Furnishing a new home or apartment is expensive. Once you add up the cost of a few basics – a dresser, bed, couch, and dining table, for example – you could easily find yourself out a few thousand dollars. Unless you shop at Ikea, that is. The massive Swedish home furnishings retailer offers stylish, budget-friendly furniture and housewares to anyone willing to brave one of their labyrinthine stores. The crowds might be maddening and assembling items might be difficult, but when you’re able to outfit your entire apartment without breaking the bank (and pick up some fresh-baked cinnamon rolls while you’re at it), who’s going to complain?
Ikea’s flat-packing method helps keep prices low, as does tricks like not using solid wood in much of its furniture (the popular Lack side table is actually filled with cardboard and air). The catch, of course, is that quality is sometimes commensurate with price. Furniture that looks great in the store doesn’t always wear well. A lack of durability or other quality issues may not be a huge problem if your Ikea purchases are a short-term solution, but it can be frustrating to haul home (and put together) an item that quickly falls apart, no matter how much you paid for it.
Does that mean you need to eliminate Ikea from your shopping routine? Hardly. Old standbys like the Ribba picture frames and the Docksta table (a knockoff of the iconic Saarinen tulip table) are popular for a reason – they’re cheap, versatile, and attractive. But you do want to be smart about how you shop at Ikea so you can get your money’s worth.
Here are four Ikea products you might want to avoid during your next trip to the big blue box.