It’s no secret around here that we love discovering new Ikea hacks—but for the real insider secrets, there’s no better source to turn to than the company employees themselves. They’re the ones who live amongst the flatpack, after all, and are constantly immersed in the products day in and day out.
So, we turned to the experts for the inside scoop on how to get the most out of your shopping experience. Between the perennial fountain of wisdom that is Reddit and a few helpful hacks from an Ikea spokesperson, here are all the tips we’re jotting down for our next visit to the Swedish retailer. Scroll to the end to get product recommendations from the experts (IE: Ikea employees) themselves.
Employees actually know how to assemble the furniture.
So, if you struggle to understand the cryptic, graphic instructions, ask someone at the store! According to user dallasguy321, Ikea workers build everything—from the racks to the display furniture—in the store. Reddit user _epimetheus agrees, adding that furniture assembly is actually part of training for people working in sales.
There are not-so-hidden messages in the price tags.
As Ikea’s US design spokesperson, Janice Simonsen, puts it, “The price tag at Ikea is your friend.” It lists helpful information like colors, materials, and sizes for each product, and also denotes the shelf number where you can pick it up.
There actually is a best time to shop, in order to avoid the lines.
It seems like common sense, but the earlier, the better: According to an AMA posted by user algren123, people come in even before the store is open and create a rush. But to truly avoid the massive lines at checkout, your best bet is to arrive 30 minutes to an hour after opening.
Oh, and avoid weekends at all costs: It’s when the stores are the most crowded.
Use social media to voice a complaint.
The power of Instagram transcends pretty pictures of your finished ikea furniture User algren123 suggests contacting your respective Ikea branch via the social networking app (@ikeausa, for example) for help solving a problem.
It’s worth getting a family card.
Not only is it free, it also opens up a world of savings and cool perks. Free coffee or tea at the stores is the least of them: User _epimetheus points out that with a family card, you also get a 90-day price check. In other words, if a product you bought with your card goes on sale at a lower price within 90 days after you buy it, Ikea will refund you the difference.
There is a place you can go to get those missing screws.
It’s called “Spare Parts” in the Returns/Exchanges section of the store, and apparently, it’s a fairly common request. “In around six hours, we have eight to nine cases, which range from one to three screws to a whole bag,” writes algren123.
Don’t miss the sale section.
It’s actually called the “As-Is” section, and according to Simonsen, it’s a great place to find discounted products from closeouts or displays. You’ll also find mildly scratched or “damaged” items… most of which are actually perfectly fine, especially if you’re into the rustic look.
You need to try the meatballs.
When asked what to order at the restaurant, algren123 was a staunch advocate of the meatballs, stating that for £5 (around $6) you get 15 meatballs and fries. Plus, the restaurant has a ton of great deals on food throughout the week—for example, kids get to eat free on Tuesdays, and gratis coffee is offered to all Ikea Family members.
Not everything is gold…
“Keep in mind that stuff in bins is meant to be a distraction,” says _epimetheus. So, the next time you find yourself enticed by $2 fuchsia throw pillows, ask yourself if you really need them. Chances are, you’re better off heading to more useful sections of the store.
…But there are definitely employee faves worth buying.
Speaking of the more useful sections of the store, there are a few Ikea tried-and-true staples that remain favorites—specifically, the Hemnes line. According to algren123, the price/quality ratio is second to none. User _epimetheus also recommends the Alex drawers and Kallax bookshelf—see? We knew it was a winner.
Wondering about the other Ikea staples employees themselves can’t get enough of? We were curious too, so we reached out to Ikea employees whose expertise lies in different areas of the business. And from sturdy furniture to stylish speakers (turns out, the retailer is something of an audio accouterment fiend: In the last year alone Ikea has announced three separate speaker launches), they didn’t disappoint with under the radar finds we’re adding to our own carts posthaste.
Eneby Speaker, $49
Recommended by: Corinne Carr, loyalty manager at Ikea Paramus
One of the retailer’s more recent releases, having launched in April 2018, the Eneby Bluetooth speaker is what you get when you combine the latest in modern technology with that quintessential sleek Scandinavian design we all know and love. And according to Carr, it’s definitely worth the purchase: “The Bluetooth speaker gives off a great sound, is a beautiful design, and is truly portable (sans plug) if you buy the battery charger. Great for the beach, soccer tournaments, the park… I get compliments [from] everyone,” she says.
The Eneby is button-less and features a removable mesh fabric so it won’t look clunky against your favorite decor. Available in both an 8×8” size and a 12×12” size (which retails for $89), you can pick the speaker more suitable for your music needs and on-the-go lifestyle.
Råskog Utility Cart, $29.99
Recommended by: Chanju Won, interior decorator coworker at Ikea Elizabeth
“It’s great for organizing, easy to move around, and it’s a pretty design,” says Won of the simple yet effective reasons for picking up this organizational lifesaver of an Ikea product. This no-frills piece is a small space dweller’s best friend because there’s a use for it in literally every room of the house. And when it has run its course in one room, simply wheel it along to the next room in need of storage assistance.
No kitchen cabinets? The cart works wonders as a makeshift pantry for your dry goods or condiments. Sharing a bathroom with a roommate who has performed a hostile takeover of your medicine cabinet? Utilize it to hold (and display!) your favorite beauty essentials or spare rolls of toilet paper. It’s the only tool you need to organize your tiny laundry room. It’s a godsend in the garage, where you need something to keep tools and spare bits within easy reach. We could go on, but we think you get the picture: If you’re searching for that one perfect catch-all storage solution, this cart is it.
Färlöv Sofa, $899
Recommended by: Christine Soner, corporate communications at Ikea corporate headquarters
At the intersection of cozy Netflix nights and sleek design sits this charcoal gray sofa. A deep, rich velvet cover makes this piece look more expensive than it actually is—one of the many reasons Soner recommends it—and makes cleaning it a cinch. Simply remove the cover and toss in the machine. No dry cleaning or frazzled ordering of replacement cushions necessary.
For all its ease and relatively affordable price tag, the look of this sofa is what makes it stand out amongst Ikea’s vast seating offerings. “I completely love the profile of this sofa,” says Soner. “It has a relaxed look and feel, with its deep seat and sloped arms. I also prefer the one large seat cushion and two large back cushions. It gives a cleaner appearance over your average sofa that has three back and three seat cushions.”
Linnmon/Adils Table, $45.99
Recommended by: Farouk Bongo, administration coordinator at Ikea Elizabeth
In need of a multifunctional surface that can double as a desk for your work-at-home days and a dining table for when you want to be a little fancier than dinner on the (aforementioned Färlöv) sofa? This under-$50 piece is a great starter. “I needed a desk for my apartment, and bought this table top and leg combination. I love the fact that it’s simple in design, very durable, and inexpensive, which worked for my budget,” says Bongo. Proof you don’t need to sacrifice quality for affordability.
Ikea 365+ Cookware Set, $69.99
Recommended by: Ruby N., home furnishing consultant at Ikea Elizabeth
Rookie chefs and wannabe Ina Gartens, take note: This five-piece cookware set is all you need to get properly started on your culinary adventures. Per Ruby, it’s lasted for years and through family usage—and durability is exactly the quality that’s in order for a new cook who may not yet have mastered the skill of not burning food.
“My family and I thoroughly enjoy preparing meals together; the durable cookware set allows us to cook a variety of dishes at once,” she says. “They are very easy to clean and still look new—even through years of usage.” Pick up a set of this sleek and functional cookware and get cracking on your favorite weeknight dinner recipes.
This story was originally published on June 14, 2017. It has been updated with new information.
See more Ikea stories to read now:
6 New Ikea Projects That We Are Super Excited About
How to Hack Your Ikea Kitchen on a Budget
10 Really Great Travel Accessories You Can Buy at IKEA
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