Thursday, January 15, 2015

IKEA STOLMEN System Impressions

Time for another look at one of those Ikea modular systems full of possibilities. Back in the bedroom again, this time with the STOLMEN. I think this one has been around for a while, but it never really appealed to me. Let's see if I change my mind after doing a bit of research.

Note: I didn't check every single product page out and definitely didn't review the ones I did in detail. This is just a summary of the ones I did check and my general impressions of what I found. And, once again, I had not had any firsthand experience with any STOLMEN products when I wrote this piece.
IKEA Food Pictures
A storage system that appeared to be based around poles. What I took away from reviewing the STOLMEN combinations and individual components was that this was a bare bones wardrobe system. It looked like something for use in a closet behind a closed door more than something that would be laid out to show off to guests. On the other hand, I thought the STOLMEN system had appeal as an upfront item if I was after a more industrial look.

More IKEA Food Pictures

Under the STOLMEN "Combinations" tab on the United States website, I found over a dozen predetermined storage setups. Prices ranged from about US$ 100 to about US$ 750. The cheapest and simplest item was a single pole with a mirror attachment. Two combinations with shelves were going for around US$ 190. There were other combinations with a mix of shelves and cabinets, cabinets and a mirror, hangers and shelves, etc.

Only around a dozen individual components showed up under the "All parts" tab. This smaller number of options felt more manageable compared to the PAX that I checked out recently. Prices ranged from US$ 1 for a hook to US$ 100 for a set of two drawers. The key component, the post that I've been calling a pole, was priced at US$ 30 each. Product dimensions on the website noted that the post had a minimum height of 210 cm (82 5/8") and maximum height of 330 cm (129 7/8"). It was noted in the "Key features" section that the product "can be mounted to the ceiling or the wall" -  a review of the assembly instructions supported this. Another thing I noticed was that the post was supposedly aluminum. However, the clothes rail and shoe rack appeared to be steel.

Because I don't have any STOLMEN photos.

Items such as the clothes rail, shoe rack, and shelf appeared to be available in two widths: 21 5/8" (55 cm) and 43 1/4" (110 cm). The more expensive drawers or cabinets seemed to be available in the larger dimension, but I could only find the narrower dimension available for the chest with two drawers. And the mirror looked like it had a storage system on the back.

The non-freestanding nature of the post-based STOLMEN system put me off way back when. Finding out that the posts could supposedly be mounted to a wall instead of a ceiling didn't really change things. Most of the furniture that that I bought in the past were freestanding pieces that only required brackets to be attached to the wall for safety. My understanding of the STOLMEN system was that it was completely dependent on its attachments to the wall and/or ceiling to stay upright with regular use -- a lot more holes in the wall or ceiling. On top of that, it looked like a minimum of two people would be required to install the STOLMEN. Having to fix everything to the building made this system feel more permanent, as in one with the rest of the building, to me.

Oh look, chips.
Taking some time to look into the STOLMEN system suggested that this was another modular, customizable, and expandable storage system like the PAX. However, the STOLMEN had a more minimalist, stripped down theme going for it. I thought it had an industrial theme going for it -- too bad I couldn't find parts available in chrome. For less than US$ 300, it felt like I would be able to put together a system that would suit my needs. I found it to be a pretty impressive product line in the end.

Would I or Wouldn't I?
Having a smaller number of options and parts to choose between compared to the PAX made the STOLMEN appear simpler. The stripped down design involving posts instead of cabinets had a similar effect. However, the installation process did not appeal to me -- not a fan of making so many holes in the walls and ceilings. And while prices were not abhorrent, they were higher than other items I could think of that could likely perform a similar role. Also, I was trying to live a more minimalist, mobile lifestyle at the time. Mechanically fixing my furniture into the walls and ceiling didn't mesh well with that.

IKEA PAX Wardrobe System Impressions

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