Ikea superfans share their favorite hacks for saving time and money

Insider
Insider
Mar 16 · 7 min read

Ikea fans shared lesser-known hacks like how to find shortcuts to avoid walking through the entire store and how to score steep furniture discounts.

An individual with a shopping cart.
Superfans shared the secrets and tips they’ve picked up after shopping at Ikea for years. Photo: DIY with KB

By Monica Humphries

Kiva Brent estimates she goes to Ikea three times a week.

“It’s embarrassing, but it’s my truth,” the DIY and design YouTuber told Insider.

Through her countless trips to Ikea, Brent has collected some Ikea secrets that the average shopper might not know.

And it’s not just Brent with the inside scoop. Insider spoke to six diehard Ikea fans about their favorite tips to saving time and money while shopping at the store.

The store’s map highlights shortcuts, so you don’t have to walk through the entire store.

A map at the entrance of Ikea.
A map at the entrance of Ikea. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Kristen McGowan, an interior designer and content creator, said the first few times she went to an Ikea, she assumed she had to walk through the whole store to get to the checkout line.

The store has a natural flow, with arrows creating paths that weave through the entire store. But there are shortcuts, they just feel hidden, she said. Unmarked doors and emply hallways are often shortcuts, so “you don’t have to walk around the huge maze,” McGowan told Insider. To discover the shortcuts, McGowan suggested picking up a map at the entrance. The maps will outline the numerous routes you can take to avoid walking the entire store.

Not everyone is familiar with Ikea’s 365-day return policy.

Ikea customers push carts teeming with Ikea products.
Ikea customers push carts teeming with Ikea products.
Ikea customers push carts teeming with Ikea products. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Kim Lee, the lead content creator at Free to Family, a blog focused on intentional living, said she was shocked when she learned Ikea has a 365-day return policy. According to Ikea’s website, customers can return new and unopened items within a year of the purchase date.

“If someone has a return policy that good and I still have the product, you know it’s a really great item,” Lee told Insider.

Multiple fans urged shoppers not to leave without checking Ikea’s As-Is section for steep furniture discounts.

Kiva Brent in an Ikea.
Kiva Brent in an Ikea.
Kiva Brent in an Ikea. Photo: DIY with KB

Ikea’s As-Is section is typically near the checkout area, and it’s filled with items that have been heavily discounted after being returned, discontinued, or damaged.

Depending on the project and how crafty you are, this section has the potential to be a huge money-saver. For example, McGowan said she purchased a day lounge from the area that was missing a leg. Ikea sold the lounge for half off, and then she purchased a replacement leg. McGowan said she ended up with the complete couch for a fraction of the cost.

Brent also loves the As-Is section, and she added that not everything in this section is necessarily damaged. Brent said she’s found a lot of modern decor from the section that was in perfect condition.

“People who go to Ikea are normally going for a Bohemian style or Scandinavian style,” Brent told Insider. “Things that look a little bit more modern and are my alley always end up in As-Is. So I get those things for cheap because no one else wanted them.”

There’s also a Spare Parts section of the store to find replacement parts.

The assembly of an Ikea dresser.
The assembly of an Ikea dresser.
The assembly of an Ikea dresser. Photo: Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance/Getty Images

If a screw, nail, or washer is missing, Ikea has you covered with its Spare Parts department, which is typically on the ground floor.

McGowan said this is where you’ll be able to find what you need. The spare parts section also sells more than nuts and bolts. Customers can also find some replacement items, like a nightstand leg.

If you end up missing a screw and don’t want to trek over to the store, you can also order the parts online.

A couple of fans mentioned that some companies will customize your Ikea furniture.

An Ikea vanity with gold hardware.
An Ikea vanity with gold hardware.
Nick Lewis purchased hardware designed for his Ikea vanity. Photo: Nick Lewis

Ikea is known for its affordable furniture, according to its superfans. So if you spend less on the product, sometimes you can spend a little extra to customize it.

With that in mind, companies have started specializing in Ikea customizations, said Nick Lewis, a YouTuber who creates interior design and decorating content.

Companies, like Semihandmade or Kitch, might have fun couch covers, furniture legs, or cool hardware specifically designed to give Ikea furniture a touch of individuality. McGowan agreed and said this can be a great way to create a unique piece that’s still affordable.

“It really elevates all of the Ikea pieces and makes them look totally custom,” McGowan told Insider.

Ikea does collaborations with some of your favorite companies.

A living room with an Ikea collab candle.
A living room with an Ikea collab candle.
Lidia Salazar’s living room with her Ikea collab candle. Photo: @everyday_home/Instagram

Lidia Salazar, an interior designer who creates content on Instagram and TikTok, told Insider that she initially had no idea Ikea does collaborations with other companies.

One day she was dreaming of purchasing a Byredo luxury candle, but the candles, which start at $45, were out of budget. Shortly after, she noticed a similar — but much more affordable — candle line on Ikea’s website.

Salazar learned it was an official collaboration with Byredo’s founder. The collaboration helped make the company’s candles accessible, Salazar said. She purchased one from the Osynlig candle collection, where candles range from $4.99 to $24.99. Salazar said it’s become a favorite smell and decor element in her home.

Ikea has a seasonal plant section that’s full of trendy finds, one superfan shared.

Two people shop for plants at Ikea.
Two people shop for plants at Ikea.
Two people shop for plants at Ikea. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The first time Lisa Herland, a realtor and design blogger, visited Ikea, she didn’t expect to find fresh plants.

Now, it’s one of her go-to stores for trendy, affordable houseplants.

“In the springtime, you can buy fresh plants,” Herland told Insider. “They even had fiddle-leaf fig trees there at one point, which you couldn’t find at Home Depot or Lowe’s.”

While the store might not carry exotic houseplants. It has the basics, like snake plants and pothos, covered.

Lewis’s biggest secret may seem obvious, but he said the cheapest item is never worth the lower cost.

The couch section of an Ikea store.
The couch section of an Ikea store.
The couch section of an Ikea store. Photo: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto/Getty Images

For many Ikea products, there’s a range of items and prices. Lewis suggests avoiding the absolute cheapest item.

“If it’s the cheapest item in the series it’s probably cheap for them to produce,” Lewis said. “Try to aim for something that’s not the absolute cheapest.”

Lewis believes you’ll get a better product for just a little bit more money. One former Ikea employee agrees. They told Consumer Reports that “the higher priced stuff is well worth the money, lasts for a long time and usually carries a warranty.”

It doesn’t hurt to ask an Ikea employee if they’ll let you purchase the floor model.

An Ikea employee and customer discuss an Ikea product. Photo: Artyom Geodakyan\TASS/Getty Images

Rebecca Heart, a blogger and Instagrammer who focuses on design and renovations, said if an item is out of stock, see if an Ikea employee will let you purchase the floor model.

For example, Heart said she wanted to buy an out-of-stock rug, and a worker offered to sell her the floor model. The bonus? She got it for its “As-Is” price, which meant it was half off.

This rule varies between stores. Reddit users commented that it depends on if an item will be discontinued, while a former employee said you might still have to pay full price for the floor model. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Finally, avoid the weekends at all costs.

Customers wait to get inside Ikea.
Customers wait to get inside Ikea.
Customers wait to get inside Ikea. Photo: HELMUT FOHRINGER/APA/AFP/Getty Images

McGowan said if you can, try to go on the weekdays. That’s when the store will be emptiest, which will create a calmer, less overwhelming environment for shopping.

It often means the workers are less overwhelmed, too.

“It’s just an overall better experience,” McGowan said.

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