Sometimes small spaces offer comfort, warmth, convenience

By Norman Knight

It started off as an issue of the bedroom shared by the two granddaughters being too small.

Well, that’s not quite right. It is, in fact, a fairly large room, but the older of the two girls was feeling the need for some privacy. She is 10 years old, after all. Perhaps the solution would be to divide the room up into smaller, more private spaces. That’s where Grandma came in.

She suggested a short wall of shelves and drawers that would form a boundary across the center of the room. This would serve the dual purpose of marking off separate spaces as well as providing extra storage for the bazillion toys, books, school supplies, mementoes and other knickknacks that bob in the wake of two young sisters. Mom and Dad bought in on the plan. Grandma had seen just such a collection of mix-and-match storage modules recently, and so on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon Grandma, two granddaughters, two parents and one reluctant Grandpa headed to the IKEA store in Fishers.

It’s not that Grandpa is opposed to doing things with the family. It’s not that he is resistant to helping them when he can. No, Grandpa’s reluctance was toward the idea of roaming that gargantuan retail space—289,000 square feet—jammed with shoppers from all over the region, some who approach visiting IKEA as much as a destination vacation as a place to buy furniture. And it would be a weekend, no less.

After securing an empty parking space (no small task), he found himself following those family members who seemed to know where they were going. They meandered through twisting aisles and strolled by spaces decorated to look like apartments all the while squeezing by knots of shoppers until they got to the storage units section. However, those family members who knew had been thinking about it had been reconsidering the original plan. Maybe a separating wall was not the best way to solve the privacy problem. Perhaps a loft bed would be a better solution.

And so they found themselves wandering through several children’s bedrooms until they came upon a loft bed that seemed to fit the bill. It reminded Grandpa of bunkbeds he and his brother shared except there was no lower bunk. That space contained a small desk on one end and on the other shelves which could be filled with modular drawers or baskets. “Those IKEA designers are an ingenious lot,” Grandpa said to himself as he made himself small to allow a clutch of shoppers to get by.

Those family members who had remembered to bring a measuring tape measured and decided this piece would be a good fit for the room. The small space under the raised bunk would be private and cozy. “I would have loved to have had something like this when I was a kid,” said Dad as he fitted himself into the small desk chair. Grandpa agreed and remembered how as a child he had always found small spaces comforting, like an animal in a burrow.

They ordered the bed then wound their way to the cafeteria to wait for the box to be brought to the pick-up area. after that, most of the family browsed around while Grandpa sat waiting on a bench at the pick-up area. He was reminded of those guys at the mall who sit outside the stores waiting for their wives. Eventually, the box was delivered and loaded up. The next step would be to put the bed together. The assemble-it-yourself nature of IKEA merchandise is the stuff of comedic legend. Grandpa would be unavailable to help with that part. Darn.

Overall, it was not a bad experience even for someone like Grandpa who for the most part does not like crowds. It was maybe even a little bit of fun. The bed was a good solution to the need for privacy. In fact, it was so successful the youngest granddaughter has expressed a desire to have a loft bed of her own. Looks like another trip to IKEA.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to