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light grey bedroom with ikea malm flatpack furniture

Surviving Flatpack Furniture Assembly with Your Partner

Forget meeting your partner’s parents or moving house. If you really want to put your relationship to the test, consider a trip to IKEA followed by the unparalleled joy and rapture of assembling the furniture you just argued over buying.

Come to think of it, TV show’s like The Bachelor should abandon ‘meet the family week’ altogether and lock the suitor and his potential squeeze in a bedroom with nothing more than a MALM bed and Allen key. Get back to me once you’re done and let me know which lady you want to propose to then!

Yep, it’s true: nothing is more stressful on a relationship than putting together a bastard of a flatpack bed containing 348 glorious pieces. Throw in a partner who’s probably involved under duress and you have yourself a pressure cooker situation; made worse only by the fact that you already want to murder each other after spending 90 minutes in the store itself. (Rookie tips on surviving your trip to IKEA can be found here).

Grab a wine (you’ll need it) and follow my tips on how to ensure your relationship survives flatpack furniture assembly. I went through this myself a few weeks ago and my partner and I both made it out alive, didn’t want to backhand one another and actually had a laugh throughout the event!

IKEA malm drawers flatpack furniture in light blue bedroom


1. One Leader, One Helper

When you’re putting the flatpack furniture together, someone has to take the lead and someone has to be the helper. It’s the only approach to ensure the process goes smoothly. The easiest way to get your partner offside is to try and take over when they’re trying to figure part of the process out.

You might even know they’re doing something wrong, but you have to let them go on the journey of being utterly incorrect so they can realise the error of their ways (the error being them volunteering to be the leader). If they are about to undergo an epic fail in the process, the next tip is where you come in with your nice voice on…

2. Use your Indoor Voice

The stress monster will make his presence known and will attempt to convince you to do some harm to your other half with the Allen key. Resist temptation.

Keep your mind calm, and keep your voice low. Think of an Enya CD playing on repeat. In fact, have an Enya CD playing on repeat. Create a soothing environment and you should have a smoother journey.

I also went into my flatpack furniture adventure telling my partner that we would get stressed out at one another. I found that acknowledging that we might want to harm one another through the process actually avoided it happening. Get all the negative energy out early and have a laugh when things go wrong.

ikea flatpack furniture malm bed dismantled

“Break for lunch, break for another wine, or break to go hide in the bathroom for 30 minutes until your urge to jump through the window and run away to start a new life subsides”.

ikea flatpack furniture putting malm bed together the life creative

3. Have a Safe Word

The flatpack bed I purchased recently took my partner and I about three hours to put together. That’s quite a slog. Don’t be afraid to use your safe word and tap out for a while. You don’t have to put the entire piece together in one go.

Break for lunch, break for another wine, or break to go hide in the bathroom for 30 minutes until your urge to jump through the window and run away to start a new life subsides.

4. Read the Instructions (together!)

I know right; this one seems completely insane. Instructions as a guide to successfully assemble flatpack furniture? Well I never!

Turns out that reading the instructions together at the start of the experience can actually get you on the same page as to what needs to happen during the different stages of construction.

My partner and I did this, and while he was piecing one component together, I was lining up the screws, nuts and bolts for the next part. It sped up the process and avoided one of us standing their aimlessly watching the other break a sweat.

malm bed from ikea with ecosa memory foam mattress

5. Booze: the Missing Ingredient

Not that I advocate drinking as a means to calm nerves. That’s what valium is for. But in all seriousness, keep your fluids up.

Be it wine, beer, a soft drink or water – ensure you stay hydrated. The process of putting flatpack furniture together is gruelling, labour intensive and bloody hard work on the body and on the emotions.

Stop, revive and survive as often as possibly throughout the journey and you’ll find it goes a lot smoother.

On a side note: the mattress you see above is a memory foam from Ecosa. I did a product review of it here if you’re thinking of buying one.

What are some of your tips for making flatpack furniture assembly a fun one (if that’s even possible)? Drop me a comment below and share your advice!

Images 1 and 2 via IKEA. All others are my own.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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2 Responses

  1. Just loved this article hilarious – I read it to my partner, whos IKEA-PHOBIC in a big way, and he understood perfectly – the few times I managed to get him there, he retired to the restaurant while I used to zip around with a trolley and meet him when I was finished

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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