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What Not to Buy at Ikea

May 11, 2011

Ikea offers sleek, modern design at such reasonable prices it’s no wonder that the average customer in the United States drives 50 miles round trip to shop the inspiration rooms (and inevitably dine at the equally impressive smorgasbord of cafeteria food). While we’re huge fans of the Scandinavian design behemoth's trendy home accents, wall art, graphic rugs, and highly functional accent furniture, there are certain things not worth the trip. Here are five items you’d be wise to re-think:

1.    Mattresses

When it comes to mattresses, the saying you get what you pay for rings true. And because getting consistent good nights’ sleeps is crucial for your health, opting for a quality mattress is a wise investment. Ikea offers mattresses at a price range from $80 for a simple, twin-sized spring mattress to $649 for a king-size foam mattress. While the latter promises pressure-relieving and temperature-stabilizing technology at a seemingly reasonable price, the price structure is a bit misleading. To walk away from  Ikea with a complete bed set, you’d have to purchase three more items:  A bed base, foundation, and at least one mattress pad, adding almost $500 more to your total cost. What seems like a good deal on the surface, actually turns out to be what you’d be spend  for a full set at any other mattress retailer, such as Mancini’s Sleep World or Sleep Train. Furthermore, you don’t get the free delivery and set-up or the ability to negotiate payment plans like you would at most mattress-specific retailers, which are constantly offering promotions and deals in an effort to stay competitive.

2.    Imitation Wood Products You’ll Use Every Day

Ikea is full of products that look like wood but are actually made of laminate or pressed wood—or wood particles glued together. These pieces are generally of lower quality and won’t last as long as the real thing. While purchasing accent furniture or bookshelves in this material might serve you well, you might find yourself replacing that laminate coffee or dining table within a year as the daily use will cause the laminate to peal away at the edges or become stained or scratched.

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3.    Dinnerware

If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills dinner set, Ikea's $25 set of six plates, side plates, and bowls, might fit your needs. But you’d be able to find a similar set at Target or other retailers for the same price. And if you’d like your flatware to make a bit more of a statement, Ikea’s selection is lacking. While the Scandinavian purveyor offers more than enough ways to add flair to your pad at a reasonable price, their specialty is not stylish flatware. We recommend filling your Ikea cart with tabletop accents or wall art, but scooping up china flatware when department stores like Macy’s offer sales because you’ll have much more inventory to choose from.

4.    Quality Cutlery

Any professional chef or avid home cook will tell you that a quality set of knives is essential. And unfortunately, quality requires investment. There’s no way the $10 set Ikea offers will provide the ease, precision, longevity, or efficiency that a professional knife set promises.

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5.    Things with Complicated Assembly Instructions

Unless you’re a natural handyman (or know someone who is) or simply must have that bookshelf that comes in a gazillion pieces, be wary of some of the items that require a huge amount of DIY assembly.  Purchasing a fully-formed bookshelf elsewhere for a bit more might be worth what you save in time and sanity.

More from Kaboodle:

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

photo credit: istockphoto.com

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