I Just Went to IKEA for the First Time — These Are the 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned

published Mar 4, 2022
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Credit: Sarah Crowley/Apartment Therapy

My adrenaline levels were at an all-time high as I geared up to visit an IKEA for the first time. I’d never been before because there isn’t one near my hometown and, frankly, I didn’t really have the need. But I was recently on my way to Charlotte, North Carolina, and had time to make a stop. I couldn’t wait to see if it lived up to the hype. Would it be as cool and thrilling as I’ve heard? Would I find tons of stylish stuff I needed? Would I be blown away by the prices? Yes, yes, and yes.

It felt like I was transported across the Atlantic, straight into Stockholm. I loved the streamlined styling, the prices, and the fact that the 356,000-square-foot space was surprisingly easy to navigate. I managed to leave with a few bags full of small home items and, although I’m not in the market for furniture, I now have a wish list long enough to warrant a second visit. I’ll show you what I bought — but first, a look at the three biggest lessons I learned on this inaugural trip.

Credit: Catherine Currin

The 3 Most Important Lessons I Learned During My First Trip to IKEA

1. Wear sneakers!

I took a whopping 5,000 steps. Comfortable shoes are a must. Also, prepare for a potential arm workout if you’re purchasing furniture.

2. Buy a bag (or two, or three).

Because sustainability is a pillar of the Swedish brand, you’re encouraged to purchase a few reusable bags to hold your loot. They’re all over the store and there are even more available at checkout! The iconic cobalt blue style is just 99 cents, and you can buy bags with cute patterns or neutral colors for a few more dollars. You’ll want them while you’re shopping and they’ll be wildly useful in life outside of IKEA, too. I picked up a few of these black-and-beige bags and plan on using one for the beach or pool this summer.

3. Take your time, and bring a friend (or your mom).

If you want the full experience, you’ll need to carve out at least two or three hours for an IKEA walk-through. Don’t rush! It can be overwhelming, but enjoy the experience. Also, don’t go alone, if you don’t have to. I brought my mom along for the ride (her first time, too!), and we were glad to have each other as we meandered around each room. You may need a sounding board while you shop!

The 5 Best Things I Bought During My First Trip to IKEA

Credit: IKEA

1. TORVFLY Dish Towels, $3.99 for four

I stocked up on these adorable dish towels in two different mismatched sets! At just $3.99 for four, I grabbed some extras to use down the line as an affordable add-on to hostess gifts.

Credit: IKEA

2. FILFISK Reusable Bag Set, $12.99 for three

In keeping with IKEA’s sustainable mission, I had to snag some silicone reusable bags for the kitchen. I really want to waste less and these seemed like they could definitely help with that.

Credit: IKEA

3. GROERYD Utility Cart, $149.99

This bronze utility cart is the perfect neutral bar cart to style with any glass or barware. I love that it’s on wheels and still very classy.

Credit: Catherine Currin

4. FJANTIG Hooks, $5.99 for three

I purchased a whole box of these miniature chair hooks. They come three to a pack and were too cute to pass up! I’m planning to spray paint them a fun, bright color.

Credit: IKEA

5. CHOKLAD NÖT, $1.29

IKEA is also known for its wide assortment of groceries — especially sweets and treats! You can find a wide assortment in their specialty market or at checkout. I will admit that I ate this in the car. In the parking lot.

What are some of the best things you’ve ever picked up at IKEA? Tell us in the comments below!