How-To & Diy

Why I Can Never Have Enough IKEA Kallax Shelves

15 reasons why, that is.

August 11, 2020
Photo by IKEA

If anyone asks me how I keep my apartment tidy, my answer is always the same: baskets, baskets, baskets. I firmly believe that the neatest homes are the ones that simply hide clutter the most effectively. To that end, I keep things tucked away in just about any kind of basket you can imagine—flexible seagrass, two-tone wire, lidded, and circular.

That’s where the IKEA Kallax shelving unit comes in, because it is, what I call, the ultimate in "basket storage"—its iconic cube-struction is designed for managing all kinds of chaos. My own 2x2 unit has been with me since college, and through three moves, and has at various points functioned as: craft supply storage, T-shirt drawer, TV stand, and a hiding place for all kinds of odds and ends. It’s also been through multiple iterations; I’ve since added wooden legs to the base to transition it from dorm staple to adult decor.

The beauty of this (budget-friendly) piece is just how completely customizable its configuration is, depending on what you want to use it for. The super-simple construction of Kallax also means it blends seamlessly into any home. We’ve compiled some of its most classic uses and some creative versions, all of which have me ready to tackle the next evolution of my own Kallax.

1. Room Divider

One of the most common—and most practical—uses of the 4x4 Kallax unit is as a room divider. I’ve personally seen this larger version used to great effect in studio apartments as a way to create a breathable division between bedroom and living room. Not only does it carve out multiple living spaces, it creates a ton of storage where there wasn’t any to begin with. This iteration also leaves plenty of room for customization with bins, baskets, books, decor, and drawer inserts.

2. Children's Toy Storage

Many parents will tell you that corralling kids’ toys can be a losing battle, but tossing things into Kallax cubes when you have company over is tried and true.

3. Bookshelf

While it’s no Billy Bookcase, any of the Kallax shelf configurations can be turned into an excellent bookshelf.

4. Bedroom Dresser

When you think of square, modular shelving units, you might not think of a functional dresser for the bedroom. However, IKEA has greatly expanded their line of Kallax accessories to include drawers and door inserts—perfect for T-shirts, socks, and PJs. The above version is further elevated with glued-on overlays and gold hardware.

5. Bar and Wine Rack

Kallax lends itself perfectly to a liquor cabinet when doors are added, but wine bottles may have presented a logistical issue in the past. IKEA smartly added a wine rack insert to their line of accessories, which holds nine bottles of wine per cube.

6. Desk

No matter how much of a minimalist you may be, a work-from-home desk setup can get out of hand with files, cords, and notebooks rather quickly. The workstation version of Kallax includes eight classic storage cubes to squirrel away chaos, and a full-sized attached desk. I can’t help but picture this as a perfect crafting station, too.

7. Cat House

Cats seem to enjoy Kallax cubes on their own (just take a peek at the #Kallax tag on Instagram, there’s lots of cat images), but a little hideaway is made even more comfy with a dedicated cat house. Adorable.

8. Credenza

A 2x3 Kallax unit is perfect as a credenza on it’s own, but it’s even more eye-catching with legs attached to all four corners. IKEA sells legs ready to be screwed into the unit, but there are endless options to make Kallax more mid-century, ornate, or modern.

9. Entertainment Center

One of the great things about these is that you can flip them around to best suit your needs. In the case of an entertainment center, a 2x3 or 1x4 turned horizontally can house cords, remotes and gaming consoles, and fit a television on top with ease.

10. Mudroom Bench

Given its sturdy design, Kallax makes a stellar entryway bench. A cushion and some pillows on top are ideal for sitting down and pulling on a pair of shoes, and the cube storage below hosts multiple household members’ items.

11.China Cabinet

If a more traditional glass door china cabinet isn’t your thing, a larger Kallax unit (seen here is the 5x5) can house stacks of plates, vases, candles, and other decor—all on display.

12. kitchen island

This ingenious Kallax hack consists of three 2x2 units, joined together with a butcher block top. It creates a perfectly sized kitchen island, and provides ample storage underneath for cookbooks, utensils, serving bowls, and more.

13. Doll House

Since a doll house is usually open on one side anyway, a Kallax unit against a wall creates a perfect modular mini house. Paint or washi tape pulls together a quintessential frame, too.

14. nightstand

As someone who uses a 3-drawer dresser as a nightstand, I can tell you that the added storage makes me unlikely to switch back to a normal nightstand any time soon. A two- or four-cube Kallax unit might be a solid option for you if you need more places to stash things in your bedroom.

15. Record Storage

As it turns out, the 13”x13” Kallax cubes are the exact right size for vinyl records, so a large collection can be stored right underneath the turntable.

What is the most versatile IKEA product you've owned? Tell us in the comments below!

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Caroline Mullen

Written by: Caroline Mullen

1 Comment

ghainskom August 14, 2020
You should google "kallax sewing table"... :)