15 Insider Secrets for Shopping at IKEA Like a Pro

Get ready for the best IKEA shopping trip you've ever had. You're welcome.

Photo: ikea.com/Getty Images

As many of us know, a trip to IKEA can turn into an all-day event. With multiple sections—the marketplace, showroom, self-serve area, restaurant, and check-out—our fave Swedish warehouse-sized store can be the answer to your home decor prayers or just all kinds of confusing, especially for a first-timer. And the last thing you want to do is make a second trip because you weren't prepared the first time. We're sharing all the IKEA shopping time-saving and money-saving tips, so you can shop like an insider.

Top IKEA Shopping Tips

01 of 15

Download the IKEA Place App

IKEA Place is one of many free apps that let you visualize furniture in your space before buying it. Using Apple ARKit technology, you can see in advance how IKEA products will look in your home, helping you choose the right color, style, or fit for your space.

02 of 15

Subscribe to the IKEA Catalog

Unlike other catalogs that go directly from our mailbox to the trash bin, IKEA's mailer is a thick paperback coffee table-style book, and it's one we actually want to flip through. Far from junk mail, this catalog with its curated rooms provides major inspiration for store shopping, so we can live out our affordable designer home dreams.

03 of 15

Create a Shopping List in Advance

From planning your visit to finding and remembering everything you need, the IKEA app (different from IKEA Place) is perfect for making shopping lists and locating products in the store. Store maps are also available at the entrance to help guide you to where you want to go.

04 of 15

Measure your Space Before You Go

Yes, this tip seems obvious, but it's worth repeating. No way will you want to lug a couch or dining table that didn't make the cut back to the store. Complimentary handy paper measuring tapes (about a meter long) are available at the store entrance to make your life that much easier. And don't just measure your rooms. Measure the width of every doorway and have all these numbers on hand when shopping.

05 of 15

Save Inspiration Photos From Their Site or Social Media

Most IKEA stores have slim to zero cell reception, so be sure to have taken screenshots or download all your IKEA inspiration beforehand, so when you're faced with the endless storage options, you'll be able to recall what you really imagined for projects like your DIY open-shelved kitchen.

06 of 15

Get Discounts With an IKEA Family Card

Not only is this program free to join, but with the family card, you can get exclusive deals and offers. And don't let the name fool you—you don't have to be a family or have children to join; the IKEA Family card is simply the company's loyalty program.

07 of 15

Don't be Discouraged if You Need to Make Multiple Trips

When uprooting, whether it's moving cities or upgrading to a larger space, trying to fill a new home can be overwhelming. Taking your time will save you money and guarantee that you select the best pieces for your new place without throwing things into your cart that you don't need. Also, you will only disappoint yourself if you expect to furnish your entire apartment in one day. We've all been there, and that's why we've learned to pick one room to completely decorate before tackling another.

If needed, make an inspiration trip and a separate buying trip. IKEA's layout is meant to be a journey, so on your first trip, you can meander through the showroom, take pictures, and get ideas. Then, shortcut to the marketplace and pick up a few essentials, like bath towels and cutting boards. For your second trip (or third or fourth trip), come back for the big buys.

08 of 15

Sign Up for IKEA's Moving Program

You may be giving up an arm and a leg to put down a security deposit on a new apartment, not to mention packing materials for your move, but if you sign up for IKEA's moving program, you'll receive $25 off your next purchase of $250 or more.

09 of 15

Shop the As-Is Section on Wednesdays

Tucked away downstairs between the last aisles of the warehouse and checkout is the As-Is section, which is full of new items in opened boxes or barely-used products with minor scratches or dents. You'll find the best swag on Monday, as most people make returns over the weekends, so stock will be larger and not as picked over. However, if you shop As-Is on Wednesday, you'll receive an additional 10 percent off if you are an IKEA Family member.

10 of 15

Look for the Bright Yellow Last Chance Tags

These are items that are being discontinued or transferred out of the store to make room for new products. They are at their lowest price possible, so no buyer's remorse here.

11 of 15

Shop for Inexpensive Party Decor and Holiday Decorations

Remember, IKEA has more than just furniture. For under $2 each, you can stock up on unscented pillar candles for a dreamy tablescape or festive red garland for your entryways or Christmas tree. IKEA has got you covered.

12 of 15

Visit Their Garden Center for Live Plants

The last section before exiting through the warehouse and checkout is our favorite room at IKEA because they have—wait for it—real live plants. From tiny succulents, ferns, and bonsai trees to large indoor and outdoor plants, you can green up your space for way less than what similar plants would cost you at your local flower market or plant nursery. The sticker on each planter tells you how much sunlight and water the plant requires, which makes it manageable for gardening newbies. In the same section, you can snatch up adorable baskets and planters that will diversify your space with different textures and layers.

13 of 15

Pay a Flat Fee for Delivery

Yes, IKEA delivers! Skip the headache of carrying your furniture through the store only to discover it won't all fit in your car. For a fee (which varies by location, so check with an IKEA worker for an estimate), IKEA will gather the furniture on your shopping list and deliver everything to your home or office. Just hand over your list and pay for your purchase at check out.

14 of 15

Have Any Missing Parts Sent to Your Home

If you get your stuff home and find the box is missing a piece, figure out the missing part number (listed in assembly instructions), and call your local store to ask for replacements. They'll mail you what you need free of charge.

15 of 15

Return Items First Thing in the Morning

Much like waiting at the DMV, the IKEA returns department is a take-your-ticket-and-sit-down system, so you want to arrive early before the line gets too long. This generally goes for shopping at IKEA, as well. Between all the shoppers and bulky carts, it can become shoulder-to-shoulder traffic in the store rather quickly. Avoid shopping on weekends, if possible. The best times to visit IKEA are weekdays at opening time or an hour before closing.

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