Furnishings

Since my move at the end of February, I have been living in a rather sparsely furnished apartment. Except for the bare necessities – futon, gas range, and fridge – I did not buy anything for a while. I wanted to get a better image of what I wanted my new home to look like. After all, this would be my first “permanent” home in a long time – ever since my PhD in 2006, I had to move every year or two and never invested much time or money into buying furniture or appliances. Most of it was second-hand so I would feel less guilty if I could not sell it when I packed up again and had to throw it away.

This time however, I want to buy decent stuff that will last for longer, that I will like for longer, so I took my time. By now, I think I have a clearer idea of what I want. As you can see in the image in this post, my apartment essentially consists of three parts: The office at the left, which I want to have as modern and fun-looking as possible; the middle part with the kitchen and a living room, which I will furnish in a modern western style; and the right part with the second living room/guest room and my bedroom, both of which have tatami. Those two rooms I want to decorate in a traditional Japanese style – or at least in a style that I think is traditional.

So far, I have only finished one room: the office. This was the easiest room to do, as everything I needed came straight from IKEA. In fact, I went to IKEA in Kobe twice, once about a month ago, and the second time last Monday, to buy everything I wanted. My things got delivered today in the morning, so I could spend all my day fiddling with the furniture…

The first thing I did after clearing the room completely was trying to get as many cables as possible out of sight – meaning: underneath the tatami. It was surprisingly easy to lift up the tatami by inserting a knife (experts take a flat screwdriver, which I didn’t have) and wiggling it gently. Those are real straw mats though, not the modern plastic ones you find in sports halls all over the world, and they are really heavy. I am glad I only had to lift them up and lean them against the wall, and not carry them anywhere. Here is an image of the underneaths – of both the floor and the tatami. You can see four cables running across the room: 2 LAN cables, the cable to the router and a printer cable. underneath my office tatamiIt took a while fiddling with the cables – the router cable is just 10 cm longer than it needs to¬† be and the printer cable is round and comparatively bulky – but in the end I managed to get the cables and the tatami in place.

Afterwards, the usual IKEA furniture assembly routine. It was relatively easy – you get used to that after a few moves – and I did not encounter big problems when setting up this shelf and the boxes inside: blue IKEA KALLAX shelf in the officeThe printer is not yet set up, but the phone does work. I am also thinking of a way to hide the router and the cables in the right bottom shelf, but it will take a bit longer. In case you are wondering where the other cables to the printer and the phone are – they are hidden behind the somewhat oddly placed boxes…

Finally, I brought the desks back in which I had bought already last month. Looking back, the high-gloss finish may not have been the best idea because you can see every single finger print; however, I like the way the whole thing comes together so nicely. As I have to attach a photo of my office space to my visa application, my goal was to make this the most eclectic office the immigration bureau has ever seen. What do you think? two bright red IKEA desks in my officeSo, the office is finished except for a few small things: I still need a ceiling lamp (or rather: somebody to hang it up), the cable management underneath my desk is not optimal yet, and I want to hide the router and set up the printer. Also, there is a lot of empty wall space above the shelf and I think something should go there. I have an idea, but I’ll have to mull it over a bit longer… Anyway, all those are minor things, and they will have to wait…

Unfortunately, I have never managed to set up IKEA furniture without bodily harm. Last month, after a whole day of working with a screwdriver, I had several blisters on the palm of my right hand. This time, an attempt to undo a mistake I made when putting those little red plastic boxes together took off a large chunk of skin from my right thumb. It’s not painful anymore, but from the look of the band-aid it’s still bleeding… I’ll have a look at it in a moment.

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