Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ikea KALLAX Shelf Unit Impressions: Array of Squares?

Moving on from desks and into shelving units. Took a look at an Ikea KALLAX shelf unit that I found on the website. Typing the word "KALLAX" into the search bar turned up a lot of results so I should probably be more specific. This is about the one with eight holes -- what an elegant way to describe it -- and going for CA$ 99.99 on the website. Never had a KALLAX before since I fulfilled all of my shelving needs previously with Ikea IVAR, GORM, HEJNE, and BILLY shelves. Time to see what I've been missing?
Palm of a hand.
Disclaimer: I had not had any firsthand experience with any KALLAX shelf products when I wrote this piece. Details were quoted from the Ikea United States website or Canada website in late March 2017. Details on this page are NOT guaranteed for accuracy.

Ikea KALLAX Shelf Unit First Impressions
The Ikea KALLAX shelf unit I checked out was the CA$ 99.99 version with dimensions of 77 cm x 39 cm x 147 cm (width x depth x height) on the website (802.758.87 in white). It looked like a rectangular grid of eight square shelves with no backing from product photos on the site -- were they actually perfect squares? I wasn't getting a good sense of the scale of the shelf from the photos alone, so the measurements helped a lot. An older 89 cm x 30 cm x 179 cm (width x depth x height) IVAR shelf I had nearby was an even better visual aid. So, the KALLAX shelf unit appeared to be a bit narrower, a bit deeper, and a chunk shorter.

My first thought was that the KALLAX was generally smaller and that couldn't be good. Then I considered how often I used the top shelf of my IVAR, and if a 12 cm loss in width would really be missed. The answers were "almost never" and "not much." There was nothing to complain about with the 9 cm increase in depth since I kind of regretted not getting the 50 cm deep IVAR shelves.
A banana with a bite taken out of it.
Checking out the "Assembly instruction" document was surprising: there were two docs available on the KALLAX's product page. I stuck with one version and scrolled through the steps. It didn't appear to be difficult to me, and seeing how the grid of shelves came together even felt intuitive. My original expectation was for the shelves to be adjustable and easily moved up or down. After going through the instructions, I came away with the impression that the shelves were permanently fixed and not adjustable.

There were nine color options on the site for this version of the KALLAX shelf unit at the time. Under the "Product description" section, terms that got my attention were "Fiberboard" and "Particleboard." On its own, the shelf unit and the individual shelves seemed functional and appropriate for my uses. I couldn't think of many things I had that were larger than roughly 30 cm in all three dimensions -- to fit into an individual shelf grid unit. Then I started seeing the KALLAX branded "inserts" under "Related Products" and in the search results for "KALLAX." Modular, huh? There were also the combinations with said inserts seemingly attached. It looked like these inserts turned grid units into drawers and cabinets, or subdivided them in a way. A few of these options were in the CA$ 10 to CA$ 20 range.

Speaking of price, the bare unit at CA$ 99.99 was somewhat high in my view but similar to an IVAR shelf in March 2017 -- an 89 cm x 30 cm x 179 cm IVAR combination with four shelves was CA$ 97.00 on the website. So, competitive with another storage system at least.

Final Thoughts
Seeing as how I didn't have a KALLAX shelf unit, I ended up comparing it to an Ikea IVAR shelf I had nearby. The KALLAX seemed impressive with its multitude of color options and, if I understood correctly, its insert options. Price was on the higher side but not that much.

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