No IKEA what’s going on

Last week saw me popping my “IKEA cherry”. I know, I’m probably the only person in civilised Europe who had never been to an IKEA, but I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on that much. However, my new flat, amazing though it is, is lacking a couple of essential items – one of them being a wardrobe – so it was finally time to bite the bullet.

Bjorn had told me about a wardrobe he’d seen there for around €30, so I had a vague idea what I was looking for. (He’d also offered to come with me, but getting him to make a plan and stick to it is about as easy as teaching a cat to tap dance, so I decided to go alone.) Some emergency coaching by Mammy O’Grady had given me an overview of how the IKEA system works, so I felt like I was fully prepared for the experience.

Two trains and a bus later and I was there. Things started off OK – it even seemed like they were expecting me…

2014-09-24 11.30.30
How thoughtful!

After close to an hour of wandering through various departments, looking at billions of items I didn’t want, I finally found what I was looking for. I noted down the number and tried to walk to the exit. And walked and walked and walked, past another billion items I didn’t want. Starting to feel like I was never going to make it out of the store alive, I finally came across an information booth.

Me: Hi, I’m trying to find this item. 

Gunther: (tapping away at this computer) Yes, that’s the correct number. 

Me: I know that. I’m practically German. I’m very precise. What I want to know is where do I find it, where do I pay for it, and how do I get out of here? 

Gunther: Oh, you have to go to the blah blah room to collect it. 

Me: And where’s that?

Gunther: Just walk through this department and the next department and the next department, and you’ll be there. 

Me: (sigh)

So I carried on walking, and eventually made it to the pick-up hall. I lugged the wardrobe down off the shelf and hauled it over to the self-service checkout. I scanned it, swiped my card and got beeped at.


Crap. Gunther the Second trotted over and explained that the machine didn’t accept foreign bank cards. I left my stuff with him and ran over to the ATM. Naturally, it was one of those ones that charges you around a fiver for every withdrawal. I walked back to where Gunther the Second was guarding my purchase. He then informed me that these checkouts didn’t take cash, so I’d have to queue up at the normal checkouts.


With steam coming out my ears, I joined a queue behind people who were buying enough furniture to fill Buckingham Palace. Luckily the cashier was friendly or I might have beaten her to death with the wardrobe poles.

It might look small and innocent but...
It might look small and innocent but…

I finally made it out of the store, where I stopped for a little rest on a bench. Then it was time to heft my awkward, 10kg package onto various forms of public transport. By the time I made it home, I hated IKEA, Sweden, the person who invented IKEA, people with cars, and furniture in general. Poor Bjorn, who has the misfortune of being Swedish, got his first taste of Irish temper as I ranted about what sort of a sadistic Swedish mind could come up with this store concept.

Come to think of it, Tiger, the Danish chain, employs the same concept – namely that you can’t just walk in and walk out again. You have to walk around every aisle in the shop before you can leave. Are Scandinavians notoriously tight, or something? Is trapping them in shops the only way to get them to part with their hard-earned cash?

Whatever it is, it will be a cold day in hell before I put myself through the IKEA challenge again.






112 thoughts on “No IKEA what’s going on”

  1. Aww, I love Ikea! There’s something very satisfying about successfully assembling the furniture. I’ve gotten some great things there, including a humongous framed Matisse print. You should give it another chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! yep, they are huge stores, aren’t they? I actually kind of enjoy wandering around and looking – the way they design furniture is quite a bit different than our designs and I find them fascinating. I accidently came upon a cafeteia in an Ikea store one day and had a wonderful (if simple) lunch for an excellent price. It was less than half what I would have paid outside the store. Mind you I don’t know if all the stores have these cafeteria and I couldn’t guarantee ever being able to find it again in the store – but it was good. Happy assembly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda, we went to that exact same Ikea when we lived in Berlin! Fortunately we had been indoctrinated in London when we were furnishing our flat, so we knew the system. That’s when we were introduced to the Swedish Horse … uh, Meatballs. Hope the wardrobe worked out ok. 🙂 ~Terri


  4. oh man. I feel for you. just hearing the word ikea puts me in a dark, unending place. i wish you would have at least gotten the meatballs to make it worth a little more of your time. too late, not worth going back.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You and Æ can have tea together while the rest of us go to Ikea. I’ll admit – I do see your point to an extent. But I have two words: FREE CHILDCARE. They will look after any children between 90 and 130cm in height (both of them!) for a full hour while I do I-don’t-even-care-I’m-sure-I-can-justify-it-somehow.

    I’m also pretty sure that next time P has a growth spurt I will not be going to Ikea any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dammit, if I had been just a little bit shorter, I could have just sat in the kids room and made them go and get the stuff I wanted. 😉
      Looking forward to P’s growth spurt and the next trip to IKEA post 😉


  6. The IKEA in Brooklyn is designed exactly the same. It’s like a Vegas casino — once you’re inside, there’s no easy way out. At least in a casino you can order a cocktail and there’s a chance you’ll win a jackpot. No such chance at IKEA. Glad you made it out of there in one piece.

    Congrats on picking up 5 extra classes. That will keep you out of trouble, um, er, quite busy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If IKEA had had cocktails, I might have hung around a bit longer 😉 The restaurant probably had beer, I guess – it is Germany, after all!
      5 extra classes is probably just enough to keep me busy, not quite out of trouble 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So the whole concept of *closets* has never caught hold in Europe. Incomprehensible. A close second is lack of clothes dryers, but at least there are reasons (space, energy conservation)


    1. We always had closets in Ireland 😉 Maybe it’s a ‘continental’ thing! And yes, I do miss tumble dryers too – Hermann had one but obviously I can’t use that any more!


  8. Oh God, did this post make me laugh.

    Is it because my first visit to IKEA was in Berlin in the early 80’s, and I remember dragging boxes home on the buses and U-bahn?

    Is it because I remember the first IKEA being built about an hour from us after we moved back to the US, and squealing with excitement?

    Is it because various pieces of IKEA furniture have always been a part of my life since then?

    Is it because the one time I got my husband to go into the new IKEA here in Bergen we got seriously lost and he said NEVER AGAIN!!!?

    Is it because I’ve never been in one again … and I’m kinda missing it?

    Anyway, my husband totally understands your sentiments. Me, I guess I do too.

    But I’ll sneak in one if I have the opportunity … and he’s not around to have to deal with me getting lost. 🙂

    And isn’t putting together the wardrobe when you get home such a joy? “IKEA. The gift that keeps on giving.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! It’s more like the nightmare that keeps on giving 😉 Going to force Bjorn to get his arse in gear later – if I can make him stay awake for long enough…
      Your husband sounds like a kindred spirit!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Going to IKEA always sounds like a far better idea before then after. Pro tip: never go on a holiday. Or a weekend. Or in the evening. The second they open on a Tuesday is about your best choice (unless it’s a holiday).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “One does not simply walk into IKEA and right out again.”
    Especially not without eating some delicious Swedish meatballs! The IKEAs here in the States have a little eatery featuring Swedish foods; not sure if the German ones do, but sometimes we’ll stop by IKEA just for some food! Then again, maybe you can try some of Bjorn’s Swedish meatballs… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I’m going to hit the flea market this weekend 🙂 Looking forward to that!

          My mam can’t wait to go back to IKEA either – that definitely does not run in the family 😉


  11. Glad you finally had the IKEA experience, although it is *definitely* easier with a car! Here in DC, there’s even a small local moving company that does monthly IKEA runs for the many Washingtonians who don’t have cars – you order whatever large items you want, the company picks it up on a given Saturday, and delivers it right to your door for a not-too-crazy fee. Naturally, for a 10kg item that only costs 30 Euros – better to just make friends with someone who has a car. 🙂 My sister and I first made friends with IKEA years ago when we lived in Germany for the year – of course, being in 6th and 7th grades at the time, our favorite items: the Swedish candy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Most of the food items are good! Snoren is long licorice strings that can amuse a kid for a good while – tying knots, making braids. 🙂 Some of the cookies and cakes are delicious, too. I believe Bev or someone mentioned the meatballs. Those are classic.

        And I was just reminded of this, which is hilarious: Can you guess whether the name is of an IKEA item, or of a heavy metal band?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hey Daina, thanks for the link. Im literally roaring with laughter. First of all I didnt know sweden had so many goth and metal bands. Maybe if they had names easier to pronounce, they would be more popular. second I didnt know swedish was so funny. it just kills me !

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes! Wir haben nicht eins – aber zwei Ikeas in Washington, DC! 🙂 Well, in the ‘burbs anyway.

      We covered the Ikea experience in Deutschkurs, along with that Ikea vs deathmetal site. Haha. If I ever move to Berlin, I’m not sure how to deal with lugging furniture on public transit or their aversion to Kreditkarten over there. 😉 I would probably rent a van or just order online. As an alternative, do they have Target over there?

      Assembling furniture is fun. I just have to make sure the extra pieces are simply redundant and not something overlooked. At least you get immediate feedback when the furniture ends up wobbly or a drawer won’t fit right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t seen Target, but I guess those kinds of stores are usually in the outskirts so it’s possible! It’s pretty funny the stuff you see people lugging on public transport here – sofa? No problem – let’s just hop on the S! Thanks for commenting! Linda.


    1. I know! It’s still sitting on the floor in pieces – and Bjorn is in bed AGAIN 😉 Going to have to force him to help me this evening… 😉
      Maybe I can lure him out of his room by playing ABBA tunes on loop 😉


  12. Ho! Ho! Ho! And also they have little munchkins that make you feel that you’ve only spent €5.00 of goods when you get the shock of your life and actually find out that the thoughtless picking of this and that (‘cos it’s only 50 cents), has turned into a bill of €185. I’m not saying that that hapened to me or anything!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it was me. I looooove IKEA though and I’m one of the freak people who do indeed make a day trip out of it. I’ve got a boy child you see so we do bad things like jump on the beds, “use” all the living/bathroom/kitchen stuff, “design” our future mansion, and make a meal of it by having lunch, dinner, a couple of hotdogs, and ice-cream there. It’s so cheap you see…..!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I know right?!?!?! That room had us laughing a lot…and then it was right next to the place where you can drop of the kids with babysitters..ha, ha ha…FUN.NY. Anyway….yes…the customer service situation is very nice especially in a place like Italy where the customer ALWAYS comes last…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. yes! I am sure there would be…it can be very challenging…and maybe even worse than the lack of customer service is dealing with the customers themselves! People like to cut in line here…..uggggg….they really have a lot of nerve. Not so much the younger people…but the older ladies?? They do it a lot. That is when I say: GGGRRRR


  14. I kinda like IKEA…well…wait…we have a love-hate relationship. I DO NOT LIKE that you are trapped once you are in there…and since I have no sense of direction, if I forget something and try to go back for it, I get completely lost and lose more time.

    But I do have to say that I like their ideas of how to cram a lot of stuff into a tiny space and still look organized.

    I also like that it is the most “American” type store in Italy. Meaning – – – that if I hate something, I can take it back and they are not going to harass me….they will just take the item back and refund my money…even if the piece of furniture has been put together! Once, I returned a kitchen cabinet door that I spilled bleach on, and not only did they give me a new cabinet, but a whole new kitchen….listen to this craziness: they agreed to give me the new cabinet, but since the colors had changed very slightly from when I bought my kitchen, they were obliged to give me all new cabinet doors….it was nuts!

    I think you should give it another shot. You just have to be mentally prepared BEFORE you go there. It’s all about managing expectations.

    And then…well….there IS the “relax room.” Ha, ha, ha…we are SO curious to know what that is! There is one near the bathroom at one of the stores in Milan…we always try to go in there, but the door is ALWAYS locked! What on earth is going on in that “relax room?” ha, ha, ha, ha…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know either but I’m intrigued 😉 I didn’t see one at the Berlin store but I could just have been in flight mode and missed it 😉
      That is some pretty amazing customer service though!


  15. Yes she s doing it again! here come the rants. only this time she`s carefull enough not to blame the germans so she blames the swedes instead))
    but honestly german way of doing things drives me mad sometimes. I hate how they have a bunch of stores where they dont accept any cards and how they have a certain department for a certain function and then another one … and every employee only knows this much and refuses to answer any question outside the things he is supposed to know… ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh, NO – I LOVE IKEA. Most of the furniture for the new house came from there. Their kitchen and wardrobe planning tools are brilliant and they’re pretty much a one-stop-shop for furniture and homeware. I can see how the size would be a pain if you only want one item but when you’re doing a whole house it’s brilliant. It was also the only place I could find furniture I liked – most Lithuanian furniture looks horridly outdated to me. Hope you get your wardrobe assembled soon!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. You HAVE to go back… by the sounds of it you neither went to the restaurant for meatballs nor bought biscuits 😉

    Time is weird in IKEA. I’m always really disoriented when I come out. It feels like I’ve been wandering through showrooms for days! The kind of days where night never actually comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like Las Vegas 🙂
      No, I can’t really understand the restaurant. Why would anybody want to go to IKEA and make a day of it! When I’m shopping, I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible 😉 But the meatballs did look tempting 😉


      1. lol, we AlWAYS go to the restauarnt first, even if I only want one item. You need the meatballs to fortify you for the 10-mile walk through the store 😉 Plus we have to drive to our IKEA so it’s usually lunch time by the time we arrive.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I dont have any particular likes or dislikes about IKEA I simply try to stay away from large stores in general since I get lost there. but the meatballs eating is a good thing, I use the same strategy with clothes and shoe shopping. Unlike most women I absolutely hate it so I usually go to a mall that has a nice restaurnat so that after I finished shopping I can look forward to some yummi food. that makes the whole thing easier for me)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m the same as you! I HATE shopping! There has to be some reward at the end of it or it’s just not worth it! I do like new clothes – I just hate the effort of getting them 😉


  18. I am disappointed, Linda. Ok, fine, first time IKEA can be a bit mad (my first time was the north New Jersey location, which I think is the largest one in the US), but isnt it fun to see everything it has to offer, so that it’s more enjoyable and efficient the next time?
    But come on, you totally could assemble it yourself. After my inaugural IKEA trip I put together a corner TV stand, a 7-drawer chest, and a bookshelf – all made of wood and requiring screws, screw drivers, nails and a hammer – by myself! And I’ve put together countless wardrobes like yours through all my moves. It’s easy! Ugh, I guess I should have come to Berlin.

    PS – so it took you, what, 3 weeks, to find something to bitch about in Germany? YAY! Linda’s back!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, I’m bitching about something Swedish really 😉 In my defence, I left the Swede to put together the damn thing over the weekend and he couldn’t do it either. Actually, I’m not sure he even tried – everything is in the same position it was when I left 😉
      And no, it isn’t fun. There is nothing fun about it. 😉


  19. OMG YES! THIS!

    I hate hate hate IKEA – you loose hours and hours in that place. It’s like a bloody black hole filled with people and their annoying squealing brats and there’s no freaking exit.

    It enough to make me hyperventilate and want to exterminate everyone.

    In the old IKEA near my place they had short cut doors where you could walk through to make your way quickly to the other area, but they got rid of those and now it’s a rat race to the end.

    It’s so traumatic.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I have to say, I do love IKEA. Though navigating it can be a bit of a challenge sometimes – but if you look around my apartment, you can probably identify the many pieces from the Swedish DIY goldmine. Really, like anything, it gets easier the more you go….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to take your word for it 😉 Going to hit the flea markets next weekend and see what I can find there instead! Like that Seinfeld episode – you don’t really know what a flea market is, do you? You think they sell fleas there, don’t you? 😉 Need to go and discover for myself 🙂


        1. I haven’t been to this one yet but passed it on the train today so I’m excited 🙂
          And you’ve never watched Seinfeld!? That’s almost as bad as never going to IKEA 😉


            1. Ha ha! Well, I guess they’ll forgive you 😉 I was at my friend’s place in Hamburg this weekend, and Seinfeld episodes punctuated our being out and about 🙂 Always a good start to the day/night!


    1. Ha, no, it’s definitely a wardrobe! Or at least it will be when the Swede gets around to putting it together 😉 I’ll help, of course, but I just suck at figuring this stuff out!


  21. haven’t been to other any other Ikeas but the one in Vilnius, and the first time i did indeed end up walking the whole store department to department. Luckily the one in Vilnius isn’t the biggest one of them. The next time round though I took a plan of the store with me, so i cunningly was able to take some shortcuts and skip entire departments.
    Did you already assemble the wardrobe? Thing is that while Ikea is all about DIY, i’ve found it the hard way that my mind ain’t all that much into DIY stuff and I prefer some one else doing the whole assembling thing and me just enjoying the results 😉


    1. Yeah, that was kind of my plan too 😉 I managed to get it out of the wrapping, then got woefully confused. All of the pieces look the same! Bjorn was supposed to put it together while I was in Hamburg this weekend. It’s still sitting on the floor – and he’s asleep. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. ah, definitely not Hermie then 😉 be it Hermie’s way the wardrobe would have been assembled in no time and also properly screwed to the floor boards as is a proper German way of ensuring that wardrobe is in it’s proper place for good then 😀
        Anyway, let’s hope Swede eventually will do some sweet furniture assembling in the end. I kind of expect every Swede be good with such a task, especially since Sweden is Ikea, and they should be all breastfed with knowledge of Ikea furniture assembling 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yeah, you’d think, right?! It’s at times like this that I miss Hermie – or just competent men 😉 The Swede is going back to Sweden on Wednesday so it has to be done before then! All of my clothes are destroyed – they’ve been in a suitcase for 2.5 weeks now – will have to wash everything to get the wrinkles out. I don’t iron either 😉

          Liked by 2 people

Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s