Home Decor

A Guide to Ikea for Rookies

Your primer for shopping at the home mega-store.

While you’ve probably heard the virtues of Ikea extolled on high over the last few months, there’s something first time visitors might not know: Shopping at Ikea is surprisingly complex.

To make sure you’re shopping needs aren’t lost in the grand opening fanfare on September 10, we’ve put together a guide for first-time visitors.

Ikea has several main areas. First there’s the showroom, where you can see all the furniture items you’ve been lusting for on display. The showroom, located on the second floor, features areas for the living room, media storage, workspaces, kitchen, dining, bedroom and children as well as three complete model living spaces and 37 room settings. The store is designed so that you follow a specific path through the departments, but the map supplied at the entrance shows several shortcuts if you want to bypass certain sections.

The main floor is home to the Ikea Marketplace, where you’ll find the cookshop and tableware, textiles, rugs, bathroom, home organization, lighting, wall decoration and home decoration departments. While many of the items here can be taken off the shelf, for the most part you won’t be grabbing anything off the showroom floor to purchase.

Instead, when you see something you want, you write down the product name, article number, price, aisle and bin. Ikea’s maps include space for a shopping list where you can jot the info down with golf pencils; the store also supplies tape measurers.

Then you’ll go down to the main level’s self-serve warehouse, grab a dolly and find the items you want based on their aisle and bin number. Some pieces may come in several packages, so check the product label to be sure how many flat-packed boxes you should be looking for.

When entering through the main set of doors, you can drop any kids in tow at the supervised playroom for up to an hour.  Then you’ll immediately be faced with two options: You can either go straight to the self-serve area  (if you know what you want), or take an escalator to the showroom area to browse. The second floor is also home to Ikea’s restaurant and café, which serves up Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce along with other Swedish-inspired dishes and additional fare, including baby back ribs and breakfast specials.

Once you’ve grabbed your merchandise, you’ll make your way to the checkout area (temporary lanes will be set up for the grand opening in anticipation of the huge crowds), along with Ikea’s Swedish food market, featuring take-home versions of the restaurant’s dishes as well as other packaged items, as well as the store’s As-Is section, a collection of products being sold, you guessed it, as is after being featured somewhere else in the store and sustaining marks or damage that make it impossible to sell at full price.

When you’ve finished shopping, loaded up your car (Ikea has its own parking garage) and brought your finds home, the dreaded assembly process begins. For the building adverse, the store does refer assembly service providers… but you don’t need that. You just survived a shopping trip at Ikea, so there’s nothing you can’t do.