5 Tips for Successful IKEA Shopping

The thousands of stylish products available at IKEA can make for an overwhelming shopping experience. To get the most out of your next visit to the Swedish home furnishing giant, follow these four tips to keep yourself on track and ensure you purchase exactly what you need.

1. Consult the Catalog
The day the annual IKEA catalog arrives in the mail is cause for excitement. You get to see all the new and updated products as well as what has been reduced in price since the previous year. (IKEA is always striving to reduce costs by altering how products are produced and packaged.) With its glossy pages full of well decorated interiors, it's a great resource for décor inspiration. Give it a careful read, so you can note of all the pieces you want to check out in person before you visit the store. If you come prepared, you'll be less likely to veer off course. After browsing the catalog, create a list of the products you want to check out. IKEA stores are organized by room, starting with the most commonly shopped rooms and progressing accordingly. Organize your list by room and type of product to most easily navigate the showroom.

Gorgeous Rooms You Can Easily Recreate

2. Use the Web Site

While IKEA's Web site isn't optimized for the online shopping experience (the company still focuses mainly on its brick-and-mortar stores), it does contain several useful tools to help plan your décor and shopping trip. We love the 3-D kitchen application that allows you to input your kitchen dimensions and see how it would look with any of IKEA's cabinet and countertop combinations. And, since IKEA now releases products throughout the year, the Web site can keep you on top of what's new and fresh in-store since you received your catalog.

Summer Entertaining Essentials

3. Come with Specs

If you're buying furniture, measure the space you're looking to fill so you don't have to lug the item home only to learn that it's an inch or two too big or tall. Similarly, if you're looking for accent pieces for a room, take a photo of the room on your phone or digital camera so you can better envision prospective pieces in the intended environment.

Lovely Indoor and Outdoor Lighting

4. Utilize Convenient Services

Since IKEA is all about the in-store experience, they have an array of services to make your shopping trip easier. Kitchen design specialists will arrange for an expert to come and measure your room to help make purchase decisions. They can also arrange for installation services, in case you're not into doing it yourself. IKEA's newest in-store perk is its Picking Service, which allows shoppers to create a list of their desired purchases and the store will pick everything off the shelves and deliver it straight to your door for around $99! Perfect for solo shoppers (if you've ever tried to take an eight-foot-tall bookshelf off a four-foot-tall shelf at IKEA by yourself you'll know what we mean) and those without large vehicles to transport purchases. The service is currently available in select stores and will be rolled out to all locations this fall.

Colorful Décor for Every Room in the House

5. Give Yourself an Impluse-Buy Budget

Yes, even with a great plan you're likely to find things you want to buy that are not on your list. In other words, some form of splurging is inevitable. But you can limit your buyer's remorse (and unnecessary return trips) by limiting the amount you spend on unexpected finds. You can curb your whimsy by dollar amount or number of items; let yourself buy one extra thing, for example, and you're likely to be more discerning with your pick.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

Photo credit: Seth W. via Flickr