10 secrets IKEA staff won’t tell you

(Actually, they will - all you need to do is ask)
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An IKEA store can be a labyrinth of inspiration and delight. But if you’re in a rush, there are shortcuts to make your shopping journey easier. 

Sure, furniture and homewares giant IKEA boasts lovely and helpful staff. Not to mention evergreen Scandi design and great prices. But with a jumble of to-do lists, measurements and flatpack-assembly worries in your head, you might get a bit lost along the way during your IKEA shopping experience.

Throw in a free-spirited toddler or an ageing parent on your arm and you might not even want to bother entering the big blue-and-yellow box. 

Never fear! We’ve compiled an IKEA cheat sheet so you can shop stress-free. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…

1. There are shortcuts to get through the IKEA labyrinth

You might think you have to follow the arrows and take in the beauty and wonder of every single showroom setup. But if you look on the back of your in-store IKEA shopping list, you’ll see a map marking quicker routes between the departments. You’re welcome.

2. You can buy online and click and collect

Use the Click and Collect service to order IKEA goods online and collect once you receive an email or SMS text message to say your order’s ready to be picked up. Beware: orders not collected within three days will be cancelled and refunded.

3. “IKEA Family members” can return broken products

Yes, you read that right! There is a caveat, however. You need to scan your IKEA Family membership at the checkout to receive free ‘Oops-assurance’ and, if a product or piece of furniture breaks during transport or assembly, IKEA will exchange it for free. (So, no, you can’t return that BILLY bookcase from your uni days… which broke because someone climbed it.)

IKEA living room with sofa and home office nook
The iconic ‘BILLY’ bookcase was dreamt up by Gillis Lundgren in 1978 and named after a colleague who lamented they couldn’t find a decent bookcase. Gillis wanted to create one for every budget and style. (Credit: IKEA)

4. IKEA offers a low-cost interior design service

If you want to refresh your home but think you can’t afford an interior designer, take advantage of IKEA’s own interior design service. A $29 consultation will give you tips and ideas to get started, as well as a shopping list.
If you want to take things to the next level, an interior designer can reimagine a single room for you for $169 or up to three spaces for $399. For that, you’d also get a mood board, floor plan, 3D drawings and a shopping list. You can book a meeting that’s in-store or virtual.

5. You can return used IKEA products for a partial refund

As part of IKEA’s Buy-back service, you can return certain pre-loved furniture or products and providing it’s in good-enough condition, IKEA will give you up to 50% of the item’s original value. You’ll be given a refund card to spend on new IKEA products while saving your old furniture from landfill. Winning!

6. IKEA has a bargain corner at the end of each store

After you’ve swooned over the showroom displays, filled your bag in the market hall and fished out flatpack boxes, investigate the ‘As-is’ department – usually near the checkout. You can pick up bargains that are slightly damaged, heavily discounted or for ready for a ‘second life’ after being returned as a Buy-back item.


IKEA living room with sofa and sideboard
It is possible to make your own home look like an IKEA showroom setup. Just tap into its underestimated resource – low-cost interior designers. (Credit: IKEA)

7. Airtasker can assemble your flatpack for you

If the thought of putting IKEA furniture together makes you a little queasy, just ask Airtasker. Airtasker is a platform that helps users find skilled people to do everyday tasks for them – such as assembling flatpack furniture. All you need to do is post a call-out to Airtasker’s community (including your budget) and watch the pitches roll in.

8. IKEA has online planning tools

Before you go anywhere near a store, you can use IKEA’s free online planners to design and customise kitchens, bathrooms and furniture – and create a shopping list so you’re not bewildered when you get there. Choose styles, colours and finishes. It’s actually pretty fun even if you have no intention of renovating anything.

9. Use the IKEA app to place IKEA furniture in your space

Ever wandered through an aesthetically-pleasing IKEA store with zero idea whether its products will actually look good in your home? Now you can find out – with virtual reality! (Sort of.) Download the IKEA Place app and you can scan your real-life room, browse the app for IKEA pieces then place furniture virtually in your home. You can move them around, as well, without any risk to your back or your relationship.

10. It’s serious about sustainably

We know IKEA has a strong social conscience and the company’s made a big promise to help our little planet. By 2030, IKEA wants all materials in its range to be recycled or renewable, and sourced in responsible ways. That’s a huge call, but we’re on board! To find out which IKEA products are currently sustainable, click here.

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