New Classics: 8 Ikea Storage Pieces that Designers Love to Use (Over and Over)

Shelves in SCDO Partners Charleston Office

There’s a reason designers, even the most high-brow of them, are willing to brave the crowds to shop at Ikea—and it’s not just for the Kanelbullar (aka cinnamon buns). The Swedish store’s elevated-design-meets-low-prices ethos is simply irresistible. But not every collection gets designers’ stamp of approval. Some items are shabbily constructed; others look too mass market. These eight storage pieces, though, which pop up time and time again in many of our favorite homes, pass the taste test.

The Ivar

The line of raw pine shelving units and cabinets has been around for about 50 years, usually showing up in customers’ attics, basements, garages, and pantries because of its unfinished look. Lately, though, we’ve seen Ivar units front and center in homes, a reflection of the plywood trend that’s currently so big in home design.

Lucile Demory Paris Apartment Photo by Claire Cottrell for Remodelista
Above: Here’s the Ivar 2 Section Shelving Unit with Cabinet in the dining area of Lucile Demory’s Parisian apartment; $229. Photograph by Claire Cottrell for Remodelista, from Modern Thrift: Lucile Demory’s Architect-Designed Rental in Paris.
Malgorzata Bany North London House from The Modern House
Above: A stack of Ivar Cabinets and one stand-alone unit add warmth to an otherwise all-white living space; $70 each. Photograph courtesy of The Modern House, from 1,000 Square Feet on a Budget: An Artist’s Loft in North London.

The Kallax

Vinyl collectors have long gravitated toward the Kallax shelves; the cubbies are perfectly sized for old LPs. But the Kallax is just as beloved by anyone with a collection—be it toys, books, or ceramics.

Shelves in SCDO Partners Charleston Office
Above:  SDCO Partners, a Charleston, South Carolina–based creative company, uses a grid of Kallax shelves to store books in its office. This 25-cubby Kallax Shelf Unit is $179. Photograph courtesy of SDCO Partners, from Exotica at Work: 13 Ideas to Steal from a Historic Office in Charleston.
Chef David Tanis New York Kitchen Photos by Heidi's Bridge
Above: Two stacked Kallax Shelving Units are elevated on vintage wooden blocks in chef David Tanis’s kitchen; $34.99 each. Photograph and styling for Remodelista by Heidi’s Bridge, from Chef David Tanis’s Low-Tech, Economical, and Beautifully Soulful Kitchen in the East Village.

The Billy

One of Ikea’s most hacked storage pieces, the Billy series of bookcases has allowed many a homeowner to mimic a built-in look without paying built-in prices.

Four Billy Bookcases placed side by side, give the illusion of custom bookshelves; $59 each. Photograph by Kate Sears, from Small-Space Solutions: 17 Affordable Tips from an NYC Creative Couple.
Above: Four Billy Bookcases placed side by side, give the illusion of custom bookshelves; $59 each. Photograph by Kate Sears, from Small-Space Solutions: 17 Affordable Tips from an NYC Creative Couple.

The Tarva

There are quite a few attractive Ikea dressers. Malm is a favorite among the design-minded set. And in our office, the Tarva dresser also gets high praise for its streamlined look.

Farrow & Ball Painted Bedroom Furniture
Above: Alexa painted her Tarva 5-Drawer Chest in Farrow & Ball’s Worsted. She opted to forgo the drawer pulls and spackled the existing holes before painting each of its parts; $149. Photograph from A Bedroom Refresh with Farrow & Ball Paint.

The Algot

The Algot’s suspension rail system makes for easy assembly. You can buy the shelves and suspension rails separately or purchase entire systems.

Home office of architect Jess Thomas and director-producter Hagan Hinshaw. Kate Sears photo.
Above: Wall-hung Algot shelves line the walls of this home office in Brooklyn; metal shelves start at $4 each and suspension rails start at $4 each. Photograph by and courtesy of Kate Sears; styling by Kate S. Jordan, from The Sentimental Minimalist: A Young Architect’s Bed-Stuy Townhouse Makeover.
Shelves in SCDO Partners Charleston Office
Above: Algot shelving in a professional office. Photograph courtesy of SDCO Partners, from Exotica at Work: 13 Ideas to Steal from a Historic Office in Charleston.

The Grundtal

We can’t sing its praises enough—though we’ve certainly tried. See 10 Organized Kitchens on a Budget, Thanks to Ikea’s Grundtal Rail System. It’s no longer available at Ikea, but the store’s new Kungsfors Rail is a worthy substitute; it measures 22 inches across and is $5.99.

Stadshem Scandinavian Kitchen
Above: A Grundtal Rail connected together creates one long rail across this makeshift kitchen in Sweden. Photograph courtesy of Stadshem, from Steal This Look: Smart Storage in a Swedish Kitchen.
Ikea hanging rail at Townhouse A, a kitchen design by Quintana Partners
Above: The Grundtal Rail makes an appearance in this kitchen designed by Quintana Partners. Photograph courtesy of Quintana Partners, from Kitchen of the Week: Embracing the Old with Quintana Partners.

The Pax

Designers love Pax because it’s highly customizable. Want proof? Check out designer Jenny Komenda’s quick entry rehab thanks to a pair of Pax frames: Steal This Look: A DIY Scandi-Style Mudroom by Jenny Komenda.

taiga stencil in childrens room, done
Above: For her son’s room, Justine paired two narrow Pax Frames ($85 each) with Bergsbo Doors ($40 each), and painted it in Benjamin Moore’s Sea Salt. Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista, from DIY: The Stenciled Kid’s Room, Boreal Forest Edition.

N.B.: This post has been updated with new prices and links; it was first published on May 17, 2018.

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