Alexandra’s One Big IKEA Shopping Spree Gets Her Studio Furnished!

20130131-165429.jpgJust when you thought the hard work had all been done – you’ve found a place, negotiated with the landlord, signed the lease and collected the keys – you open the doors to nothing more but a shell. It is then that the real task begins – furnishing your new apartment.

For some, the term “furnishing” means little more than grabbing a couch and a bed from a local thrift store, a couple of towels and a sheet set from Walmart and inviting your friends over for pizza and beer out of take-away containers.

But for me (and countless others I know), the idea of putting your own personalized touches and design on your space gives me great joy. It’s a big job, but an enjoyable one with ongoing benefits (there’s no place like “home”).


One genius word: IKEA. I had used IKEA in Australia – a country where we would grab a mate’s truck and back it up into the loading zone so we could pile all the flat-packed goodness into the tray. My experience of IKEA in Brooklyn, New York, was very different.

It took two trains and a shuttle bus to even arrive there (the shuttle bus is a complementary service provided by IKEA to shuttle shoppers from Borough Hall to its Bay Ridge location).


After hours of wandering the display hall, taking notes and creating visions boards in my mind, and finally getting to the self-service area, I realized I was in slightly over my head! There I was – alone – not only having to decide which couch would fit and whether I wanted the white color or the oak, but then the almighty task of loading up my trolley and getting it through the check out.

Luckily, IKEA NY offers a “Pick & Deliver” service where you jot down all the goods you wish to purchase, you pay for them and the service itself (Pick & Deliver to Manhattan was US$150.00) and you had the option to also pay for assembly service once your goods arrived at your home. I declined…


Around 48 hours later my delivery driver called to advise he was 30 minutes away with my goods. They arrived, right on schedule, and between the two men in the truck, my purchases were up my two flights of stairs and sitting nicely in my apartment without me having to lift a finger. Pretty cool, eh?


Now, as I said, I’m a bit of an IKEA veteran so I had made the decision to decline the assembly service and attack the DIY nightmare myself. I knew there would be bits and pieces I would simply not have the tools or manpower to do alone, so I Googled some great handymen in the area and read through some reviews until I found a reputable one.

Just a couple of hours after my delivery had arrived, so too did my handyman and as I set about folding my new towels, hanging my shower curtain and picture frames, arranging my kitchenware and putting sheets on my new bed, my handyman took care of the bigger jobs. The beauty of these guys is that they have done it a million times before (many first-time New Yorkers use IKEA and too need a little assistance), so what would have taken me an hour took this guy ten minutes, making him ten times more valuable than I had imagined! (For the record, the charge was $80 per hour and to assemble or fit 5 different items for me meant it was the best $80 I have ever spent. You can contact Saxon at


I scheduled my handyman to return three days later to wall-mount my LCD TV (a service they provide for the flat rate of $125), which created a lot of space in my Manhattan (i.e. “small”) studio apartment. It also eliminated the need for yet another piece of furniture to home the TV on.


I had decided upon arriving at IKEA that I was getting everything I needed right there and then… And I did a pretty good job of this! There were, of course, things I needed that IKEA didn’t sell (or I overlooked in my moments of helplessness) so I jumped on the red train and hit up Home Depot for some more space savers and necessities: over-the-door hooks, lightbulbs, shower caddy, cleaning tools, etcetera.

And with that, and a stop at Whole Foods for grub and groceries, I had myself a functioning New York apartment. I am so proud of it because I know what it took to get it all together. But the most important thing in not just this city, but any city, is having a place to call “home”. I absolutely love my “home”!

Stay tuned for my money-saving ideas and how much my IKEA rampage broke (or didn’t!) the bank!

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Alexandra is a self-confessed homemaker with light OCD tendencies - always likes to have her home ready for that next unexpected guest. From fresh blooming flowers to perfectly positioned throw cushions, Alexandra finds joy in creating a divine space for endless entertaining and memories. But what Alexandra has found in her quest for stunning apartments and perfect, respectful housemates to go with them is that we each have very differing opinions of clean and beautiful. That's all part of the process though, she says - from dealing with precious yet pushy brokers, to bills, housemate's boyfriend who never seems to leave, and whose turn it is to buy toilet roll!

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Comments (3)

  1. Alexandra Hill Alexandra Hill

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your comment but let me assure you there is absolutely no “entitlement” about it.

    I am Australian and decided I wanted to move to NYC 16 months before I actually made the move. In that 16 months I worked 60-70 hour weeks, barely left the house otherwise and saved every single penny. Hard work pays off.

    Furthermore, if you read my latest post, you will see I furnished my apartment for under $2000, so just because it may sound exxy and glamorous, let me tell you I was counting every single dollar as I strolled Ikea and I definitely made choices based on my budget, over what my heart desired.

    Just because you are starting out with little money doesn’t mean you need to live in a less desirable space – that’s exactly what Ikea has helped countless singles, couples and families do – live well for less.

    In regards to not assembling the furniture myself – you will see that I only got my handyman in for the pieces I was unable to assemble myself. I don’t have the tools or knowledge to mount my TV – do you?

    Good luck starting out in your new space and keep checking in on this site for tips!


    • Avatar Marteka

      What a great reply. I got the spirit in which this post was written and I appreciate the effort and will be taking your story to heart when I move out soon. Some folks think people should suffer because they might be, working hard and saving are the rules to live by and after all that working you should be allowed to spend your money how ever makes your life easiest.

  2. Avatar Stephanie Positano

    Completely unrealistic.

    Most of us moving into our first apartment, don’t have boat loads of money to waste at Ikea. Spending $150 for someone to assemble your furniture. You couldn’t done it yourself and saved that money.
    You just got your first apartment, I had all the time in the world the first 4 months to assemble furniture because I wasn’t being frivalous & stayed home!

    99.9% of us living on our own for the first time, DO NOT have the luxury of shopping at Whole Foods.

    Article reeks of entitlement