expedit2A few months ago, we bought a piece of furniture for our apartment that we’d been lusting after for a while. It’s called the IKEA Expedit [2015 update: the Expedit is now called the Kallax], and it is sold by Swedish retail chain IKEA. In case you have never been to an IKEA store (they are scattered all over the US and world, but only in some of the biggest cities), they are truly an experience. They are huge, multi-story, warehouse-style buildings with massive amounts of home furnishings.

At my local store, you go to the second floor first, where they have complete rooms and even apartment-sized areas laid out, with the square footage, so you know if it would work in your own apartment. There, they have all their furniture, furnishings, and decorations set up in such a way that you can see how a complete room would look. It really helps to be able to see all the packaged furniture assembled, so you know how big and how much space your furniture will take up.

IKEA can offer functional, attractive furniture so cheaply because they specialize in modular components that they can mass produce, package flat in boxes, and throw in the warehouse area right before the checkout line on the first floor. You will have to grab a big dolly and do some searching for it, not to mention spending a half-hour or so to put it together. We think it’s well worth it, though!

Suggested Uses for the Expedit/Kallax

expeditThe Expedit/Kallax is a cheap (less than $200) piece of furniture that still manages to make a big impact visually and provide lots of storage space. The two-by-four can be used vertically or horizontally, and the four-by-four takes up almost five feet on each side and makes a big statement piece. You probably aren’t able to have a traditional bookshelf in your home if you are pressed for space, and the Expedit (or Kallax) is especially useful because it designed to store a wide variety of objects (which might include a small book collection) attractively.

  • A storage system like the Expedit/Kallax is deeper than a traditional bookshelf, meaning you can store larger objects such as kitchen tools or large baskets. It is also sturdy enough to support someone’s weight as a bench or a TV. There are also IKEA accessories made for the Expedit that create sub-dividers and little cloth drawers out of the individual boxes.
  • Expedits are often used as room dividers, particularly in studio apartments, or to create a significant amount of storage space when there are few built-in storage options like closet shelves in your apartment or condo.
  • In my own (one bedroom) apartment,  my Expedit serves as a bookshelf, display case, and game and DVD storage case. We have books filling two of the cubes, a lamp in one, games and puzzles in another, and reference books in another.

There has become somewhat of a cult following surrounding the Expedit, and for good reason. If you want to see more pictures of the IKEA Expedit in action, visit the Expedit Group Pool on Flickr.com for over 250 action shots by users. Creative uses for Expedits (and other IKEA products) are available the ikea hacker blog.