Flatpack Hacks: How to avoid furniture rage
Author: The Simple Bit
Category: Short Cuts
Nothing says ‘getting one’s sh*t together’ like a trip or seven to a Swedish furniture retailer. But it can also be super stressful to put together. We spoke to an expert and got some tips.
The simple bits:
- Assembling flatpack furniture is so stressful that it’s sometimes used in couple’s therapy
- We spoke to an expert to get some tips
- The main take-out? PLAN AHEAD
You move out of home? Assemble some furniture. Get a new place? Assemble some furniture. Move in with your better half? Assemble some furniture. Having a kid? Assemble some darn tasteful flatpacked Swedish furniture. That’s all well and good, but thinking about it, shopping for it, and especially putting it together can be so stressful that it’s sometimes used in couples therapy to test a relationship’s limits.
So we thought we’d find an expert who puts flatpack furniture together for a living, and get some tips to save you from flat-pack rage. Stephen is an odd-jobs and delivery guy who estimates that he’s put together over 300 bits of flat-packed furniture, in various states of completion. “Usually we deliver it as well, and then put it together once it’s there but sometimes we get something where the customer has got stuck half-way through.” And what’s the most common thing that brings amateurs unstuck? “People not planning ahead,” says Stephen. “You can tell where things have gone wrong and usually it’s just that they didn’t plan it out beforehand.” Let’s get some tips.
“You can tell where things have gone wrong and usually it’s just that they didn’t plan it out beforehand.”
“Giving yourself enough room is super important,” says Stephen. This is even the case if you’re assembling something that will eventually live in a small space, like a bathroom. “Most of the time, we’ll lay everything out in a larger space, like a lounge room or even a front porch and finish it off in the bathroom or wherever,” he says. “Most of the time, stuff comes in cardboard boxes. Use the boxes as your base so you don’t scratch the furniture or your floors.”
“Read the instructions, and then read them again.”
Settle in for some reading
We get it. You want to rip into the box and get your beech-veneer bookshelves assembled. But take a deep breath and get your reading glasses on first, Stephen reckons. “Read the instructions, and then read them again,” he laughs. “It’s actually really important to figure out what order the steps come in before you start unpacking everything.”
Lay it on me
Lay everything out vaguely in the order you’ll need it. That way you’re not having to pull things out half-way through. This counts for the little screws and bolts in the plastic bags. “Only open them when you definitely need to.” That stops things from going missing precisely when you need them.
Don’t trust the Allen key
Most furniture companies will provide at least some of the tools needed, like an Allen key or a shifter. Stephen recommends not relying on them. “They can be pretty flimsy. I recommend getting an Allen Key set and hanging onto it. The little loose ones get lost really easy, and you’ll probably want to tighten things up after you’ve used the furniture for a bit. Are there any other bits of equipment he recommends? “Invest in a good screwdriver. Pretty much everything I put together needs a screwdriver.” I’ve got a little cordless drill that basically fits in my pocket. That with a couple of different drill bits…it usually gets used in everything I put together.”
“Invest in a good screwdriver. Pretty much everything I put together needs a screwdriver.”
It’s not always necessary, but Stephen reckons a spirit level (or even a measuring app on your phone) can be handy for the finishing stages. “It doesn’t hurt to use a level to make sure everything is straight. Usually the furniture is straight, but the room is crooked. Either way, it can make things a bit unstable which can be a bit dangerous.”
“You’re not hopeless just because you can’t put it together.”
Send in the big guns
If all this sounds like a massive, flat-packed hassle, it might be time to send in the professionals. “Yeah look, some of the stuff I put together is bloody hard! You’re not hopeless just because you can’t put it together. Plus, people usually buy new things in the middle of moving or having a baby so if I can take a little bit of stress off them, I’m happy!” So are we Stephen, so are we.
Look at a cute kitten
Has even THINKING about assembling furniture got you stressed? Here’s a kitten in a forest. Now…breathe.