Poul Cadovius-style shelving at a fraction of the cost: Ikea’s new Svalnas modular shelving

All-new: Ikea’s modular Svalnas Scandinavian-modern style shelving. This is sure to be a big hit: It’s very much in the style of famed Poul Cadovius Royal System / Cado modular shelving — but at a fraction of the cost.

The Idea Svalnas shelves and standards are bamboo; the Cados still made today in Denmark have veneer on the MDF shelves, and solid walnut or oak standards. The Svalnas brackets are powder-coated steel, which sounds good to me. I’m not gonna try to assess quality differences.

One of my dream jobs: Professional Ikea Hacker. I got on Ikea Hackers once with this project. *so proud*. 


  1. Laura says:

    Looks like to me those are bamboo-veneered pressboard for the shelves. I wonder if you could use the standards and the shelf supports, then buy some nice wood and custom cut and stain the shelves yourself? I’m feeling highly tempted to find out 🙂

    1. Lisa Compo says:

      If you make the call or the attempt to customize it, will you please post a follow up on what you learn?

      I would appreciate the input. I know we aren’t a DIY advice site, and it’s frowned upon, but I think pasing on just a little information might be OK. Just something basic like I got new wood to fit without trouble or it’s impossible to take the prefab apart. I can take it from there.

      Pam, I hope this isn’t in the zone of what we shouldn’t discuss. If so, I apologize and can try to give it a whirl myself. 😉 Don’t want to get in trouble here, I enjoy it too much.

  2. Lisa Compo says:

    Oh..what a find!
    Wouldn’t you know it…I just spent hours the other day hunting their website and CL for shelving units to go in our new 1970 time capsule. Somehow I missed these, but good old Retro Reno to my rescue. 🙂

    These will look fantastic along our 23 ft long brick wall with fireplace in the middle. Will probably have to paint them brown to match the brick a bit better. The brick is that cool 70s swirl of cream, terra cotta and chocolate.

    Certainly have to check these out in person. I want that Bob Newhart look at a price that still lets you pay the mortgage. 😉 Thanks so much for posting these, I hope they are as neat as they seem here.

  3. ineffablespace says:

    I have mixed feelings about IKEA. On the one hand they have brought high design to the masses and they know exactly how to market it.

    On the other hand, they’ve also supplied the masses with a lot of low-commitment, disposable goods and furniture. I live in a city with a number of universities and hospitals –and I live in a neighborhood with a major hospital and work in another.

    Every late Summer there is a cycle of the sidewalk being jammed with broken down IKEA boxes on trash pickup day, and every Spring through July there is a cycle of discarded IKEA furniture pulled out to the sidewalk when people move.

    Nobody takes this stuff with them when they go. IKEA is sturdy once built if you don’t have to move it, but it does not move well. To be fair, it’s not just IKEA, plenty of inexpensive sofas; and mattresses and even small appliances end up on the sidewalk as well.

    But I think IKEA was really the one who introduced the concept that you could move somewhere to go to school or a residency, buy New furniture for less than it would cost to moved old cast offs from home, and then it was also cheap enough to abandon when you moved again. It’s spread to other consumer goods, but I think this is where it became firmly rooted.

    1. Elisabeth Moseng says:

      One of the key things to remember is that IKEA has really differentiated their product lines and with a lot of exposure you can clearly sort their products into quality/price ranges. Generally the more expensive it is the better it will last.

      Additionally, any other retailer selling flat packed furniture doesn’t even come close to the quality of Ikea. Their margins are quite slim and they emphasis maximizing their quality to price relationship – always cut prices and raise quality. The recent Billy bookshelf redesign bears that out – sturdier materials packaged smaller, manufactures more efficiently and sold at the same price.

      I may not agree with all of their business practices but I don’t think they are all evil. In fact, much of our Ikea furniture (even stuff my in-laws bought 20+ years ago) has lasted far better than expensive imported peices from the 60s-80s.

      1. Pam Kueber says:

        My daughter’s first apartment is pretty much decked out in Ikea, for many of the reasons stated in this string. I was over-the-moon happy with the Malm bed and mattress given the price. And the Stenstorp kitchen island — a thing of genius that was PERFECT for the small space.

        It was also a hysterical — and truly meaningful — experience to get her to put the stuff together. I should write about that too. You ain’t a young adult in America until you’ve conquered Ikea furniture assembly! At first: Oh, the whining. Phone calls to her friends: “This is a nightmare”! I helped her at first, but then left her with some pieces to get together on her own. By the end, phone calls to friends: “I am an expert — this was so much fun.” She was so proud. I was so proud. *goodmom* *cutthoseapronstrings*

        I do agree with ineffable, though: I don’t thank the stuff is gonna un-assemble so easily. But I do think that if we are careful, we will be able to get the dowels and screws out okay. And it’s certainly easier hauling KDs up and down 4 flights of stairs (no elevator) that full sized furniture.

        Oh: The Fgalkinge shelving: Also fantastic. And we had a lot of fun throwing around the word a lot too. 😉

        1. ineffablespace says:

          I don’t think that IKEA created its furniture to be disposible, per se. I think that they are just complicit in the practice. If it’s the sort of thing someone is going to do, IKEA just facilitates it, and makes it a little more financially comfortable, depending upon what you buy. The renters that were in here also abandoned a TV, two vacuum cleaners, three irons, some still in the boxes, twenty odd trash bags of clothes and a host of other small appliances and dishes and stuff and they only rented here two years. On the other hand, if you are not the sort of person who is like that, I don’t think IKEA is going to *make* you like that. (Although it may tempt you somewhat because of cost-to-benefit analysis).

          I don’t know if you will ever get some of the IKEA apart, Pam. and as strong as the fasteners are now, they don’t tolerate some of the stresses associated with being carried around very well.

          1. Pam Kueber says:

            I don’t see why the dowels won’t dislodge with a careful bop by a rubber mallet. We’ll see…

            1. la573 says:

              When I moved recently, I just threw everything big I didn’t want to move on Craigslist for cheap or free. Free decent-condition Ikea furniture will be gone within a day. Keeps it out of the landfill.

              There’s also the option of disassembling it and moving it, something you don’t have with most other furniture.

      2. Jeanne says:

        Aha, the Billy Bookcases were redesigned…that explains a lot! I have three bookcases that I took with me when we moved last fall (had them several years). I bought a couple glass doors for them right before we moved. When I was setting up my “library” alcove, I tried to put the glass doors on one of the bookcases and the screws wouldn’t fit. I tried to explain to customer service and they sent me more brackets with screws that were the same (and didn’t fit). I’ve since ordered two more Billys and the glass doors fit the new ones!

  4. libbyontheprairie says:

    We just installed one of these units in our guest room last month and I LOVE it! Great price, looks amazing in our mid-century modest house and seems to be well made. Would definitely recommend it.

  5. Karin says:

    Thanks Pam for another offering from the temple of Ikea. This shelving is terrific. Its 1970s style is perfectly on trend. How did I miss this in the 2018 Ikea catalog previews?

    1. la573 says:

      The 2018 Ikea catalog is online now, either on their website or as a mobile app (at least for Apple devices, I assume for Android too).

  6. Brooke says:

    These new shelving units are great for anyone who doesn’t have the budget or the time to search for an original danish unit. It looks pretty nice already but I could see painting/wallpapering (grass cloth, orla kiely etc) the cabinet doors or even spray painting the white metal brackets to customize it.

    Though I do have to say if you’re diligent at searching Craigslist (or kijiji) and checking out estates sales/garage sales you can pick up Cado units (or by other manufacturers) for reasonable prices.

    I’ve purchased 6 separate cado/cado style wall units over the last 3.5-4 years. All of them have been cheaper than or only slightly more expensive than this new IKEA version. I can imagine if you were in the USA there would be a lot more selection available (depending on the state) than where I live in Canada.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Bought these for my office before they were available in the showroom (warehouse-stocked only). They are well-made and pleasing to the eye. Unstallation is challenging, as you must be exact in your meadurements, but that would be true of any system like this. I love them!

  8. Barbara says:

    Pamela, if these are made in the USA, then I’m all in!!
    I search high-and-low for everything that is made in the USA.
    I love: vintage/retro/MCM/antique and 50’s/60’s! MUST be made in the USA!
    Right down to my socks!
    Once you go patriot, theirs no going back!

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Barbara, the country of origin is not indicated on the website. For that, I recommend you contact Ikea.

        1. Elisabeth Moseng says:

          Ikea stuff varies wildly. Many US specific items are made in the US – kitchen cabinets, for example. There is a factory in Oregon near to where I went to school that makes IKEA couches. Some stuff is made in Eastern Europe. We have a kids step stool made in Italy. A lot comes from China, though.

          The website likely does not specify country of origin because it varies even within product lines.

          1. la573 says:

            The kitchen cabinets are American because we (and Canada) are the only country that wants cabinets sized in inches rather than centimeters. When Ikea first started selling kitchen cabinets in the US (through the late ’90s if I recall correctly) they used the metric sizes used everywhere else, and it drove people crazy because American 24″ wide appliances wouldn’t quite fit in a 60cm cabinet. So they began selling different cabinets here sized in inches, and continued to do so when they redesigned their kitchen cabinets a few years back. The irony is that in the time since they went to US sized cabinets, the American appliance market has largely been taken over by Samsung, LG, Bosch, Electrolux (which also owns Frigidaire) and Haier, the Chinese company that bought out GE’s appliance business recently, so many new appliances are metric-sized now anyway.

            Ikea’s bathroom cabinet and sinktop line is metric sized even in the US. They give the dimensions in inches here, but the fractional sizes in inches all correspond to nice round metric measurements like 100cm.

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