IKEA Ivar

As soon as this site went online, I was flooded with e-mails (please do use the comment function on the site if you have questions on a featured item or related issues). Enquiring minds wanted to know what I myself use to store my collection and what I could recommend. Well, despite my posts to the contrary, I use the ultimate budget system, a simple IKEA shelf system called “Ivar”, slightly “tweaked” to fit my needs. Before you read on: Ivar is not one of those Ikea products that you need an IQ of 200 and infinite patience for to put together. You don’t even need any tools besides a screwdriver, and the skills required to put it together tend towards zilch. Fact is, it doesn’t get much easier than Ivar (and I have lots of IKEA experience with other, err, less successful products in that regard).

I don’t know how many different systems I tried before, but one day my collection just outgrew the most recently purchased storage system and I turned to something that years before I had flung to the far corners of my basement, Ivar. I thought I’d give it a try because I didn’t want my limited budget eaten up by storage systems – I wanted to have enough money left over to purchase the contents, music.

Ivar is, next to Billy, IKEA’s most successful shelf system, and it has been around for ages. It is made of untreated solid pine and is virtually indestructible as well as infinitely “customizable”. The design was changed over the years (cabinet doors today look decidedly different from the ones sold in the 80s), but all in all everything you buy today fits to the parts your parents probably already bought.

Although Ivar can be painted and varnished to your heart’s desire, I always left mine untreated, and today the system has a classy-looking dark patina (from years of smoking, no less). The patina is a bit of a problem when new (pale) parts are purchased (especially since I don’t smoke anymore), but time usually takes care of that. To speed the process up a bit, I simply wash the shelf with brown soap once in a while, and newer parts “catch up” to their older mates relatively fast. On top of that, washing the shelves also protects the wood, and after a year or two, even spilled red wine won’t do any harm whatsoever.

Ivar comes in all shapes and sizes, both 30 and 50cm deep, and you can assemble just about any configuration you need. Because I live in an apartment beneath the roof of a larger house, with awkward low corners and impossible-to-furnish nooks and crannies, I usually go for the lowest side pieces (124 tall, 80 or 60 wide and 30 deep), and 5 shelves (which gives me four rows for CDs and one shelf at the top to place lamps or decorative objects) to use the available space wisely. One of those costs me 25 Euro all told , and that way I managed to put away approximately 27 meters of CDs in just one corner and along one wall of my living room – that’s several thousand CDs … stored for a mere 200 Euro altogether!

What is practical about Ivar is that the shelves can be moved up or down at short intervals, allowing you to store LPs, DVDs, bulky collector’s boxes, CDs, tapes … you get the picture. Because the 30cm deep Ivar is too deep for CDs, I simply nailed some longer straight pieces of wood (80 or 60 cm in length) to the shelves behind the CDs so they don’t slide backwards (see image 3 above). With that trick I got myself a rock-solid system which can, when filled, also hold those pesky little digipacks that have the knack for falling over or making a whole row tilt sideways when they are not supported by anything (*growl*).

Not pictured above, but coming in a later installment, I also have another wall along which I created a sideboard with Ivar cupboards (so that collectible LPs and books are behind doors), plus another wall with Ikea Benno shelves, so my music collection is entirely housed courtesy of that Swedish budget company.

Should I move one day, I can simply exchange the lower side pieces with taller ones to furnish a different room, or combine any element I have in new ways with new elements. I know there are lots of other flexible storage systems out there, but at the low price Ivar is sold, it is virtually impossible to beat. The sytem comes highly recommended (and heavily party-tested) by me. 5 stars, and then some.

When searching the Internet for other music-related sites mentioning the Ivar system, I only came up with one quote, and I couldn’t agree more … although I’m not as concerned about earthquakes as this writer::

I’m not trying to shill for the Swedes, but seriously, I feel bad for DJs who don’t live near an Ikea. How else can you buy a shelving system that can accomodate up to 1200 LPs in a single unit – and for less than $80? Sure, in an earthquake, this will probably collapse like a deck of cards, but other than that, Ivar is the no-frills solution to getting maximum vinyl into minimum spaces. Odds of purchase: 1 in 1 (I have at least 5K records. I have no choice, believe me). Source: PopLife

Note: Because the regional IKEAs offer differing product lines, no direct links were provided. You can reach your IKEA, which hopefully carries the full Ivar range, via ikea.com.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. hit me up man i’m one of the cat that has 2000’s plus please help me

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  2. How do you keep the CDs from falling over on either side?

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  3. Hi Scott,

    if you have lots of those cardboard digipacks, it is indeed a problem, and I have lots of those next to normal jewelcases, but I have a whole bunch of stuff I can use at the end of rows to keep everything upright. The things range from souvenirs from Egypt to a Star Trek captain’s cup.

    Besides that, most of my shelves are (unfortunately) full, so no problem there.

    If you only have jewelcases – they will usually just stand perfectly by themselves.

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  4. Hi Volkher,

    Where has your site been all my life?  Great stuff, and very useful and entertaining.  I have a question for you.  I have an old clunky storage system for my lps and CDs, and it is no longer practical or expandable. I was looking at your IVAR solution and wondering 2 things – how much weight will each unit actually hold, will the 39cm shelves stand up to a whole shelf full of LPs without bowing, Can you actually fill a unit top to bottom with LPs?  And finally, I cant really figure out what it is you are doing with CDs on these shelves…

    I’d appreciate the advice!

    best

    Michael in Toronto

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  5. Hi Michael,

    sorry for not answering sooner, but I was out of town.

    I have not tested the IVAR with LPs all that much for literally decades, but it should hold up. Currently, I have the Stax/Volt CD singles boxes (LP-size) in the 30 cm deep shelves, and they stick out a bit in the back. If you’re not the anal type about that kind of stuff, they should be fine for housing a larger LP collection.

    The shelves are held in place by small metal bolts that can be moved up/down at intervals of 3.5 centimeters so you should be able to stack a shelf with tons of LPs without losing too much space inbetween the various shelves.

    Because the 30cm shelves are too deep for CDs, I lined up CDs on a shelf and then nailed a thin piece of wood behind the CDs onto the shelf. That way the CDs cannot slide backwards. OK?

    If you have a large LP collection to house, why not try the Gothic Cabinet Craft: LP Rack referenced in my Storage section (see menu above)? They come highly recommended by collectors (but are quite a bit more pricey).

    In the next two weeks, I’ll be discussing a few more (American) storage solutions. You might want to wait for those as well.

    If your budget is tight, why not buy a tall Ivar shelf unit with enough shelves to load up with LPs? It won’t set you back all that much (they’re dirt-cheap) and if it doesn’t suit your needs, you’ve always got a rock-solid shelf for your basement.

    If you have more questions, ask here or write me a mail.

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  6. Tobias in the Pacific NW01/02/2007 at 5:41 pm

    Volkher,

    great site.  I’m thinking of ordering the max regal system for my needs (1000 LPs, 1200 CDs) but am worried that shipping from Deutschland will be expensive.  Which American storage solutions are you looking at?

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  7. Hi Tobias,

    to be quite honest, there are tons of storage solutions I’m looking at, but there are very, very few that come recommended by collectors. I’m going to be looking at those first.

    Currently, I’m looking at Tony’s Woodshop (click on “Multimedia Storage”) because their LP storage is one used a lot by collectors. Many people swear by those storage and base units. But, no CD storage included there.

    Other than that, I have more on my list, but not enough yet to recommend anything.

    The real problem is that a mixed-mode storage system, so to speak, that can house both LPs and CDs (plus, perhaps, DVDs and/or videos) is hard to find, especially for people that are budget-conscious.

    For LPs, one could always go the IKEA Expedit (check that model on your local IKEA site) way, a solution that many people in the States have gone for. It’s a cheap system and can carry the weight when filled to the max, but there’s no comparable CD storage. You would have to pair it with another IKEA (or other solution) for CDs/DVDs.

    The other one I’m looking into at the moment is a system by International Displays, but that’s a UK-based company. Their vinyl shelf comes highly recommended by some collectors, simply because it is rock-solid.

    Other than that, I don’t have much to offer that could help you out right now. The other things I’m looking at are smaller storage solutions like more CD displays, etc.

    Hope I could be of some help. Do post here or elsewhere if you come up with a good solution yourself.

    P.S.: I have to admit that I have no idea about the shipping costs of the MAX system.

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  8. Hi Volkher,

    your information has been a great help, thank you.  I like the look and the versatility of the MAX system, and my house is already suffering from IKEA product overload, so I’ve placed an order with them, and will let you know what shipping costs are when I find out.

    One question I have about the MAX system is whether the individual boxes can be used to transport the LPs and CDs during a move, or do they function only when they are connected together as a shelving system?

    Thanks again.

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  9. Being a stackable system, you can transport your stuff in the units themselves. I’m not a 100% sure, as I don’t have it myself, but from what I’ve seen and remember, it works.

    And talking about IKEA product overload … same here, and more. Living room? Yep. Ivar and Benno. Bedroom? Besides the bed and a table, everything. My study? 11 Billy vitrines with doors, a Benno and two lower Billys with doors. Plus assorted smaller junk. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve always subscribed to the theory that the shelves shouldn’t cost more than what they’re carrying, and if you are a collector, that approach seriously limits your options.

    I’d be interested in hearing how things went and if everything turned out, how satisfied you are with the system. It is really one of the very few available multimedia systems that is still affordable and can carry the weight (the latter being the acid test for many of the cheaper systems I’m not going to review. I’ve heard so many enthusiastic reviews of cheap systems … until people started seriously filling them up).

    By the way. I’ve only heard good things about their service, so do fire your questions at them as well. I’m sure they’ll respond.

    Hell, I should have recommended you to them and I would have gotten a 5% cut of what you spent (some sort of associate system they have). Too late now, I guess. Tell them I sent you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  10. Hi again Volkher,

    just to update you on my progress with the Max shelf system.  It may not be too late for you to get your 5%. 

    I have received a quote from MAX for the shelves, and they have indeed confirmed that they can ship to the States, but I am finding the language barrier a bit of a problem when it comes to working out the shipping details, for example, how exactly the shipping works within the States, and where, when, and how much duty I will have to pay.  They’ve given me the name of their freight forwarder, but it’s a company that seems to operate solely in Europe, and I am not clear on whether or not the product ships to my house, or if I have to pick it up from somewhere.  I haven’t been able to get the size and weight of the package(s) either.  So I haven’t given up yet, but I also haven’t given them a credit card number until I can figure out some of these logistics.

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  11. I just bought an Ivar shelf system from IKEA.  Your article makes me feel so much better about my cheap furniture purchase.  Thanks.

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  12. Alan,

    remember: A shelf should never cost more than whatever it holds. I’m a firm believer in that statement. IVAR does its job exceptionally well, and that’s all that counts.

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  13. I’m confused, too. But I’m blonde. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Are you suggesting the IVAR cabinet for LPs?

    The dimension for the IVAR cabinet lists the Depth as 11 3/4 “ – that’s not deep enough for an album, is it?

    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40033763

    Help! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  14. Hi JennyQ,

    yes, I’m recommending the Ivar system for LPs. On my Flickr account I have images which show that the LPs or LP-sized boxes will stick out of the shelf (linkydinky).

    For people on a slim budget, these are fine simply because they can carry a lot of weight and are easily expandable.

    There are better solutions, especially the “Expedit” model, which many collectors use, but if you can live with your LPs sticking out a bit, the IVAR system is a no-brainer.

    BTW: I had about 4000 LPS in an IVAR system and kept my LPs in those plastic stands which then rested on the IVAR shelves. Worked fine for me.

    Besides, if you keep the IVAR shelf system a bit off the wall, you can push everything towards the back and nobody will notice that it isn’t quite deep enough.

    Note! Stability, even with the lack of 100% adequate depth, is absolutely there. Mine were rock solid. But if you want to build extremely high “towers”, you should affix the whole thing to the wall. The taller it gets, the more unstable the whole thing will be!

    Hope I could be of help. If you want more precise info, contact me via the comments form here or via the contact menu (“Impressum”, top left).

    Cheers, … and good luck.

    Volkher

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  15. I am having great success with the BESTA Bookcase/Shelf unit from IKEA.  It is perfectly sized for LPs !  BESTA is 192 cm H x 60 cm W x 40 cm D ; Average LP in cover is 31cm x 31cm.  Adjusts perfectly to make 5 rows of LP storage.  Each Row can hold over 100 LPs.  Typical IKEA materials/assembly, feels quite sturdy (I anchored to wall), and superbly sized for LPs. Recommended…

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  16. Hi Mil,

    sounds good. I’ll look into it. Just a question: Do the individual shelves bow under a lot of weight or do they stay straight with lots of LPs on them?

    Thanks for stopping by and letting us crazy collectors know!

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  17. I was pretty much ready to purchase the LP cabinet from Gothic Cabinets (custom-made with smoke glass doors) but I’m hesitating because I want to use the top of the cabinet for my record player and receiver and I’m not sure how that will work. The record player is 14” deep by 17” wide. It will barely fit, depthwise, but I think will be fine because of the placement of the rubber feet on the bottom – they don’t go to the edge. However, it means the receiver needs to be less than 13” wide or the components will be falling over the edges. I’m guessing that might be tough to find. So, any suggestions or help anyone could offer? Thanks!

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  18. Longtime user of Ivar as well. Any good solutions for replacing lost metal pegs?  I now have many more shelves than supports. Very frustrating.

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  19. Hi RobQ,

    over here in Germany it used to be quite easy. Every IKEA had a selection of small bits & pieces you could buy (usually a bag with a set of metal and wooden pegs, etc.). Try your local IKEA (or call one) to see if they have a collection of “spare” parts for IVAR etc.

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  20. To echo Mil Mascaraa’s comment – the BESTA system is great. It has the added advantages that:

    a) If you get a couple of the low units, you can easily fit a record player and amp on top.

    b) Glass (or indeed solid) doors are available for additional protection (which is ideal for me, as I have two cats running around the house).

    c) It’s a very flexible system, with different doors, widths, heights and extensions available.

    The shelves are fairly solid (max load 30kg per shelf), and the depth is just about right (maybe even slightly too deep!) for LP storage. It also accommodates my LP carrying boxes/cases, so I can’t recommend this system highly enough!

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  21. Wes,

    I was in Berlin for a few days and just got back. I’m getting the new version of this site ready and am planning on writing about the Besta system.

    Could you provide a photo or two? Let me know via the comments here and I’ll get in touch with you.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  22. Surely can. I’ll see if I can get some photos this weekend of the two sets of Besta units I have.

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  23. Great! I’ll get in touch with you this weekend via the e-mail address you left here.

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  24. Wow

    your site is godsend. Music lover/collector myself ( although not as expansive as yours, mines only coming up to 300 at the mo.)

    Have you experimented with the BESTA shelving system ( with the INREDA Cd rack combi?)

    Loved the IVAR solution. I may use it in combination with the EXPEDIT, to house my book collections.

    Once again, wonderful job!

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  25. No pictures???

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  26. This was such a great inspiration for me this weekend, thank you! I how have two IVAR cabinets in my living room full of . . . books! I used the cabinets alone, with bits of wood beneath to function as feet. (I have windows all around, so all my furniture must be low.) But, I’m sorry as this is an old post, what do you mean by “brown soap”? I noticed Danish furniture is sometimes treated with Ivory soap flakes, but that can’t be what you mean, is it?

    Thanks again for sharing your idea.

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  27. Hi Volker.
    I’m just curious about the construction of these :
    I bought some Ivar shelves second-hand [I plan to buy 3 more new ones as well if this one is good, since the general design is perfect for what I need it for],
    and I just want to make sure I have all the parts to make it stable.

    The parts I have are :
    1. The 4 posts
    2. Shelves [with the metal hinges]
    3. Little metal slides to go in the slots to hold the shelves
    4. Metal Cross Braces for the back.

    Are these all the parts?
    If so, it seems like the metal cross-brace is the only thing that keeps the whole arrangement stable and sturdy [maybe this is enough?]
    I need it to be sturdy and stable because I plan to put a few musical instruments on it, and I’d be pretty sad if it came tumbling down.
    The only instructions I can find from Ikea for the Ivar shelves seem to be incomplete [scroll down the list on the link to find ivar shelves of course],
    as they don’t even reach the step where you attach the metal cross braces.
    http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/customer_service/assembly_instructions.html

    I am in Australia if that makes any difference to the regional design of my shelves, as I have read designs differ slightly sometimes in different countries.

    Thanks so much if you can offer any help!
    Best regards,
    Carl.

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    1. Carl,

      Sorry for the late response and for not having noticed that you actually posted a comment here.
      I was out of town for quite some time.

      This is probably a couple of years late, but … ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, the metal brace keeps the whole thing stable. If you have several shelves, which I do, you need one every few shelves, depending on how many you have. Because I’m german (right angles …etc.), I affixed a brace to every second shelf. I put some photos up ages ago on Flickr, have a look …: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72483581@N00/

      More questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

      Volkher

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  28. Hi!

    Please inform us about the length of the shelves that you have used because Ikea has 83cm x30cm x1.8cm & 42cm x30cm x1.8cm shelves only! the ones that you have are longer than 83cm as i can see from the picture!
    ok, the left ones are 83cm but the others are not! they look like ~120cm.

    Thanks in advance!!!
    Chris

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    1. All but one shelf are the 80cm wide ones.
      I have one 40cm wide one which I added to one side of one larger shelf section because the wall wasn’t long enough for another 80cm one.

      I also have varying heights.
      At one time, Ikea had 70cm tall side pieces that allowed me to put shelves into some nooks and crannies I have.
      Those 70cm tall parts aren’t available in Germany anymore, unfortunately.

      Hope that helps, Chris.
      If you need some photos, send me your mail address via the contact form on this site and I’ll forward some to you.

      Volkher

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  29. Thank you Volkher for your quick answer!!!

    now it is clear that the 70cm x 83cm rack is what we see above and the 70cm x 40cm is what we see on the left part of the picture!
    unfortunately, the 70s aren’t anymore available here too! (because that dimension was ideal for me)

    thanks!
    Chris

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    1. please send me some pictures as you said to my mail address

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    2. Just sent you three quick’n’dirty photos of what it looked like 5 minutes ago.
      ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply

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