Your Complete Guide to Shopping at IKEA

IKEA storefront with large logo
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Ikea stores worldwide are known (and loved) for their inventories of dynamic, hackable, affordable home decor and furnishings. While Ikea hacks are much-loved methods for 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.

Fortunately, there is a method for understanding how Ikea operates, and here are some tips to ease you along in your Ikea shopping experience.

Before You Arrive

While the hype around Ikea is well-earned, a first-time visitor to an Ikea store may feel a little overwhelmed by the large stores, multiple floors, cafeteria, and organizational system.

It helps to browse Ikea's website before you arrive, so you have an idea of the areas you want to visit or the items you want to see in their showrooms. Ikea's online catalog does a good job of listing all the product dimensions. But it also helps to take measurements of your space at home, especially if you're thinking about a particular piece of furniture. It saves you from having to make a return trip.

When You Arrive

When you come through the door, you can grab a few things to aid you in your shopping experience.

  • A map: It’s easy to get trapped in Ikea’s maze of departments and aisles.
  • An Ikea notepad and pencil: You might want to write down the location numbers and order numbers of items you wish to purchase. If you prefer, you can also use a mobile phone to take a snapshot of the item tag, which will help you place your order or know where to find it in the self-serve warehouse.
  • An Ikea shopping bag, cart, or both
  • Tape measures are provided, so you won’t need to bring yours.

Know the Floorplan

Ikea is separated into four areas: the showroom, marketplace, self-serve warehouse, and checkout. Interspersed in that layout are bathrooms, the cafeteria, and the indoor playground for children.

  • Showroom: Usually located on the top level, the showroom is your own private, grown-up playhouse. Ikea assembles home displays into galleries that look as if you walked into a room of a home. If you're browsing and don't know precisely what you are shopping for, you'll spend a lot of time in the showroom. You can see, touch, take photos, and measure assembled Ikea furniture. The tag on the item will tell you where to find it and how much it costs. Record this info on your notepad (or take a photo of the tag) to make gathering items at the end of your shopping trip easier.
  • Marketplace: If you want to pick up Ikea decor accessories or kitchen goods, you'll find them in the market, including vases, pillows, curtains, fabric, picture frames, artwork, lighting, dishes, kitchen utensils, rugs, and more.
  • Self-serve warehouse: The warehouse is where you will find the furniture you viewed in the showroom; you only need to load it onto a flatbed cart and bring it to checkout. Use the product tag information to find the correct aisle where the product is located. Nearly all large items will be flat-packed in boxes for you to load the cart relatively easily.
  • Checkout: Pay for your items at checkout. If the item you are buying is oversized or has multiple pieces, it may not be in the self-serve warehouse, and you will need to get it at the furniture pickup area near the store exit after you have paid for it at checkout.

How to Use the Product Tag and Get Help

Examine the product tag carefully. It lists colors, materials, sizes, cost, and other useful information, but also the shelf number where you can collect the item from the warehouse or how to place the order to collect it at the furniture pick-up area.

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 in the warehouse's center aisle.

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.

Dining There and Bringing Children

If you're getting hungry, most Ikeas have two dining areas. The main self-serve cafeteria-style restaurant serves prepared foods, featuring its famous Swedish meatballs, at discounted prices. The bistro cafe has grab-and-go options, like hot dogs, usually located by the checkout area. An added perk is children can sometimes eat free (or heavily discounted) at Ikea with an adult meal purchase.

Kids play for free in the Smaland playground. It is an adult-supervised play area for potty-trained children 37 inches to 54 inches. The max time is 1 hour. The same person who dropped them off will have to pick them up. However, most children often enjoy going through Ikea, too. You'll often find toddlers to teens frolicking throughout the store.


If you live too far from the closest store, Ikea offers online shopping and flat-rate shipping on many of its items.

Additional Tips

  • Sign up as a member of the Ikea family program to score discounts and more.
  • Bring your bags to checkout unless you don't mind paying the small charge for Ikea's bags.
  • 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 plan out your space first. You may design it at home online and print out your supply list or use the computers in your store's kitchen section, where Ikea provides a kitchen planner to help. After purchase, proceed to Ikea's furniture pick-up area to receive your cabinets and installation hardware.