Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From the Desk Of...

After failing to find a used, geographically desirable desk on Gumtree -- one that we could get home without a car -- Josh and I finally decided five months without a comfortable workspace was long enough.  So Sunday afternoon we took the tram to IKEA to buy a new desk.  I was hoping to find a smaller version of the desk I left back in Arlington, which I bought at IKEA years ago.  It is HUGE, and has a big, shallow drawer for pens and office supplies and a pull-out keyboard tray that looks like another drawer when closed.  We didn't bring it with us because even if it survived the journey across the pond, it's unlikely to have fit through the entryway of our house.  In fact, we asked our tenant if we could just leave it in place, since it would have been a challenge to even move it down to the basement for storage.

Of course, IKEA no longer sells that desk, let alone a smaller version.  We were disappointed to discover that NONE of their current desks have a pull-out keyboard tray.  They do sell a separate tray that you can attach to the bottom of a desktop, but only if it doesn't have any drawers, so it looked like we'd have to choose between drawers or a keyboard tray.  Then we discovered the GALANT series, which allows you to design your own custom desk from modular parts.  It was a bit more expensive, but it had adjustable-height legs and seemed sturdier and easier to disassemble if we want to sell it or bring it back with us when we move back to DC.  Best of all, it had a drawer module you could attach alongside the keyboard tray.

We asked one of the salespeople to help us compile a list of all the components we'd need, and selected the size and color of the table top and style of legs.  Then he broke the news that the drawer had been discontinued.  D'oh!  We looked so disappointed that he offered to sell us the display model.  Yay!  He unscrewed it from the desk and told us to take it to the Bargain Corner before we checked out to get a price for it.  He said we should get a minimum 30% discount.  Even better!  Sure enough, they gave us a 50% discount, so the £30 drawer was only £15 -- and came pre-assembled.

Now, getting this stuff home presented a bit of a challenge.  Josh and I have gotten used to not having a car, and you can get around pretty well on public transportation here, but when you have a lot of heavy, bulky stuff to carry, sometimes it's easier to just take a taxi.  Unless you are Josh.  He is an admitted cheap bastard, and prides himself on being self-sufficient.  He carried the 2'x4' wooden desktop and metal frame on his head, while I lugged the drawer, legs, keyboard tray, and a couple other small items in one of those giant blue IKEA bags.  It was so heavy I thought I would fall over, but we made it back to the tram.  I suggested we take a cab home from the Wimbledon station, which would cost less than £5, but Josh insisted on walking the half-mile home.  We redistributed our purchases so Josh ended up carrying the bag with all the heavy stuff and the desktop, while I transferred the smaller bits to my nylon shopping tote and carried the metal frame.  It was a bit tricky getting out of the station without whacking anyone with the frame or desktop, but we made it home without incident.  Whew!

After dinner, we started assembling the desk.  It didn't take long to realize that the desk we bought was a bit smaller than the display model in the store, and the only way we could use all the components is if we put the keyboard tray at the extreme right or left side of the desk, leaving just enough space for the drawer to fit next to it.  Not ideal, but we could make it work.  But when Josh tried to attach the drawer, we discovered that it didn't fit depth-wise, either.  The front of the drawer protruded a good 4 or 5 inches from the edge of the desk.  Gaah!  We cursed the salesperson for failing to note either of these issues when he made the list for us.   Ironically, the only warning he gave us was that the KEYBOARD TRAY might not go in all the way, due to the depth of the desk.  Actually, that wasn't a problem at all.

So, we gave up on the drawer and resigned ourselves to just having the keyboard tray.  After shifting some furniture around and unpacking my keyboard, trackball, and monitor, we finally have a decent workspace in the dining room.  With two skylights and an entire back wall of windows looking out onto the garden, it has plenty of natural light.  There may be a bit of a glare when the sun is shining, but that happens so rarely here that it shouldn't be an issue...
Our new home office!
perspective from the dining table
I was excited to try out the new desk on Monday, but Josh decided to work from home, so he got to use it instead.  No fair!  Well, at least he didn't fall asleep on the sofa, like he usually does when he works from home.  Today he had to go into the office for meetings, and I am enjoying spending this cold, windy, rainy day in my comfy desk chair catching up on my blog.

Since Josh was home yesterday, we went back to IKEA in the evening to return the drawer.  Fortunately, they have a pretty generous return policy, so once we presented our receipt and explained that it didn't fit on the desk we purchased, they gave us a refund.  By then it was after 8 pm, so we dined on Swedish meatballs in the cafe, and then browsed through the Marketplace section for a few small items we still needed for the house.  I'm sure the checkout clerk was wondering why we'd made the trip out there just to purchase a 39p (63-cent) toilet brush, but at least that was a lot easier to carry home!

In other news, one of the orchids our landlords left behind is blooming.  It's clearly the same variety as the one we bought a few weeks ago, but is more of a fuchsia color.  I suspect they all came from IKEA as well...
more orchids!
IKEA was also selling the same bonsai we bought, so now we know that it's a ficus ginseng.  Mystery solved!

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