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ikea PS 2017 blue sofa and red round ottoman in living room

Going to IKEA with your Partner is Life’s Biggest Mistake

I remember the first time I went to IKEA.

I was 21. Which in actual fact is about 20 years too late to be having my first IKEA experience, but that’s another story altogether. They really should take kids on school excursions to IKEA, don’t you think? Forget sex education. You need to teach teenagers to assemble flatpack furniture if they really want a shot at a fulfilling, successful life.

Anyway, I was 21 when I first entered the church that is IKEA. In fact, my first great love was with the Billy bookshelf. It was set to be a romance to rival Romeo and Juliet. A real love story for the ages that’s still going strong to this day. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an arthouse film made about it, actually. With James Franco playing the shelf.

One of the things I remember about that first experience in IKEA (apart from the waves of ecstasy) was the arguing couples. I scoffed at those couples at the time. How sad were they – arguing over furniture!? Being 21, I had no idea that in less than 10 years I would turn into one half one of those horrendous duos. Which has now left me to draw one very serious conclusion…

IKEA Tempe

Never go into IKEA with your Partner

Entering IKEA any way other than alone is just stupid. And trust me, I’ve experienced the other way.

Rookie home decorators think going to IKEA with their partner is cute. A quaint experience that will help them bond. They’ll hold hands, tilt their heads, and ‘aww’ over children’s cots together; painfully unaware that they’re never going to make it to the procreating stage of their relationship. They’re not even going to make it to the warehouse section of the store.

I’ve been that person with my partner; thinking that getting his opinion about my desired IKEA furniture was a wise move. But what I’ve come to realise is that partners in IKEA never agree. It’s a weird natural phenomenon like the Bermuda Triangle or something. Nobody knows why it swallows boats up whole, but it does. IKEA is much the same with relationships.

Here are a few sentences uttered by my partner and other’s I’ve overheard in IKEA that warrant divorce…

30rock s6vday ikea3 | TLC Interiors

Sentences a Partner Should never Utter in IKEA

  • Didn’t you already buy cushions the other week?
  • I’m not sure that colour will go in the living room.
  • I don’t think we need any more photo frames, do you?
  • Why would anyone need a 40-pack of scented candles?
  • Do you seriously like that? I thought you were joking.
  • Can’t we take a shortcut through this section? We don’t even have kids.
  • The dining chairs we have at home are perfectly fine.
  • What are you going to use random pieces of fabric for?
  • You can’t just buy something because it’s on sale.

I’ve been involved in all of the above situations and trust me, it only left me further convinced that going to IKEA alone is the only option.

IKEA Entry - Market Hall

Solo IKEA Adventures are Unparalleled Bliss

I love going to IKEA alone. It’s like my time with myself, my thoughts, and 4573636 pieces of furniture and decor I just know I want to take home.

What’s so great about walking through the doors of IKEA without your partner is that there’s nobody to say no. That’s probably the main benefit, but there are others:

  • Sure, I’ll have a yellow bag to walk through the store with. A partner will often suggest such a bag unnecessary.
  • Sure, I’ll take a tape measure and pencil even though I had no initial intentions to purchase furniture. A partner often deters you from doing this.
  • Sure, I’ll sit down in the IKEA kitchens, stand at the stove, open cupboards and pretend to chop the faux oranges. A partner often looks mortified when you conduct yourself in this way.
  • Sure, I’ll get to a certain section of the store, realise I didn’t properly examine all of the dining chairs, and have to go against the arrows on the floor to travel back nine departments. A partner often reminds you in this moment that you don’t even need dining chairs.

ikea furniture wont fit in car

The one Downside to going to IKEA Alone

The warehouse is the only moment in which you’ll struggle without a second pair of hands. Who knew a bed required 17 boxes and nine trolleys to carry all of the components?

This is the one and only issue involved in going to IKEA alone; struggling with the heavy boxes. But that’s when your inner diva needs to kick in as you ask burly staff members to help you collect everything you need. They should all know you by first name anyhow; you’ve been there that often.

And of course, getting it all to the carpark and realising it won’t fit into the car is known to be an issue. Usually one your partner would have anticipated before you even took the boxes off the rack in the warehouse. But never admit that. Never.

ikea flatpack furniture malm bed dismantled

ikea flatpack furniture putting malm bed together the life creative

The Role of your Partner

Every relationship has roles. And I don’t mean traditional roles. I mean, one person might vacuum more often, one is better at cooking. Those sort of roles. You tend to slot into these roles without even realising it, and it’s often a glorious thing when all the domestic duties are covered without the two of you needing a chore wheel.

Well, when it comes to visiting IKEA, it is my role to hunt and gather (so caveman!), and my partner’s role to assemble the furniture (Well, that’s in an ideal world). I’ve actually asked the question on the blog before: can your relationship survive flatpack furniture? (Read the post here). And this perfectly outlines how to best put IKEA pieces together without divorcing your spouse or climbing out a window to start a new life.

I actually believe your partner would prefer this arrangement. They get to stay home and watch TV, you get to go to IKEA for the day (or a cheeky 5 hours at least!), and then you come together to delegate the furniture assembly. It’s the only way to ensure the relationship stays intact. And the only way to ensure a 21 year old on their first trip to IKEA doesn’t naively scoff at you and your partner… painfully unaware they’ll turn into you in about 5 years time.

How do you and your partner navigate through the IKEA experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

ikea norsborg light grey l shaped sofa

Join the TLC Private Facebook Group

If you’re obsessed with all things IKEA and stores just like it, you might wanna join my Private Facebook group here.

We discuss decorating and design on the daily. Members share snaps of their homes and ask advice. We support one another though shopping, style choices and more.

It’s loads of fun, so click the link above and drop me your email address.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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5 Responses

  1. We’re from the country so ikea trips are a biannual event.
    Can never leave without a snake shoe horn. Its an addiction, a computsion that afflicts my whole family.

  2. Hi Chris – I take my partner ONLY to carry the big heavy stuff so I usually leave him in the café to eat his own weight in Swedish meatballs. He says that I can buy anything I like so long as I assemble the flat packs myself. I’ve become rather good at it since I did a whole kitchen.
    I am very jealous of those IKEAs which have a Manland where you can dump your partner to play (like the kid zone). Although I imagine there’d be crying when you try to drag him out…..
    I too love Billy bookcases. I even bought one once when I was driving a 2 seater sports car and could only fit it in the passenger seat with the roof down. My partner was unhappy that he had to go home in a taxi!

  3. My daughter parks her husband in the cafe while she shops and collects him on the way out, to take advantage of his considerable strength and skills getting all her purchases into the car.
    Win / Win…

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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