IKEA College Ideas for Dorms or Student Apartments

IKEA College Ideas
IKEA College Storage Idea: Red Kallax with Castors

 

Some kids aren’t even out of school yet, but, if you have a son or daughter headed to college this fall, it is time to start thinking about their room and/or apartment needs.  Mamakea has learned it gets very busy during the college back-to-school time.  Even worse, last year by the time the boom tapered off, IKEA St. Louis was out of many of the most popular items.  To help you plan, Mamakea is going to give you some great IKEA college ideas for dorms or student apartments.

IKEA College Ideas–Storage

Whether you are living in a dorm or an apartment, storage systems are a must-have and IKEA’s are legendary.  A very simple, affordable system is their Kallax series.  This unit comes in various sizes, colors and there are plenty of basket solutions available that fit inside the cubbies and hide the jumble, and you can add inserts to divide the squares or add doors.  Kallax units are simple to put together and will move well after school is finished.

  • White with Red Inserts

IKEA College Ideas–Beds

There are at least three different approaches to beds for college students.  For dorm rooms a loft is often a good idea, and IKEA has a great option in the Stuva loft bed with desk and storage.  This can be custom configured and comes in a variety of accent colors so you can coordinate your bed with your new school colors!  This is a small bed, however, and probably will not be comfortable for a tall/big person.

Another space saving idea is one of the many trundle beds that IKEA offers.  There are two models, the Brimnes and Hemnes, that are both solid beds, have a pull out bed for guests, and offer bonus storage under the bed.  Keep in mind, though, for these to work you must have clear floor space that is more than double the width of the closed bed.  And they both work best if you buy the IKEA mattresses which are a narrow profile so they can be stacked when the bed is a twin and separated when the bed is open.  Between the two , the Brimnes is less expensive, but the Hemnes has a true daybed feel with a high head, back and foot board all around, so I think this makes it the better study option.

If you are outfitting an apartment and have a full size bedroom, you probably want to consider a full-size or queen bed and of course IKEA has many options. Their most popular options are Malm and Brimnes.  Both of these beds come with the option of underbed drawers and both have finish options.  The Brimnes can be purchased with no headboard (just the frame), or with a headboard that includes storage.  All IKEA beds also come with a choice of slatted base, which is the platform portion of the bed.  My recommendation is to go with the basic model Luroy because it seems just as sturdy but is less expensive and MUCH easier to assemble.

IKEA College Ideas–Dressers

Depending on how much storage is built in to the living quarters and whether or not your bed has storage options, you may want to skip the dresser.  But if you decide you need one, the most popular options are the Malm and Hemnes series.  They are both affordable and roomy: the Malm is less expensive, but the Hemnes will hold up better and last past college.  Both have different finish choices and an array of configurations.  And for a little added style, be sure to check out my last blog about creative and easy “hacks”.

  • IKEA College Options--Dressers
    Hemnes White 6 Drawer Chest

IKEA College Ideas –Desks

IKEA has 14 pages of items if you search “desks,” which includes study desks, computer desks, stand up desks, a variety of office chairs and many accessories.  This is really a personal preference and therefore hard to make a recommendation.  I can make two general statements:  first, you get what you pay for–the cheaper the desk, the less durable it is–and, second, all of the office chairs I have assembled have been very nice.  Having said that, I am going to point out a couple of my favorites.

As far as desks go, I think the Liatorp is very nice.  It is strong, has hidden storage and has nice finishing details.  It is available in white or this very nice grey. And as the images show, it can be faced against a wall or facing out and still look fantastic.

IKEA College Ideas
Bekant Desk in Black and White

 

 

A totally different option is the Bekant Desk, which is height adjustable (it can be used as a “stand up desk”), has a cable management “net” underneath, is very solid and has a variety of color options.  This model does not offer any storage, however.

 

 

 

IKEA College Ideas
Renberget Swivel Chair

 

In my experience, all of the IKEA office chairs are good quality and reasonably comfortable.  In the end it mostly comes down to features and style.  Considering all of this, my choice would be the very affordable Renberget swivel chair.

Of course, IKEA has everything else you need to set up a home, including kitchen and living room furniture, textiles, bathroom accessories and plenty of decor add-ons.  Please give Mamakea a call soon and we will help put together your shopping list and your furniture!

IKEA Hacks: Ideas & Resources Galore

One of the things regarding IKEA that I get most excited about is IKEA hacks, which means taking an inexpensive, sturdy, basic piece of IKEA furniture, and up-styling it.  The methods and combinations are as endless as your imagination, but I am going to share some of my favorite tricks and results.

IKEA Hacks:  Examples

Probably one of the most hacked items from IKEA is their children’s play kitchen, Duktig.  The kitchen unit sells for $99, but for not much more you can personalize it for your child.  (Accessories are extra.)  I am planning on hacking a Duktig and donating it to a charity auction and I can’t wait!  Here is the original and some ideas for redesigning.

A very complicated (but cool) hack is using IKEA kitchen cabinets to make a platform bed with tons of storage.  This isn’t something a novice should try–but Mamakea could help make it happen!

IKEA Hacks
IKEA Sektion Cabinets as Base for Platform Bed = Tons of Storage!
IKEA Hacks
Design Plan for IKEA Sektion Cabinet Platform Bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

IKEA Hacks
Custom Platform Bed from IKEA Sektion Cabinets

IKEA Hacks–Resources

Although I have dreamed of doing IKEA hacks since our St. Louis store opened, I only recently discovered some great ready-made resources to help with the job.  There are three different companies I discovered that exist only to support IKEA hacks!

Custom Slip Cover Resources

The first is a company from Germany called Bemz.  They offer slip covers for just about every model of IKEA upholstered furniture, in about a million different options.  Seriously, start with the Nockeby sofa, and then decide what style and color you want to cover it.  For example, on this model Bemz offers almost four hundred fabric options, including the newly added velvet collection.  Here is a side by side of the original Nockeby and the velvet options.  I love how it completely changes the look.

IKEA Standard Slip Cover
IKEA Nockeby Sofa in Gray
Bermz Slip Cover
IKEA Nockeby Sofa with Bemz Velvet Slip Cover and Velvet Color Selections

 

 

 

 

 

 

The site is very easy to use.  It is categorized by item type (chairs, sofas, headboards) and then within each type it has each IKEA model, and for each model it has the fabric offerings. This allows you to see a preview of your item in your selected fabric.  Delivery is quoted as approximately four weeks.  In some cases you may pay more for the cover than the original item, but the total will be economical compared to custom upholstering of other comparable quality furniture.  They even have covers, including velvet, for beanbags!

Decal Resources

So I have to find customers that want me to do this for them, because I don’t have enough room in my house for more furniture.  This is amazingly cute, and super easy.  Mykea (love the name almost as much as Mamakea!) offers decals to customize IKEA furniture.  The site is organized much like Bemz where you can search within IKEA furniture models and then choose from about 100 different designs.  My personal favorite is the poppys, but it is hard to choose.  Honestly, they are inexpensive enough and removable, so change your design each season.

  • Original IKEA Malm 3 Drawer Dresser

Overlays

Of all the hacks resources that I am sharing, O’verlays is my favorite.  I think the potential impact, the endless possibilities and the ease of completion make this a DIY’er’s dream.  This company isn’t solely supplying for IKEA furniture, but they do have a section dedicated to IKEA models.  The beauty of this hack is that you can make whatever combinations you want from their wide variety of patterns and add your own paint.  The designs are laser cut wood and can be applied on top of any existing surface.  For this illustration I am starting with the IKEA Rast dresser which is an incredible bargain at $34.99!  It is untreated wood so it is ready for whatever color you want to use as a base, and then you can add the overlay which you can paint to your choice also.  Here’s how it works:

Select Surface:                                                                                           Select Overlay:

IKEA Rast Dresser
IKEA Rast Overlay “Danika”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paint overlay and dresser, glue overlay, and Voila!

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Gigi Overlays on IKEA Rast Dresser

IKEA Hacks:  Your Imagination

I have provided some easy inspiration and execution ideas here, but everyone should consider what might work best for them.  Or find a piece at a furniture store or flea market that you love, but don’t love the price, and figure out how it can be hacked.  IKEA has the basic materials, just find the simple resources to help copy your favorite design.  There are stencils, fabric, wallpaper and all of the previously mentioned resources to make it happen.  And Mamakea is looking forward to making as many of these as possible become a reality!

IKEA Restaurant Fare–Meatballs & More

Even if you have never been to IKEA, you have undoubtedly heard of their Swedish Meatballs.  I know people who wouldn’t agree with me, but for the most part I think they do live up to the hype—they are pretty tasty.  But the IKEA restaurant offers so many options that you can have an inexpensive, nutritious meal any time of day without meatballs showing up on your plate.

Ikea Restaurant Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs

IKEA Restaurant Breakfast Fare

I believe IKEA is one of the smartest managed retail establishments in the world, and one of the

Ikea Restauant Regular Breakfast
Regular Breakfast

great things they do is open the restaurant 30 minutes sooner than the store.  Especially since you can get a 99 cent breakfast and a free coffee (if you are an IKEA Family member).  This “Regular” breakfast deal includes turkey sausage, scrambled eggs and hash browns.  I have had better breakfasts, but not for less than a dollar.

The star of the breakfast menu is their famous cinnamon roll, which you can smell from the lobby of the store.  I am pretty sure they pump the aroma through the ventilation system.  It is an awfully big store to have that much cinnamon wafting at all times.  I have found that the cinnamon roll in the cafeteria is twice as big and a million times yummier than the Bistro cinnamon roll.  Not sure if my experience is a fluke or not, but I will never have another cinnamon roll from the Bistro.

IKEA Restaurant Swedish Waffle
Swedish Waffle with Lingonberry Jam

Besides the cinnamon rolls and Regular breakfast deal, they offer (what they call) traditional Swedish favorites.  And of course, you can always have the meatballs.  Swedish options (not together) are Gravad Lox, Swedish Waffles and Swedish Pancakes.  And at every meal they have kid’s specials, for breakfast it is a pancake and sausage.

IKEA Restaurant Lunch/Dinner Fare

They have separate Lunch and Dinner menus, but they are pretty much the same.  There are the standard offering of cold plates such as wraps, salads and sandwiches, and the hot tray line.  The hot dishes always include the meatballs and my favorite, the poached salmon. Then there are also dishes that rotate in and out of the menu, like BBQ ribs, Chicken Florentine, grilled chicken with various toppers, or herb roasted chicken.  The meatball offerings always include the veggie balls and chicken meatballs in addition to the traditional Swedish meatballs.  The sides offered typically include mashed potatoes, French fries and my favorite, the veggie medallions.  These are a small patty made with chopped veggies and held together with mashed potatoes.  They are available in the retail market, as are most of the restaurant offerings.

IKEA Restaurant Meals
Available Meals

 

IKEA Restaurant Beverages, Sides & Desserts Fare

As in all cafeteria set-ups, you have to grab everything as you go through the line, including your dessert.  All of the desserts look better than they taste (my opinion) but if you really want to try something skip it in the line and buy it in the retail section to take home for later.  Beverages include the standard fountain drinks and hot beverages (at the end of the line), but in the beginning they have packaged apple cider, elderflower drink and lingonberry drink.  In addition to the hot sides they offer side salads, soups and a bread offering such as cornbread or garlic toast.

IKEA Restaurant Fare Nutrition & Sustainability

IKEA’s website has a complete listing of nutritional values for everything they serve.  Besides the BBQ options, nothing comes in over 1000 calories and most of it is much less than that.  As an example my favorite salmon meal as mentioned above comes in at 850 calories WITH the hollandaise sauce.  These caloric values are  a result of reasonable serving sizes.

And like everything IKEA does, they have an ecological awareness in their food, too.  Much has been said about the pros and cons of eating wild salmon verses farmed salmon.  IKEA is only selling farmed salmon produced at Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farms.  This certification is based on removing the negatives associated with farm-raised fish and therefore producing a healthy alternative to expensive wild caught salmon.  And if this still goes against your conscience, they have many vegetarian and some organic options on the menu, too.

If this all sounds overwhelming, just get my son’s “regular”.  Chicken tenders (comes with two sides), double fries, a side of meatballs, garlic toast, chocolate overload cake and a can of apple cider, for a total of 1670 calories!  Did I mention he is almost thirteen?  But a promise of this meal is usually enough to convince him to come with me to IKEA when I need help with the heavy lifting.

Parker's regular--no cake this time
Parker’s regular–no cake this time

IKEA Foundation and Charitable Giving

IKEA corporate has a charitable arm called IKEA Foundation.  Their mission is big but specific, described by Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s founder:

We all share basic needs: a secure home, good health, a regular income, a desire to keep our children safe, to see them get a good education and succeed in life. That’s why the IKEA Foundation has decided to focus our funding on these key necessities.

The foundation began in 1982 and initially focused on interior design.  It quickly transitioned to problems of child labor and focusing on the root causes.  At the same time, the Foundation partnered with majorCircleOfProsperity-large charitable organizations to advocate for children’s rights and education.  In 2009 the foundation’s charter and mission was expanded to improving children’s opportunities.  Now it specifically addresses four fundamental needs for all children:  a place to call home, health, education, and a sustainable family income.  The IKEA Foundation refers to this as their “Circle of Prosperity.”

The foundation manages their donations through well-known charitable partners, such as UNICEF and Save the Children.  (The full list is here.)  Using this approach, the programs are managed by established and well-regarded organizations that are experts in their fields.  Furthermore, these organizations are held accountable for all donations to assure that the funds are utilized as originally intended.

IKEA Foundation Impact

Through this approach, the impact in 2015 was:

  • Donated €120 million
  • Supported 49 partners with grants benefiting children in 46 countries
  • Raised more than €11 million through the Soft Toys for Education campaign for UNICEF and Save the Children.
  • Raised more than €23 million through the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaigns for the United Nations Refugee Agency
Ikea Founder, Ingvar Kamprad
“Today, our goal with the IKEA Foundation is in keeping with exactly what we’ve always tried to do as a home furnishings company – create a better everyday life for as many people as possible around the world.”

IKEA Foundation Causes

Recently IKEA has sponsored two specific campaigns:  Soft Toys for Education and Brighter Lives for Refugees.  The Soft Toys campaign has raised almost $100 million for UNICEF and Save the Children in the past 13 years.  The Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign ran in 2014 and 2015 and as a result a total of $34.4 million was donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

IKEA Foundation Better Shelter
“Better Shelter”

One of my favorite specific causes of the IKEA Foundation is a partnership with Better Shelter and the UN Refugee Agency.  Through this partnership they are providing shelter units for displaced families–primarily from the Syrian War.  IKEA has made financial and technical contributions to provide a shelter that has four walls, windows, a lock on the door, a solar panel and a lamp—all shipped in a flat-box and “easily” assembled in a few hours.  These “homes” offer more security than basic tents, which is important to the families who experienced intense trauma just to make it to these camps.

Another specific donation is a recent emergency grant to Save the Children in Ethiopia.  It is designed to assist children and families dealing with a severe diarrhea outbreak.  Climatic changes including El Nino led to severe droughts and people had to resort to unsafe water sources.  Then flash floods compounded the issue by spreading the water-borne diseases further across the country.  Their €200,000 grant will provide drugs and medical supplies, distribute soap, containers and water treatment chemicals, and monitor water quality.  This obviously supports their belief that every child has a right to a healthy start in life.

 IKEA Foundation Co-worker Support

A great aspect of the IKEA Foundation’s donations is the IWitness program.  Through this effort IKEA co-workers from all over the world visit IKEA foundation projects.  The co-workers write a blog and it is posted on the Foundation website.  The website also has an interactive map where a reader can choose a location and see the co-worker’s pictures/videos and read their thoughts from the visit.  This is a great account of the specific work and results from the IKEA foundation.

I will keep you posted on the 2016 campaign through my social media.  They typically hold their campaigns in November and December so there is still time to implement the 2016 version.

I always feel better shopping and supporting a business that I know supports important causes.  I salute IKEA and their foundation.

IKEA Foundation Logo

Ikea Dorms: Furniture, Organization and style

Dorm living has changed a lot since my matriculating days. One common thread, though, is making the most of the space that is dedicated to living, studying, bathing and hanging out.  Ikea is a dorm-dweller’s dream because of the loft beds, desk, storage, organizing and décor options.  I am sharing some of my favorite ideas here, but there is so much more, including a Pinterest board dedicated to Ikea dorms!  And of course remember, for those of you heading to college in the St. Louis Metro area, Mamakea can shop, deliver and assemble at your dorm room for you.

Ikea Dorms: Furniture

Of course my emphasis is on furniture, so let’s start there.  A stable of dorm living is a loft bed.  This leaves space underneath for studying, storage or a living space.  Ikea has great AFFORDABLE options for loft beds.  Check out the Svärta, Storå, and Tromsö–all for less than $300.  My personal favorite is the Stuva, which is customizable with a variety of desk and storage options.  Here is an example of one I assembled for a customer.

20160610_124054
Flaxa Loft bed with desk.

In addition to loft beds, Ikea has incredible storage beds and trundle beds that are ideal for college dorms.  Check out the Brimnes and Hemnes options, which include a trundle option–so it stores as a single bed with drawer storage underneath, and can include a second single bed that pulls out with the drawers under it, like this:

HEMNES Daybed with 3 drawers/2 mattresses IKEA Four functions - sofa, single bed, double bed and storage solution.
Hemnes Daybed wtih 3 drawers and two matresses

Another option is the Malm, which I like because the drawers are not attached to the bed–they are on casters and just roll under the bed.  This makes it easy to move around for cleaning (probably not a factor in a dorm room) and easy loading/unloading.  My favorite for style is also the least expensive Flaxa, which also includes a pull out bed option and a great storage head board.

Flaxa storage bed. Linens not Ikea, but good Ikea options are available.

Ikea also has many affordable stand-alone desk options.  And to address a recent trend, they offer a stand-up laptop desk that includes cable management and extra storage–with a very small footprint.

Ikea Dorms: Organization

20160427_173149
Parkerkea and his Algot storage system.

Ikea has so many smart storage and organization options that it is impossible to show them all.  I think the best options are flexible and movable.  Almost all of Ikea’s storage can be built with wheels.  Some unique options include the Grundtal cart, which can of course be supplemented with a variety of storage baskets or bins.  Another favorite of mine, that I use in my own house, is the Algot system.  My son uses this to store his clothes, and the baskets are removable (or get the castor option) and take the unit directly to the laundry room and fold clothes right back into it!  They can also stack so you get more storage with the same footprint.

Ikea also has some unique storage/organization items.  Check out this colorful PS 2014 storage table.  Or this fantastic trolley cart (think bathroom caddy, on wheels!). Or, if you need a pop of color, check out the Kallax shelf unit that comes in white, high gloss red, green, black and several wood tones.

Ikea Dorms: Style

The most thorough way to check out the Ikea dorm style ideas is to visit the tab on their web site for “Back to College.”  The initial section is all about choosing your style and the give several options.  Also in this section are tips for shopping and packing with ease.  One hint:  remember the small touches.  Ikea’s inexpensive rugs, textiles and desk organizers are a great way to up the style factor with very little investment.

If you have any questions on these items or need help with assembly, please give Mamakea a call!  I am offering a $10 coupon for college assemblies greater than $100 through October 1, 2016.

 

Inexpensive DIY Artwork Made From Ikea Fabric

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Ikea Fabric Art Panels
20160622_124519
Ikea Fabric Selection

I intend to write in the future about unique or unexpected items that can be found at Ikea, but this article is specifically about a DIY project that can be made from Ikea fabric.  So first, did you even know that Ikea had fabric?  They have a wide range of sheer white fabrics and colorful, graphic prints that are reasonably priced—from $1.29/yard to $8.99/yard for plastic coated fabric.  I chose a black and white graphic fabric ($5.99/yard) to make three panels to hang in my Ikea and antique-inspired living room.  Since this was so easy and I am very pleased with the result, I thought I would share the step by step directions.

The material and tool list is very simple.  Once you select your fabric at Ikea it is a self-serve process to cut it.  They have the tools and tags to cut and mark your purchase. I bought one and a half yards of fabric to make three 14 inch wide by 24 inch tall panels.   This might seem like an excessive amount of fabric, but as you will see in the directions you need an additional four inches beyond your finished artwork size to wrap the frame.  My fabric was a one yard repeat, which I expect is common for their patterns and should be taken into consideration when deciding the final size of your panels.  The comprehensive materials list includes:

  • 1.5 yards fabric, minimum
  • 2-8 foot pieces of 1″x2″ pine
  • Thin batting (optional)
  • Corner brackets
  • Screwdriver
  • Staple gun and staples

 

Step One:  Trim your Ikea fabric to the height of the size of the desired finished product plus four inches.  Repeat patterns are often a mirror image on the total width.  I cut about 28”, so that after wrapping the fabric on the frame I still had some of the blank space at the top of my artwork.

Step Two:  Cut the Ikea fabric in thirds lengthwise.  In my case with the 1.5 yards of fabric I had three half yard pieces.  They were specifically 28 inches high by 18 inches wide.  If using batting, you should also cut three pieces of batting the same size as the fabric.

Step Three:  Cut the pine into frame pieces.  I mitered my corners, which since this is hidden is not absolutely necessary, but I feel it makes it stronger.  So based on the 18” x 28” fabric, the point on the miters should measure 24” on the height side and 14” on the top/bottom.  In all you need six pieces of each size.  Tip:  Cut two at a time so you know they are the exact same length and will create a perfect square, and keep the matched pairs together.  Alternate:  You can use straight cuts, in which case cut six 18” pieces and six 21” pieces.  You can even get the lumber store to cut this for you.

Step Four:  Lay out the frame pieces into a rectangle with true square corners.  If you want to be precise you should use a carpenter’s square or some other guide, but this isn’t rocket science.  The wood should automatically square up pretty well.  One exception is if you are using a square geometric pattern you might want this to be more exact.

20160622_160417Step Five:  Attach the wood together with the corner brackets until it is secure.

Step Six:  (Optional) On a flat surface lay out the batting and center the frame (with corner brackets facing up) on top of it.  Stretch the batting around the frame and secure it with the staple gun in the center of each side.  Miter the corners by folding the tip of the batting toward the center of the frame and staple to the frame.  Then fold the sides over the edge and staple securely over the top of the mitered corner.  (See picture.)  Continue stretching and stapling around all four edges of the frame.  Repeat for each frame.

Staple mitered corner
Staple mitered corner
Staple sides over mitered corner
Staple sides over mitered corner

Step Seven:  Repeat Step Six with the Ikea fabric, placing the fabric right-side down on the flat surface and laying the frame, batting side down, on the wrong side (side without the pattern) of the fabric.  Secure the fabric around the frame on each of the three frames.

In all, this project took less than an hour and cost less than $20.  Not bad for art hanging in my entryway.  Let me know your thoughts!

Navigating Ikea—In Detail

The basic need for understanding the Ikea St. Louis store is that there are three levels.  The first level is just for parking/loading, but even for this there are “secrets.”  The first is, don’t forget about the covered parking.  I think it is missed by shoppers unfamiliar with the store and often there is much closer parking in the covered area than on the main parking lot.  I also find it easier to navigate out of, as the garage exit discharges you directly to the parking lot exit nearest the highway.  Because it is less crowded undercover it is typically easier to load your large purchases in the loading zone.  And of course, there is the protection from the elements for you, your car and your purchases.

After parking you have two choices to reach the first level—an elevator, and the escalator that deposits you at the starting point of the shopping experience.  This sounds simple, but there are several important things to take note of at this point.  First of all, if you have children with you it is wise to stop at Småland.  This area is set up as a Swedish forest playland for children ages 4-10.  You must sign them in and they must meet Ikea criteria (e.g. potty-trained, see website for complete details).  But this affords you one hour of temper-tantrum-free shopping!  This is very popular and the line can be long during peak times, so plan accordingly.

Ikea Showroom

Once you have dropped your children off, Ikea “directs” you up an escalator to the third floor, which is the Showroom.  If this is your first visit and/or you are truly just shopping, this is your best bet.  The Showroom is set up as vignettes of the different room furnishings (fully assembled) and does a fabulous job of exhibiting most all of Ikea’s stock.  Take note:  If you see a piece of furniture that you know you want, it is wise to check the tag and make a note of the self-serve location for it.  If you forgot pen/paper, Ikea has you covered there with stations set up randomly throughout the store that includes the map pamphlet, pencils, and even a paper yardstick!  On the pamphlet there is an area to write down the article and location it can be found in the self-serve area.  This will save you time later.

This showroom level does not have much that you will actually pick up and buy here, but there are a few exceptions.  For the most part you will not require a cart on this level and the only way to get one there is from the second floor, on the elevator.  The few exceptions to shopping on the third floor are kitchen cabinet accessories (hardware, for one), children’s items (stuffed animals, toys, step stools), and “Ikea family” which includes safety items, travel bags/backpacks, and books & games.  Because Ikea always thinks these things through, these are the last three departments you are directed through on this level.  If you are shopping for any of these items, or just in case, skip the cart and grab one of the yellow shopping bags that Ikea provides for toting items within the store.

At the “exit” of the showroom (there is a designated path that Ikea has designed to get you through the entire store so that you don’t miss anything—there are tricks to avoid this, which I will cover in the future) is the restaurant.  If you require sustenance for your shopping experience this is one of the places.  I will cover the restaurant more in the future.

Ikea Marketplace

To continue shopping, now you head back downstairs to the “marketplace.”  As a point of reference, this is the same level that you dropped children at Småland, and where you will eventually check out. Here it is advisable to grab a cart!  And, a tip on the carts:  There are two different kinds, a standard “grocery” cart, or a cart that has a bottom platform and allows for you to “hang” one of the yellow shopping bags.  I choose based on whether I am ultimately going to buy furniture.  If you are not planning on buying furniture—use a regular shopping cart; if you are planning on buying furniture, use a platform cart and a shopping bag for smaller items.

Again, Ikea has it laid out so there is a single path through the marketplace which assures you will see EVERYTHING.  (How else will they get you to buy it?)  Some items you will see more than once!  This is the stock for the accessory items that are displayed in the showroom, plus a lot more stuff.  In my experience I still see new things every time I walk through.

The end of the marketplace experience deposits you into the “self-serve” furniture area.  Remember the notes you made on your blue pamphlet on the location of the furniture you wanted?  It is arranged in this area based on the aisle/bin number that you recorded from the tag.  If you didn’t make these notes there is a computer kiosk pod that you can look the items up and it will give you this information, but it is located past where some of the most popular items are warehoused.  When I am at Ikea I try to avoid doubling back, since it is such a jaunt on its own!  Another note about carts:  at the entrance to the self-serve area is another type of cart, with a bigger platform.  This cart also allows for hanging of the yellow bag, but will allow for more/bigger furniture items.  I have been known to switch out my yellow bag to this cart and abandon the smaller platform cart here.

Ikea Self-serve Furniture Area

If you have identified a furniture item that is very large and the location says to “see a customer representative,” you must do that.  They will provide you with a printout that allows you to pay for the item, but it will be picked up at the “furniture pick-up” counter that is located after the check out.  This is for items that are larger than they safely want you grabbing from the self-serve area and/or more confusing/complicated set ups, like the kitchen cabinets.

At this point you should have all of your bounty and are ready to pay for it.  At the check outs you are expected to place the smaller (think marketplace) items on the belt, but they will scan the larger items from the cart.  It is expected you return the yellow bags here, but of course they have blue bags that are exactly the same that you can purchase!  They do not provide bags, so either bring your own, buy the blue bag ($0.99), or carry it all loose to your car.  The blue bags are enormous and very strong.  I purchased a couple and just take them back with me whenever I go.

After checking out, you can still shop!  The “Swedish Food Market and Bistro” are past the checkout lanes.  I will cover the Food Market in another post, but if you shop here you can pay at their check out (if it is open) or at the Bistro.  The Bistro has a limited menu of snack items, including the cinnamon rolls that you have been smelling throughout the entire store!

Unless you need to pick up large furniture, your shopping experience is finished.  Remember, you are still on the second level, so you need to go downstairs.  There is an escalator “ramp” that carries people with bags, or the oversized elevator for people with carts.  Once downstairs you need to remember where you parked.  If you have any type of furniture I recommend pulling up to the loading area (either inside or outside).  There are Ikea employees that will help load your car (usually).

The last step is to call Mamakea for help assembling your furniture!

Navigating Ikea St. Louis–Overview

I have spoken to many people who haven’t visited the relatively new Ikea in St. Louis because it is so large and different than other stores.  In fact, it can be intimidating to seasoned Ikea shoppers.  I have a friend who has shopped Ikea for years but she still has a process of going once to browse and then going back to actually purchase what she needs.  As I have become fairly acclimated to the store through my Mamakea furniture assembly business, I thought I would try to explain navigating Ikea St. Louis through a series of posts.

This is Part One of navigating Ikea St. Louis and is an overview.  In the beginning, this would have helped me figure out what level I was on and where I needed to be.  Don’t forget, the store doesn’t start until Level Two—ground level is only parking.  This can be a bit disorienting.

  • Ground (First) Level: Parking—outside or covered
  • Second Floor: Småland, carts, Marketplace, self-serve furniture area, check outs, Bistro, Food Market, Customer Service, large furniture pick-up
  • Third Floor: Restaurant, Showroom, Children’s Ikea, Ikea Family
Navigating Ikea--St. Louis Ikea Entrance
Escalator from Second Floor to Third Floor

Navigating Ikea

A Practical Guide (arrows indicating if you are going up or down–find nearest escalator or elevator):

  • Park (covered parking)
  • Outside escalator to second floor  ↑
  • Inside escalator to third floor   ↑
  • Eat at restaurant
  • Down stairs to second floor   ↓
  • Drop off children at Småland
  • Up stairs/escalator to Showroom  ↑
  • Follow Showroom route (make notes of furniture you want to buy)
  • Down stairs to Marketplace  ↓
  • Grab cart/yellow bag
  • Follow Marketplace route
  • Pick furniture in self-serve area
  • Check out
  • Shop the Food Market
  • Grab a snack from the Bistro
  • Pick up large furniture from pick up area
  • Pick up Children from Småland
  • Downstairs to parking  ↓
  • Pull to loading area/load car
  • Home
  • Call Mamakea to assemble furniture!

This is a link to the Ikea explanation of how to shop their store.  My next post will include more detail and some tricks for shortening your trip and finding exactly what you are looking for.

THE IKEA HYPE–Why Shop Ikea St. Louis?

For people in St. Louis who haven’t shopped Ikea in the eight months it has been open, you are probably wondering “What is the big deal?”  Well, I think you have to see it to believe it, but even so, I am going to try and explain it.

Size

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Ikea St. Louis covers four square city blocks.

First is the sheer size of the property.  It contains 1300 parking spaces and the store is 380,000 square feet.  The unique set up of the store means that you will typically walk 2-3 miles as you follow the pre-set route.  Data shows that people average three hours on site per store visit.  The layout can be daunting—which is why my next two blogs will be helpful hints on navigating the store.

Restaurant

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Yum! Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.

Of course, the three hours may include a visit to the restaurant, which certainly contributes to the hype.  Between the free coffee and tea for Ikea Family members, the 99 cent breakfast and the scrumptious Swedish meatballs, the restaurant lives up to the hype, in my opinion.  Again, a future post will be dedicated to the restaurant and market food. 

 

 Value

The restaurant is indicative of the overall Ikea experience: Value.  The furnishings and décor are very good quality for the inexpensive price tag.  The adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t exactly apply to their products because they have streamlined EVERYTHING to cut costs and offer affordable items that have a higher quality than their competitors.  As an experienced furniture assembler, I can tell you that not all particle board is created equal.  They use higher grade materials, design items so that the assembly is very sound (this is your labor, so it doesn’t cost them) and they even design the packaging to keep size and materials to a minimum—saving money on packaging and shipping.  The attention to detail of all of their costs is what makes these products affordable—not because the products are cheaply made.  Having said this, there are higher quality and more affordable lines and another future post will help you to discern the difference.

Design

The last major piece that contributes to the hype is the universal design of the items and how they then appeal to a wider audience.  I call it universal because the design is typically basic and minimal, thus blending into different styles.  As a whole the store seems modern, but taken out of context I have seen pieces work in all styles of homes, offices and businesses.  In addition, the simplicity of the design has spawned an entire Pinterest category—Ikea Hacks.  I will share some of my favorites in the future.

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The one part of the Ikea legend that I don’t buy into is how difficult and frustrating the assembly can be.  As an engineer I appreciate the brilliance of their assembly design and the graphic-only assembly instructions.  But I am grateful that many people struggle with the assembly, because it gives me an opportunity to make a business out of doing something that I love.  So if you finally shop Ikea and find the perfect pieces to supplement your home décor, don’t let the daunting assembly instructions deter you.  Call me instead!