Oh, Ivar. I welcome you back into my life. It’s been too long, my old friend. The smell of your freshly cut pine (are you pine?) once again fills my office nook. Your presence brings me nearly full circle through my life of home furnishing. I thought you were gone, but you return once again, standing ready to hold my books and assorted bits.
As a bachelor, my idea of furniture was a mattress on the ground, a card table and folding chairs for the kitchen and a cast off sofa that had seen far better days. Shelving was easy. Two stolen Carnation milk crates did most of the job, followed by an investment at Builders Emporium (think Home Depot; they closed years ago) in breeze blocks and wood planks to build a make-shift shelf to hold my books.
Ikea came along right when I got married. How could you not love it? It offered furniture at reasonable prices. Having little money, Ikea was perfect as a way to have a real kitchen table, a real bed and yes, real shelves.
I remember endlessly debating the Ivar choices. Did I want those cool corner shelves? Could I afford them? Did I want five shelves or six? And look at all those cool add-ons. A table that can fold out from the shelves. In the end, it was the basic set-up, that ladder-like standard horizontal shelf that forms the core of any Ivar installation.
In Britain, Ivar returned again to my life. In an actual house, I again needed shelving. Ivar still seemed the best of the options, an easy “disposable” way to get things off the floor until I figured out exactly what I wanted to do for a more permanent solution. Budget no longer being an issue, I splurged. I had those lights along the top shelf, to illuminate my storage. Two cabinets — actual doors on them! — to store stationary and other goods. A pull out drawer on the bottom, along with another set of six smaller drawers in a unit.
Eventually, the Ivar was replaced in my office. But the Ivar pieces still hung in there. I used the six-drawer unit on its own, even putting it on rollers that I improvised. The shelves migrated to the garage, as did one of the cabinets. Another cabinet, I gave it short legs so that it could be used on its own. That’s the thing about Ivar. I was like native hunters that used every part of an animal; having slaughtered my Ivar set-up, I still used all of its parts in other ways. Except those damn lights.
The Ivar came with me in the move back to Newport Beach. Shelves went back in the garage, where they continue to serve me well. The six drawer unit until this weekend was tucked under my desk, holding electronics of all types, card readers, USB sticks, extended-life computer batteries and more. But I cleaned out another unit that could easily hold the same stuff, meaning the six drawers could go away. For the first time in years, my office was Ivar free.
But in the clean-out, room along the wall was freed up, perfect for some time of shelf to hold my books, which remains trapped within cardboard boxes. I hear them scream — let us out! Plus, i just like to look at them, my friends acquired over the years from being a kid. Needing a solution of some time, it was time for a trip back to Ikea. I hesitated in considering Ivar, knowing that almost like a child, I’d be gaining a new piece of furniture for life no matter how temporary it seems. But after reviewing all the options, it was that same standard Ivar horizontal shelf from all those years ago that was the best solution.
So I sit back in Newport Beach, the sun coming through the window, warming the wood Ivar shelves across from it, reminding me of those many years ago. I’ve got some space just below the window. Maybe I’ll get some breeze blocks and a plank of wood….