How to Plan a Successful Trip to IKEA

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The countdown is ON to when IKEA Canada officially opens its doors at its new Dartmouth, Nova Scotia location. The excitement in the region is ramping up. I know lots of people have opinions about IKEA and be that as it may, I LOVE it there. I grew up in North York, Ontario – just blocks from the IKEA at Leslie and Sheppard and I took that for granted before moving to Halifax.

It’s been a long nine years without the big yellow and blue shining beacon of flat pack furniture and meatballs – let me tell you. Today, I’m calling on my life experiences and the collective wisdom of my Twitter followers to explain How to Plan a Successful Trip to IKEA…. because you know you’re going to go at least once. a week…once a week.

Wear comfortable shoes

No, really. Because rule number one of IKEA shopping is that you’ll always be longer than you anticipate. Like A LOT LONGER. Leave the Manolos at home and lace up the Reeboks or whatever because you’re in for a long hike. Even if you sit on every Poang or Ektorp on display, your feet will thank you.

Familiarize yourself with the catalogue

I say this only so that you have a sense of what you might be shopping for. I have had extremely successful trips to IKEA like when I completely furnished my grad school apartment in one trip and fit it all into my tiny hatchback Ford Focus (I busted a bearing on my rear tire, but you know, flat pack furniture!) I’ve also had NOT so successful IKEA trips like the time I went in looking for something and I came out with a bunch of stuff that didn’t end up serving me in any real capacity and I donated most of it later on.

By familiarizing yourself with the catalogue first, you can at least establish a sense of where to direct your energy in the store. Are you shopping for a feeling for a room? Then you probably want to walk through the entire gallery and showroom space to note some of the room designs, colour schemes and innovative storage solutions. Are you shopping for specific items to solve problems you’ve identified? Then you probably want to go directly to the warehouse areas where you can pick up bowls, canisters, curtain rods and wall hooks. Having a sense of what you want from the trip will really help you save time and money.

Go with a Like-Minded Shopping Buddy 

An IKEA trip is NO TIME for a Debbie Downer. And if you have some grandiose idea of it being a great ‘date night’? You’re outta your tree. Serious shoppers only people…. move along. Pick your IKEA buddies wisely and they will help you avoid ‘I shudda bought’ syndrome and will instead fill you with ‘I’m so glad I bought’ gloating.

Know if you plan to #HackIt

IKEA Hacks are incredibly popular. People have been buying IKEA’s mainstay pieces for years and then adding their own twists or embellishments to them to give them more personality or to make them look more upscale. Case in point, I used an old Expedit shelf (now called a Kallax) for our nursery storage, but #HackedIt with the addition of wood cladding. 

Gender Neutral Nursery

If you are planning a hack, make sure you go in with that vision in your head! Know your prices and materials. IKEA can be inexpensive for some things, but not everything is a ‘savings’ – so you want to choose your DIYs wisely. Popular items for hacks include the Kallax and the RAST chest of drawers.

Just take the first spot

In the parking lot… You’ll be tempted to find a ‘closer’ spot. Don’t. Just don’t. Park a mile away and deal with it. You’re wearing comfortable shoes after all. (See point one).

Know your dimensions and space limitations

I’ve been DIYing and thrifting long enough that I have committed all of my essential dimensions to memory such as the exact width, depth and height of my car’s rear hatch. I know, for example, if something is wider than 38″, it won’t fit in my car. Know your dimensions. This will help you decided what to buy then and there, what to double check for measurements and when to just fork out the extra few bucks for delivery.

NEVER EVER LEAVE without first checking out the ‘As Is’ corner

In all likelihood, there won’t be anything in that corner when the new Dartmouth store opens…but there will be…some day. And when it fills up, it’ll fill up with gems. Discontinued slipcovers, lampshades with no bases, pieces to shelving units, a desk chair someone sneezed on once – all at a decent discount.

Good luck and Godspeed with your first foray to the great Swedish Box Store in Dartmouth Crossing! If you see me there, let’s have meatballs for lunch! 🙂

-E

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