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How to get out of IKEA with that kooky bookcase — and your sanity.

Need to replace that ugly armchair? Low on Lingonberry Jam?  

The blue and yellow halls of IKEA beckon — a wonderland of budget furniture, housewares, meatballs and cute, random stuff.  

A trip can be fun, but also eye-twitch-inducing. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of kitchen utensils and fake lounge rooms. 

“IKEA’s store layout is a psychological weapon used to confuse and disorientate shoppers into spending more.” _Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment 

Amen, Alan! 

So here are the Top 12 must-dos to get your adorable but impossible to pronounce homewares. Then get the hell out.

1. Stretch before you go.

Seriously, limber up — how else are you gonna overtake slow walkers and elbow smug felt-hat-wearing people out of the way? 

2. Take back-up!

Trust us. You THINK you're just going in for a cute night light. Suddenly you're the proud owner of a king bed and an unwieldy hat stand.  

Have a reliable someone who can help you lift and load. Tell them you'll pay them in meatballs. 

3. Get the item deets. 

Before leaving home, look up products on Ikea.com. Go to your local store’s page and check their inventory.  

  • If inventory is low, call the store to confirm availability.
  • Use product pages to find article, bin, and aisle numbers so you know exactly where to go.
  • Make a list and take it with you. 
  • You can also snap pics of item tags at the store. Then, hunt them down in the warehouse.

4. Know exactly what you want.

If you have aisles and bins for furniture written down and are ready to go, then head straight to the self-service warehouse — get a furniture cart, load it up, and speed past the schmucks trudging through the maze, straight to the checkout. 

5. Go hungry.

Where else can you get a mountain of meatballs, mashed taters, and a funky pastry for 10 bucks?  

Remember to check restaurant hours — an unfulfilled Gravlax craving is truly tragic. 

Oh, and there are also cheap, yummy treats — like soft serve and hot dogs for a buck each — at The Bistro near the store exits.  

6. Don't test the display toilets. 

That one’s pretty simple, really. 

7. Get measurements — for everything.

You don’t wanna get stuck in the parking lot with furniture that doesn’t fit in your car, let alone your room. So, keep these in mind:  

  • Measure the space you’re trying to furnish, at least twice. 
  • Don’t forget to measure corners, hallway openings, and stairway widths and heights. 
  • You may buy the perfect wardrobe closet, but if it doesn’t fit around that tight corner, game over. 
  • Look at product and package measurements on the website.
  • If you’re taking things home with you, measure your car or truck. Make sure everything will fit in doors, backseats, trunks, etc. 
  • Save yourself some headaches with IKEA buying guides — they help you plan, buy, and build their most popular furniture systems.

8. War and Peace has nothing on the IKEA catalog.

Need ideas for that nook in the bedroom, or your home office?
Plunge into IKEA’s massive catalog, it’s essentially the bible for all things home (and makes a mean door stop) — you can check out the online version here. Another great resource is the IKEA Ideas webpage.
You can also use the online 3D IKEA Home Planner to virtually design your kitchen, office, bedroom, bathroom, or storage areas.  

9. Know the best time to go.

If at all possible, DO NOT go in July or August — the newest IKEA catalog release + throngs of college kids decorating dorms = a hellish shopping trip. 

Stick to these rules for slipping in and out ASAP: 

  • Avoid weekends. If you can’t, go after 6 p.m. 
  • Get to the store 30 minutes before opening, so you can snag a good parking spot and avoid the mobs.
  • Head to checkout about 30-60 minutes after opening, for the shortest/no lines. 
  • Go on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings. 
  • Go during major events, like The Super Bowl, for a very quiet trip.

10. Ditch your little boogers.

You DO NOT want to deal with a massive meltdown in the fake flower section or a small human hanging off you for the duration of your trip. So if you can't ditch them, throw your little bundles of joy in the IKEA play area, Småland. 

Smål what now?  

Småland — the supervised playroom at IKEA. Or, as some parents refer to it: a god send. Basically, you’ll get a full hour of sweet, glorious, uninterrupted IKEA shopping time. 

Småland has toys, movies, art projects, and other things for little humans to tire themselves out with. 

Note: At the time of publishing, Småland was temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Please contact your local store for status updates. 

11. Save some dough. Buy more meatballs. 

Get some awesome savings and perks by signing up for IKEA family club. Special discounts, free events and workshops, complimentary coffee and tea, and birthday surprises. Get ready to join the coolest Swedish family around — even cooler than Abba.  

12. AS-IS is where it’s at.

The AS-IS section is where all the ex-demo stock that goes to die gets pounced on by savvy shoppers.
Seriously, you’ll save up to 60% (sometimes more) off items that generally only have the teeniest of flaws.
Know this though — the bargain hunters in the AS-IS section aren’t playing so this is where the aforementioned limbering up will really come into play. 

Picking up what we're putting down?

You're just a cruisy 15 minutes away from knowing exactly where you stand.