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 decor 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
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. 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 Catalog
Unlike other catalogs 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 catalog with its curated rooms provides major inspiration for store shopping, so we can live out our affordable designer home dreams. Check out some of our favorite organizers from the 2020 catalog.
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 get exclusive deals and offers. And don't let the name fool you—you don't have to be a family or have children in order to join, the IKEA Family Card is simply the company's loyalty program. Find the latest card discounts here.
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, 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. So, 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, 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 10 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 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.
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 percent 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
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.
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 live 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 fee (it will vary 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.
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 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.