IKEA Bookcases – So Many Ways to Use Them!

The Expedit Bookcase is one of IKEA’s best-selling products, and it’s no wonder.  They’re inexpensive and incredibly versatile, making them the best value I’ve found in a bookcase.  They’re backless, so the color from the wall behind can show through.

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You can add a wallpapered back of cheap plywood to inject some personality of your own.

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Adding baskets and cubes makes IKEA’s Expedit bookcases great units for storage in an office or playroom.

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IKEA offers a desk attachment, but you can use any desk to create a mini-office.  Just place it at a right angle to the Expedit – I’ve done this in several of my clients’ homes.

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In too-open open floor plans, the IKEA Expedit is a great solution when you need a little separation.

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You can even paint the interior cubes different colors to highlight the contents or add interest in a child’s room or playroom.

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You can obviously use them in multiples to create a whole wall of shelves, but you can also stack them where ceilings are soaring.  As a Nashville based interior decorator, it’s my job to find ways for my clients to use great bargains like these and still have a designer look:

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Do you have any other ideas for the Expedit bookcases?    Click here for my post on the many ways to use IKEA’s Lack side tables, and make sure to subscribe to The Decorologist for more ideas on decorating on a budget.

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Naturally Carol
Guest

I love them all in white with white backs and lit up with artglass displayed in each cubicle.

Kelly, Restyling Home by Kelly
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Kelly, Restyling Home by Kelly

Great post Kristie!

I especially love the room dividers. I have heard nothing but good things about these Ikea shelves. Great pictures too!

Karina
Guest
Karina

Krisie, I just spent 7 hours at the Ikea in Orlando this christmas. My hubby and I (yes, a very patient man) walked between the Expedite and another wall unit. I just simply could not make my mind up. We will be going back soon to the Ikea in Atlanta to pick up our book cases. As you can see, I have a hard time making a decision! LOL I absolutely love the pics you have posted. Where did you get them from?

Karina
Guest
Karina

Oh, I also had a hard time with the color (white or birch). Just simply could not picture in my mind what they will look like at home. I have always had such a hard time with big purchases like this. I am so worried that I will bring them home and absolutely hate the way it looks.

ehalvey
Guest

Shoe storage. In the open. Filled with gorgeous heels, le sigh!

Ludmila @ creamylife
Guest

so much inspiration! IKEA is amazing, isn’t it? happy weekend, xo

vanessa @ silly eagle books
Guest

We have one in the playroom and one in my daughter’s room–love them for children’s books and toys. 🙂

Brooke
Guest
Brooke

How did you create the look on the fifth picture from the top? Did you buy individual Expedit bookcases or shelving units and piece them together? I am in need of the largest Expedit bookcase (5×5 cube). The closest IKEA is about 5 hours away and they have been completely sold out of the one I need for over a month now. I have rescheduled my trip to IKEA 3 times already because of this. When I called the store, they informed me the distributor doesn’t even have this size in stock and don’t know when they will. So, can… Read more »

Isabella Florence
Guest
Isabella Florence

Oh wow, I love these ideas! I was so inspired that I went out and bought one of these bookshelves yesterday.
But I have a question, Kristie, do you have any idea where I could find the baskets and chair from the first photo? It would be great if you could reply. I enjoy your posts so much. 🙂

Shannon M.
Guest
Shannon M.

I know this post was from over a year ago, but I didn’t see a reply – and I think these ideas are timeless! I don’t know about the chair, but the baskets are IKEA as well – they are the PJAS Baskets:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90109492/
I personally didn’t care for them; inside the handles was rough and scratchy when I looked at them at the store. I prefer the BRANAS Basket, shown in the second and third photos from the top:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00138432/

Misty
Guest

I almost ordered 2 of the Expedit bookcases until I found out that the shipping would cost more than the bookcases! I also live in Nashville. Does the local company that you mentioned sell IKEA goods to anyone? Would you mind sharing the name of the company? I want to turn the bookcases on their sides and butt them up against each other to make a cutting table (with storage) for my sewing room. They would be perfect! With four small children, I don’t think I’ll be driving to Atlanta for sewing room furniture anytime soon!

Jil
Guest
Jil

Hi Kristie, great article, very informative. Do you know which IKEA bookcases don’t have the little holes in the interior sides to reposition the shelves? I can’t stand the look of those little holes in a row about 1″ in from the front. I know they have value to reposition the shelves, but sometimes they give an unfinished look. I can’t tell from Ikea’s website which have the little holes and which do not.

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

I adore the idea of using the bookcase as a room divider! Your creativity is really inspiring Kristie, thanks for your posts!!

Marie Mitchell
Guest
Marie Mitchell

Hi Kristie

Love all your ideas. I have one question though. Do the expedit units have to be screwed to the wall? The directions on the IKEA website say must be fixed to a wall. Is this a safety precaution for small children? The base of the unit appears to be wide enough just to sit there. I notice some of the ideas show chrome legs attached. The ones used as room dividers don’t appear to be fixed to a wall. Would love not to put screw holes in my walls. Thanks so much for you great ideas. Marie

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe
Guest

what a great collection of ideas! thanks! i ‘pinned several of the images you highlighted on my Pinterest board. 😉

Cheers!
-h

Jayelle
Guest

I love ikea furnitures!! It’s not as accessible where I am (Malaysia) and it’s considered pricey for fresh grads who are just starting out. Like, I make about Rm3500 and an expedit can set me back by about rm200-250.

I have a small sticker business since my university days and have been meaning to look for a pretty way to display my products yet keep them organized!! After looking at the examples and ideas here, I am so inspired.

I really love your website 🙂

Coley
Guest

I have one of these in my living room with tons of baskets in it. The back is painted a bright teal so it pops through so nicely. My dream would be to have one of these in my own ‘closet room’ and fill it with accessories and shoes!!

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Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Hi Krisitie – thanks for the inspiring ideas. Yu are so talented. I love the pic that is the fifth one down. Are the shelves sitting on top of something? Looks like drawers. I would love to know what. Thanks.

Kathy

Karen Franck
Guest
Karen Franck

Hello! I am considering the Expedit bookcase and am exploring storage bin options (we dont live near an Ikea). The first photo you posted with the orange wall…the bookcase has wicker bins with a triangular handle….do you know where I can find those?
Thanks!
Karen

Kathy Tobacco
Guest
Kathy Tobacco

In the “too open room” where the shelves with red drapes act as a room divider it appears that the decorator had the shelves customized by resting them on a 10 to 12 inch base. It really make them look more polished. The additional height brings the shelves right up to the top of the moulding where she probably attached them to the wall eliminating the toppling hazards. You can’t see but I am betting she attached the red drapes to the ceiling which would unify the room with the red drapes. I wish we could see the other side.… Read more »

Reena
Guest
Reena

For those of you asking about the back of the red curtained room:
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/boston/bedroom/bookcase-divider-with-curtain-070914

nicola
Guest
nicola

Hi,

Have you ever seen these with legs attached to the bottom? I would like to buy one to go against a wall in my kitchen but as there is a skirting board at the bottom of the wall, would need to put legs on the cabinet so that the back of the cabinet could rest against the wall (if that makes sense)

Have you seen this before/would you recommend doing so?

Thanks so much

Dave
Guest
Dave

Hi Kristie, I might be inheriting this bookshelf from a departing roommate, and was curious if you think it is possible to cut pieces from it? Meaning, I’d like to make two squares into a rectangle, so I can store one some of my bigger items? In my dream, I would have it laying on the floor horizontally(as it is now), and make cuts so I end up with two rectangles and four squares, with perhaps the rectangles being diagonal from each other. I hope this makes sense. I don’t want to totally weaken the bookcase, but like I said,… Read more »

Beth
Guest
Beth

Hi! I am considering a 4×4 Expedit bookcase to use with a 32′ TV on top – I currently have this great 3×3 unit from SmartFurniture (http://www.smartfurniture.com/products/3×3-Storage-Cube.html) which works well for the TV but is really too small for the space. Do you know if the Expedit shelves are sturdy enough to use for this purpose?

Shannon M.
Guest
Shannon M.

DH and I just put together the 2×2 version of these shelves, and they are incredibly solid and sturdy, while being exceptionally light – I could pick up the unit by myself! Our next project is the 4×4 unit for our home office. It depends, obviously, on the weight of the TV, but I would think that the 4×4 unit would be even sturdier. I would consider bracketing the shelves to the wall, if you want to use it with the TV on top. Did you also see that IKEA has an Expedit TV Storage Unit as well? It’s 5… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Hello,

Can you tell me how wide each individual inside block of the Expedit 4 or 5 row shelf? I need to fit a Sterilite drawers that are 15.0 ” H x 14.8 ” W x 32.3 ” D.
Thank you! This is a great idea for craft storage.

Mary

Shannon M.
Guest
Shannon M.

Mary,
Your Sterilite drawers won’t fit. I just measured inside one of the cubes of our 2×2 unit (the cubes are all the same size from unit to unit), and the dimensions are:
13 1/16″ wide x 13 3/16″ high x 15 1/4″ deep.
Hope that helps.

Maria
Guest

Kristie,
Just discovered your lovely blog and great post about the Ikea Expedit. I’m about to go this week-end to buy the bigger one (58×58) and plan to cover a mirrored wall with it. I can’t get rid of the mirrors right now and thought this would be a clever way of “hiding” it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

caroline
Guest
caroline

Hi, how do uou secure the stacked up shelving units on the wall, isn’t it too heavy for the one on the floor? i would like to stack up two 4×4 units, or four 2×4 units on my living room wall and I am looking for the right technique to achieve this safely. Thanks for your help

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

Have you tried attaching a backing such as a thin plywood to the these shelves? We are using a wall of them to divide a very large bedroom in half for our daughter. The shelves will hold toys that will show on the playroom half of the room but the “back” will run along her bed. We were thinking of using a thin bead-board panel attached to the back but not sure how the shelves will handle nails or glue. Have you had any experience with this?

Sarada
Guest
Sarada

My large living room has linen white walls and a natural wood color floor w ith high ceilings. I’d like to use the expedit bookshelves to divide the space and use the actual shelved to hold brass decorative pieces. Would you suggest the white or birch for this?

THanks

Erica
Guest
Erica

Hi Kristie, I loved your post. My husband and I just came back from purchasing the dark brown 4×4 expedit and now have second thoughts. The room we’re using it in is about 10×16 (i think) and is used as a dining room/playroom for our two kids. Our wall colors are brown with a rich-dark orange accent wall (the largest wall) I call it my Harvest room 🙂 Now were not sure if we should arrange it against a wall or as a divider, if we should stay with the 4×4 or get the 5×5 (i love the height but… Read more »

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Uma
Guest
Uma

I love, love, love the chair in the last photo with the colored Ikat fabric on it. Any idea where it is from? It would be perfect in my home and I feel like ordering it…now!