Ready-to-assemble furniture gets a facelift after improvements in quality and ease of installation | Entertainment / Life


The pair of side chairs I ordered arrived in boxes so flat, I thought I might have had the wrong items. Again, I usually order furniture that is delivered assembled.

I had ordered the matching set of mid-century Azure accent chairs (to go with a rug) for our upstairs TV room. I found them online after narrowing my search to half a dozen applicants. It took a long time. A search for blue side chairs on the Overstock website brought up 763 options. It probably makes me look old, but remember when your furniture selection was limited to stores you could drive in and walk in.

After sorting my search by look, size, and price for three favorites, I turned to the reviews. What ultimately sold me on the chair I chose was its 4.5 star rating. Of the over 500 reviews, many reveled – and now we finally come to my point – how easy the chair was to assemble. Another competitor had a series of reviews that said the exact opposite.

I paced the flat boxes as one might assess a wrestling opponent. My husband, who was on his way to a meeting when the boxes arrived, offered to reassemble the chairs when he returned. I didn’t want to wait. I never want to wait.

I cut the boxes. Surprisingly, inside each compact box were all of the parts needed to assemble a chair: two sides, a seat, a backrest, hardware, an Allen key, and instructions.

“Start with a good mat. How many times have you heard this maxim from interior designers about how to decorate a room?

I laid out the hardware and checked the parts against the instructions: eight bolts, eight nuts, eight ringy stuff and got to work. With the exception of a minor operator error (when I tied the left arm to the right side) everything went fine. I had the first chair together in 20 minutes, and his mate together in 15. Huzzah!

Most amazingly, they were as sturdy as a nun’s faith. Talk about rewarding!

Not so long ago, a similar project would have involved more parts, more tools, more swear words, and a wobbly result. The table would shake. The shelves would tilt. The chair would wobble. (Please watch, don’t sit!)

So I asked myself: what had changed?

“Ready-to-assemble furniture shakes off its bad reputation,” said Elton Rivas, co-founder of Semi Exact, a company that sells ready-to-make furniture components that do-it-yourselfers can customize to do what they want.

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“The perception has been that it’s too difficult to assemble your own furniture and only low-end furniture comes this way,” he said. Real furniture, people believed, comes fully assembled on trucks, delivered by men in white gloves.

“So it’s not my imagination,” I said. “Furniture today is easier to put together. “

“Easier, less intimidating and less despised,” he said.

He compares the change in the furniture industry to what’s happening in the home-delivered meal kit space. Companies like Home Chef, Blue Apron, and HelloFresh deliver the ingredients with an instruction card, and you get the job done, Rivas said. “Many find a great sense of satisfaction in preparing a meal that looks like a magazine shoot. “

“We started using one of these services during COVID,” I said, “and my husband suddenly thought he was Emeril Lagasse. “

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“This is what happens with furniture,” said Rivas, whose company slogan is “Make it easy for you to say ‘I did it’. “” We work to help clients create what they want with better results. “

Work for me!

Here’s what Rivas said he changed to make the experience possible:

BOLD CONSUMERS: Big box retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware have allowed consumers to say, “Yes, I can do it myself. Pinterest and Instagram also boost consumer confidence. “Consumers today are more willing to build their own furniture and are more proud to say that they did it themselves,” he said.

ERASE FEAR: For many would-be tinkerers, the root of their resistance has been fear that the item might not or might not perform well, Rivas said. However, today there are many online tutorials and inspiring resources available to help consumers overcome their skills shortage. Whatever you want to do, a YouTube is available to show you how.

BEST PARTS: As the demand for ready-to-assemble furniture (also known as knock-down, flatbed, or kit furniture) grows, companies are working to make it easier to assemble furniture. “Machine and equipment improvements have allowed manufacturers to create better, higher quality components with less variation, so parts fit together with greater precision,” Rivas said. (Amen.)

SAVINGS ON SHIPPING AND STORAGE: The ability to flat-pack items that the end user will assemble significantly reduces costs. This not only eliminates the cost of professional assembly, but also saves on storage and shipping, as unassembled furniture takes up much less space.

ONLINE NOTICE: No one is going to order a piece of furniture that has 10 reviews saying assembly is a nightmare. Consumer reviews and published photos hold furniture manufacturers accountable.

A CHANGE OF CONCENTRATION: The furniture industry has moved from a manufacturer-centric approach, where companies say, “We make this, and here’s what’s available,” to a consumer-centric focus, where customers say, “It’s is what we want. Now realize it.

Marni Jameson can be reached at

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