Why does everybody love Ikea??  What is it about this place?... 

Do you live nowhere near an Ikea and have only heard the grand stories of the deals that can only be found at the mysterious Swedish retail giant.  Maybe you're considering a roadtrip to the shopping mecca, or maybe you're just curious about it... this post is for you!

I live within 2 hours of 2 Ikeas, they are far enough away that I don't go too often (which might be dangerous to my bank account!) but they are close enough if I want to make a day trip I can do it.  They are both in Chicagoland (can you believe Chicago is lucky enough to have 2!?!... I know, right!) 

Having recently taken an Ikea-cation (get it?? like vacation or stay-cation... I know,don't quit my day job;)   I thought I could share some advice and info with all you Ikea virgins (stop blushing silly)  so here it goes...

First of all, what the heck does the name IKEA mean?? 

Nothing really, according to Wikipidia IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.  The guys name that created it, Ingar Kamprad, plus the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home parish (Agunnaryd, in Småland, South Sweden).

Now you can say you learned something new today. ;)

I've been to IKEA several times and if there's one thing I've learned from my little trips it's to avoid going on the weekend if at all possible.  Especially Saturday mornings... avoid it like the plague people...  Ikea is an absolute hot mess on Saturday mornings. T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E.

If you do have to go on a Saturday morning prepare yourself for loads of people, many of them speaking different languages.  Last time I was there on a Saturday I overheard people speaking German, French, Italian, Japanesse, Spanish and something else I couldn't quite place- all in one Saturday... Wow!  This was kind of cool until I realized I didn't know how to say "Excuse me, you're holding up the aisle and there's about 200 people behind you!" in any of those languages. :)

No offense to non-English speakers, Ikea is a little confusing to everyone (including yours truly) on the first visit.

Anywho... for this little trip we went on a random late Thursday aftternoon and we owned the place!  There were a few times I looked around and we were the only people in the department (which are really big!)... it was actually kind of creepy but after getting over the creeps it was awesome! 

So here are some tips from your favorite Chic on a Shoestring Decorator for taking a trip to Ikea:
  • Don't go on the weekend if at all possible... especially Saturday morning. 
  • If you're going for specific high ticket items do your homework.  Sometimes Ikea's prices are NOT the cheapest! 
  • If planning to buy furniture, appliances or other big items check their website to see if delivery is available in your area and what the minimum charge is, it can be very expensive especially if you live far away from the store.  You are welcome to bring a truck and pick it up yourself.
  • Get ready to be confused by the mostly non-English labels on the items with very strange names that do not explain what said item is, sometimes you can't tell by looking at it...  seriously.
  • Even more frustrating, these same confusing labels many times have NO price on them.  Look for a sign nearby the items bin/shelf.
  • Most Ikea furniture requires assembly.
  • Bring your own bags, Ikea has none but will sell you the reuseable kind.
  • If you find an item in a room display it is always somewhere else in the store nowhere near the room display... just keep looking!
  • Ikea has a cafeteria style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
  • Some Ikea's have a food market inside selling lots of international specialty items.
  • Ikea's are kid friendly, they have big kid's "club" enclosed play areas (that may even have supervision).  Not sure because I've never used it, call first before bringing kiddos to hear about age requirements and if it is indeed supervised.  And of course you can drag your kid around in there with you. 
  • Wear comfy shoes and plan for at least 2 hours if you really want to look at things, they are huge!
Ikea has really come a long way in their kitchen designs.  They used to be uber modern looking and many times cheap and plastic-y.  Now they have this fabulous model:
The pic really doesn't do it justice.  You can purchase the whole kitchen, cabinets, granite counters, appliances, sink for about $15,000.  This is amazingly cheap for a kitchen remodel that looks this great!

I may have confused some of you with my "Everything has a strange name" comment earlier.  Here's an example... I bought some dish towels named "Etty" and I bought a white ceramic flower pot labeled "Kardemumma", I have no idea...

Here's Etty.... so cute I couldn't resist!!  I'm a sucker for cupcakes.  3 for $5.99

 Here's some very Pottery Barn-ish pillows...

Here's part of their large selection of decorative pillow covers... great for people like me who can't sew! :)
You can buy a cover with an insert or just a cover and save some $$

I mentioned earlier in my tips that there are no bags at Ikea (unless you buy one).  Along with not having bags, you can't take your shopping cart into the parking lot at Ikea.  You have to carry all your junk (which is hard to do sans bags) or back your car up into their "loading zone" which consists of lots of parking spaces at the exit doors that are lined with cement poles that are just close enough together that you can't squeeze your shopping cart through... dang!  These back up to the exit doors and can get quite congested on a busy weekend.

If you haven't been able to tell, Ikea is a Swedish based store with lots of Swedish names, etc.  In their cafeteria they actually sell Swedish meatballs!  For some reason my hubby and I find this to be hilarious and always tease each other about eating some Swedish meatballs at the Ikea cafe which we have never done and would never do.  I'm sure they taste fine (if you're into Swedish meatballs (no thanks) but the picture they use on the cafe sign of them is not very appealing.

With that I'll leave you with a few more pics...

Another nice Ikea kitchen:

A nice family room set up (although the bookcase is stuffed a little too full for my taste :) 
A sleek set up...

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my Ikea-cation and got some tips for yours!

So, if you've never been do you want to go??  If you have been what did I forget to tell everyone?


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