The Couple’s Guide to Surviving IKEA

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Early Friday morning, Swedish police officers were called to investigate a possible domestic disturbance when neighbors reported “banging and screaming.” When the cops arrived at the apartment in question, they discovered that all the noise was actually the result of a couple assembling IKEA furniture. If anything, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.

IKEA is supposed to be fun, right? Everybody likes furniture. Everybody loves crazy made-up product names. (They’re definitely not words taken from a thriving language spoken by 8.5 million worldwide, that’s for sure.) But when you’re in a relationship, Scandinavia’s preferred Flärdfull purveyor is an incredibly stressful proving ground.

Here are a few simple rules that’ll help you and your partner survive a trip to IKEA. Whatever you do, don’t forget why you’re there – you love each other. At least, you did once. Before you came to this dark place.

Establish Expectations

You wouldn’t show up to the big game without practicing first. Before you leave for the store, huddle up. What’s the plan? What’s our price range? Are we making a five-figure, full-home furniture upgrade, or just dropping a Hamilton on some premium hangers? And how will we transport our purchases back home? Flip through the catalog in advance and see what appeals to you both.

Make a list (seriously, do it). Budget an extra hour for shopping beyond what you expect you’ll need. Time moves slower at IKEA.

Don’t Go on a Saturday


Stay Focused

Remember that list? Here’s why you need it. So much of what IKEA sells is fun and vibrant and cute and unique and you will want to buy it all, despite the fact that you have no conceivable use for any of it. An ice-cube tray that makes adorable fish ice cubes (well, “cubes”)? A ceiling lamp shaped like the sun? Cut the shit, and stick to your list. This is not the time to improvise.

Measure everything twice, and then three more times. IKEA provides free paper tape measures, so you don’t need to bring your own. Also, don’t follow the path prescribed by the arrows on the floor, unless you want to be stuck trudging behind the same slow-moving flock of sheeple for the duration of your trip. Seriously, this is like a yellow brick road straight to hell.

Take a Break

The average IKEA store has a square footage equivalent to five football fields. You’re going to get tired. Hydrate. Make sure your body’s getting all the nutrients it needs with a stop at the cafeteria. Eat some meatballs, dummy.

Breathe, Then Build

Relax. Now that you’re home, the hard part is over. Well, honestly, I have no idea if that’s true. I’ve never successfully assembled anything from IKEA myself.

But here’s what I do know. There are supposed to be extra screws when you’re finished. You can always glue things together if absolutely necessary. And most importantly, there’s no rush. Take your time! Even if your neighbors call the police, the cops who storm your apartment could potentially know how to build things.

Worst Case Scenario

Comedians Daniel Hubbard and Alex Viola made this parody of Gravity to explore just how intense the couple’s IKEA experience can get. Enjoy, and rest secure in the knowledge that your shopping trip won’t go this badly. (But just in case, charge your phone. And again: don’t go on Saturday.)

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