It’s as Swedish as ABBA and Swedish Fish. For lovers of affordable stylish furnishings and tasty meatballs, there’s no place like IKEA. And now, shoppers of the popular ready-to-assemble store have twice the reason to love it. A brand new mega store has just opened adjacent to the old store in Renton. Read on for our flat-packed guide to the new IKEA Renton—no Allen key required!

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photo: IKEA

The Biggest Store You’ve Ever Seen!
The old IKEA store was squeezed into a converted aerospace warehouse, so it didn’t quite have all the features the company wanted to offer. The new 399,000-square-foot store is a traditional IKEA: two stories loaded with furniture and a restaurant on the top floor, plus a Marketplace and checkout area below and convenient escalators and elevators to navigate between floors. It also boasts 1,600 parking spaces (with more in the works) and five electric re-charge stations.

IKEA FACT: Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings retail company, in 1943.

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Småland
For families with kids in tow, your first stop is likely to be at Småland—IKEA’s signature play area enjoyed by kids from Stockholm to Beijing. If your tykes thought the old Småland was fun, they’re sure to be wowed by the new one!. This play area is completely different and is the same design as most IKEA play areas worldwide. It’s based on a farm, in a Swedish forest, with logs to jump off and trees to hide behind. Potty trained children 37″ to 54″ tall are welcome to play for 45-minute sessions, with the option to stay longer if there’s room.

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photo: IKEA

IKEA Toolkit
Before you set off on your IKEA adventure, don’t forget to grab the essential IKEA tools: pencils, shopping lists, tape measures and a trusty store map—all provided in the entrance lobby and at other stops along the way. Shopping carts and IKEA’s iconic big yellow shopping bags are also available along with specially deigned strollers for the wee ones.

IKEA FACT: The name IKEA comes from Ingvar Kamprad, who grew up on a farm called Elmtaryd in the parish Agunnaryd in southern Sweden.

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Begin Your Bargain Hunt
IKEA’s unique layout showcases their furniture and accessories in room settings, so you can picture how it would work (and look!) in your home. The new store really emphasizes family life, so even kids can get in on the act and be little interior designers.

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IKEA bases its rooms on various “life situations” — from a single mom and daughter, to a couple moving in together, to a large family with lots of kids and pets. The idea is—it’s just like home.

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Try it Out!
Shoppers are encouraged to be hands-on, so this mean kids can test out the bunk beds (lower ones only, please) and help design their own rooms. You can even stretch out on a bed, see how many people can fit on a sofa or cozy up to a breakfast bar.

IKEA FACT: The new Renton store has Washington’s largest rooftop solar array; and only LED lighting fixtures are used inside and outside the building.

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Children’s IKEA
The Children’s IKEA department is super-fun, offering lots of interactive play. Why not take a spin in a PS LÖMSK?

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It’s a Hoot!
Kids who are frequent IKEA shoppers will be happy to spot some new products on the shelves, including fun stuffies along with old faves and new books that come with matching stuffed friends like The Owl Goes on Holiday.

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I Want to Ride My Bicycle
Imagine a flat packed bike! IKEA has just introduced an awesome urban bicycle called the SLADDA. And, yes, you assemble it at home! It comes with some cool accessories, including a trailer (for your IKEA purchases), front basket and, of course, helmets.

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A Bite to Eat
Stop off at the new 600-seat restaurant before heading down the escalator to the Marketplace. You’ll find all your old favorites, plus some new options. The new menu includes additional healthy choices, including a sumptuous salmon dish as well as some super kids’ meal deals, too. Psst! Baby food and bibs are even available for the youngest visitors.

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Cloudy With a Chance of (Veggie) Meatballs
IKEA ‘s breakout hit has been its veggie meatballs. Veggie Swedish meatballs, your say? Surely not. But these are SO GOOD even carnivores are switching. Psst! The restaurant opens one hour earlier than the store, so you can have breakfast and a cup o’ Joe to give you sustenance for your marathon shopping trip. Bring your sidekick and take advantage of IKEA’s full hot breakfast selection, including scrambled eggs, potatoes, turkey sausage and Swedish pancakes for only $2. That alone is worth the trek to Renton!

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Marketplace
Head down the escalator to the Marketplace where you’ll find lighting, cookware, rugs, picture frames, plants and all sorts of odds and ends along with a variety of things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them.

IKEA FACT: IKEA’s top seller is the BILLY bookcase, followed by the KALLAX, the MALM bed and PAX wardrobe.

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Light up Your Life
The lighting section has some stylish options for everyone in your family. Kids lighting includes fun night lights, wall-lamps and more—just right to make your little one’s bedroom or playroom rock!

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Swedish Food Market
Make like the Swedish Chef and rustle up some Scandinavian recipes at home! The Swedish Foodmarket offers delicacies, snacks and treats from Sweden. Psst! You can even buy IKEA’s famous meatballs in the frozen section and prepare them at home.

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Pick It All Up
Stop by the Self-Serve Furniture Area to collect your furniture in a flat package and check out some other cool displays. Note: IKEA does offer home delivery and assembly services at reasonable rates.

IKEA FACT: Now in his nineties, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad still travels the world visiting IKEA stores. He was 17 when he founded the company.

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Check It All Out
After you’ve loaded up your bags and carts, hit the checkout lanes which have much more space than the old store. And since you deserve a treat after all that hard work shopping, stop by the Bistro for a fro-yo (or hot dog or giant cinnamon roll).

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Save Some Dough with IKEA FAMILY
Looking to save some green on those dressers, chairs and lighting fixtures? Sign-up for the free IKEA Family membership (online or at kiosks throughout the store). You’ll get free coffee and hot tea in the restaurant, and your kids will get an extra 30 minutes in Småland during non-peak periods. Plus, you can score discounts on select products in each department, including the Restaurant and Swedish Food Market. Discounts on the IKEA FAMILY department’s unique products are available on the top floor near the restaurant. Sign up and you could win a $100 IKEA gift card in a monthly sweepstakes and access to the special IKEA FAMILY website.

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Good to Know
1. IKEA has attention-to-detail amenities such as child size stair railings, family-friendly parking, strollers and a baby care room.

2. The old store will eventually be demolished, creating more room for parking. For now, IKEA is providing off-site parking with shuttle service and furniture valet on holidays and weekends. This offsite parking and shuttle arrangement will be maintained until the new lot is finished.

3. Is your kiddo too small for Småland? The new IKEA has tot activity stations throughout the store which is a perfect distraction—especially when you’re trying to keep those little hands busy for a few minutes while you discuss a full kitchen remodel.

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IKEA
601 S.W. 41st St.,
Renton, Wa 98057
888-888-4532
Online: ikea.com
Store hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Restaurant hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Have you visited the new IKEA store? What was your family’s favorite part? Tell us in the Comments below!

— Helen Walker Green (all photos courtesy of the writer unless noted)