This Is the Smartest IKEA Purchase I've Ever Made

And it cost me $3.99.

November  4, 2019
Photo by IKEA U.S.A.

You know the feeling of standing in the middle of a brand new apartment surrounded by a Tetris-like pile of boxes and bags, and experiencing complete and utter paralysis? You know you should really start unpacking, finding places for things, getting organized...instead, you’re staring vacantly into air.

I precisely recall one such moment a couple of years ago. My husband and I had just moved into our Brooklyn one-bedroom. I had also recently moved 7,786 miles from Bombay to Brooklyn, and the furniture we'd eventually have was on a ship dawdling somewhere along the Suez Canal. What we did have, however, were exploding boxes of personal belongings and random odds and ends—and nowhere to put them.

After long, agonizing hours of doing nothing about anything, I decided it was time to do the most energetic thing I could: get on the IKEA website. Perhaps I needed shelving units, I thought to myself. Or a storage cart. Maybe a few of those plastic boxes that would eventually be squirreled away under the bed.

That’s when I came across what I least expected to buy: paper boxes. So I bought nine, three in each size.

Photo by IKEA

That’s essentially what the Fjälla is—a flat-packed paper box that you assemble into form. IKEA calls them media and paper organizers (they're part of a series that also includes magazine files), but they’re so much more. I’ve since used them to store everything from shoes and keepsakes to charger cords and passports. They're also the best catch-all for your clutter—just ask my husband, the inveterate collector of unsightly miscellany.

I love these boxes for so many reasons. For one, their clean, minimalist design. The kind of design that would fit right in to any home, no matter the aesthetic. I also love the stylish little touches: the nickel-plated steel edges and rivets, contrasting handles, and clever label holders that make it easy to mark and find what you’re looking for. They're also ridiculously easy to assemble—and to fold away when you need the extra space.

Photo by IKEA

But more than that, the Fjälla storage boxes have changed how I approach organizing stuff. I used to use my spare furniture as storage, shoving things haphazardly into drawers and cavities, even underneath, just so I could get things out of sight. I now know it was only because I’d never found pretty storage boxes that didn’t need hiding. Now my Fjälla boxes are in plain sight; I even use them to style my open shelves.

I also love that IKEA does regular updates of the colors, and even introduces a pattern or two. In fact, I’ve just spotted a blue and white windowpane version that would look great stacked up by my desk.

IKEA, I’m coming back for you.

What is the best IKEA product you've ever bought? Tell us in the comments below!
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Arati Menon

Written by: Arati Menon

Arati grew up hanging off the petticoat-tails of three generations of Indian matriarchs who used food to speak their language of love—and she finds herself instinctually following suit. Life has taken her all across the world, but she carries with her a menagerie of inherited home and kitchen objects that serve as her anchor. Formerly at GQ and Architectural Digest, she's now based in Brooklyn.

1 Comment

Jaqueline D. March 21, 2020
Best IKEA product I bought was a coffee table on wheels. My husband and I regularly eat dinner at the coffee table while watching tv. The fact that we can roll it into position is perfect for us. One day I’ll have a new custom coffee table made from a slab of a tree but I’m going to steal the wheels off this IKEA table to put on the new one.