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IKEA Furniture Is Cheap and Stylish—but Is It Worth it? A firsthand experience from a first-time shopper at the affordable furniture giant

Is IKEA Furniture Worth It

IKEA Furniture Is Cheap and Stylish—but Is It Worth it? A firsthand experience from a first-time shopper at the affordable furniture giant

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Let’s face it: Furniture is expensive. Whether you just got a new place or feel like sprucing up your outdated decor, furniture comes with a serious price tag.

For example, a full bedroom set can cost thousands of dollars—and that only covers one room of your home!

I’ve had the same bedroom furniture since I was a teenager, and I decided it was time to buy my own. I graduated college, got an amazing full-time job and recently signed a lease for a new apartment. It was time for some “adult” furniture.

However, I didn’t want to spend thousands on a bedroom set. (I’m not on that level of adulting yet.) I wanted to save money. So, what did I do? I headed to the closest IKEA.

IKEA: The Land of Affordable and Attractive Furniture

IKEA Warehouse

Because I’d never been faced with furnishing an apartment or even just one room on my own, this was new territory for me. I’d heard friends and family rave about IKEA, how cheap it is and how nice everything looks once set up.

I did my research online and picked out the pieces I wanted to buy: a queen-size MALM bed frame, two MALM nightstands and one three-drawer MALM dresser. The total price for all these items? $350!

For a store that stocks everything from bed frames to coffee pots, shopping there is quite an adventure.

The Journey

If you’ve never been to an IKEA, let me start by telling you it is an experience. Even IKEA’s website has a shopping guide.

My boyfriend and I went around 6 p.m. on a Friday night, which was probably one of the busiest times to go. You start by grabbing a map of the place along with a baby pencil and special sheet to mark the aisle and bin numbers of your desired items. Do not forget this map, or you might get lost wandering the lighting section for all of eternity.

At the store, it’s important to find the pieces of furniture you want because you’ll need to write down which aisle and bin they’re located in at the warehouse section. Note: If you look up what you want online, you can get this information for your local store. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, and I’d recommend it to future shoppers.

IKEA Cart in Parking Lot

After spending at least an hour looking for the specific pieces—-and getting lost a few times—to make sure I liked them in real life, we headed to the warehouse section to pick up all the boxes. The furniture you see in the showroom is stored in flat-packed boxes in this warehouse section. Some items might have two or three boxes, while others are in one giant box.

You can grab a cart to transport the boxes from a large conveyor-belt–type system. As long as you wrote down the proper aisle and bin numbers, this part should go smoothly. (Well, aside from hauling the huge boxes off the warehouse shelves and onto your cart.) Maneuver all of your boxes to the checkout, load ’em up into the car, and then you’re ready to head home and start assembling!

The Assembly

IKEA Assembly Instructions

The apartment was littered with IKEA boxes, which my cats absolutely loved. My boyfriend and I cleared out my old furniture Saturday morning, and then prepared to assemble my new furnishings.

If you aren’t familiar with IKEA furniture, it comes in flat-packed boxes with all the different parts and tools you need, and you assemble every piece yourself. This is incredibly time-consuming, especially when you’re building all the individual drawers for multiple nightstands. It’s sort of like adult LEGOs, except way heavier and less entertaining.

Self-assembly is one of the reasons IKEA’s furniture is so cheap, so be prepared to spend some serious time during this stage of the process. For my four-piece bedroom set, it took us two whole days to build it. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday putting stuff together, cleaning up the packaging mess and rearranging the room.

Was It Worth It?

IKEA Malm Bed

We put a lot of sweat and hard work into this furniture, from loading it in the car to setting it all up. It wasn’t easy work, but to be able to furnish my bedroom for under $400, and have it look nice? It was absolutely worth it!

The best part is I didn’t have to put the purchase on a credit card. Most furniture stores offer special financing or a store card, but I’m trying to pay off my credit cards, not accrue more debt. Instead of stressing about financing a huge furniture purchase, I took a few months to save up money until I had what I needed.

I’ve 100% jumped on this Swedish furniture store’s bandwagon. I’m moving apartments soon and already planning my next shopping list.

6 Tips for Shopping at IKEA

IKEA Parking Lot

Ready to head to the Scandinavian chain closest to you? Here are a few tips:

  1. Check the stock of all the items you want online first. My closest store is 45 minutes away, and I’d hate to drive there only to find out the items I want are sold out.
  2. Bring the whole family! There’s a free, supervised play area for kids right inside the entrance of the store called Småland.
  3. Make sure your car is big enough to transport the boxes. Don’t forget, you’re going to be hauling all the boxes home yourself (unless you pay for IKEA to ship them to you). If you don’t have proper transportation, IKEA delivery prices range from $29 to $59.
  4. Use shortcuts on the map. IKEA stores are huge, and you have to follow a specific path. Luckily, the map lists helpful shortcuts that can save you time, and let you focus on what you actually came for.
  5. Break for food. There’s an actual restaurant in these stores, and the food is pretty decent.
  6. If you really don’t want to assemble the furniture yourself, use a service like TaskRabbit and pay someone to do it for you. Note: IKEA acquired TaskRabbit in 2017, probably because they know it’s such a hassle to put together all their furniture!

IKEA CTA

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