Twenty years ago, there were three options for home delivery: the local newspaper, flowers, and a pepperoni pizza. Now, everything from a mattress in a box to a prefab chicken coop, from entertainment units to couches, can be delivered right to your door in a series of boxes.
Flat-pack, DIY furniture delivery is fast and functional. It’s elevator-friendly and you don’t need a pick-up truck or muscle-bound friend. For those who are often on the move, flat-pack items can be assembled and disassembled as needed thanks to the practical thinking of Gillis Lundgren. Originally hired to manage the IKEA catalogue, Lundgren inadvertently started the self-assembly trend in 1953 by removing the legs of a Lövbacken table (that he designed) to fit into a car en route to a photoshoot.
Prior to the flat-pack concept, movers and homeowners battled with backbreaking pull-out sofas and awkward dressers unfit for narrow staircases or elevators. In Amsterdam, old-school shipping techniques were adopted to bypass steep staircases altogether. The intelligent architectural design in Amsterdam’s canal houses integrate pulley wheels and ropes that serve as a manual elevator system. Bulky couches and pianos are still efficiently moved through upper windows with a little sweat equity.
For those who don’t live in the Netherlands, flat-pack furnishings make online “window shopping” a cinch. Whether you own a heritage house, 54th floor condo, or tiny home, you can furnish your entire space and order taco kits for the crowd on-demand.
What is on-demand delivery?
On-demand delivery often eliminates the middle man. One click and a couch can be delivered to your door. For those with an Amazon Prime membership, fast and free delivery on millions of items is a huge perk for such unexpected needs — and spontaneous purchases, too.
Referred to as ready-to-assemble (RTA), knock-down (KD), or kit furniture, it’s an ideal solution for students, couples merging into their first home, or downsizing empty-nesters. When assembly work is performed by the buyer, it’s generally cheaper. Buying a spin bike, greenhouse kit, or barbeque has been made light years easier with the surge in on-demand delivery apps.
Whether you’re a Boomer, Gen X or granny chic-loving Millennial, the rite-of-passage Allen Key (also known as an Allen wrench or hex key) is synonymous with instant-presto bookcases and kitchen cabinets.
Flat-pack furniture can be traced back to 1859 and the German-designed Thonet Chair No.14 (The Vienna Coffee House Chair). The No.14 chair consists of six pieces of wood, ten screws and two nuts — it was built with the intent to save space during transportation.
Your cheat sheet
Here’s a quick reference guide to the buzz words:
• On-demand Businesses use websites, mobile apps and social media platforms to sell their products and deliver the ordered items to an end-customer.
• Prefab These items are pre-fabricated and shipped in sections, ready-to-assemble by the customer. You can even order prefab tiny homes or sauna kits.
• Flat-pack This style of furniture (think bookcases, end tables) is affordable, space-savvy, and designed for efficient transport and self-assembly. It can be disassembled, flat-packed and reassembled. Some furniture designs are a combination of flat-pack and pre-assembled. For example, an upholstered chair can have a flat-pack option allowing individual customization for a two or three-seat sofa.
The pros of prefab
Several online stores operate as direct-to-consumer. Instead of incurring the expense of moving tired and cumbersome hand-me-down furniture, a flat-pack investment can spin any space into a minimalist look at a minimal price. Need a home office? You can have everything up by day’s end.
For those who have limited time, patience, skill, and basic tools like a ratcheting screwdriver, hammer or rubber mallet, prefab furniture is still accessible and can be conveniently assembled by legit professionals.
Getting a mattress up your staircase, or even into your car, has always been a nightmare. More often than not you’d end up paying extra to rent a truck or have the company deliver it. Now, you can order a new mattress, platform bed, duvet and pillows all with the click of a button. Places like IKEA and Endy who deliver mattresses in vacuum-sealed packaging are changing the game, making it easier for people to get a good night’s sleep without struggling to pivot a king-size bed up a flight of stairs.
More than just furniture
“Hey honey, what if we got bees?” Did you know that you can have a Queen bee or full colony delivered to your doorstep?
You can also get at-home food delivery, which a lot of times can support local businesses. Most big box grocery chains now offer grocery delivery, as well. Meal kit delivery has been a satisfying way to approach weekday dinners for many. Boxes full of exactly what you need to make delicious meals dropped right on your doorstep, taking away the monotony of deciding what to have for dinner. Meals can be prepared in 30 minutes with options the whole family will enjoy. Or look for local opportunities in your area, like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes which are brimming with fresh, organic produce and becoming a household staple, connecting city kitchens with rural farms.
Plants, craft beer and bestsellers from independent booksellers can also land on your doorstep within hours which means you can build your bedside table, have a beer, and stack your just-delivered books on it in the same afternoon.
On-demand delivery is all about instant gratification and 24/7 convenience. Buy a fun doormat or a shiny new vehicle, then simply wait for the knock!
After the flat-packing unpacking is done and you’ve recycled what you can, be sure to make time for happy hour and some summer lovin’ cocktails. If you can’t find your martini shaker and zester, there are even cocktail kit services to save you in a pinch.