Four things you’ve thought when shopping at IKEA

“Don’t hate IKEA. Hate yourself for going”

There’s two types of twenty-somethings in this world.

Those who furnish their house with wood-panelled-everything courtesy of their local op-shop, and those who furnish their house to resemble an IKEA showroom. If you fall into the latter category, then this article is for you.

Like Kokoda or Mt Everest, the IKEA trek is test of endurance; bringing out the very best and the very worst in humanity. Some people will emerge with just a single allen key missing, whilst others will never emerge at all – found years later existing entirely on Swedish meatballs and pear cider.

But for most of us, IKEA is a Saturday morning ritual that starts off full of hope only to quickly descend into yelling and trying to shoplift the $5 cactus plants. So, without further ado, here are four thoughts we all have when making the stupid mistake of going IKEA shopping.

I have a dream.

In a rare burst of domestic bliss, you have decided that today is the day you spend your hard-earned money on your home. Your crappy, two bedroom apartment is simply crying out for a fiddle leaf fig and you are there to deliver.

Walking into IKEA is like a being the proverbial kid in the candy store. Your mind explodes with the possibilities – floor to ceiling curtains? Turkish pillows in lieu of a dining table? Fairy lights? THROW CUSHIONS? Heck yeah, you need some throw cushions.

As you stroll around, dreams of sophisticated dinner parties and stylish New Idea photoshoots on your cream leather sofa swirl around in your head. Oh, it’s so inspiring. You’ve never even considered needing any of these things in your trolley, but c’est la vie – you are an adult! Going furniture shopping! You will buy three sets of cutlery, and champagne flutes, and modern-art printed table mats because you will be a gracious host, dammit.

This is so easy and/or This is so hard.

Once the daydreams of that Betty Draper lush life subside, the reality of your predicament begins to niggle. You are in IKEA. Furniture shopping.

You understand that the Swedish are very practical folk, and the IKEA system is one of the most efficient shopping processes on the planet. You come, you browse, you locate, you scan, you buy. You eat a hotdog and GTFO. So why does this feel so hard?

Oh, where to begin? The trolleys left stranded mid-aisle. The only item you are searching for, missing. The seventeen types of extra-large kitchen bins, and not a wastepaper basket to be seen. The families who have decided to swim downstream and crash into everyone en route. The crying babies. The fighting couples. The tempting-but not-tempting-enough cow hide rugs.

You will oscillate wildly between hysterical joy (“This is so easy! So practical! So simple!”) and deep, deep sorrow (“Why is it so hard to find the exit? Why?”) This is the cruel dichotomy of IKEA shopping.

Dare we say it…shoplifting.

Somewhere in Stockholm, the director of IKEA is shaking his head sadly. We just wanted to give them a better life, he’ll say in a soft Swedish voice, and look how they have repaid us.

Ok, I’m sorry, but I know for a fact that everyone has this thought when they are scanning through hundreds of dollars of flat-pack crap: could I just….maybe….not scan something? Surely they won’t miss a few $5 cacti? Surely I deserve this after four hours pushing a trolley with a wayward wheel?

Guys, check yourself before you wreck yourself. The fact is, IKEA sends you mad. INSANE. Stockholm Syndrome in this Swedish House Of Horrors isn’t about bonding with your captor, it’s about turning against it. You will hate IKEA. By the time you leave, that hotdog will leave a nasty taste in your mouth that will turn you of visiting for at least another twelve months.

Don’t steal the cacti, don’t try and skip scanning items, don’t shoplift the flatpack, and for God’s sake, don’t hate IKEA. Hate yourself for going.

I resent you, shopping companion. I damn you to Hell.

Boyfriend, mother, sibling, friend, flatmate, significant other, wife, husband, or child: whoever you take to IKEA, you will invariably end up resenting. The fact is, no one shops IKEA at the same pace – some, like myself, will come prepared with a list of items, and march straight to the pick up area. Other (ie. everyone I seem to get stuck shopping with) likes to stroll at a leisurely pace around every single bloody department, searching for inspiration like Monet admiring his waterlilies.

Provided you go in with an open mind about the complete fury you will soon feel towards your shopping buddy, things should be just fine. Stick in your headphones, get a separate trolley, and tell them you’ll meet them at the hotdog stand.

IKEA is always worth it. That’s what you must always remember mid rage blackout in the sprawling children’s bed section of your local IKEA.

Once you can fight your way through loading the car with a tray of swedish meatballs in your hand, and survive the hours of tearful assemblage – then you will be the proud new parent of home furniture that literally cost you less than your handbag.

Keep calm and hotdog.

Four things you’ve thought when shopping at IKEA
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