needed were there.

Beaten and subdued we headed to the cash, trying to calm our breathing and maintain steady heart rates. On the upside, the cashier didn’t laugh and cut up the credit card and Andrew signed his life away to a Swedish billionaire.

Oh, but the story doesn’t end there my friends. You see, after almost a year, we had just got our new car. Yet another rental but a nice one – a Volvo wagon that (I hope) will be much more comfortable for our round Europe tour next month. Ah, but there is always a catch. The Volvo’s back end is about a foot shorter than the old Mondeo. Packing it was a feat of engineering masterwork combining my packing prowess and Andrew’s shear will and brute force.

To describe the drive home as ‘uncomfortable’ would be an understatement at best. So I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

With his knees up to his chin and the slats twaping his head, Andrew has a ‘fun’ drive home from Ikea.

The next day, we had to put the beast together. I usually tackle the Ikea stuff myself. I like the sense of accomplishment from the finished work. But this was a project that definitely required two (if not a small army). To anyone who has put Ikea together with their spouse and remained married – I salute you. Yours is a marriage made to last. The only other Ikea project Andrew and I completed together was our behemoth of a bookcase. I’d say, without hesitation, the bed was more frustrating than that.

It is always the things that look like they should be easy that end up the most difficult. The end tables went to together in a snap and the first part of the bed was smooth sailing. Then we came to the supports in the middle, meant to hold the slats… I was a nightmare. The numbers and pictures in the instructions didn’t correspond. The screws were too short and half of them were stripped. We were baffled, frustrated and tired.

Eventually it went together and we moved the monster bead into place. It’s big and plain and I love it – except it clashes horribly with the god-awful yellow paint in our bedroom.

So guests on your way here – I tell this tale not to instill pity or guilt… oh hell, yes I do. You owe us big-time.

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 20 hours ago


  1. Comment by Di

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Di March 8, 2006 at 20:47

    I don’t like this whole carrying/building Ikea thing … however, I may bring wine and negotiate for the spare bed occasionally 🙂

  2. Comment by expatraveler

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    expatraveler March 12, 2006 at 00:32

    I hate building it yourself because everything is so frail and so not worth what you have paid for it. I mean you are doing the factory work yourself, right?
    And then every time I walk into IKEA, I ask myself : why can’t the world just be as cheap as it is in California to buy furniture?
    And why is good quality so hard to find these days???

  3. Comment by christina

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    christina March 15, 2006 at 12:38

    That’s precisely why I haven’t been to Ikea in about 4 years. Nothin’ but trouble. 🙂
    You didn’t eat the “köttböller” did you?

  4. Comment by Andrew

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Andrew March 15, 2006 at 22:09

    Alison never eats the köttböller… that’s my responsibility 🙂

  5. Comment by Banned Books

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Banned Books April 21, 2006 at 19:31

    I am considering buying an IKEA mattress. Are they comfortable?

  6. Comment by kelly.nettleton

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    kelly.nettleton June 23, 2007 at 01:54

    just had the same ordeal painful

  7. Comment by Anne

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Anne September 12, 2007 at 01:37

    The only problem I have with assembling is the instruction. Picture only sometimes doesn’t help…

  8. Comment by John Smith

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    John Smith June 15, 2009 at 00:00

    I bought a queen size sultan mattress from Ikea. After 4 months a spring has already come lose and pops up into my back.

    It is extremely soft, even though we bought the “firmest” mattress.

    If you are looking for a firm bed, avoid IKEA!

    When we went back to try and exchange it, we learned that we only had 45 days to to so (even though we thought we had 3 months).

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