Your Complete Guide to Shopping at IKEA

IKEA storefront with large logo
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IKEA stores around the world are known (and loved) for their inventories of dynamic, hackable, affordable home decor and furnishings. While IKEA hacks are much-loved methods of upgrading or customizing IKEA's standard offerings, IKEA's always-shifting variety of products at different price points and in different styles has something for everyone, whether you're planning an IKEA hack or not. If you are lucky enough to live within driving distance of one of these stores, you are lucky indeed.

While the hype around IKEA is well-earned, a first-time visitor to an IKEA store may feel more than a little overwhelmed by the large stores (though smaller store formats are opening), multiple floors, cafeteria, and organizational system. Fortunately, there is a method to the IKEA madness.

Below are some tips to ease you along in your IKEA shopping experience.

Shopping Tips

When you come through the door, you’ll need to grab a couple of things to aid you in your shopping experience.

  • A catalog, if you don’t already have one. While IKEA discontinued its iconic catalog, stores may still have helpful visual buying guides that can help you shop.
  • A map. It’s easy to get trapped in IKEA’s maze of departments and aisles.
  • An IKEA notepad and pencil, to write down the location numbers of items that you might want to purchase.
  • An IKEA shopping bag or cart, or both.

IKEA is separated into four areas: showroom, marketplace, self-serve warehouse, and checkout.

  • The showroom, located on the top level, is your own private, grown-up playhouse, so if you don’t know exactly what you are shopping for, plan to spend some time here. This showroom is the best (and sometimes only) place to view assembled IKEA furniture. If you see something you want to purchase, the product tag will tell you where to find it and how much it costs. Record this info on your notepad to make gathering items at the end of your shopping trip easier.
  • The marketplace is where you will find IKEA decor accessories such as vases, pillows, curtains, fabric, dishes, and rugs.
  • The self-serve warehouse is where you will find the furniture that you viewed in the showroom, only now it is available for purchase. Use your notepad to find the correct aisle where the product is located. Nearly all large items will be flat-packed in boxes for you to load up with relative ease and assemble at home.
  • Finally, you have the checkout. The place where you can spend big bucks or save a ton—or both!

Additional Information

  • Tape measures are provided, so you won’t need to bring yours.
  • The product tag at IKEA is your friend. Not only does it list colors, materials, sizes, cost, and other useful information, but also the shelf number where you can collect the item from the warehouse or send a message to contact the staff if you need to collect it at Furniture Pick-up.
  • Kids play and sometimes eat free at IKEA, but if leaving your children with strangers is not your thing, children might enjoy shopping at IKEA also. (You’ll find toddlers to teens frolicking throughout the store.)
  • There are two restaurants in IKEA: The main self-serve restaurant and the bistro cafe, usually located by the checkout.
  • If you need help, salespeople can often be found across the various rooms. They can usually be found at the blue and yellow information booths scattered throughout the showroom and at the desk located in the center aisle of the warehouse.
  • Many IKEA stores offer a consultant service if you wish to furnish an entire room or home. For assistance with kitchen, office, or bedroom planning, the IKEA website offers several planning tools.
  • If you live too far from the closest store, IKEA does offer online shopping and flat rate shipping on many of its items.

Insider Tips

  • Sign up to be a member of the IKEA family program to score discounts and more.
  • Bring your own bags to checkout, unless you don’t mind paying the small charge for IKEA’s.
  • Don’t bypass the As-Is section, usually located by the checkout area. Great deals can be had here, especially if you don’t mind doing a little TLC.
  • Kitchen cabinetry is not available for pick-up in the self-serve warehouse. To purchase kitchen cabinetry, IKEA requires that you design your space first. You may design it at home online and print out your supply list, or you can use the computers in your store's kitchen section where IKEA provides a kitchen planner on hand to help. After purchase, proceed to IKEA's Furniture Pick-Up to receive your cabinets and installation hardware.