An Expedit-ion in Storage

This post is by regular contributor Cath Oehlman aka SquiggleMum.

There is one piece of furniture that I see over and over in family homes.
One piece of furniture that saves many of us from the invasion of mess.
One piece of furniture so versatile it appears in bedrooms, living spaces, offices and more.
One piece of furniture chameleonic enough to suit almost all styles.
One piece of furniture so indispensable I think it should be part of the baby bonus payment!

The Expedit, from Ikea.

I have to confess we don’t have one – we have four! The Expedit is a humble piece of furniture: a big box with divisions to make smaller boxes.  Of course other brands and stores stock similar storage options but they all function in the same simple way.  It’s as easy as putting stuff into the spaces.  I like simple!

Here are 5 reasons why this simple solution works for our family:

1. “A place for everything and everything in its place…”

This is never truer than when you have a young family.  If you don’t have a dedicated place for things to go, they have a way of finding their own places to congregate.  I am still learning this one (!!) but a storage system certainly helps.

2. One at a time.

In the family room our Expedit is filled with baskets. Each basket is the home of a different group of toys.  This is a system that works for SO many mums. It limits the toys out at one time.  Often less is more when it comes to children’s play, and they struggle with too many options. We have a one-basket-out-at-a-time rule in our home.

3. Simplify packing up.

If #1 is true (you have a place for everything), and if #2 is in effect (you have limited the toys out at one time) then #3 should follow! Packing up is achievable for even a young toddler if it is only a matter of picking things up and putting them in the basket. We sing a song as we tidy.

4. Visual appeal.

I think it is important to have family friendly spaces in a family home. We don’t have a playroom, and we don’t have a formal lounge room.  In our house most of the toys are kept within the open-plan family living space.  Everything looks a LOT better hidden away in baskets when not in use! Box storage systems, and the baskets and containers to fit them, are available in lots of colours and styles to suit your home.

5. Cost effectiveness.

For such a versatile and effective piece of furniture, the Expedit and other box storage systems are relatively inexpensive.  Depending on what you choose, the baskets or containers may be the biggest expense, but you can always add these gradually.

Do you use some kind of box-storage system in your home?  If so, which room in the house do you use it in, and how effective is it for your family?  If not, perhaps it’s time for an expedit-ion to Ikea?!

PS – This post was not sponsored, requested or connected with Ikea in any way.

PPS – Dear Ikea. Please let me know if you’d like to change that last PS. Did I mention I have four Expedits? I even made an “expedit-ion” joke. I know, I know. I’m not considering a career in comedy… Cath.

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  1. We have three! Playroom with toys, Immy’s bedroom with books and my study with ‘stuff’! And there are plans for one more in the guest room 😉

  2. I would love one, some but alas. No IKEA near here. 🙁
    I dream of a one day IKEA Expedit – ion!

  3. While I love the practicability of price tag of the Expedit I must say I am very disappointed that mine collapsed during the floods causing everything that was above flood water level to get damaged too causing hundreds of dollars of books and kids art work to be thrown out 🙁 I am now on the hunt for some thing similar made of hard wood that wont collapse should it ever flood again.

    1. Lana,
      That is just heart-breaking! I’ve never considered flooding when buying furniture!

    2. SquiggleMum says:

      Lana sorry to hear about the damage you suffered in the floods 🙁 We really have had some wild weather! Ikea furniture is great for low cost, kid friendly options – but I don’t think they are long term pieces. Something similar made of hardwood would be gorgeous.

    3. Lana that is just terrible! When we were searching for storage for our home we wanted real wood too as it lasts, but here in Australia (my hubby is Canadian) we found equivalent pieces of furniture to be in the thousands. Your best option might be to find a local woodworker to work his/her magic. We are doing this with our son’s bed as we want to buy one that will last until he leaves home, hopefully before he’s 30!!

      1. The Expedits can be reinforced or attached to the wall fairly easily. Cross-bracing wires ( an X of regular wire from the hardware store across the entire back) will make it stay together as well as L-brackets attaching the whole thing to the wall. Though these additions won’t help you, Lana (so sorry to hear about all the flooding), they may help others, who have already chosen Expedits, to protect their belongings in the case of natural disasters such as flooding and earthquake. Good luck to all in your searches and happy organizing!

  4. I love the look of your large expedit with the green accessories and the down lights look great. We are slowly replacing our expedits with other pieces of furniture but still have one in our room as a bookcase and one in Miss 5’s room as a bookcase. One of our playroom walls is lined with the Ikea Trofast system so each type of toy eg duplo, barbies, finger puppets all have their own tubs. Can’t see us replacing this system soon as it works so well. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Yes, Expedit rules! We had the long narrow one when our son was very little. That was the only piece of furniture in his room apart from a twin-sized mattress. We put one toy into each cubby (4 total) and rotated them out every few days. Our son used the top of the Expedit to help him stand and also used it to play with some of his toys. Then we thought we were going to move and sold our Expedit. The move never happened and for the next 3 years we tried making it without Expedit. I’m giving up now – it’s just too convenient and looks great for the price.

  6. We have 4 piece of expedit as well! A 4×2 on top of a 4×4 in our entrance hall full of files, special knick-knacks and cookbooks, then in our living room we have the expedit tv unit and another 4×2 unit in our playroom full of boxes for easy storage! I love our expedits even though I hope to one day afford a type of furniture other than Ikea, right now its perfect for our family!

  7. Oh IKEA…how I love IKEA…but all I can do is oogle the catalogue because the nearest one is 1600kms away! Oh well, maybe one day 🙂

  8. We have three pieces currently, but we plan on more when we move. I love them. We have toys in one, books in another and CDs and other stuff in the third. They’re awesome.

  9. Oooo… I NEED one (or should i say “some”) of those!! We have a toy storage nightmare!

  10. I have a 4×2 expedit which was in the lounge and we outgrew it. I wanted a 4×4 but couldn’t get to the other side of town to IKEA so ended up with the same thing in another brand. Not quite as solid but does the trick. It just about killed me putting it together by myself but it ended up being one of those ‘proud of myself’ moments. The old one is for our art and craft stuff in the dining room. They are both full to brim now but they changed my life!

  11. My husband is a designer and we have 2 very elegant versions of the Expedit in gorgeous timbers with coloured translucent back. However, these pieces are in storage and while we are living the expat life we have 2 large Expedit for books and the tiered storage that you slide the bins into for toys + several other pieces including a wonderful dining table that can be made huuuuge. I LOVE IKEA!!! I also have quite a few IKEA items in my classroom.

    1. SquiggleMum says:

      The coloured translucent back sounds amazing. I’ve thought about putting funky fabric behind ours. One of those jobs on the one-day list…

  12. We have two 4×2 expedits. One is in the playroom for toys and one is in our bedroom on its side and used for baby clothes/bedding/nappies. We use the top of it as a change table. Perfect!

  13. We have two of the 5×5 expedit units that we inherited from my FIL when he passed away.

    One is in our bedroom and holds all my craft bits, our photo albums and other items that are dear to me.

    The second is in hubbys computer room next to the playroom. We have the Lekman boxes – red in the top 2 rows of shelves, clear in the bottom two rows of shelves. The middle row of shelves is for storing folders and printer paper.

    I used Boardmaker images and printed off pictures of what was in the boxes and laminated them – we have one box each for our special treasures and items that have no particular place (husbands is full of computer cables and adaptors).

    The red boxes are for toys the girls can only play with under adult supervision, or toys that make such a mess I don’t want them constantly pulled out (hello Barbie Imelda Marcos shoe collection).

    The clear boxes down the bottom can be accessed any time by the girls, so long as they pack up after themselves.

  14. Oh and we love love love our Expedit shelves. Although Hubby has recently discovered the BESTA DVD shelves and they have pushed the Expedit to second in his heart.

    They do fit rather perfectly in our living room –

    I would love to get some more Billy bookcases for our playroom as we are rapidly running out of bookshelf space.

    Husband and I have been on a Grand Designs viewing kick and so far the one thing we agree on is that we would like a house with at least one room where every wall is covered in bookshelves.

      1. SquiggleMum says:


    1. Yep, I want one room filled with Billy shelves, BUT my husband is anti-Ikea! 🙁

      That said, we do have two 4×4 Expedit, one in the lounge which has the desk attachment, making it my office. The side viewed from the rest of the room is covered in dvds, which means I can’t fit all of my stuff on it, but it’s the best I can get so I have to put up with it.

      The second one is in my husband’s office and is filled with his old movie magazine collection (it is used for research purposes, not purely collector items). Did you know this size Expedit fits perfectly into a standard wardrobe? Saves even more space and keeps the room even more clutter free 🙂

      We also bought something similar and cheaper for Princess’ room. Was harder to put together and not as sturdy.

  15. Oh… I’m soooo with you on this one! They are the most perfect storage units… Our house has 4 too! Our 5 x 5 in the dining room workd so well with drawers for posh cutlery, holes with cupboard doors for games, drawers for paper work, holes to display photos and boxes with different groups of toys. Just perfect. Our 4 x 2 one in the hallway works as a shoe, hats, scarves and gloves unit. The children are just great at putting their shoes away since we’ve had this and it keeps my hallway tidy 🙂 My favourite basket though is the one I keep empty for things to return or give to people. I check it before I leave the house and see if anything from that box needs to come with me! The 2 x 2 on the landing is our laundry unit, ‘dirty’, ‘clean’, ‘needing to be ironed’ and ‘ironed and ready to go away’! I feel another trip to Ikea coming on…!

  16. We have something similar in our playroom and it is fantastic. I can have baskets of common toys – train sets, cars, musical instruments – along the bottom so even my 2yo can get them out and tidy away. It also means I can sort the games of my older two children into categories and make smaller piles that they can deal with, instead of one huge tower that always falls over because they ALWAYS want the game right at the bottom ;D

    1. SquiggleMum says:

      Marita I saw a great hack somewhere too where they left a space for kids to crawl through to a secret cubby on the other side!! Can’t remember where now though… :-/

      1. That would be so cool. My brother used to have a space behind his chest of drawers at the end of his bunk that we could squeeze into, made a great secret hiding spot 🙂

  17. We have two of the 4×2 expedits at our place too, used for toy storage. I love them!
    Some great ideas here, I love the transluscent backing one and my mind is ticking over with possibilities with the hole left to crawl through to a secret cubby…..sounds like something my girls would love!

  18. Before our son was born we went on a mission to turn our home from something that looked like uni students lived in it, to a home where adults reside. Ikea was the place to make it happen quickly for us. We have two Expedits at our place (one for as long as we have been living together) and another range from Ikea that has cubby-like cubes for all kinds of other storage. I’m a little worried now as I can’t find it on their website. It has options for doors and drawers, tv units, etc. For us almost all our storage space is cubby holes. I find it works for most situations but we have a couple of things that are just shy of fitting in those little spots. I do enjoy having the segregation that means “one hole is for one group of things”, otherwise our place would be a disaster!!

  19. Kris Whitman says:

    We had a 4×2 unit lying down as a room divider at our front door, to kind of create an entry area instead of stepping straight into the lounge room. Twas great. Unfortunately it got water damaged right along the bottom during our recent renovation 🙁 Soon as the reno was done I was quick smart down to Ikea buying a replacement (…and numerous other items too!lol!) and the damaged one went outside in the covered pergola area “just for now”, waiting until kerbside collection time to get rid of it. But…I loove having it outside. While it’s sitting there things have just sort of migrated to it & it’s managed to organised all my kids’ outside “stuff” – bubble blowing paraphernalia, playdough & its bits and pieces, sandpit toys, sunscreen & hats, chalk and painting stuff, balls, etc. I don’t think I’m going to be able to part with it come kerbside collection time, damaged or not!! It’s got a second lease on life.

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  21. On #4, is that pole you drilled through the bottom two shelves to hold up the empty space above? How did you do that?

    1. Disregard, I now realize this is an older model of the Expedit

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