How to Navigate an IKEA Store, According to Its Interior Designer


If you experience a love-hate relationship with IKEA, you’re certainly not alone. While we love its ability to always offer affordable-meets-stylish items for the home, we don't always enjoy a trip to the mega-store at the weekend when it feels like the rest of the city are also browsing the aisles...

But a headache-free trip to the Swedish retail giant is possible. The secret? Making a plan, taking a list, and knowing a few insider tricks. Enter, Christine Gough, IKEA’s interior design leader who has shared with us her top tips to navigating the maze-like stores, so you don’t come out the other end overwhelmed and empty-handed. Scroll down and never dread a trip to IKEA again—you’re welcome.

1. Go in With a Plan

“IKEA is full of thousands of beautiful products, there are hundreds of choices but at the same time you have to narrow it down. Check out the website before heading into the store, particularly when you are looking for big pieces of furniture. The website allows you to see inspirational images of the product, which will make it easier to visualize the item in your house and give you some ideas at the same time.

You can also make a shopping list on the website, this will show you exactly where all the items are located and you can check off all the items as you go so you don’t miss a thing! By creating a shopping list you can check the availability of the items before you head in store as well. I would never head in store without my list.”

2. Go With the Flow

“Getting around the store is easier than you first think. There are maps available, along with blue signs throughout the store that tell you where you’ve come from, where you’re going and where the shortcuts are. You are never lost! The arrows on the floor also show you which way to go.”

3. Get Inspired

“Sure you can head straight to Market Hall and the self-serve area for a quick shop, but there’s always room at IKEA for the person who wants to browse and be inspired. IKEA is the best place for inspiration, and the showroom is filled with brilliant ideas and clever solutions.

What you might not know is that all our room settings are created to reflect how everyday Australians live. IKEA visits hundreds of homes each year to find out what frustrates people and what they love about their homes. We bring this knowledge to life and highlight how to solve these problems throughout our stores. Our interior design team wants to help you shop by supporting you with inspiration and the coolest ideas to take home with you.

We all know the promise of cinnamon scrolls and hotdog at the end of the checkouts is enough to make you race through the store. But IKEA is designed to bring you inspiration and solutions, you should enjoy the showroom and explore at your own pace, open cupboards, test drawers and sit on all the sofas to find the comfiest one, it’s fun to take the time to dream about your home furnishing possibilities. We’ve filled the cupboards for you as well, look for the dots that say open me, because we know you’ll want to take a peek!”

4. Know When to Shop

“A little insider tip that not many people know is that IKEA gets hundreds of new products every few months. The next drop is in April, so keep an eye out on the website as we will always refresh our news page. All our latest items will have a ‘NEW’ tag hanging on them so you can easily track down the newest editions to the range.

We also refresh our inspiration based on the seasonal calendar, so when you think it’s getting a bit chilly outside and need things to cozy up your home, you can be assured we are well prepared and have thought about it long before you come in store!”

5. Take Lots of Photos

“I would be lost without my phone! I recommend taking a photo of your space before you leave home, so you can keep your space front of mind when you are shopping. Our co-workers are also happy to help you find the perfect item for your home if you show them the photo.

When in the store discovering items you love, take a picture of the tag with your phone, ensure you include the product number and the location of the item so you can easily find it later. Did you know that you can also use our app to scan the product barcode for more information and create an online digital shopping list? You will have all the product locations in your pocket!”

6. Measure Up

“Measure your space before you head in-store, there’s nothing worse than falling in love with the perfect sofa only for it to be too big for your space or won’t fit through the door!

If there’s a specific item you want to purchase you can look up the package dimensions on the website to ensure it will fit in your car.”

7. You Don’t Have to Do It Yourself

“IKEA offers all the services you need so you don’t have to lift a finger if you don’t want to! Our services can save you time and energy, you can have your products picked and delivered, and even assembled and installed. If your flat packs won’t fit in your car you can also book a van with GoGet, we have vehicles ready to use in our carpark.”

8. Everyday Essentials

“When I’m in-store I always stock up on my basics like candles, tea lights, napkins, snap lock bags, lightbulbs, and batteries. I store them all at home and I’m never frustrated when a light bulb goes out or when the batteries in the TV remote die.”

9. Drop Off the Kids at Smaland

“If you’re heading to IKEA with little ones don’t forget about Smaland. Smaland is a play area where children can play, draw and explore in a Swedish forest. Your kids will have a ball in the ball pit and you can have 60 minutes to explore the store and get a head start on shopping.

There’s always a door at the entrance of Market Hall that takes you to Smaland, so you don’t have to head back to the start of the store to pick up the kids.”

10. Use Our Tools

“At IKEA we do all we can to ensure you’re as prepared as possible. We have so many tools available to help you make the right decisions for your home. Pick up a copy of the catalog and don’t forget to bring post-it notes so you can flag your favorites.

In the store, there are pencils, paper, maps, and bags to help you locate your items and measure up. While our 3D planning tools are available in store and online to help you create the perfect wardrobe, kitchen, or storage unit. Our co-workers are always around to help you build the perfect kitchen or wardrobe!”

Browse IKEA online before you head into store and then shop some of our other favorite affordable homeware stores.

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