17 Secrets for Shopping IKEA Like a Pro

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

As many of us know, if not planned out properly, 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 décor prayers, or just all kinds of confusing, especially for a first-timer. And, the last thing we want to do is make a second trip, because we weren’t prepared the first time (*face palm*). Here, the time and money-saving tips to shopping IKEA like an insider.


Download the IKEA Place App

Photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images

The IKEA Place App is a free app from IKEA that lets you visualize what IKEA products will actually look like in your space before buying them (available on iOS110). 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.


Subscribe to the IKEA Catalogue

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


Create a Shopping List

From planning your visit to finding and remembering everything you need, the IKEA Store App is perfect for making shopping lists and locating product in the store. Store maps are also available at the entrance to help guide you to where you want to go!


Measure Your Space Before You Go

Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating. No way will you want to have 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.


Download Photos of Looks You Love Ahead of Time

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


Get Discounts With an IKEA Family Card

Not only is it free to join, but with the family card you can also get free coffee or hot tea at the IKEA restaurant, an extra 30 minutes of Småland time for kids, 90 day price protection, and a chance to win a $100 gift card. Sign up online or visit any IKEA Family enrollment kiosk in your local store, and you can pick up a card and view current offers.


Plan for Two Trips, if You’re Decorating Several Rooms at Once

When uprooting, whether it’s moving cities or upgrading to a larger space, decorating from scratch, or 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 you don’t need. So, make an inspiration AND a 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, come back for the big buys.


Furnish One Room at a Time, if You’re Decorating a New Home

You will only disappoint yourself if you expect to furnish your entire apartment in one day. We’ve all been there. That’s why we’ve learned to pick one room. Maybe you’ve moved into an apartment with your significant other or a new Craigslist roommate, with an equally strong, yet different style aesthetic. By furnishing one room at a time, choose ten pieces together and tackle the living room or kitchen, creating a truly shared space.


Keep the Savings Coming With IKEA’s Moving Program

You may be give 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.


Shop the As-Is Section on Wednesday to Save 10%

Tucked away downstairs between the last aisles of the warehouse and checkout is the As-Is section, full of new items in opened boxes or barely used product 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% off.


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 product. They are at their lowest price, so no buyer’s remorse here.


Shop Wedding, Party, and Holiday Decorations on the Cheap

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.


Make Time for the Garden Center. Trust.

The last section before exiting through the warehouse and checkout is our favorite room at IKEA, because they have -- wait for it -- real plants. From tiny succulents to ferns to bonsai trees and 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 stickers on each planter tell you how much sunlight and water the plant requires making it manageable for even gardening newbies. In the same section, you can snatch up adorable baskets and planters for your new leafy guys that will diversify your space with different textures and layers.


Pay a Flat Fee for Home Delivery

Skip the headache of carrying your furniture through the store -- only to discover it won’t all fit in your car. For a small fee, 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.


Have Any Missing Parts Sent Directly 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.


Return Product 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 humans and 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.


Buy IKEA Items on Amazon to Save Big on Shipping

It pays to be an Amazon Prime member with that free two-day shipping, especially if the IKEA desk you want is over $100 to ship from the IKEA warehouse. But, pay attention to IKEA items from third party sellers, as they may mark up the prices.