Powder coated steel shelving, kitchen cart and desk accessories, new from Ikea

ekby jarpen wall shelf from ikea

After writing about the classic String System shelving designed in Sweden in 1949, I am mellowing on my attitude toward writing about Ikea. In the past, I was kind of anti-Ikea because (1) I had a bad experience with quality about 10 years ago [office table that looked terrible after excrutiating assembly process] and (2) well, Ikea is not doing it “The Hard Way.” But thinking further about the String system, I decided to give Ikea and its current generation of Scandinavian designs another look-see. I went online shopping and my best find: The Ekby shelf, above — quite similar in concept to the String Plexi. In fact, I found a number of powder-coated storage solutions that I think are worth knowing about.

The Ekby design seems very similar in concept to the String Plexi system — except the sides of the Ekby shelf unit are powder-coated steel, while the String Plexi sides are plexiglass.

The Ekby shelf sides come in powder-coated white or green steel. That green is very nice — very 1960s, an ascendant color, for sure.

Size of this unit is 31″W x 23″H x 7.5″D. Strangely, the website indicates two different prices — one for $35 and another for $50 — for two almost-identical versions; the only difference I could find was in the way the shelves were finished, one had foil, the other, paint. In any case, you can only get these in the store.

I could see this little number doing duty in lots of place in the house.

ekby wall shelf sides onlyWoah! You can also buy just the sides, a pair costs $20. Also available in white. Add… glass for a bathroom? Add stainless steel for a kitchen? Hmmm, these bits seem like good fodder for a hack.

ikea kitchen cart raskogAlso new to the market: The Raskog kitchen cart in blue from Ikea. This is super cute. Also, how about considering it for the bathroom for toiletries and other small storage…  for the mudroom for gloves… or for the office studio for art supplies.

kitchen cart from ikeaAlso available in dark gray.

powder coated steel letter tray from ikeaIkea seems to have identified powder-coated steel shelves, storage and accessories as a market that’s ripe. Which makes me happy, because things made from steel last a long, long time. Hurray for durability! Ikea also has a new “Kvissle” line of desk accessories, which is quite nice looking. This letter tray is just one piece – there are more.

  1. vintage_vantage says:

    I don’t mind Ikea, but for me they are not local. The metal shelves from above are easily found at most big box home improvements stores. I have a set of shelves that are over 30 years old. Good ole quality construction!

  2. Kate says:

    Ohhhh I love the kitchen carts! I could totally use one of those to put next to my easel for painting supplies!!!! Great find Pam!

  3. Just another Pam says:

    I’m not Ikea’s biggest fan either, Pam, though they do make some cute stuff.

    The prices in Canada are shockingly high compared to the US. On a very small rug for example…..70 dollars in the US as opposed to 120 dollars in Canada. Yikes. The things you can learn on a Google search.

  4. Jay says:

    Having witnessed the birth of IKEA’s first store in USA in eighties, I was an early devotee but as I have gotten much older I no longer have the patience to sort through bags of hardware to match the assembly guide pictures, the holes that didn’t line up, etc. I would go to Conran’s, drool over the stuff and go to IKEA to buy the cheaper and more affordable version. Uggh! It always looked like ready to assemble pieces when finished.

    1. pam kueber says:

      My husband taught me a saying that has proven correct over and over again: “Good… Fast… Cheap: Pick Any Two.”

  5. steve66 says:

    That kitchen cart would be great for the laundry room. I think I’ll have to check it out – along with a Swedish meatball lunch. I like Ikea, although sometimes I feel that they can be too focused on price. If they charged just a bit more for some things they could probably vastly improve the quality. A lot of their stuff seems to be designed for a very quick store-dorm-trash life cycle.

  6. Chris says:

    I love Ikea! We have one very near us in Atlanta. Love the meatballs! Love the cinnamon rolls! Love the inclined conveyor belt to the parking lot!

    I will follow up by saying that my love of their furniture has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that my husband is amazingly handy! He is an industrial designer, so all the little pieces and parts and diagrams make total sense to him. We have some wonderful bookshelves that he has adapted to look like built-ins. We have big interior decorating dreams – without the big budget. Using Ikea stuff here and there has really been a nice compromise.

    Again — if it were me having to build the stuff, I’d be lying on the floor in a pile of hardware with an empty bottle of tequila by my head.

    Another more serious comment about Ikea… we’ve noticed they have varying levels of quality with corresponding prices. Sometimes you just want the junky little thing. Other times you want something that will last longer. Sometimes you have to get something to hold you over till you can afford that wonderful “forever” item.

    And did I mention the meatballs??? 🙂

    1. pam kueber says:

      I should add, we REALLY like our Trofast storage units. I don’t think they were even particularly expensive: https://retrorenovation.com/2012/03/28/affordablework-bench-design-made-from-ikea-trofast-storage-unit/

      As I recall, though, we had that one very bad experience with an office table that got us off Ikea for a long while… today, there’s not one nearby, so it’s also a non-issue for me. All that said: I am going to begin paying more attention because they do have some things worth paying attention to — often at great prices and totally reasonable quality especially given the price.

  7. Carole says:

    As with any store, you have to know your quality and be aware that what you’re buying may or may not last indefinitely. That said, what does in this day and age? When we remodeled our kitchen I researched and shopped, and eventually spent a large sum of money on a porcelain kitchen sink by a well known national company. It has not held up well because it was glazed improperly. Makes me tentative to ever spend more than a couple of hundred (and IKEA has some beautiful kitchen sinks). If a less expensive model is going to last as long as the expensive high end, why waste the money?

    The store would have been a God send for hubby and I when we were first married. Not that I minded going by way of every other generation and using cast-offs from my parents, but it would have been nice to have something new and that was all ‘ours’. And IKEA merchandise (even the lowest quality) is better than some of those shelving units we used to buy from the local hardware/variety store (you know the ones, they fell apart almost as soon as you assembled them, and disintegrated if they ever got wet).

    We’ve never had any issues with assembly.

    My only real issue is that more of the merchandise isn’t ‘environmental’, but we pick and choose.

    IKEA built a store near us a few years ago (by near, I mean over an hour away), which I have visited many times. They’re great for small decorative things, frames, vases, etc., and they have some of the best silk flowers around if you’re into that sort of thing. We do own a few pieces of furniture, a twin platform bed, two Poang chairs, and an Expedit bookcase, that may or may not be permanent fixtures in our house, but for now they do what they need to do. The bookcase cubbies can be fitted with baskets, drawers, doors, all of which we’ve done with ours so it can be multi-functional.

    I loved that cart as soon as I saw a picture of it back in January. Unfortunately, I may never get a chance to see if it’s of any quality, because our local IKEA has yet to stock the thing (it was supposed to be in Apr. 1).

    Never have liked the meat balls. lol Now the cinnamon rolls, that’s a different story. And the frozen yogurt is fabulous. lol

  8. kelly says:

    Love or hate Ikea, it really does embody the ethos of many of the early modernist designers like Gropius and other Bauhaus designers — those who embraced simplicity of design, mass production, and modern technology in order to bring good design to the masses. Nobody does that more than Ikea. Not that Gropius or the others would have been wild about crappy pressed-wood bookshelves!

  9. lady brett says:

    i love those shelf rails. not so keen on the shelving itself, but a bit of lumber isn’t hard to come by – i’m thinking the green would look lovely with a nice walnut-stained shelf. the only problem (other than pricing if we want to run them to the ceiling in a couple of places) is that it looks like it only comes with three shelf rails, which means you can’t put your shelves less than about a foot apart (as pictured). any idea if you can get extras? i don’t see any indication on the site.

    oh, and that kitchen cart is lovely – it looks so wonderfully midcentury (like it was made to match our cosco stool with the fold-out steps).

  10. Serge Young says:

    Some Ikea stuff is okay. But a lot of it lacks integrity in will find its way to a landfill before long. In this case the kitchen cart looks like it may last but I have a feeling the shelves may not.

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