Small spaces: Custom closet using Ikea bookshelves

One of my favorite places for small living inspiration is Ikea Hackers. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, it’s a collection of reader-submitted modifications to pieces of furniture from Ikea. The hacks range from relatively small (like adding paint to a Lack table) to extremely involved (like turning a Spar butcher block into an electric guitar). The site has been around since 2006 and is teeming with ways to personalize Ikea furniture.

Earlier this month, the site featured Regina’s amazing closet for her itty bitty Swedish apartment. Under what I think is her lofted bed, she has five modified Expedit bookcases (in the 2×2 configuration) that she added a piece of wood to the base and then attached four casters to the bottom of the piece of wood. In the U.S., these Expedit shelving units are just $40 a piece and the Besta casters are $10 for two, so the whole system probably cost less than $350 to create, which isn’t bad for a custom closet that could easily cost four times this price. Visuals from the article:

The rolling bookcases not only hold her clothes, but also her hobby supplies (such as the sewing machine and fabric stash pictured above) and other necessities for her apartment. I like that she can roll the sewing Expedit directly to her sewing table, and then roll it all back into the closet when she’s done. The storage system is ideal for this small space, and I think could easily be utilized in other homes — small or large.

Note: There are casters that are specifically made to hold the Expedit bookcase, but they stick out beyond the base of the bookshelf, so you can’t nest the shelves directly next to each other. They’re also $5 more for two casters, which adds $50 to the cost of casters, but gets rid of the need to attach a piece of wood to the bottom of each bookcase. If you don’t need the items to nest next to each other, the Expedit casters might be a good alternative for you.

If you are unfamiliar with Ikea Hackers, spend some time perusing it for even more ideas. Most of the hacks are inexpensive and easy to do.

Images by Regina as posted to IkeaHackers, and thanks to reader Shalin for bringing this closet to our attention.

8 Comments for “Small spaces: Custom closet using Ikea bookshelves”

  1. posted by NYC_Apartment_Dweller on

    Great idea space-wise and it looks fabulous…but HORRIBLE CONCEPT for apartments!

    I cannot imagine the noise of those rolling casters being pulled out and pushed back in on hardwood floors….above my head.

    I used to have a neighbor who had difficulty deciding what to wear – and would continuously open & close, open & close his (rolling) closet doors! One night I counted a good 20 times as he was trying to figure out what to wear to go out…as he clomped around in his platform boots. THANK GOD he moved out!

  2. posted by luxcat on


    hahaha! I had the same thought! our upstairs neighbor rolls the built in drawers in and out… SLAM… in and out… SLAM each morning, then clomps out…. in spike heels however, not boots πŸ™‚

  3. posted by DN on

    Love this idea, will file away for future reference.

  4. posted by Rebecca on

    I love this!

  5. posted by Jen on

    I don’t live in an apartment but my “annoying neighbor” is my 6 year old son who hasn’t yet learned how to close his drawers quietly, so when he gets dressed in the morning, it’s pretty loud and annoying. But then, my husband is 35 and hasn’t learned this skill yet either so I don’t hold out much hope for him πŸ™‚

  6. posted by Shalin on

    Happy to send the post along!

    Thinking outside the box – I’ll bet one day this could be the start of some kind of home automation feature. Who knows what iRobot would call a modular closet segment that rolled over to you when called… Any naming ideas? πŸ˜›

    In the meanwhile, I think something like this would do nicely in my place. πŸ™‚

  7. posted by Shalin on

    As far as making a lot of noise when rolling these out – you might want to consider rubber wheeled casters or…a rug. It won’t make it silent, but it would surely help.

  8. posted by romney on

    That seems fairly inefficient to me. The units will get bashed about in no time if you use roll them in and out everyday. Its ok if you want a big flat table-like area to work on, but you’d get nearly as much space from making floor to ceiling (or in this case, bed) shelving on that back wall, and perhaps round one side a bit. And it would be a bit of a wonky table if you were say cutting out pattern pieces for sewing.

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