One of the main features in my new study is my 5x5 Expedit wall unit from Ikea.
It was really hard to get a good photo of the entire unit, due to the workbench being in the middle of the room. I hope that you can piece together the big picture ;)
I decided early on that I like open wall unit storage solutions best, rather than those with cupboard doors. It makes it super easy to access what I need if there are no doors or drawers to open, which also means it is easier to put things away. However, the downside of open an storage unit is having to containerise everything so that it looks visually appealing, otherwise it can soon look cluttered and disorganised, which can stifle your creativity. I can assure you that this unit did not look so good when I first put everything into it, and it took me a few hours of switching things around until I achieved the balanced, streamlined look that I was aiming for.
Here are some tips that helped me out...
First of all, I decided on the wall unit. Then I found out the measurements of each cube. I knew that anything that I wanted to store in this unit needed to fit within these dimensions, so that gave me a good guide when it came to container selection. Ikea offer a range of containers designed to fit the unit, along with drawer and door inserts too.
When containerising my supplies, I had more decisions to make. Firstly, I had to decide whether I liked clear or opaque containers. Clear is great to be able to see inside at a glance, but runs the risk of looking messy as you can see through the side of the container. And while opaque shields the 'mess' inside the container, everything must be clearly labelled in order to distinguish what is inside, without having to pull out multiple containers in search of a specific one. Me, I decided to go with opaque containers and labels. Not only did this help me to achieve a more streamlined look across the wall unit, but it also helped me to build my colour scheme without a huge monetary investment.
So, obviously next, I picked a colour scheme. You can read about when I did that here.
As I already had lots of red in my house, I scouted out which boxes I already had available, and then worked out which supplies would best fit in these boxes.
I didn't buy any new containers for this wall unit, I just recycled what I already had, even if if meant decoupaging different coloured boxes in my chosen colour theme or covering containers using coordinating cardstock.
I was very stingy here, but I don't think that you can really tell ;)
Next, I created labels for the boxes and tins, so that their contents were easily identifiable.
Another thing to consider with containers is whether to have lids or no lids. Lids help to protect everything inside the box, from things such as dust and little fingers. And lids are great if you want to stack multiple boxes on top of one another. They also help to conceal what is inside the box - making things look neat and tidy. However, the downside of lids is that they reduce accessibility to what is inside. Having to lift off a lid can mean that an item doesn't get used regularly, or that things don't get put away promptly, which can lead to a pile of things to put away, which can ultimately lead to the start of a big mess!!
I decided that I wanted open containers for my most frequently accessed items, and closed containers for only those supplies that I don't use often. Having lids also allows the containers to be stacked, being more space efficient, so like I have done in this picture below, the more frequently used items were left with the lid off, and stacked on top of another less-frequently used container with the lid on, below.
I also decided keep my open containers at the top of the wall unit, so that people can't see inside them, hence the 'mess' is concealed. I found if I put the open containers on lower shelves, I was looking down into the boxes and could see the bits and pieces, which detracted from the overall visual appeal of the wall unit.
A little tip to overcome this issue of being able to 'see inside' open containers is to choose containers that are taller and take up the entire vertical space available in the cube. This means that there is no gap and no one can see inside! If I decide to buy more baskets for my wall unit in the future, I will be doing this. But, since I used a whole stack of containers that I already had, I used the above strategies to help me achieve the overall look I wanted.
Now that the containers were all sorted, it was the fun part - decorating! Again, I went around my house and collected any decorations that I thought would fit the theme of the room. I hardly bought anything new, mostly recycled items I already had here at home.
Then it was time to stack the shelves - and, as I mentioned above, this actually took me quite some time to do. It was a real juggling act, trying to balance the containers, albums, and decorations so that they looked 'just right'.
And on the practical side, I wanted to put my most frequently used items at eye-level, for easy access, and the heavier, bulkier, less-used items were to go right down the bottom.
From left to right, here is what is in each row (not including decorations):
On Top: Giant Pegs (for holding memos and notes), Projects Tin
First Row: Cube 1 - Cutting Tools Tin, 2 - Postage Box & Discs Box, 3 - Decorations, 4 - Cards Box & Devices Box, 5 - Adhesives Tin
Second Row: Cube 1 - Family Albums 2011/2012, 2 - Glue Tin & Scissors Tin, 3 - Receipts Boxes, 4 - Notepads Tin & Pens Tin, 5 - Martha Stewart Craft Books + Pegs Box & Glue Gun Box
Third Row: Cube 1 - Family Albums 2013, 2 - Empty magazine holder, 3 - Stationery Drawers (white paper, white card, laminating pouches, A4 plastic pockets, A5 plastic pockets), 4 - Magazine holder ('to file' embellishments get stored in here), 5 - Cutting Templates Box, Stamps Box, Stamp Pads Box
Fourth Row: Cube 1 - Baby Albums (plus modem hiding in behind), 2 - Theme Craft Activity Folders, 3 - My Memorabilia Container, 4 - Folders (Warranties, Home Organisation, Wedding, Spare), 5 - Scrapbooking Embellishments Folders + Simplify 101 Course Folders
Fifth Row: Cube 1 - Spare Stationery Box, 2 - Photo Albums Box, 3 - Travel Memorabilia Box, 4 - Cards Box, 5 - Photos Box + Wedding Memorabilia Box
So far, this system has worked for me, and I obviously have lots of spare space in the wall unit, which is great to know for future use. As with any organising system, it is sure to change and evolve as my needs/wants change over time. I will be sure to keep you updated of any tips/ideas that I have which further improve the functionality of my wall unit.
I bet you never realised there was so much that goes into choosing storage units and containers?! Well, hopefully you have managed to find some new ideas and tips today to use next time you 'containerise' your office supplies :)
Read more about our Study Makeover here.