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The Life-Changing Magic of IKEA Storage Boxes

S

o, when I said I’d managed to get Terry on board with the de-cluttering of our house, I don’t think I realised quite HOW “on board” he was going to get.

I mean, Terry is not a naturally tidy person –  not even a little bit, in fact. When he decides to do something, though, he goes ALL IN with it, and that was definitely the case here. Guys, he measured cabinets – then he measured them again, just to make sure he’d got it right. He spent most of one evening on the IKEA website, looking at their various storage solutions, and working out which would be best for our needs. He checked the stock levels on the site, in order to decide whether to go to the Edinburgh store or the Glasgow one. (Edinburgh won, just FYI.) He measured again. He made plans:

planning how to KonMari our kitchen cupboards

(My contribution to all of this, by the way, was to just keep going, “I dunno: maybe we could get some more SKUBB boxes, though?” every time he asked me if I had any thoughts on the matter.)

Finally, he declared himself ready, and, armed with an extensive list of storage solutions, we made the all-important trip to IKEA, where we filled an entire cart with storage boxes:

IKEA shopping cart filled with storage boxes “The most important thing,” Terry kept saying as we joined the slow-moving mass of people wandering around the store as if out for a leisurely stroll, “is that we make sure we forget NOTHING. I don’t care how much it costs, we get everything we need, and we get it NOW, because there is no way in hell we’re coming back here.”

“Sure thing,” I agreed, “NO STORAGE BOX LEFT BEHIND! They came, they saw, they bought AAAALLL the Ikea storage boxes! We will get them ALL!”

So, yeah, we totally forgot, like, half of the stuff we went in for. Yes.

In our defence, the IKEA website had apparently lied about its stock levels, so some of the stuff we’d planned to get wasn’t available. Also in our defence, though, Max decided that being in IKEA was the worst thing that had ever happened to him, and that it could only be made tolerable if he repeatedly removed his shoes and socks, while I sung ‘2002‘ to him on repeat. And, I mean, that was fun for NO ONE, really: and it pains me to have to say that, because I LOVE Ikea, and had been secretly hoping we could stop for lunch in the restaurant, make a proper day out of it, you know?

But it was not to be. So, we headed home, and then, two days later, we were back for more singing, more shoe-and-sock-removing, and, of course, MOAR IKEA STORAGE BOXES:

IKEA storage boxes

(Oh yeah, and four packs of white wood hangers which people keep messaging me to tell me I’ll spend the rest of my life regretting, but seriously JE NE REGRETTE REIN. Er, I have another post planned on that, actually…)

And guys? Didn’t get enough boxes, did we? NOPE.

This time, however, the second trip had been on a Sunday afternoon, and had been so relentlessly awful that not even I was willing to go in for a third attempt, so I reluctantly went back to the IKEA website for the rest of the stuff I’d now decided I couldn’t possibly live without:

Ikea storage boxes in baby's nursery

Honestly? Could be doing with a few more boxes, tbh. Well, how was I to know that “going minimal” would involve buying SO MUCH STUFF? (And, yes, I am very aware of the irony in this situation, so no need to point it out: all I’ll say here is that the theory is that you get your home properly organised once, and then you never need to do it again, apparently. I’m not saying that’s MY theory, you understand, it’s just… A theory. Moving on…)

So! We had our IKEA storage boxes, so now all we had to do was deploy them around the house. And, I mean, I’ve called this post XXXXXXXXXXXXXX in a vague attempt to legitimise this process, but, well, you all know there’s really only ONE thing you can do with IKEA storage boxes, right? It’s “Put stuff inside them.” And here’s how how we did it…

organised sock drawer using IKEA SKUBB boxes01.
Skubb boxes for hosiery

I’m starting off with my beloved SKUBB boxes, because SKUBB boxes are life for me, basically. I’ve bought so many of them over the years than I feel like I must have more than IKEA do at this point: in fact, it’s reach a stage where any time my parents go to IKEA, they just automatically pick up a set of six for me, because they know I’ll find a use for them. And I always do.

Now, if I’d been using the KonMari method correctly, I’d just have thrown out all of my socks and tights, because, let me tell you, they do NOT spark joy. No siree. Instead, I used the smallest of the boxes from the SKUBB set to organise them by colour and type (trainer socks, ankle socks, fuzzy socks, the detested tights, and so on…), and now it makes me happy to see them, even if it still doesn’t make me happy to wear them.

(I DID actually throw out all of those brightly coloured tights I’d bought over the years in a bid to dress like everyone else at the time. God, I HATED those things.)

KonMari bra storage and organisation02.
And lingerie

I then used the longer boxes from the SKUBB sets (They’re my favourites. Don’t tell the rest…) as bra storage. This is the main reason I now need MORE SKUBB boxes, actually, because, by this point, I’d already used up all of the smaller boxes from about three or four different SKUBB sets, and I still had drawers to fill. Oh, and because I generally find the smaller boxes most useful for lingerie etc, I now had a bunch of the largest boxes left, which I had no real use for. Damn.

(Don’t worry, I found a use for them.. but we’ll get to that.)

I then used similar layouts for the rest of my lingerie and nightwear, but I feel I’ve overshared enough for today, so I’ll leave you to imagine what my lingerie and nightwear looks like in IKEA storage boxes. Please don’t, though.

(These drawers are the IKEA MALM 6 drawer set, by the way. As you can see, the boxes fit inside perfectly, in various combinations, because, well, they were literally made for it, as far as I know…)

03.
Skubb boxes as toy storage

We like to keep some of Max’s toys in the sideboard in our living room, so he has something to play with when he’s down there. (And so we don’t have to keep carrying various toys up and down the stairs all day, let’s be honest.) This isn’t from IKEA (SHOCKER, I know…), so the SKUBB boxes aren’t quite a perfect fit, but it’s close enough, and helps keep things a little more organised. Max also loves rummaging through boxes, so it’s handy to be able to just pull these out and let him have fun with them.

(And yes, that’s a gold credit card in the top left of the photo: what can I say, he’s a high-flyin’ baby.)

(OK, no it’s not, it’s a random playing card he took a shine to. Babies be weird…)

KonMari camera storage04.
And camera storage

As a full-time blogger, camera equipment takes up a lot of space in our house (And, yes, that admission DOES beg the question, “Why are the photos in this post so bad then?” The answer, of course, is that I have all of this expensive camera equipment, but mostly use my phone these days, because, lazy. Yes.). This is just some of the lenses etc we have, and, wouldn’t you know, no sooner had I finished organising it all, Terry went out and bought a telephoto lens that’s so large I don’t think it would fit in the drawer AT ALL, even without the boxes. Obviously a drawer without SKUBB boxes is like a sky without stars to me (These ones actually weren’t purchased on this particular trip – I’ve had them since we bought the sideboard, otherwise it’s drawers would’ve been all weird and naked…) so I’ve no idea what we’ll do with that lens now. IT HAS RUINED EVERYTHING, THOUGH.

(Also, I’ve just downloaded this photo from my phone, and now all I can think is, “Wait: where is the actual camera?” No, seriously: where IS my camera? I am so confused right now…)

Changing table organisation

organised changing table

05.
Skubb boxes for changing table organisation

These are actually old photos, as we’ve had these particular boxes for as long as we’ve had the changing table (You can see my original post on it here, because I’ve been being boring about drawer organisation for a long time now, apparently…), but still. Again, our changing table isn’t from IKEA, but this time the boxes did fit really well into it, so we’re still using a similar setup here, although we no longer the burp cloths, and Max has acquired at least 67,986 more socks. I find the that the longer boxes for the set are perfect for storing nappies, though, so well worth considering if you have a baby in the house.

Let’s talk about something other than SKUBB boxes, shall we? How about VARIERA boxes instead? Because we have a LOT of those, too…

organised kitchen cupboards06.
Variera boxes for the kitchen cupboards

This is another setup we’ve been using since we remodelled our kitchen in 2017, but we did update it slightly following our most recent trip(s) to IKEA. These are the VARIERA boxes, which come in a couple of different sizes (You can see the “baby” box at the top left of the photo…), and we find them really useful when it comes to organising the kitchen cupboards.

When I first posted a photo of these cupboards, I had a few comments from people asking how on earth we remember what’s in them all, and where everything is, and the answer is that… we just DO, somehow. Our original idea – which I’d actually still like to do – was to put labels on each box with a reminder of the contents, but we finished our kitchen project a few weeks after we found out I was pregnant, and we were so distracted by that, and everything else that happened that year that it just kept getting forgotten. We’ve found it easy enough to just remember where stuff is, though (I guess it helps that we buy more or less the same things every week), and I find it much handier having everything in boxes I can just pull out, rather than arranged on shelves, which I could never reach the back of, so it’s all good.

Ikea Korken jars with lids used as kitchen storage

07.
Glass jars for cereals, etc

One of our biggest organisational challenges in the kitchen has always been stuff like cereal etc, which generally comes in large cardboard boxes which take up a lot of space, and frequently seem to spill – or, at least, they do in our house. We hadn’t really come up with a decent solution to that one until last week, when we cleared out this drawer (Which had previously held a random collection of stuff we didn’t really need…), and bought 9 of IKEA’S glass jars to fill it with.

(Aside: why does this product not have a cute name, I wonder? It’s literally just known on the website as ‘GLASS JAR WITH LID’. I feel sad for it.)

We’ve been using these to store things like cereal, pasta, flour, sugar… er, Midget Gems, in, and so far it’s been working out really well: no spillages, and it’s easy to see what’s in each jar, so it’s quite handy, to.o. Most importantly, though, it looks nice, and makes me feel all calm and zen-like when I look at it. Need to refill that Midget Gem jar soon, though…

Organised dressing table

08.
Billingen inserts for makeup organisation

 

I actually think IKEA must have discontinued their Billingen inserts, because I can’t seem to find them on their website, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in store. Never fear, though – I’ve bought all of mine from eBay, and you can also still find them on Amazon, so they’re still around. I use these to organise the makeup in my Malm dressing table, and much prefer them to the acrylic organisers I originally had – they just look neater and cleaner, I think. I get quite a lot of questions about these – or, I get the SAME question from a lot of different people, rather, so, just to quickly answer that, I have 6 ‘Billingen’ inserts in total, and they’ll fit into the Malm drawer either vertically or horizontally, however you prefer. They don’t fit perfectly, unfortunately, so there’s still a gap at the side, however you choose to arrange them, but they’re still the best solution I’ve found for this drawer, so I’m pretty happy with them. For now.

MORE OF MY HOME ORGANISATION TIPS...

How buying a ton of pink boxes changed my life.
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How I store my makeup in my IKEA Malm dressing table.
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Alternative title: ‘Things I Bought While I Was Suffering From Sleep Deprivation’
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How and why I’m decluttering my home.
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how to store your cleaning products09.
THIS CLEAR PLASTIC HOLDER FOR CLEANING PRODUCTS

As part of our decluttering mission, we had a big clear-out of the cupboard under the sink, which was previously home to too many cleaning products to mention, most of which were totally inaccessible, as they were tucked away at the back of the cupboard – and, out of sight, out of mind, right?

So, we went through it all and got rid of most of it: that still left us with four bottles of Method Cleaning Spray, obviously, and I have no idea how that happened, but we WILL use them all up, so I decided just to keep them. As for WHERE I decided to keep them, meanwhile, I actually think this plastic caddy is supposed to be an insert for another IKEA storage box, but, well, it’s the perfect size to hold exactly four bottle of Method Cleaning Spray, AND it has a handle, which allows you to carry it from room to room. What more could I ask for?

10.
DRONA BOXES FOR CLOSETS

Max’s closet is also a bit of a challenge when it comes to organisation: he has SO many clothes, but not all of them fit him at the same time, so he has quite a few things at the moment that he hasn’t quite grown into yet, and which we need to find space for. I’d been trying to just cram everything onto the rails and into the drawers in the centre, but that wasn’t leaving a lot of space for the clothes he wears NOW, so we bought three of these DRONA boxes to go on the shelf at the top of the closet, instead.

(I actually wanted to get these in some kind of pattern or print, rather than plain white – because that’s how wild and kerrrazy I am – but white was the only colour available for home delivery when I placed my order, so I’m just having to live with it.)

As I said, I’m using these to store clothes that are currently too big for Max, or which have been bought for his trip to Florida, and which he obviously can’t wear in Scotland in January. These were such a good fit that we ended up getting sets for every closet in the house: Terry’s has had a complete overhaul since our IKEA trip (It previously resembled Monica’s closset-of-shame from Friends…), and is now fully stocked with DRONA boxes, too. As for mine, I managed to fit four of these on the shelf above my clothes, and am using them mostly for holiday stuff, like straw hats, which I only ever use during the summer, the packing cubes I use in my suitcase, the vanity case I take with me when I travel, and so on and so forth. So, things I use often enough to not want to get rid of them, basically, but NOT often enough to need them within easy reach.

(Oh, and the photo of Max’s closet also shows what I ended up doing with all of those spare SKUBB boxes: the ones under the hanging rails contain things like hats, gloves and scarves, and there’s also another shelf above the DRONA boxes which now holds five large SKUBB boxes, filled with some of my own old children’s books which  I’m saving for Max, but which he won’t be able to read for a few years yet.)

10 home organisation tips: how to organise your home using IKEA storage products

CONFESSION: We do have more storage boxes in the house. Quite a few more, in fact. But this post is long enough already, so I think I’m going to end it here, and, I don’t know, go and order some more IKEA storage boxes or something? Well, the more the merrier, right?

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14 Comments
  • Myra
    January 24, 2019

    I love this post (but seriously how can anyone think you would regret buying white wooden coat hangers). Living in somewhat cupboard and wardrobe chaos, I might need to emulate your storage plans (without planning of course). Shame about the telephoto lens, although Terry took a great shot of the moon with it.

    • Amber
      January 24, 2019

      It’s because they’re a bit heavier and bulkier than other hangers, so you can’t fit as much on the rail with them – that’s actually the whole point for me, though: it’s helping me downsize my wardrobe!

  • Anna International
    January 24, 2019

    Drawer organisation porn is my favourite kind of…oh, wait, that sentence probably wasn’t going to turn out quite right! Basically, I love a good bit of organisation and I am dying to implement something similar in my house, but first we have to actually finish the house and unpack some boxes and find things to organise. Yes, I know. It has been 5 years now. We are getting there though – finished the bathroom yesterday and then organised the cupboard with some Ikea drawers inside for medicines and spare shampoo etc etc. It feels very zen in there. Unlike my bedroom which is next on the agenda. Maybe I need a trip to Ikea. Sans bebe though – she isn’t a fan either and anyway she can’t show her face in the Manchester one again because last time she projectile vomited all over the checkout just as we were leaving. 🙁 x

    • Amber
      January 24, 2019

      Oh no! Poor soul! (And poor you! 😂) Max stooped short of vomiting, but I just can’t understand how I’ve managed to raise a child who doesn’t like IKEA!

  • LindaLibraLoca
    January 24, 2019

    How do you manage the storage boxes in the fourth picture from above from getting all brown at the front? The bit where you touch them to pull the out? I just had to get rid of six of them because I couldn’t get them clean again.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

    • Amber
      January 24, 2019

      The Drona boxes? We’ve only had them for a week, so they haven’t had a chance to get dirty yet, but they’re also on a high shelf, and holding items we don’t use very often, so I’m hoping they won’t be pulled out enough to be a problem – time will tell, though!

  • Amber you will never believe this: your email flashed up on my screen while I was looking at – you guessed it – storage boxes on Ikea #MonkeyWithHandsOverEyesEmoji

    Seriously, you and I are Ikea storage boxes soulmates… I’ve been backwards and forwards there SO many times now that we’ve had a local Ikea since the spring (20 mins drive away). It’s practically next door to Keith’s work so I can ask him to pop in after work, though I think I told you this on Stories didn’t I?!!

    Anyway I just LOVE all your ideas, going to pinch a few for myself… this time though I’m ordering it online, swallowing the £35 delivery charge (we do need tall Billy bookcases and they won’t fit in our car) – I fancy doing something else on Sunday other than a trip to Ikea AND flatpacking. Wish me luck!!!!!!! 😉

    Catherine x

  • Lila Athanaselis
    January 24, 2019

    I have never been to Ikea in my life and my organising things started 25 years ago with a book with lots of pictures about organising and I was hooked. I have used big plastic buckets for toys, square wicker baskets of all sizes, and plastic wicker style square baskets.
    In the kitchen cupboards there are plastic and metal shelf seperators to see and get to everything quickly. You can get all these storage things from places like Home bargains and big supermarkets and Argos.
    As the kids grow up the clutter seems to get less, but is always replaced by other things 😬

  • Lisa
    January 24, 2019

    Now you motivated me to start on my closet, thanks! The downside, however, is that I realised how many storage boxes from Ikea I could fit in there, oops (or, the bigger question, should I move all my shirts to my drawer just to justify buying more boxes?) – buying those without a car will be fun… Or maybe the shipping fees in Germany became affordable^^
    Again, thanks for the post; if anyone‘s looking for me, I will be rifling through my clothes.

  • Nellie
    January 24, 2019

    We just spent 5 hours at IKEA yesterday. so I’m kicking myself that I didn’t pick up any storage boxes. I love your organization tips and will be heading back to pick some up. I have a lot of organizing to do though so may have to just focus on one room at a time. Thank you!

  • Jill stylishatsixty
    January 24, 2019

    Loving this post – you have made me chuckle. Cant wait for your next visit to Ikea, I do hope it is soon.

  • Courtney
    January 24, 2019

    Thanks for the post this is just what I needed! I love a good bit of organization but my apartment is a bit of a disaster atm! Hoping some Skubbs will be my saving grace. I did want to ask if you have a system for tracking expiration dates on the glass jars in the kitchen? Thanks again!

  • Allegra Caro
    January 25, 2019

    You definitely mastered organisation skills, girl.
    I wish I could be able to organize my own closet and make it this neat. It’s been a project for a couple of months now, but it seems like #literallynobody sells organizers in my city, which really sucks. I am about to give up and simply order everything from Ikea internacionally, and then go and lie down…

    http://www.rogueandrouge.org

  • Lusa
    February 11, 2019

    This is an amazing post! I’ve been thinking a lot about re-organizing everything and going minimal. This post is giving me the inspiration and extra kick of motivation. Thank you! 😊

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