How To Style an Ikea Expedit

My Ikea Expedit is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in my apartment, simply because it’s such a mix of style + function. It’s an amazing room divider that allows light to filter right through it to the rest of the apartment, and (equally important) it’s so fun to style! I love changing up the arrangements in the squares, and the Expedit is an amazing storage unit – it holds a TON. Below are some tips on how I style mine (and re-style, and re-style it…it’s constantly changing!), which I hope might come in handy for anyone who’s stumped on what to do with their own: 
The best thing about the Expedit is that it divides the room but doesn’t block light. Much better than a wall! I need that light to come through on higher shelves to flood the rest of the apartment as much as possible (my windowless kitchen can be a bit of a tomb). So I keep stacks fairly short – I only fill most of the squares about halfway to the top, as you can see in the pictures. Alternatively, I use see through items, like the branch hurricane holder, which doesn’t block light, or this other branch candle holder:
Yes, those are those silly click-on flameless candles. Don’t judge. 
I have some books grouped by color – both in horizontal and vertical groupings. Above is my blue stack. 
Keep in mind that it’s very important to do a mix of objects and books. I kind of hate a bookshelf that has no books, but it’s equally important to mix objects in among the books. I added decorative boxes on top of a few stacks (in coordinating colors), and added a candle or decorative object in front of several of the groupings of books to keep it interesting.
As you can see, I’ve varied the book arrangements. Some are stacked like pyramids (getting smaller towards the top of the stack), while other books are lined up across. I like the more coffee table type books stacked, and novels lined up like the yellow grouping above. It just looks better that way because coffee table books come in all different sizes (ideal for stacking, as you can achieve that pyramid shape), while novels tend to be more similarly sized, and therefore look better just lined up across. 
For a touch of quirkiness, I put together all of my books that featured a face on the spine (one just has an eye). Yes, these are the types of things I spend my time doing, and yes I do realize that that is probably weird. 
I use storage baskets on the bottom (I also love these), which act as drawers to hold my sheets and various items of clothing. I used to have pink baskets but later switched them out for wicker-ish ones. I put heavier things, like the baskets, on the bottom squares, because light doesn’t need to come through (or wouldn’t anyway, because the bed is blocking that light). You can also see I have two white boxes from The Container Store, one of which acts as my little toolbox – I have a hammer, some nails for hanging pictures, a screwdriver, etc. (my maintenance man was very impressed with how well-prepared I am, tool-wise :). 
In some squares I have grouped books that just “go” together, instead of being grouped by color. The books above are all in the same color palette (black, gray, white, with gold accents), so I just like how they look together. I added the leopard box as a coordinating accent.  
Since I don’t have room for a nightstand, my Expedit is my nightstand (so versatile!). I have a square that from the front of the apartment is basically hidden by my couch, and I use it to hold a box of tissues, alarm clock, lotion, and my current book usually. This is the back view, next to my bed.

For my bedtime stuff, like lotion, lip balm, earplugs to block out my loud neighbors (ahh, the joys of apartment living), I have a cute box from West Elm to keep it all corralled and hidden.

And just for fun, here’s an old picture that’s floating around Pinterest from the first post I wrote about my Expedit, waaay back in the day. I love looking back on how things have changed (and not changed):

all photos by me

Leave a Comment

  1. Cara wrote:

    I love you apartment and style! It's beautifully done.

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  2. Rachel wrote:

    I'm hoping to put one of these in my next place when I have more room!

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  3. I love this and I can't wait to decorate mine in our new home.

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  4. And now for the most important question– which one is your favorite book that you've read?

    Your Friend, Jess

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
    • Oh man, so many favorites! I loved The Little Stranger SO much, very creepy read…a coffee table favorite from this post is the Domino book, lots of great inspiration in there. I try to whittle my book collection down every now and then so I'm only keeping ones that I really love!

      Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  5. So pretty! Great post… Happy Monday!

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  6. Hunter wrote:

    Your apartment is so perfect! It is exactly like what I want my NYC apartment to look like!

    Prep on a Budget

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  7. Leslie wrote:

    You make such good use of every inch of your space! I love how you use it for your nightstand too. The color blocking with your books is lovely!

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
    • Thank you so much Leslie! Such a sweet thing to say. I don't have much space to work with so gotta make the most of every inch ๐Ÿ™‚

      Published 2.18.14 · Reply
  8. Always love seeing photos of your apartment. It's the cutest! XO

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  9. i absolutely adore your apt. you styled it so well! thanks for sharing your shelf tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    x dipped in yellow

    Published 2.17.14 · Reply
  10. I love how your organized your bookshelf! Is it hard to find books when they're organized by color?

    Published 2.18.14 · Reply
    • Thanks Alli! No, not at all. I used to just have them organized randomly (and still have a lot that are), so it's actually a little easier to find them now I think.

      Published 2.18.14 · Reply
  11. Natalie wrote:

    Your home is one of my faves! So gorgeous!

    Published 2.18.14 · Reply
  12. i absolutely love your collection of books, and how your color coordinated them! looks great jackie! x

    & Pretty Things

    Published 2.18.14 · Reply
  13. Anna wrote:

    Your apartment is so cozy and well designed! I'm curious, where did you get the white blanket on your couch? I love it!

    Published 2.18.14 · Reply
    • Thank you so much Anna! I think maybe you mean the white sherpa pillow on my couch? I think that was from Pottery Barn ๐Ÿ™‚

      Published 2.20.14 · Reply
  14. Jen Dang wrote:

    Your apartment is so darling! And I'm so jealous of your amazing book collection!

    xo Jen
    Skirt The Rules

    Published 2.19.14 · Reply
  15. That is so sweet! Thank you, I'd be thrilled if I inspired you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Published 2.20.14 · Reply
  16. Chantelle wrote:

    This is going to sound so weird… but seeing things organized makes me really happy and excited. Hence, I loved this post.

    Published 2.20.14 · Reply
  17. What an amazing idea! It looks awesome, good job!

    Published 2.23.14 · Reply
  18. ComingtoNYC wrote:

    Love the expedit and am considering getting it when I move to NYC. My apartment doesn’t allow for drilling nothing into the wall. Do you ave yours anchored? If not, has it wobbled at all? Thanks!

    Published 6.21.15 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I’m actually not sure if it’s anchored because I didn’t set it up…I don’t think it is, but not totally sure!

      Published 6.21.15 · Reply