Koala Says You Can Build All Its Furniture Solo, so I Attempted a Dining Table

Koala Says You Can Build All Its Furniture Solo, so I Attempted a Dining Table

The flat-pack furniture game is one that has long been criticised for hating on single people. If you live alone and purchase a sweet new desk from most furniture brands, the sentiment that follows is largely:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Don’t have anyone to build that baby with? Well, that must suck. Best of luck to you.

Interestingly, Aussie furniture company Koala has decided to move away from the concept that furniture needs to be a two-person task. It has announced that it ‘doesn’t hate single people,’ and has boasted that you can build any piece of Koala furniture solo.

When I heard this, I naturally had 3,000 questions about how. And also, I was keen to put this to the test by challenging myself to build a big mamma piece of furniture on my lonesome. For context’s sake, I am 5’3, and while I consider myself fairly savvy with a DIY project, I don’t have the greatest upper body strength.

Here’s everything I have learnt in recent weeks about building Koala flat pack furniture alone.

First, is it safe to take on furniture assembly on your own?

Part of the reason many brands ask that you build flat-pack furniture with a buddy is that it’s safer this way. When I asked Koala’s furniture designers about this, they explained that every step in the design process is considered from the perspective of someone at home, having to build this thing on a normal day.

“Key questions we ask in the early stages of designing include ‘Can one of our customers pick it up by themselves?’. If they can’t, we break it down into more manageable sizes. We do this by selecting lightweight materials where possible and carefully designing our components to come together in simple, intuitive ways that don’t force the customer to lift anything too heavy or bend awkwardly,” they shared.

In addition to that, the team works to produce pieces that appear ‘obvious’ to the person building it at home.

“If we can’t confidently say yes to these questions, then we keep iterating on the design.”

There’s a need for easy flat-pack furniture

While it’s all very cute to joke about hating or not hating on single people, the root of the need for easy-to-assemble flat-pack furniture is simply, reality.

Speaking to Koala’s design team, they shared that it’s pretty straightforward, “people live alone, people rent and need to move again and again. Heavy, poorly designed, hard to move, hard to assemble furniture is the status quo in the market and is not compatible with how we live”.

With that in mind, the goal here was to create options that require no tools, can be carried around with relative ease, and still look beautiful in your home.

What to keep in mind when tackling furniture at home

Okay, so you’ve purchased a beautiful new piece of furniture, and you’re preparing to build that gorgeous thing alone. What do you need to know first?

Here, the Koala design team shared that you should try and have fun with the process, but do think ahead when it comes to available space for your little project.

“Consider the size of the parts and their orientation. Pre-planning here always results in a more enjoyable assembly experience,” they shared.

Also! Don’t assume that the larger furniture pieces are always the toughest to build.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but the bigger items are generally easier than the small ones. Dining chairs are little workhorses and need to be very strong for how much of a beating they get during testing, so these can take a little more time putting together, but obviously, safety comes first.”

So, how did I go?

koala flat pack furniture
Okay, this is tricky… Building flat-pack furniture alone. Image credit: Lifehacker Australia/Stephanie Nuzzo

For this challenge, I was given the opportunity to build Koala’s Serenity dining table and two Straight Back dining chairs.

The first thing I noticed was that the body of the table looked ginormous to me. I was pretty concerned about my ability to lower that thing to the floor without being crushed in the process.

And yeah, it was a little fiddly. It required a little gentle shuffling around on my part and a lot of slow, nervous movement, but I did it. And I didn’t take anyone out in the process – myself included.

Once I had the hefty portion flat on the floor, things became pretty easy pretty quickly. I took the four legs, which were delivered in a separate box, and just lined them up with the matching holes. Then I secured them into place with the gumnut screws. Honestly, it was pretty easy once I had everything in place.

Where things got a tiny bit tougher (read: I needed to put my arms to work) was when I moved on to the dining chairs. The design team weren’t lying when they said these little beasts require more effort. While the only step here was attaching the legs to the chair base, I did find that some of the screws were a little fussy and needed to be re-aligned partway through.

I also had to work to get those gumnuts properly secured. It actually kind of hurt my hands to get them in there. But in the end, I managed it on my own (flexes non-muscle).

All in all, I built the table and two chairs in about an hour. The instructions were clear, the steps were simple, and while there were parts that made me sweat a little, it was generally pretty fuss-free.

Look, ma! I did it. Building flat-pack furniture alone. Credit: Lifehacker Australia/Stephanie Nuzzo

There was only one thing I asked my roommate to assist me with: flipping the dining table upright after I had built it – and I think that’s passable, considering it was already put together at that point.

So, to wrap this thing up, do I think we can call building Koala’s flat-pack furniture a one-person job? From my experience with these items, definitely.

Have you attempted a furniture project on your own? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below. While we have you, it’s worth noting that Koala is running a big old sale right now – you can find some of our favourite deals here.

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