There are people who turn their noses up at big box stores and then there are those of us who know & appreciate their value.  The biggest of the big boxes has to be IKEA.  I know people who make regularly scheduled pilgrimages to IKEA whether they have a specific project going on or not.  I am one of them!

I’m lucky enough to have an IKEA store in my city so it’s not a bad trek for me, although nothing in this city is “close”.  I don’t go often but every few months I get an itch and make my way down I-10.

Without fail, I never leave IKEA without these 10 things:

1. Pillow covers

Decorative pillows are a must.  Like it or not, we need them for both comfort and style.  On sofas, chairs, beds, even on the floor.  As a decorator, it can be a challenge to deck out a room on a budget.  I have choose my textiles wisely and pillow covers can be a great place to save.  One of my tricks is to splurge on a few fabric choices & 1 or 2 really great pillows, then choose less expensive inserts & covers for the rest.

That’s where IKEA comes in.  There are so many choices and they are very well made (trust me, my children have put some through serious tests).

IKEA pillow cover

2. Inner cushions

Many moons ago I discovered the key to a great decorative pillow – never buy pillows without removable covers. Even better, use pillow inserts and separate pillow covers.  IKEA has inserts of multiple sizes for standard decorative pillows as well as euro & lumbar.  They even have a choice of poly filled or duck feather filled.  They’re washable & the prices can’t be beat.

3. Curtains

You definitely won’t find any custom (or custom looking) window treatments, but IKEA does have a great selection of curtains in non-standard sizes.  I don’t recall ever seeing anything shorter that 98″ there which is so helpful when you’re trying to follow the first rule of window treatments.  If you have a need for anything shorter, they are easy to hem whether you sew or not – use hem tape!

IKEA curtains

4. Window hardware

When you have very unique custom or semi-custom window treatments and you really want them to be the star of the show, you might want to go for minimally decorative hardware in simple finishes that do not distract from the curtains.  For those times when you don’t want the hardware to steal the spotlight, IKEA has some good options. From very sturdy traditional rods, rings, fittings & finials to more contemporary wire systems & metal rods.  You can tailor the hardware to any configuration AND to any budget.

5. Frames

Whether you’re creating a gallery wall or have a large print you want to show off, IKEA has a frame for that!  They even have templates for creating a personal gallery wall.

6. Plants

I struggle to keep plants alive, but I insist on using them all over the house if possible.  It can get pretty expensive to always have great air purifying plants around.  Unless you get them from IKEA.  Get little babies and bundle them for about $3 each or go big for anywhere from $10-$20 or so.  A few have suffered under my watch, but at these price points my wallet hasn’t.

IKEA plants

7. Decorative items

IKEA decorative vase

Another decorator trick is to splurge on a few unique pieces of decor – art, sculpture, vases, & accessories – and save on the rest.  I’ve heard of people scoring great finds at dollar stores (though that’s never happened to me yet), but with darn near a warehouse full of options there’s so much more at IKEA than any dollar store.  And the prices are probably comparable on many items.  The ones that aren’t are likely worth the extra spend.

These next 2 are complete wild cards!  I literally stock up on #8 & #9 every single chance I get.

8. Trash bags

I don’t like trash out in the open so I use a small trash can under the sink & another for recycling at the bottom of the pantry.  The cans are a smaller size so it’s hard to find small trash bags that are sturdy & still have the bells & whistles.  Things you don’t think about until you buy a trash bag that doesn’t have them and your floor, back, and nerves are shot after the mess they made when you were taking out the trash – little things like drawstrings, double thick construction, flat bottoms.  IKEA has them.  In odd sizes.

9. Plastic storage bags

Just like trash bags, you don’t realize how bad things can be until you get some that have bad “zippers”, won’t lay flat or expand how you need them, or fall apart from the weight of meatballs or extra cabinet knobs.  I use plastic storage bags for a little bit of everything & I have tried all the big brands.  These storage bags are the best & now I never leave IKEA without these in every size.  I’ve even converted a few friends & neighbors who I share goodies with in these bags.

10. Dish brushes

I use these things for everything!

We have 2 in every bathroom – 1 for cleaning the toilet and 21 for cleaning everything else.

We have 1 in the garage & 1 in the backyard because you just never know when you’ll need a scrub brush outside.

And of course there are multiple in the kitchen. Enough to clean all the things AND that where we keep all the backup reserves.

You can even color code them – I use red for toilet brushes so everyone knows “DANGER, only for nasty stuff”!

At any given time you will find 8-10 of these in our home. And at 49¢ each, I grab about that many every time I visit IKEA.

And finally a bonus… A trip to IKEA isn’t complete without taking home a tray of fresh, hot…

BONUS: Cinnamon rolls!!!

Y’all know I’m all about the food.  So are my kids & my DH.  I would not even think about not bring home a tray of cinnamon rolls because I know they would not let me hear the end of it!

There’s so much more in store, but I never leave IKEA without these items whether they are on my list or not.  I know eventually I will need or use them and there’s no better source for some of these basic items.  Combined with their commitment to sustainable design, you just can’t go wrong!

If you’ve ever been to IKEA (and who hasn’t?), are there things that you just have to get while you’re there?

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