Buying your first IKEA organizer is something of a rite of passage: a special memory, a progress marker, and a symbol of your newfound independence. Here you are, fresh-faced and optimistic, hoping to achieve your dreams and make a difference in the world. Most importantly, you can buy your own furniture, including shelves for making sense of your books, vintage record collection, even shoes! At last!
Before IKEA arrived in the U.S. in 1986, moving into your first dorm or apartment may have meant lugging your parents’ hand-me-down bookshelf or some thrift store dresser up some stairs. Dad throws his back out trying to carry it or you simply run out of drawer space after a few months. This is the stuff of a classic storage nightmare. That’s why today, IKEA is still the go-to choice for many just starting out or even people trying to add to their home décor and storage options.
When IKEA’s simple style and affordable price point arrived in the 1980s, consumers immediately fell in love. Never before had modernist interior design been so approachable.
Though there was often work assembling pieces, shelves, dressers and tables came in flat boxes you could shove in a car or even carry on public transit.
It was a game-changing moment that still touches millions of people.
“IKEA’s products are minimalist, functional and stylish – the perfect solution to corral your belongings, decrease the visual clutter and bring an overall sense of order and calm your home,” says Cary Prince, professional organizer.
If you want to get a grip on your organization needs, we put together a handy list of some of IKEA’s best, and most longstanding storage options.
IKEA’s IVAR System Provides Customized Home Organization
The iconic IVAR storage system turned 50 years old in 2018. That’s half a century of providing customers a chance to arrange their lives without having to break the bank. Depending on your needs, these pine shelves can cost as little as $69 or up to $422 for larger storage needs.
“I would have no hesitation using it in a kitchen, garage, attic or basement,” Prince said. “It’s extremely popular, functional and will create great vertical storage, which we all aspire to have!”
The real beauty of the IVAR is its customization. The solid pine of the storage unit can be painted, stained or oiled in any way you want. Plus, its modular design can be rearranged to fit your available space, like “Legos for adults.”
After all those years, the instruction manual for the IVAR has remained unchanged, befitting its status as one of the most versatile storage options on the market. If you’ve assembled an IVAR once, it’s a snap to assemble and disassemble if you’re moving to a new house or apartment.
The IKEA BILLY Bookcase Turns 40
Chances are very good that you know someone – a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor – who currently or at some time owned at least one IKEA BILLY Bookcase. The company estimates that their shelving unit sells somewhere globally every five seconds.
And the classic coated fiberboard shelves have gone upmarket over the years, with some models adding glass doors and glamour. All at IKEA!
Julie Naylon, a professional organizer with No Wire Hangers, says this is her favorite IKEA product.
“It’s so versatile,” she said. “You can use it for books or for shoe storage!”
If you’re currently squeezed into a studio apartment, the BILLY just might change your life for the better. Designer Gillis Lundgren created a storage unit that fits into tight spaces, making it an ideal solution for modern city living. And, not to sound like a broken record here, but it’s cheap. The smallest units start at $49 and its higher end glass-door cabinet BILLY/OXBERG tops at $662.
“From living rooms to closets, this 11-inch deep bookcase provides great vertical storage for any room in the house,” said Prince. “You can add glass-front doors for a more aesthetic solution, or molding at the top and base for a built-in look.”
The IKEA KALLAX Embraces Square Storage
The KALLAX series shelving units, formerly known as EXPEDIT, made its debut in 1998. It also doubles as a handy room divider for open floor plans.
“It’s the best cubby system out there!” says Prince.
The cheapest KALLAX shelf unit of four squares costs $38.99 and its unit with 10 inserts tops out at $374.
Naylon uses the KALLAX in kid’s bedrooms, specifically the two-by-four version, as it is useful for storing books or toys. It’s a must-have in her daughter’s room.
“It used to be her changing table but now I’ve removed the changing pad for more decorative items. As she gets older and taller, I can flip the unit upright to create more space with vertical storage. It’s a piece that will grow up with her.”
Declutter Before Organizing Your Home
Even if you have to slow down and reread the instructions at times, the style, price, minimalism and functionality of IKEA’s oldest most popular home organizers have clearly withstood the test of time and today resonate with a new generation.
“People are much more attuned to the benefits of being organized,” Prince said. “With the clutter gone, they are able to be more productive, get things done and do what they most enjoy.”
Achieve your goals by getting rid of all the clutter before heading to IKEA for these tried and true organizing and storage products.