Sunday, May 3, 2015

Buying and building furniture in Germany

Most houses in Germany do not have built in closets, like most houses in the US do. Instead, many people have beautiful wood closets around the sides of the walls in the room, which are customized (for example, more clothes hanging space, or bookshelves with a large opening for a TV). We received three small free-standing closets from the military furniture people to use for the duration of our stay, but they are not enough for the things we kept in our closets in the US (not just everyday clothes, but also coats & boots, linens, china in a built-in cabinet, etc.). After much consideration, we decided to not purchase the nice/high quality/high price closet sets for our rooms, since we likely wouldn’t need those bulky pieces of furniture in our future bedrooms, living room, etc.
Why is there a photo of food in a post about furniture? Many nicer furniture stores in Europe have restaurants in them (think Ikea!). The first place I went to in Kaiserslautern had plenty of furniture, but also a good cafeteria with soup, salad bar, and hot food such as pasta, fish, schnitzel, and dessert. I didn’t get any furniture, but it was an interesting excursion.
We got a china cabinet at Ikea, but didn’t have a full meal there, just a snack. I don’t remember seeing an ice cream machine at the Ikea in Massachusetts, but at the one here in Mannheim, you buy the empty cone, then place the cone into a holder, press the button, and the holder moves the cone to the soft serve dispenser, then lowers the cone as the ice cream comes out! Nifty! The furniture assembly fee was 80 Euro, so I decided to put it together myself. Argh, what a labor, but here it is (before, above….after, below).
We drove to Pirmasens the following Saturday, and found a great store. They only take cash or a European debit card (EC), and they don’t stock inventory, so we decided to not wait 2 weeks for the delivery after paying cash. We ended up with a few items from a discount store in Kaiserslautern, and at this point were willing to pay for assembly. There wasn’t any furniture to be found that didn’t require assembly! Unfortunately, the delivery and assembly folks were booked solid for over a week, so once again, we’ll do it ourselves. This stuff was pressboard in very thin cardboard boxes, so we wouldn’t buy anything more at that store, but our gear is tucked away and the stuff looks decent from the front (except where one piece got dinged when the cardboard ripped).
I asked our neighbor if she could recommend someone in town who we could pay to help assemble these pieces. She said, I’ll send my husband over and you can’t pay him. He then said there is an expression in the neighborhood along the lines of “we help each other without pay”. I don’t know if he made that up, but it sounded very friendly.
We assembled the table & are pretty sure it's safe...come on over for dinner!


  1. I'm loving these posts!!! xo

  2. can I hire you? oh, wait, we're all done building furniture :). you can decorate for us with your excellent crafty-ness!