Tag Archives: IKEA

Illuminating Discovery

Jim and Debbie rarely pass up the opportunity to browse an IKEA store. Not so much that it’s a destination for us, IKEA trips are entertaining diversions sometimes. For a full timer, the urge could hit anywhere. How better to spend a few (or more) hours than browsing the tremendous variety of fun stuff we don’t need and probably don’t have room for in our tiny tiny house?

Many stays in Vancouver BC included visits to the Coquitlam store, near Burnaby Cariboo RV resort, and to the Richmond store on the south side of Vancouver. Closer to our normal haunts is the Charlotte NC store, one we visit at least annually. They make it fun, offering good coffee free and tempting us with sweet rolls in the café. Too, they have entrees and marzipan in the “cafeteria” upstairs. Stay long enough and the body needs fuel to continue browsing.

Our clear favorite target at IKEA stores is the kitchen layouts. A close second is the arranged apartments, showing complete living quarters in under 600sf. Jim likes the display of chairs, particularly the comfortable armchairs and the lighting section. He sits in the POÄNG armchair every visit and wonders if this could be the thing most missed from having a roomier house these past eight years.

Ah, but the lighting section. Now there’s something we can sdd in our 188sf house, can’t we? Debbie’s practical and reasoning voice patiently says, “What problem does this solve?” Jim sometimes admits, “But isn’t this light (or switch, or whatever) just cool?” IKEA is the first big store to convert widely to LED lighting. Their LED product offerings are coming along gradually too.

Last year we finally succumbed to the inevitable. We bought and installed this little light. We waited till now to share it, after making sure we like it (did we delay too long? Can’t find it online now.) Would it hold up with mobile living? Do the batteries keep on or wane quickly? Is the light worth it’s cost and small weight? Probably!

Automatic LED light shines just when we need it.

Automatic LED light shines just when we need it.

A year and one set of AAA batteries later, this light is a win. It hasn’t fallen off, chipped, started any fires, or failed to light when we open the cabinet. Its biggest workout is when we show off our Airstream (and remember to open this cabinet.) Not all cabinets need this lighting. This one is the apt application for “appropriate technology.” We like it.

Hmm, what other treasures can we find at an IKEA store? So many displays, so much marzipan and coffee. . .

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2015 Jim @ Dreamstreamr.com

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You ARE Allowed to Mod Your Trailer

Over five years living full-time year-round in our RV, we knew pantry shelves were not created equally. Our pantry shelves seemed really inadequate. It was a tough reach to the back of the shelves.

A favorite visit of ours is IKEA stores. We have toured these great mega stores in Atlanta, Baltimore, Tempe AZ, and Vancouver B.C. Their complete small model apartments appeal to us — these are cozy just like our 188sf rolling house. We also enjoy poring over the model kitchens at IKEA. They set these up with neat features including great gas ranges, styling range hoods, and slick-looking casework.

picture of IKEA pantry shelves

IKEA pantry extension

The drawers and pantry pull-out sections in the IKEA model kitchens have great actions — smooth slides and automatic closing when you push them back. The best feature of these slides is their full extension! Five years we have envied folks who could have full-extension slides on their pantries at home. We can’t explain why we didn’t sooner get around to making the change on our own pantry.

picture of pantry with short slides

won’t pull out far enough

Our Airstream’s pantry was inexplicably built with 1/2 extension slides. When Debbie wanted to reach something from the back of the pantry racks, she would move the obstructing things off the shelf. A workable solution, but this was far from ideal.

Picture of pantry extended

The pantry extends fully now!

A few weeks ago Jim decided to see how to convert our pantry to full extension slides. After taking measurements and figuring out how the racks attach to the slide, Jim said, “Do you want to go to Lowes and look for drawer slides with me?” We bought the right length full-extension slides for our pantry racks for only $15/pair, including new screws.

Jim replaced the old slides in a half-hour and we shook our heads wondering, “Why did we wait five years to do this?” Worth the wait, the pantry pulls ALL the way out. This is a great and inexpensive improvement.

Jim and Debbie
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©2013 Dreamstreamr

Our iHouse can be ready in three weeks!

We left Chattanooga this morning after a sweet two day visit. Chattanooga was five sets of tennis; a couple of world-class walks; the world’s best hamburger from Zarzour’s, the oldest restaurant in Chattanooga (by many years); two wonderful meals and a great visit with Jim’s sister and her husband; and fantastic weather. We left for Mississippi early, very early, Wednesday morning for Cleveland, Mississippi.

Our route took us from Chattanooga through Huntsville, AL, and Muscle Shoals across the MS border through Corinth and over to Olive Branch, MS, then down through Clarksdale to Cleveland, MS, to visit Jim’s aunt and uncle. This was a really easy one-day drive, four lanes highways all the way, and very pretty across northern Alabama and Mississippi.

Earlier, before Chattanooga, we had an exciting pair of stops in Bean Station and then Alcoa, TN. We toured a Clayton Homes production facility in Bean Station, TN, and viewed the prototype iHouse in Alcoa, TN.

The plant manager, Charlie Hemphill, met us and guided us through an extensive tour of the Norris Plant. The plant produces high quality modular homes, including i-Houses. An i-House II with two large Flex units on the lot piqued our interest. These were in final stages of preparation for shipping to an owner, and have highly customized floor plans and appointments. More interesting still is the work flow and coordination inside the production facility.

We saw many modular homes, in various phases of production, throughout the plant. Every part of the process seemed attended by numerous skilled individuals, working together to complete their tasks and send the house on its way. The production process is a finely choreographed ballet of floor frames, interior components, and wall and roof systems to compose completed modular homes in five day to twenty day cycles, depending upon the complexity of the model.

Our favorite part, of course, was surveying the i-House and Flex units at the production facility.

We spent awhile peering inside and all around the exterior of the i-House and Flex units at the Norris plant. The production facility was fun and our tour very educational. Charlie Hemphill, the plant manager, has been with Clayton 36 years and at this plant 21 years. He operates a very clean and effective operation, and was a great guide for our tour.

Now let’s go to Alcoa, TN, to meet Brandon O’Connor, Clayton i-House Product Manager. Brandon introduced himself to us months ago after we had written a couple of blogs about our impressions of the i-House. He invited us to visit Bean Station and Alcoa. We felt like we already knew him when we arrived at Clayton’s retail campus in Alcoa.

The i-House entrance still captivates us as sharply as it did at our first visit in Everett, Washington, last September. The soaring roof overhangs the entrance doors, the two lights bracket the doors, and the entrance just seems to call to us, “Come on in!”

We could look forward to coming home to this beautiful and clean-cut interior. The kitchen is very inviting and fresh-looking with IKEA-style cabinets, glass-block backsplash behind the range, recessed-can CFL lights and pendants over the island and dining table.

We love how the i-House looks from every angle. Natural light abounds, the open floorplan works great with this IKEA furniture. The ceiling rises from the kitchen to the entrance wall, creating a tall ceiling height. The glass entrance wall and large windows on one side combine with clerestory windows on the other side to light up the Shaw bamboo floor.

Another cool angle, the view down onto the roof shows this roof is about more than just keeping the interior dry and collecting rainwater for storage in a cistern — this roof supports all the solar panels you want to throw onto it. We counted 1,800 watts of photovoltaic panels, almost ten times our Airstream’s panels. The panels are connected to a grid-tie to feed the kW back to the power company. Everybody wins!

The Norris production facility has tuned all parts of the home-building process very finely. Floor systems are built on one side, roof structures on the other. Walls systems are built in-between. Completed floors move ahead, are locked together for the remainder of the production process. Components like tubs and interior wall sections are added onto the floor systems before exterior walls are attached. Roof structures carefully crane overhead and into place atop the walls, insulation is filled onto the ceilings, the roofs are sheathed and shingled.

The i-House requires more time to build than the production facility’s other models due to it’s more complex materials and other features. Like an Airstream trailer, it can be a bit more customized and has features requiring more time to finish, like smooth ceilings. Still, Charlie Hemphill and his team have optimized the production cycle so the i-Houses are built both with high quality and expeditiously.

What amazed us most about our tour? We learned our i-House can be ready in as little as three weeks production time. If only we knew where to put it. . . We’re looking for a place with 75 degree temperatures.

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr