The Designer's Guide to Shopping Ikea

For the cities that have been blessed to have an Ikea in their neighborhoods, I bring good tidings of great joy! (Don't mind me, just practicing my angelic messenger voice during this most wonderful time of the year). If you have an Ikea close to you, then I want to shed some light on the fact that there is a way to shop Ikea and not make your house look like, well, Ikea! 

I only say this because Ikea has had a bad wrap in the past for being cheap, in the negative sense of the word. When I began shopping at Ikea years ago, I found myself shopping there for quick and easy home essentials. I would walk around the showrooms and be surprised to realize, "Wow, they actually have some beautiful stuff". Now-a-days it's common to see design-on-a-dime posts on how Ikea furniture can actually look like it was from quality stores like West Elm. So before we explore some ways to shop Ikea, there is one term and condition that I require your signature for; well, maybe not your signature, but it is this,  please keep an open mind.

Photo credit due to Instagrammer, Kotihem, posting their love for the Vittsjö line from Ikea.

Photo credit due to Instagrammer, Kotihem, posting their love for the Vittsjö line from Ikea.

1. Look for High Quality.

The most basic way to put this is, look for items that don't look like they are from Ikea. If it's plastic or made of a flimsy material, probably not a good call. Ask yourself, is this going to lose shape in the future? How about the possibility of getting a loose screw (Since almost EVERYTHING from Ikea requires personal assembly)? Could it potentially scratch? 

I must admit, I used to be guilty of getting caught up in the high of bargain shopping where I would buy items just because I thought, "How can I pass up this screaming deal?" Well, in addition to quality make sure you absolutely LOVE the item. If you mainly love it because of the price, you might want to pay that few extra dollars elsewhere for something you LOVE! When worse comes to worse, stick with your gut! It always knows what you love best! 

2. Back to the Basics.

Ikea is actually great for the basics. For instance, you can get their organizational items at a really great price for similar quality that you could get at any other store but pay twice as much. Also, check out their bedding essentials! Ikea bedding is extremely affordable and durable! Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about their couches. Here at KM, we believe there are some items worth splurging on and couches would be one of them, so maybe check out some other stores for a couch to snuggle up on. 

Duvets, down pillows, rugs, and lamps are also great buys from Ikea! And don't forget their beautiful long drapes at insanely affordable prices! They add instant style to any space. Another one of our favorite buys from Ikea right now are their accent and dining chairs. Can't get enough of those wood crafted spindle chairs called NORRARYD!

3. Larger and Fewer Accessories.

Learning to accessorize home decor can be challenging, especially if you're shopping Ikea for your accessories. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE accessories but there's a way to accentuate and not add clutter. Definitely stick to quality versus quantity here. I have found the fewer but larger pieces, the better.  Instead of having a large console table that can fit 10 knick-knacks on it, consider decreasing the number of items, but increase the size of them.

So when shopping ikea, keep in mind to look for larger accessories and consider getting multiples of the same accessory to create a clean, purposed and styled look. Look through some of Ikea's frames to frame your own family pictures or custom artwork from a cute little Etsy shop! If you choose accessories that are reminiscent of high quality accessories your house can look as finished as any other home blogger out there, but for a fraction of the cost.

4. Great Flats and Furniture.

Ikea has some incredible flat surface furniture for for any room. I have been loving Ikea's glass shelving units from the VITTSJÖ (as shown in picture above)! If you choose to buy any of the VITTSJÖ items, show them off on a wall where they will be accentuated. It can easily become a great display shelf with a light and airy feel to it. Ikea has great dressers with a light wood appearance for a cozy cabin feel, as well as white dressers for a classic clean look (available only in-store).

Don't count out their bed frames! Personally I'm not really a metal bed frame kind of gal, but Ikea actually might have the first metal bed frame called LEIRVIK that I have liked! If you're looking to get a new dining table, consider their new farmhouse-like table (only in-store), or their round, white, tulip modern DOCKSTA table. These styles are currently very popular and Ikea has done a great job of making them accessible.

5. Keep Your Distance.

Now, I'm not going to list all of the things that you shouldn't buy at Ikea, I'm only going to name off a few, based on what we talked about earlier with quality, basics, and accessories. The only thing I would say about Ikea's coffee tables or nightstands due to the size of most of them, they often look cheap, and well, not last long, and we just don't want that!

I brought up Ikea's couches earlier, and like I said, there are some things that are better bought at a higher price that will last you a long time. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with most of the items at Ikea. Also, to save you from pain down the road, some of Ikea's dish ware, towels, and pillows are also no-go's if you're looking for good quality. 

6. The As-Is Wonderland

By the time you've walked through the seven layers of the candy cane forrest, called Ikea, I'm sure that you can't wait to reach the check out so you can journey on home and get to decorating. But, before you reach the checkout and you have a little extra change to spare, I challenge you to check out the "As Is" section of Ikea. It's typically right before the checkout off to the side, and they might just have what you're looking for, except even cheaper! The "As Is" section is mostly comprised of goods that have been returned for any reason, or because there has been a small imperfection on the item. On my trip to Ikea a few weeks ago, to my surprise, I saw the cutest accent chairs in the As Is section, only for $20 each! You never know what they're going to have, and they've got it all: bookshelves, bed frames, couches, chairs, lamps, you name it! Check it out, or you just might be missing out on the greatest Ikea find ever!

Kristina Owen