I promised I would share more on our eventful Ikea trip, so if you’re looking for some IKEA shopping trip tips, today’s your lucky day ;)
We live way far away (2+ hours… I consider that far to go shopping!) from the closest IKEA. Perhaps you live much closer and can just hop in your car and make a quick trip to pick up whatever you might need, but for folks like us, the Ikea trip must be planned, scheduled, and calculated. This post is written for other folks who live way far away from IKEA and want to be efficient, productive, rock-star IKEA shoppers.
Assuming you’re like us and need some guidance for your first IKEA trip, here are some helpful tips:
(1) Look online first.
Browsing at Ikea.com before you go into the store will go along way. If it’s your first time headed to IKEA, you WILL be overwhelmed, I guarantee it! Looking through their items online gives you an idea of what they have and what you might be interested in testing out in person.
You can also sign in and create a customized shopping list to print out and bring with you, which is phenomenally helpful. It will tell you the price of the items, their item number, and the location in the store so you can actually locate it (which is half the battle).
(2) Create a budget.
My husband and I made our first IKEA trip in May 2011, right after we closed on our house. We had saved up for several months, knowing we were moving from a small apartment to a house about double the space but nothing to furnish it. We knew exactly what we had to spend before we walked through the doors.
|Photo of the children’s department inside Ikea, via.|
(3) Plan to be there the whole day.
For real. The first time we went to IKEA, we had about 3.5 hours allotted and it truly was not enough time. I’ll explain why it takes so long momentarily, but just know that this is a full day trip if you’re coming from out of the area. The place is massive.
(4) Consider your trunk space.
Or better yet, your truck or van or U-Haul space. Your stuff will be packed in there, I promise.
|This photo shows what one family of two adults and a baby in a carseat fit into their Prius after a $860 IKEA shopping trip. Quite miraculous, I’d say! Photo via milele on flicker|
If you know you’re planning on making a larger purchase (like the Ektorp sofa or other furniture), you can view the product dimensions and the package dimensions online on that product page.
Here’s a screen shot of the product information on the Ektorp sofa:
As you can see, the site gives you specific dimensions of the Ektorp (or whichever product you’re viewing) assembled ( 85 7/8″ wide by 34 5/8″ deep by 34 5/8″ high).
You can also see the package measurement and weight with the blue link underneath, and you’ll want to click on that, too.
These package measurements are super important. We have a roomy Dodge Grand Caravan, and good thing we checked out the specs before driving two hours, because the package for the couch was longer than would fit in our van. We borrowed a friend’s vehicle for the trip to be able to fit the sofa (and other goodies) and we still had to work pretty hard to get stuff to fit. And this leads me to my next point:
(5) Assembly required.
IKEA is definitely not your typical furniture store. By this I mean, you’re going to actually assemble the furniture yourself. It’s true. Like, your couch comes in a box. The prices are ridiculous (in ridiculously cheap, that is), but you really have to work for it. I think it’s worth it and personally am more than happy to put the time in to assemble the furniture to save hundreds of dollars by comparison to typical furniture prices.
(6) Check the As-Is section first.
Right before the check out (after you’ve walked through the whole gigantic place) is a small “As Is” furniture section. You’ll find lots of furniture pieces with perhaps a small dent or scratch that are highly discounted.
We really had to work to get to this area first; at least how it’s set up in our IKEA, you have to either walk through the entire store (which is massive), OR go the wrong way through the check out (which is what we did. We’re rebellious like that :)).
THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION WE MADE ALL DAY! Sitting right in front of me in the as-is room was, you guessed it, the Ektorp sofa, exactly why we made the IKEA trip in the first place!!!
I asked the lady what was wrong with it and she said nothing. It was there simply because it had been a floor model. And it was discounted about 30% OFF, so our couch was $249 bucks AND it was already assembled! Yes please. We’ll take it! Really, I couldn’t find it used on Craigslist for that price. If we hadn’t stopped in the as-is section first, we would have picked up the sofa and paid full price. (So we got the full size sofa $100 off, less than the price of the loveseat. This was such a blessing. Bargains make me giddy!)
Remember that anything in the as-is section cannot be returned, for any reason. But the discounts are deep and worth it, I think.
Maybe I’m weird but I kind of enjoy IKEA food. And after a few hours in the store you’ll need to break and refuel so you don’t start seeing stars. (Have I mentioned the place can be slightly overwhelming?).
Their little cafe is quite cute and again, ridiculously cheap. You can get a full meal and drink for around 4 or 5 bucks.
On both the big trips we made, Adrian and I walked through the showrooms first, wrote down our considerations, and then discussed our purchasing plan over lunch. It’s the way to do it, I tell ya.
(8) Downstairs is where it’s at.
|The Self Serve furniture section of Ikea. Photo via Barry’s Photo Blog|
I mean this in two ways. First, quite literally, all of the furniture that’s set up pretty in the showrooms is actually located in the Self-Serve furniture warehouse for you to pick up, all by your own strong self. It’s rather nutty. You have to write down the item numbers as you go through the showrooms and then locate the items you want by aisle in the warehouse part downstairs.
Second, remember that first trip I mentioned, when we only had 3.5 hours and I left without even shopping the whole store? I was bummed because I missed out on all of the fun stuff downstairs. Before the self serve furniture section downstairs is all of the fun stuff. Decorative frames, candles, art, dishes, fabric, curtains, you name it. It’s where it’s at. So make sure you schedule your time so as not to skimp on the little stuff.
(9) What’s the deal?
Again, check online ahead of time to know what deals are happening during your planned IKEA trip. The first time we went, IKEA was having a deal where you could deduct the price of your meal from your total bill; in other words, you eat free.
How bout you? What’s your IKEA story? Your experience, tips, advice, or IKEA shopping wisdom?
For more Ikea inspiration, check out my Ikea pinboard:
By the way, just want to point out that I am in no way affiliated with IKEA and I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way for this post. It’s just my honest, helpful (perhaps) opinion and advice for your shopping pleasure :) Just sayin’.