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Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

by | Apr 27, 2011 | Decorating Inspiration

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Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

You might remember a little over a week ago when I introduced you to Amanda from Everyday Elements. She was embarking on a Home Office Makeover and going to take us along for the ride! I always love seeing makeovers and it is fun to see one happen before my eyes where I don’t have to spend a cent!

Today for Part Two of this Home Office Makeover series, Amanda is going to take us on her IKEA shopping trip. If you have never been to IKEA, you can experience it through Amanda’s eyes. And if you have been, I hope you’ll share your best IKEA SHOPPING TIPS in the comments! Take it away, Amanda!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First I want to thank Melissa for sharing about my office remodel here at The Inspired Room. You’re the best, Melissa!

Melissa shared with you shots of my many-windowed-bedroom-turned-office, which seriously needed some attention. I wanted this done before my first in-person photography workshop, so I knew I need to kill a lot of birds with one stone. What better place to do that than IKEA?

On April 16th, my husband, sister, niece and I headed to IKEA in Charlotte, NC, about 2.5 hours from my home. My sister drove her own car, as she was heading back home to Raleigh, NC. We were taking my Dodge Grand Caravan (that does not have the “stow and go” seats), so my husband took out the two back seats and was going to take out the middle two also, but I said “oh, don’t bother, we won’t have THAT much stuff to bring home.” (Yes, I later regretted those words).

TIP: Make sure you have PLENTY of room in your vehicle to bring home your IKEA finds.

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

We grabbed the ready-to-be-loaded down IKEA buggy and started on our way.

My sister, who is a big The Inspired Room fan, wanted to be “in” one of the pictures without really having her picture taken, so when I went to take a shot of the buggy, she put her hand in quick. Hi, Kirstie, love you!!!

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

The main thing I wanted to get accomplished first was finding the desk. For me, everything was going to revolve around the desk. Well, this proceeded to be a bit of a problem because I wanted simple and user friendly, my husband wanted non-girly and sturdy and my sister wanted attractive and fashionable.

I think they shot down the first three desks I liked. I was not a happy IKEA shopper at that point. And, if I liked a desk that my husband sort of okayed, then he would wiggle it, shake it, press down on it, look under it and if it was not deemed structurally sound, it got vetoed.

Me: Oh, this one is simple and functional, I like it.

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}


Him: Let me see. Wiggle, shake, look under….nope.

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

Me: Oh, I love this one. A bit traditional but simple and all I need.
Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

Him: Too girly, and….wiggle, shake, look under….not sound enough. Veto.
Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

After about five vetoes (I am not kidding), we stumble across a desk that both my sister and husband like and it fits my qualifications, so I consent. Of course it is the most expensive one. Wonderful. See, it’s easy for them to pick when it’s not their money being spent.

Oh, and notice this one is not girly…. Which at that point I had to ask him why did that matter? It is my office mister! Love you, Sweetheart. Kisses.

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}


We then went on a hunt for book shelves and a credenza type thing for behind my desk. That was a whole new adventure. Oh, and I didn’t mention that it was BUSY that day and I am not such a good crowd person so my stress level was getting on up there.

After that we work through the bottom floor, looking at lights, frames, drapes and other accessories. I wish I had pictures of lots of little things I bought for the office, but really other than some frames, two baskets that I don’t need now, a set of drapes I have to return and a trash can, I didn’t do much buggy filling on that floor. Well, I had a stool that I later couldn’t buy in there, but that is a story I do not have time to tell.

So, now we are on to the warehouse to collect our goodies. Being newbie IKEA furniture shoppers that we were, we were NOT prepared for this part. Oh. My. Word. I cannot tell you how upset I was by the SECOND time I had to go back upstairs to find out all the little parts we needed for something.

TIP: If you are planning an IKEA trip for furniture, take along a notebook and pen and write down EVERYTHING. Trust me. Do it.

Below is a shot of our buggy, and one cart. Foolish us. Thinking one cart was all we needed. ;-)

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

By the time we got all we needed and pushed out way to the checkout, this is what our little buggy train looked like:

TIP: You will probably need more than one cart if you are doing some serious shopping.


Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

Now is the time I start doing some recalculating of my items and I think I am at around $930. Praying I figured everything correctly.

Shopping at IKEA for a New Home Office! {And tips for newbie IKEA shoppers!}

Hey! Not bad, I was $70 off and just barely over $1000, I’ll take that.

That is when I remembered that I had not given them the ticket for the top of the desk, something we just had a paper for, to pick up in a different area. That was another $130. I was too sad to take a picture of that. :-(

So, I put my big-girl pants on and moved forward. Now, let’s get this stuff loaded up. After arranging and rearranging, my husband did manage to get everything in the back of the van. Barely. Sure with those middle two seats had been taken out.

There you have it, my office IKEA adventure. Good news: most everything I needed to build my sleek new office came home with me. Bad new: I went over budget.

I am actually writing this from my new desk, in my freshly painted office. Things have come together nicely with just a few hiccups here and there. Next week I will share a few more in-process pictures then reveal the after shots, so you can see how things worked out!

Thanks Amanda! That was fun and I cannot wait to see how your room comes together!


As long as we are talking about IKEA, I thought I’d share my top five IKEA shopping tips:

1) Measure your rooms and spaces and write all measurements in a notebook that you bring with you.

2) Bring a measuring tape.

3) Don’t bring early grade school boys with you if you need to actually SHOP while you are at IKEA.

4) Eat the meatballs and lingonberry sauce for lunch. Do it.

5) Oh, and buy the lingonberry sauce for later. You can make anything tastier with that sauce.

Have you been to IKEA?

What are your tips for making the most of your IKEA shopping trip? Please share them in the comments!


A note from my awesome sponsor Sarah at Three Boys: In honor of earth day, Shaklee is offering FREE MEMBERSHIP {$19.95} value if you purchase $30 in products, click here for details. Plus for all new members, a special Three Boys promo! You can email Sarah for details or just see your surprise at check out.


  1. Becky K.

    I haven’t been to IKEA but this was a great primer in case we ever choose to go there. It sounds like it would have been easy to spend three times that amount….great job!!

    Now, I’m also thinking it would be wise to go alone…unless I want my furniture to be sturdy and functional…lol.

    Becky K.
    Hospitality Lane

  2. amy

    GO on a weekday!
    GO when there is free breakfast or lunch!
    GO backwards around the loop just as the doors open!
    GO GO GO check out the as-is section!
    Try the little broccoli quiche things!
    Buy tabletops in the as-is section and match with new legs.
    If you are a gardener, the IKEA flowerpots are sturdy, beautiful and cheaper than WalMart (love the deep, deep brown).
    Make sure you drop your kids OFF in the kid’s babysitting playland WONDERLAND!!
    Buy what you came for, but IKEA is one of those stores you MUST buy a few impulse items that you LOVE. Just make sure they are cheap (which is not hard at IKEA!)
    Favorites include the straws, kid’s froggy plates and little bowls, cork trivets (great as corkboards), kitchen equipment (like the little white scrubbers), and MANY perfectly good diplay items on super clearance in the as-is section.

    DON’T try to get slipcovers from the as-is section. It rarely works.
    DON’T buy something with a cardboard backing unless you plan on taking it off…it never lasts more than a few weeks while looking good.
    DON’T go on a Saturday for serious shopping.
    DON’T buy sofas (they are the ONLY thing at IKEA I would pass up almost as a definite every time…you can find cheaper, better versions elsewhere)
    DON’T go with only 1 hour…you will always need more time!
    Don’t bring hubby! :)

    I could go on and on and on and on….LOVE IKEA!

    • susan

      Hey Amy :) I wud make ur list for *any* bigbox warehouse type store! The best deals i’ve ever purchased on-site were in that “back corner”,where there’s only one left, or it’s been returnd for a really stoopid reason(listed&checked out). Thanx tho for the tip abt sofas,tho I doubt i’d ever look there-i prefer older with kiln dried hardwood&tied springs-can be slippd or re-up’d anyway :) and I Luv ur apron! 1more placemat &it’s a bib apron! ;) thx-s-

  3. amy

    Heavens that was a long comment….forgive me!

  4. Jill W.

    Before you go to IKEA browse their website and put anything you think you might want to buy or look into an IKEA shopping list (a website feature they offer). When you are ready to go print out a copy for your store or e-mail it to your phone. You’ll have a list with pictures, price and the exact location of that item for your IKEA store (be sure to select your local store). It will also show if the item is in stock. If it’s an item with multiple parts it should list each part and where you can find it in the store/warehouse. This information shows up on the printed list not the working list on screen. You’ll also have a total $ amount at the bottom of the list. This has save me tons of time!

  5. Laurie

    My tip: Play around with their online design tool before you go. You can “try out” different pieces and it will give you a list of what you need. It was very helpful when planning my wall of Billy bookshelves for my reading room.

  6. kirstie

    my number one IKEA tip: if you live any distance away from your ‘local’ IKEA, check the online inventory before you go – despite the fabulouness that is IKEA, gas is far too expensive to drive all that way to find out they don’t have what you need!

  7. Kirstie

    Amanda’s sister here…I had a delightful time on the shopping trip, but then it is always more fun to shop when it is not your money being spent. IKEA is amazing and exhausting rolled together. There is just so much there to see. Perusing a catalog before you go is very helpful.

    I love this blog, and it was a huge thrill for my fingers to be on it ;)

    • kirstie

      okay, what kind of coincidence is that?!?! nice to meet another! :-D

      • Kirstie

        How funny! We even posted at the same times.

        I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; We are Kirsties ;)

  8. Irene

    I have to say don’t bring little kids with you if you want to shop. They won’t sit still, they’ll jump on everything, and run around the store driving you mad.

    Oh, is that just me?

    Nevermind then.

  9. Judy

    I love Ikea. I don’t go as often as I would like…and I literally pass by it four nights a week when I drive my kids to tennis. Can’t wait to see what you got.

  10. Imperfect

    I’m with you on how stressful a busy Ikea can be. Fortunately for me we have one in our city, so I can go up early in the morning – when it first opens – so I don’t have to fight the crowds. Anyway, love the desk!

  11. gina

    Love your post! Love IKEA but you are right about taking notes while shopping and measuring. I was at the Charlotte IKEA recently and wonder if we were there the same day. It was so busy I was freaking out.

    How did you like the carts with a mind of their own? Very hard to steer! I had returned something prior to shopping and had the $ put onto an IKEA card…..don’t go through the self checkout with one of those! It has to be keyed in (the associate failed to tell me that) and no help was available as I pushed the “Help” button numerous times. Ripped out the credit card and will use the merchandise credit next trip :). The “manned” checkout lines were a mile long and only 2 out of 10-15 were opened (which tends to be the case).

    How long did it take you to put everything together? My first experience with IKEA stuff for my college kids was quite time consuming and the stuff is so heavy!! Surprised your husband vetoed so many. The displays could have been loose from so many people wiggling them!

    Enjoy your office!!

  12. KatMoss

    I agree with another poster who said to check the inventory before going – I had that issue when I was going to buy my new desk. The day we were going, I checked and found the one I’d had all picked out was out of stock! So I had to re-group and choose another, which ended up being a really good thing as I love my 2nd choice (frosted glass top vs. wood top). Another tip – pre-shop online. I planned & planned & planned what I was going to buy. I had a really good idea of what I was after before stepping foot in the store. Since our closest IKEA is almost 5 hours away, it’s a weekend trip, not a day trip, so I needed to get it right!


    Thank you for your inside information and tips. It looks like a daunting experience if you’re not well prepared and knowledgeable. Browsing their online catalog you get the idea it will be very easy and forthcoming.

  14. Sarah

    Nicely done! Thanks again for the shout out:) I can’t wait to see your office when it is finished!!

  15. Amanda S.

    My closest Ikea is about 2 hours away, but is literally 5 minutes from a best friend’s house. (So jealous that she can pop in whenever!)

    My recommendations:
    Wear comfy walking shoes.
    Be prepared to wander and even go back to areas you’ve all ready been thru.
    Don’t bring kids. Not only will it be easier on you, your fellow shoppers will not give you evil looks when you kids keep getting in their way. (I’m one of those childless shoppers glaring at you!)
    Expect the unexpected. You go in with an idea and find something else that works even better.
    Take a snack break.
    Brace yourself to deal with the cinnamon bun smell and resist the temptation to buy some on your way out.
    If you really want it and it is in stock, buy it, especially with soft furnishings and accessories. It will not always be a current item and you lose out.

  16. Cathy

    Ikea is a 2 story, extremely large warehouse. It is designed that so you walk through every square foot of it prior to getting to the check out. The “path” leads you through the entire upper level, past the restaurant, down to the main floor and through the entire main floor before leading you to the check out stands. They plan for you to spend time there and they don’t want you to miss a single area. There are no windows and no easily found exterior doors. The bathrooms are not easy to find and are only located at the entrance of the store. The signs through out store just lead you deeper into the store itself. I became claustrophobic on my first trip to Ikea and suffered a full blown panic attack because I could not find my way out. They do post “short cuts” as a way out but I was unable to manage them in a hurry. I would suggest grabbing a map as you enter the store and orient yourself to the layout. Make note of the short cuts and don’t be afraid of using them. The fire exits are not well marked and not easy to find. Make sure you know how to find your way out to the front of the store in case of emergency. If you ask a staff member for help, they will only direct you along the “path” that is marked. If you need to exit quickly ask (I had to demand…) to be assisted to the main entrance as quickly as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ikea but now I am a smarter, safer shopper. Good luck!

  17. Missy June

    I’ve never been to Ikea – is it really worth it?

  18. teresa

    These are some GREAT IKEA tips!
    Loved this post!
    LOVE the meatballs!

  19. Holly

    LOVE LOVE LOVE IKEA! Just wish there was one close — WHY are there none in the actual midwest?! Chicago or TX are the closest ones — both at least 9hours away! wahhhh….

    ANyhow, used to shop there ALL the time – gotta love it for the military, light sturdy furniture and not to exspensive to replace if the Army breaks it! ;)

    I don’t know if anybody mentioned this but once you have decided what you want you MUST MUST MUST check the “Fundgrube”/Clearence/Returns section before going through the warehouse shelves — TRUST me! It’s worth the backtracking …. we got our hideabed Ektorp sleeper for 1/2 off this way and a bookshelf for the girls room for way cheap. Only caveat is some are already put together thus requiring MORE room in the vehicle, or may be missing a small piece,etc… but you can score some great deals!!

    Ikea has some cheaply made stuff (partical board) and some that is all wood so check.

    SIGH …. missin IKEA

    • Holly

      ps … most also have play areas for younger children which is awesome and helpful, definitely eat there and buy some take homes …. and if you pay attention the bathrooms,etc aren’t so hard to find.

      • Holly

        always went with hubby and children — it was an outing! :) depends on your outlook I guess… oh and if you happen to be stationed in Europe and are reading this take the VAT form!! Whoohoo!

    • Patti H.


      There is an Ikea in Metro Detroit. It’s in Canton, Michigan.


      • Holly

        still 9 hours or more from the middle of KS….but thanks, and still not truly in the MIDWEST in my book lol … I mean WHY isn’t there one in Kansas City?!

        • Robin

          There is one in Bloomington, Minnesota also.

        • susan

          Hey Holly-am surprised nothing closer2u,not even StLouis? Might be worth a “flashmob” of sorts? Is how I kept the last remaining sewing/craft/knit dept open in Walmart anywhere near me. On a busline&several fam’s in line sewing school clothes for 1st time when I was scouting clearance&discont’d supplies. Clerk sed was last one&plans to close for party dept,when ppl cudnt afford school supplies-i suggested&we all hit up friends,they passd word&corp HQ got slammd via tollfree&email. Gr8 considering last JoAnn on urban busline just closed (which those fam’s cudnt afford anyway). If demand, retailers will consider supply! If I can help,let me know :)

          • Holly

            sniff sniff… nope not even one in St Louis (unless there’s a new one not listed on the Ikea website….

            Really miss it, so needing (ok wanting) a shoe cabinet!

  20. Nicole Mensour

    I am known among my friends and family as a bit of an IKEA addict. Unfortunately, two years ago we moved to another city in Canada that doesn’t have an IKEA (how is this possible?)and I’m still trying to get over the loss. Here are some of my best IKEA tips:

    Try to shop on a weekday if possible.

    Get there when the store opens to hit the as-is section.

    If you already know what you’re buying, you can check the dimensions of the packaging on their website to make sure it will fit in your vehicle.

    Make sure to stop into the restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I recommend the quiche. My kids love the meatballs.

    Stop at the food section on your way out to discover lots of yummy desserts and other treats.

    IKEA has the best deal on paper napkins. I bring home a suitcase full when I go back home to visit!

    Happy shopping!!

  21. Carolyn

    My favorite time of year to shop at IKEA is before Christmas. Two years ago I scored some great bargains and they had cute things they don’t stock regularly.

    I also second, go on a weekday, don’t bring kids, come prepared with measurements, and buy lingonberry sauce.

    I add: Bring paper and a pencil with you to write down all your parts, aisles, etc. Ikea pencils are too small.
    Don’t bring your aging parent or someone without good muscles to help you. Things are heavy there. Bring your strapping sons/nephews.
    Check when you buy furniture that the right screws, eyelets, hardware, etc. are enclosed. If necessary, ask a sales clerk to open the box and check inside it for you. Then you’ll find out that sometimes there isn’t any enclosed, and that’s a separate purchase. Now you won’t have to make another trip.
    Eat first, then shop. Its just easier not to haul that heavy cart unnecessarily.
    Go to the bathroom right after you eat and save yourself from backtracking later.
    Wear comfy shoes. Its all concrete, and you’re going to be there for a while, delighting in bargains and better ways to organize your life.

  22. Rachel

    Our IKEA opens this fall.

    I cannot wait to go! My fiance is dreading it because he knows I will be an addict. We close on our new house in three weeks, but by the time the IKEA opens I will still have plenty left that I will “need”!

    I have never been and definitely appreciate the tips!

  23. Dariela

    It’s very interesting and fun to read about your experience, thanks so much for sharing! I was very surprised about the fact your husband had to have such a strong opinion ok the look, even though it’s your desk! But it’s cool to know how we all do the shopping so differently! Thanks again and I’ll be lolling forward to see how it turned out!

  24. Bonnie Mattson

    Melissa, this was fun, thanks Amanda! IKEA…I love it and I hate it. I love the prices, the accessories, etc. but following that yellow line to get out and trying to retrace your steps to pick up something you missed makes me nuts.

    My best memories of IKEA are when the stores were more scarce and and my married daughter and her friend would drive all the way from Salt Lake to CA to go. They would leave with a carload you would have to see to believe. But the best part, they stayed with us. Now they have one just a few miles from their house! :-( The other favorite memory is of my other married daughter nearly having a heart attack when we happened upon one in Elizabeth, New Jersey while we were vacationing there. My girls love it and I love going with them and watching them have the IKEA experience. All your tips are fantastic. IKEA is an unusual and fun shopping experience if you know what you are doing.

  25. Pat

    1. Do not go to IKEA on a weekend, if at all possible. It is always crowded on the weekend. My husband hates IKEA because when he has been there it is do crowded. We lived within 5 miles of IKEA and if I went during a weekday it was heaven. No crowds. It might even be worth taking a day off rather than combat shop. It does really depend on you viewpoint though some people thrive on lots of people.

    2. Look online 1st to get an idea of the items you want. There are dimensions for everything there. This helps planning the space. Package dimensions are provided as well so you know if it will fit in your vehicle. Some items they do ship, but there is a charge and the distance may be limited.

    3. The wiggle test is a good idea. I did this for my sewing cabinet and eliminated several cabinets. Some items are more durable then others. I have bought 3 pieces of furniture from IKEA. A bookcase, my sewing cabinet and the Ecktorp chaise chair.

    4. It is a great place just to look for modern design and placement ideas.

    5. I love the marketplace. Save time to visit this. I could spend several hours just looking there.


  26. SArah

    We actually just made a trip to IKEA last Friday. It’s spring break around here, so there was plenty of people around. I think it was also kid appreciation day, so we say a lot of young kids too. IKEA is about 45 minutes away from us in a very high traffic area, so we do not go often (1-2 times a year. This trip was the first time we actually purchased anything. I went specifically to get a daybed for our spare room. I agree with the previous poster who recommended you check the stock before going especially if you want something specific.

    We did take our children (ages 8 & 4). IKEA has a childcare facility that allows you to drop off your children (if they fit the hight restrictions) for 1 hour. Really, 1 hour isn’t enough unless you know what you are going for and only do some light browsing. IKEA is huge! We were able to locate our item and agree that we still wanted it after testing it out and do some light browsing before we had to pick up the kiddos. After we picked them up (they had a great time!), we then found our furniture and checked out.

    The IKEA we went to had these little brochures stations (found in multiple areas in the store) that told you how to shop/find furniture. Next to the brochures were little pencils so you to fill in the blanks on the brochure that would eventually direct you to the aisle/lot to find your furniture. It was easy to follow.

    The day we went, IKEA offered a deal that we could take the price of our meal off any home furnishings purchase over $100.00. So, we ate for FREE. The food is good and the selection is surprising.

    We ended up buying a daybed, wine glasses 6-pack (which were cheaper at IKEA than the Goodwill), an orchid and pot and lunch for our family of 4 all for unde $150.00. We also got free childcare for a full hour.

    All in all, it was a excellent shopping day. I highly recommend checking it out at some point.

  27. Rachel Lynn

    Definitely to go thinking you’re just going to be in and out. Make sure you have LOTS of time to see everything!

  28. Charity

    I actually love taking my kids to Ikea! They love playing when we get to the toy section and kids room stuff and its always fun to have a little cheap lunch together. They even have a nursing room by the restaurant which I have never seen in a store before.
    My other Ikea tip is that you need to recognize that a good portion of Ikea furnishings don’t hold up super well. Your husband was smart to shake the desks. Finishes scratch off really easily sometimes too. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that when I really want something because it is easy to be blinded to the quality you actually know isn;t very good by seeing how cute it is or whatever.
    I LOVE Ikea for accessories though and I agree about the asis section! You really need to go there first! Great deals!

  29. Heidi Milton

    I haven’t been to IKEA in YEARS (22 to be exact) but am planning to go for my home office redo ~ awesome tips, everybody! Needless to say, the online tips were not available when I last trekked through their aisles, but you all will be encouraged to know that I still have 2 dressers I bought back in 1989 and they have held up through moves, kids, etc.

  30. courtney

    We are headed to Ikea for more deck furniture. We have some pieces from seven years ago (still holding up), but our picnic table rotted (not Ikea), so we have a big empty spot. Great tips. Will certainly use some on our adventure.

  31. TidyMom

    My number 1 IKEA tip…… close enough to shop at one! :(

    I’ve never been, and am so jealous of those of you who do!

    Great post both of you!!!

  32. Lizzi S.

    I love IKEA!

    My tips…

    Having a game plan of how I want a room/wall/bed to look like, but still being open minded. All of the variety can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re there for.

    Be prepared to walk. And get lost despite the arrows.

    Check out the as-is section. We bought a piece of wood countertop that I use as a large cutting board – LOVE it!

    If possible don’t bring kids. And if you’re husband doesn’t really want to be there, don’t bring him.

    Buy bedding. I have loved all the bedding I’ve gotten there.

  33. Kacey

    Great tips! I ♥ Ikea, but it is definitely an experience if you’ve never been! We live about 45 minutes away and don’t go frequently – which is good considering how many great deals there are to be had.


  34. Laura

    Plan on spending a LOT of time there if it’s your first time! The showrooms can give you plenty of good ideas for your house, whether for now or in the future. Make SURE you have a measuring tape- the little paper ones they have there are worthless when it comes to measuring. Comfy shoes are a must, too. Also a waterbottle.

    Random thing: IKEA can make a great cheap date if they have the kids’ play area. Just drop them off and go relax on a couch in the showroom for lovely long talks! (And you can get a treat from the restaurant to share.)

  35. Gina

    I always go early in the a.m. and have one of their cheapo delish breakfasts with the best coffee ever. Seriously. If I lived closer I would go there a few times a week for coffee. I also wear sensible TENNIES. I Take a LIST of what I want to look for. And I try to leave the boys at home. They mope. They play in stuff and act goofy. They distract me no end.

  36. Jana

    My tip is go early! In fact, the cafe is open an hour before the store, so grab a breakfast while perusing a catalog or planning out your walk through. Most of the time I’m lining up at the registers as the crowds begin to arrive.

    Sometimes you can find maps of departments and see short cuts. If not, find an Ikea addict to lead you through! They know the short cuts you would want to take.

    Plan on spending more – you never know what is going be on sale or what’s just been put out on the floor.

    Grab one of the little bag carts, if you are alone or on a budget. First, you won’t buy things you don’t really need; second, you won’t buy more than you can handle; third, it’s easier to maneuver through, giving you less time to window-shop/buy; fourth, if you are getting furniture, the bag is easy to attach to a furniture cart, thus not requiring anyone to drive two carts.

  37. Megan

    Order an Ikea catalog from their website (or pick one up in the store). I refer to mine often for dimensions, as it’s sometimes handier than the website.

    Take pictures of tags with your phone. I used to write it all down with the golf pencil, but now I just snap a picture. I also take pics of items I’m not wanting that day, but want to keep in mind.

    Bring a shopping bag for smaller items. You will be able to purchase a huge Ikea bag reasonably, and they do not have plastic bags.

    I am lucky enough to live in an Ikea market. I like to go on Tuesday or Wednesday, away from busy weekends and after they’ve had a chance to recover/restock.

    The play area is only for children not in diapers.

  38. Lesley

    I love IKEA and am a semi regular visitor…but my tips for here in Australia are:
    Check the website for stock availability then always call the store to make sure the item is actually in stock. They’ve been having some problems with their website and I’ve gone into the store to buy a few things only to find they weren’t available, even though the website stated they were.

    Take a list of the items you want with you
    Take a tape measure and always allow more time than you think you’ll need.
    Also…shop alone. My girlfriend hates IKEA and I would never drag her through there when I like to wander and sometimes double back and re-check things.

    Also, IKEA is great for knobs and handles. I’ve bought a lot of their Lindsdal knobs for a quick kitchen cabinet makeover and also their small black metal knobs for drawer pulls. They look great.

  39. susan

    THANK YOU Amanda&Melissa! Out from under lurkrock for this one. :) tho I hv never actually been to the IKEA 2hrs away, I hv an “adoptee” who makes regular trips home &is very near the Pbgh store(along with some of my fave outlets). SOMEday,since we both have trucks&her daddy has a bigger one we cud swipe for a day or so,we are going shopping! I plan to use my “warehouse bigbox store” rules-clearance/as-is 1st! And since both Em&I grew up holding tools&helping build/repair/plumb, sorry but I am also a leaner/wiggler/sturdy grinch. ;) not well built?Not coming home.I will say,tho considering never been in a store or even ordrd online,I hv found *steals* on ebay.Locals hit sales&clearances&then put up for auction/wholesale.I’ve purch’d ton of items for 75-85%off-wood storage with hinged lids,pendant lights&lamp,xtra long&wide sheers&the biggest ring curtain clips for my canopy(they slide&puddle perfectly),&white duck roman shades in every size(less than the fabric!).LUV wire&clip curtain sets4hankie display! :)

  40. Amy

    I love Ikea! My kids go to the play center. They can be there for 2 hours. It’s awesome. We usually have breakfast, check out the kids section so they can play, then they go to the childcare room to go nutso while I shop:-)

    Looks like you had fun. Can’t wait to see the final office!

  41. Cheryl

    I loved this post…I love Ikea! Even though my own decorating style is more colonial, I ALWAYS find something(somethingS) to bring home when I go to Ikea. Floor pillows, everyday cereal bowls, chair for my nine-year-old daughter’s NON-colonial room, picture frames, knit throw, rug for my fifteen-year-old daughter’s non-colonial room, paper napkins, kitchen towels…

    Looking forward to the next parts in this office makeover series!

  42. bridget {bake at 350}

    Love tips 4 & 5! Don’t forget those thin little cookies with the chocolate sandwiched in the middle. They are a MUST! :)

  43. Lisa

    I love IKEA! I go there all the time. Sometimes just to walk around and get inspired! Sometimes to get my kids tired (they love running around and trying all the furniture out). Sometimes we just go there to eat at the restaurant. But i always end up buying something! I can always use candles and napkins :-) I have to admit – i´m a IKEA junkie!

  44. The Yellow Cape Cod

    That was fun! I love IKEA and don’t have one nearby so thank you for taking me along with Amanda. Melissa, I love the new room tours and DIY pages on your blog. Your keeping me inspired:)

  45. Laura

    Our Ikea tips:

    1. Start with a yummy breakfast. Keeps hubby happy while wandering around upstairs watching the children open every cabinet and appliance door in the store.

    2. Take Grandpa with ’cause he will sit in the kids’ area and watch the grandchildren play after they get tired of opening cabinet doors. Then you can finish looking upstairs!

    3. Write down everything you want and where to find it!

    4. Take snacks and drinks. When you get downstairs to the marketplace, start feeding hubby and grandpa, because when breakfast wears off, they will very quickly lose interest in all of the merchandise that you find fascinating.

    5. Take a smart teenage boy with you, so he can help you figure out how to load a round dining table, 4 Henriksdal chairs, and miscellaneous other stuff into the mini-van when you have 4 children and 3 car seats still in there!

    6. Disregard previous tips, leave kids with said grandpa (at home!) and go with your mom for a fun girls-only day!

  46. Jen

    Is it Ikea blog advertising week or something? What’s with everyone posting about Ikea?

    • Melissa

      No advertising for Ikea here, just having fun shopping!

  47. Lari

    Love, love, love IKEA! Especially their storage stuff and shelves. My tips are: go on a weekday morning, do NOT take kids if you can help it, have your measurements w/ you, get some great ideas from their living areas and be prepared to buy a few impulse items…it’s just gonna happen!

  48. Bonnie

    Great tips. I live 30 minutes away from one but have only been once because of what I had heard about crowds and because I knew I’d be overwhelmed (and I was). I went this Jan. 1 and honestly the crowds weren’t that bad even though it was a Saturday. And since I didn’t need anything it didn’t matter that I got overwhelmed.

    I did think their curtain prices were good especially if you need longer than 84′ . They also had some rugs that were a very good value. And as everyone has said the accessories are a real draw.

    So glad to hear that I’m not the only one when it comes to getting around. I actually had to ask how to get back somewhere.

    Can someone tell me how you’re supposed to get downstairs with a cart? And why is the food market thing AFTER you’ve already gone thru checkout and paid? And I second the recommendation about the thin cookies with the chocolate. Delish (so much so that Pepperidge Farm has copied them).

    I will go back but I would never take my husband; he would hate it. Well he might go if I promised him the meatballs and that he didn’t have to shop.

  49. Screaming Meme

    I heart IKEA…and you…your blog and style…

    I am having a giveaway…well a series of them…starting with a slipcover! :) I thought I would stop in to let you and your readers know…

    Xo, Meme

  50. Susan

    Last time I went to Ikea, we were looking for a sectional couch, for a budget of under $1,000.

    We got the couch, but we also got another $1,500 worth of stuff.

    Note to self – don’t bring a debit card with too much money on it :)

  51. josephine

    We are getting a brand new Ikea in the Denver metro area and I seriously can’t wait! Thanks for the good tips. I plan to spend at least a full day exploring everything. The funny part is the community is having such a stink about the huge Ikea sign…They just don’t get it.

  52. Catherine N.

    ALWAYS save your receipt! (I bought a bathroom light, got home, found it did not have the parts to attach the shade when I went to put it up, and when I went back they needed the receipt because the hardware was in the box with the light…I had to buy a second one to get the hardware!)

    I love the drapes at Ikea, and have also bought props for the theatre there….I’ve found some great lights that have not been advertised in the catalog or the website… Got wonderful kitchen lights there.

  53. Rona

    Shop with a plan on what you want to buy. If you don’t you’ll end up spending more then you wanted.

    Consider putting in your budget assembly. For those that are mechanically inclined this is a must have.

  54. Rona

    Make sure you have ample transportation. Consider renting a Uhaul truck.

  55. Sallie

    I have to say, I admire your husband. I can’t get mine to step a foot into IKEA. If he did, he would also test all the furniture! Can’t wait to see your office!

  56. Amber

    As a recent college graduate and outfitting my first big girl apartment, let me first say, I love this site! I’m a huge Ikea fan. I used it when I had a place with 4 other girls and the stuff can be cheap (price and quality. However now with the end of house parties and the freedom to decorate my own way I set out to Ikea to get my bedroom and living room furniture.

    My biggest advice for newbies to the store is utilize their online catalog, order or pick up a paper catalog in store and spend at least one day just browsing and taking notes. Their catalogs have great advice on how to use furniture in small spaces, and make the most out of your room. If you come to the store, you can really see the quality of the furniture itself. A big thing I’ve learned from a friend who worked there in high school, if the piece is not for display on the floor, do not buy it. There is a reason they aren’t showing it to you. Yes it’s available, but it’s better suited to college frat houses. That being said, there are some wonderful buys. Read the product descriptions so you know what its actually made of, and know what you’re actually getting. Like everyone else said have plenty of room to haul your purchases (I filled the backseat of my parents van, plus came back later for some other things I had to order).

    Once you arrive home, the hardest part is ahead of you. Warn your husbands, boyfriends, etc that their directions do not have words. They pack an incredible amount of parts into small boxes. I sometimes wonder if they build their furniture off of how they can pack it. I think the most frustrating part is the assembly. It took myself, my boyfriend and a few friends to get it all together. DO ONE PIECE AT A TIME! Don’t try to start 8 different things at once if you’re building furniture. They have tons of small parts. I know setting up to put my Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser together, we spent about 45 minutes checking all the parts were there before beginning.

    I know this is crazy long for a comment, but Ikea has so much to offer, it’s good to know everything! Happy shopping!

  57. Jennifer

    Be comfortable enough to sit down and hang out where you need to “shop.” I just bought a new desk last weekend–on the ill-advised saturday (I, too, do not like crowds.) Rather than wandering around the desk section, I took a seat at one of the pre-assembled desk set-ups where I could see almost every desk option from where I sat. I was out of the flow of traffic and able to really contemplate the pros and cons of each option. Sitting where I was, it only took ten minutes of contemplation–rather than the “dance” of working around others in the same section.

  58. Megan

    Where is the finished product of this office redo?

  59. Dan Martin

    I love IKEA, it is a great place to get furniture for a dorm room because they seem to specialize in small space furniture.

  60. Heather

    Ikea shopping tip: Enter through the exit (near cashiers), purchase a refillable drink in a paper cup, then proceed upstairs. You can refill the cup upstairs (where they only give glass glasses to drink from) and carry it around the store with you!

  61. Crystal

    Oh IKEA! How I have had a massive love affair with you over the years! IKEA is a shopping experience, and it is not for the faint at heart! I suggest reserving an entire day, because once you get inside, it’s kind of like the fun house at the fair {you’re trapped and have to keep walking through the whole thing}! This is well planned on their part {lots of time to throw things into your giant yellow bag), but it can be very over stimulating if you’re not mentally prepared! Also, make a list before you go. Just do it and stick to it! Although “cheap”, your total really can rise quickly! Lastly, while the meatballs for lunch are a MUST, you also have to buy some Swedish chocolate for your drive home! That’s a tradition of ours.

  62. Ikealady

    Visited as a young girl my first Ikeastore in 1967 , and it did such an impression that I still can remember some of the displays.
    Been many trips that way since then.
    Beginning to feel like a veteran when it comes to Ikeashopping.
    In Sweden most husbands hates visiting Ikea.
    So my best advice is “leave your hubby at home ”

    Welcome to take a peek at my blog, Ikea almost built our home. Mixed with other finds , heirlooms and crafts.
    Regards from the swedish Ikealady


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