Sunday, June 16, 2013

Alternatives to Ikea BILLY Bookcase

Attractive vertical storage can either be an essential part of any home or just one of those really nice things to have. A standard room should have about 9' of vertical clearance, and since most of us stand about 5' to 6' tall with a reaching height about 1' to 2' higher, it makes sense to make efficient use of that room.
Ikea BILLY Bookcase
The Ikea BILLY bookcase line has been around since I started paying attention to Ikea -- about a decade. Overall, BILLY makes for pretty good vertical storage. It comes in many colors, feels and looks pretty good, and doesn't break the bank at around US$ 80. One can also fine various size and add-ons for the line.

But what if you want something different? I won't lie, I have two of them and love them. But I like them because they're simple and, gasp, "boring". Aside from the different colors and doors you can put on, they are just shelves with no particular details that I really notice -- well put together shelves considering the amount of stuff they're holding up.

In case you are looking for something a bit jazzier or "different", here are a few other product lines from Ikea and some other stores you could consider.

Ikea LAIVA:  US$ 25
This is an interesting one I just discovered myself. From the looks of it, the wood detailing looks similar to the LAIVA desk (review here) that I have. The price is very similar to at around $25. The website says that the shelf stands at 62cm x 24cm x 165cm with a maximum load of 33lb per shelf. So, it's smaller than the 80cm x 28cm x 202cm high BILLY bookshelves that I have. The weight capacity also appears lower if the website is accurate at 66lb versus 33lb.

It's an interesting design and definitely meets the "different" quality at a much lower price too. However, this one appears to be mostly a frame shelf with only some levels of shelves with a backing board. You get what you pay for?

Ikea KILBY:  US$ 25
Another "cheapo" shelf. I don't have one of these, but I helped someone carry one home years ago. This is probably the best match I can find to the BILLY line at Ikea in terms of design. This one isn't modular and only comes in one color though. Its dimensions are 67cm x 24cm x 194cm with a shelf load capacity of 22lb according to the website. These measurements are moderately smaller than the 202cm BILLY, but the shelf capacity looks to be much lower at only 22lb versus the BILLY's rated 66lb on the website.

This is a very nice budget option. Can't say I'm a fan of it due to the limited options and relatively low load capacity. At less than 1/3 the price though, it's something to think about.

Ikea BORGSJO:  US$ 65
On the snazzier yet still less expensive side is the BORGSJO. This one appears to also be modular with "wood" and glass doors that can be purchased. I do not see as many options available compared to the BILLY line. Nonetheless, the BORGSJO comes in at 75cm x 32 cm x 181cm with shelves rated for 49lb according to the website. This is smaller than the BILLY in some aspects and the load rating is slightly lower at 49lb versus 66lb.

The bookshelf appears to have some pretty nice details and I like the wood pattern for the foil. It also seems to have some shelves that protrude out a bit and separate legs. I think it's a very attractive looking bookcase at a slightly lower price than the BILLY.

Ikea HEMNES: US$ 149
Moving on up and you may end up at the HEMNES, which is advertised as solid pine with stain and lacquer. This one is slightly wider and deeper but shorter than the BILLY at 90cm x 37cm x 197cm according to the website. I can't find a rated load capacity for the shelves, unfortunately. The product description also says that the feet are adjustable for use with uneven floors.

As the only solid wood option in the list above, including the BILLY, this one is definitely "nicer". In terms of design, there appear to be cuts of wood in various thicknesses, accents on the exterior, and separate legs. There are also versions with doors, but I can't find them for sale as separate add-on units. This is a very nice design with a pretty large cost premium. Might be worth it depending on what you're looking for.

Crate & Barrel Farrow 23" Media Tower:  US$ 399
Outside of Ikea, there are numerous brands and options available. Crate & Barrel has quite a collection itself and the Farrow is one of its cheaper products. At about 58cm x 37cm x 153cm according to the website, this is shorter than the BILLY. It has a built in cabinet at the bottom with varying thicknesses of wood used, and four legs. The materials used include poplar, poplar veneer, engineered wood, and stain. Not a bad choice, it looks good, but at nearly triple the price of a HEMNES, it may be catering to a different market.

South Shore Furniture Freeport Morgan Bookcase:  $US 73.80
Here's a final random offering available at Home Depot and probably other retailers like Coming in at about 78cm x 29cm x 180cm, this looks very similar to the BILLY except it's a bit shorter. The exterior surface is a laminate. I don't know if any add-ons are available, so you could try looking at South Shore's catalogue if you're interested.

IKEA GALANT Office Planner Tool Impressions
IKEA BENNO Shelf Review
IKEA BILLY Bookcase Review
IKEA LAIVA Desk Review