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What To Buy And What Not To Buy At IKEA

There aren’t a ton of IKEA retail stores in the United States, but if you live in or near a large metropolitan area, you might have one of the Swedish retail behemoths near you. Even if you don’t, you can order some of their products online or from their catalog and have it shipped to your door.  IKEA has built a frenzy around the concept because it offers some insanely cheap prices on many of their items, and they get away with it by keeping overhead as low as possible and using extremely efficient operation processes. However, not everything at IKEA is a great buy or worth it.

Before I get to the list of what not to buy, here’s my list of items that are a great deal and good quality from IKEA:

  • Home Decor Accessories: This includes items like candles, vases, mirrors, lighting, rugs, accent pillows, and other decorative accent pieces.  We bought a huge, good-looking mirror for $99 that makes a bold statement on our wall and it fills out the entire space.
  • Kitchenware and Accessoriess:  Not all of their kitchen accessories are good quality, but some of the smaller kitchen items like utensils and cooking dishes are a great deal and good quality. We love buying specialty glasses there like wine glasses, beer pilsners, and martini glasses.
  • Bedding and Curtains: They have some great pillows, duvet covers, duvet bedspreads, and window coverings at great prices, and we’ve found a lot of patterns that we really like.
  • Closet Organizers: We created an entire walk-in closet with IKEA’s closet organizers. They look great, they have tons of inserts, and you can do an entire closet for a few hundred dollars. One tip: avoid buying doors for the wardrobe systems. They cost as much as the entire wardrobe itself.
  • Organizing and Shelving: IKEA’s specialty is helping you create more space out of a little space. I love their shelving systems and organizational pieces that are more about utility and function rather than what it looks like.
  • Kids Stuff: They’ve got some staple kids items for VERY cheap and kid’s room accessories are great to pick up here, too. Plus, their stuff isn’t made in China, it’s made in Eastern Europe.

Here are some items toy stay away from:

  • Most Furniture: Don’t write off all furniture at IKEA.  A lot of it is junk and it looks like something you’d put in a college dorm room, but we’ve picked up some decent pieces here and there such as a daybed that is great quality with a nice antique white finish.  However, I wouldn’t invest much in their furniture, because most of it is pressed wood (basically wood particles glued together) and it won’t last very long. Look for the solid pieces of wood for quality items that will last a long time.
  • Laminate flooring: It’s cheap for a reason. I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard bad stories about it. Have any of you had good or bad experiences with it?
  • Cabinetry and Appliances:  I think they have some good looking stuff and they really know how to put together good displays to give you a visual, but I question how cost effective their cabinetry and appliances are when buying directly from them.
  • Mattresses: Again, I’ve tested some, and they definitely have some comfy mattresses, but I just think you can get better deals for higher quality mattresses.

Give me your feedback on these lists. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s based more on what we’ve had success with buying for our home and lifestyle. I am sure there are some differing opinions on IKEA buying, and I’d like to hear them!

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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