Board Game Organization Fun with IKEA Kallax Shelves

November 12, 2020 | Articles | 12 comments

Find out what it takes to organize a full board game collection on a pair of IKEA Kallax shelves without getting hurt.

Where has the time gone?! I disappeared for a variety of reasons these past few weeks. All excellent, though! I’m currently settling into a role as the sales manager for Pencil First Games, which has been amazing. Much more on that soon enough! Yet this was also a time to finally get organized and properly house a whole room of game boxes!

Getting Cozy

Most like to see before and after photos. I wasn’t even going to attempt to show what this all looked like ahead of time! Simply a mess of boxes all over the place.

My husband and I considered many options, yet we settled on the IKEA Kallax shelves. This color is so nice!

The fun actually began back in September when I decided to start painting. I promptly destroyed my knee. Fast forward a month, and I finally painted the whole room.

Unfortunately, the assembly was a little tricky. A wooden peg broke… As did my husband’s neck. He’s fine now!

A Very Cozy Spot on the IKEA Kallax Shelves

Endless Hours of Climbing Up and Down

The genius plan to store most of our board games upstairs but assemble the shelves on the main level led to a whole lot of exercise. I could only carry a few boxes at a time… And then there were the moments when I had to track down a missing box that somehow snuck into a corner. What an interesting project! At least time flew right on by.

Part 1 of the Games

There it is! Approximately half of the collection made it on this glorious 5×5 shelf. Nothing is set in stone, especially that upper right cube with only a couple of boxes.

I joked about whether I should think of this as finding more ways to fit games, or just stop buying everything!

You probably know where I’m leaning. Ha ha! Fortunately, this shelf is far from leaning as it’s fully anchored and secure. Thanks to my husband and parents for helping!

Putting everything on the shelves felt awesome. I know vertical looks nicer… Yet I prefer horizontal stacking.

Starting to Get Everything Organized on the IKEA Kallax Shelves

Part 2 of the Games

That’s correct: We filled up both 5×5 shelves for a total of 50 cubes of board game goodness. So much right here!

It’s amazing to understand the sheer weight of these games. I did my best to stack accordingly. None of the shelves are overloaded, though I do need to be mindful.

The slightly empty areas on this shelf are mostly accounted for. This is already so much, yet when is there not an upcoming delivery over here?! I blame my husband.

But it’s still mostly my fault. Ha ha! Oh, just to enjoy this lovely bunch of boxes. They’re so happy to be organized!

Another Wonderfully Full Shelf of Games with IKEA Kallax Shelves

The Trick of Making Everything Fit

I simply started with the larger, heavier boxes and worked my way down from there. I have several cubes that may swap places, or possibly boxes to move about. Let’s not even go into detail about the number of gigantic games that can’t fit.

On another funny note, I discovered our penchant for hanging onto expansion boxes! There’s an extra 2×2 IKEA Kallax shelf in another area that’s filled with empty boxes. Ha ha! I do like the way they double as gift boxes during the holidays, thereby removing the need for wrapping paper. But that may need to be downsized just a bit.

Remembering the Lost

The worst part of the way I had game boxes all over the place were the forgotten titles. Granted, not every game is in full view, yet this is a massive improvement.

Does everything get played on a regular basis? Not even close! Yet that’s part of this… We like to collect and this is entertainment that can easily last a lifetime.

There are those who decorate with the usual, fancy shelf stuff. Or you end up with… The Whatnot Cabinet! Ha ha!

I love how interesting the shelves make games look. When we can have guests over, these will be the main feature!

Taking a Closer Look at All the Games on the IKEA Kallax Shelves

Completing the Area

My game table! So long has it been protected from the lengthy painting project. No more! The walls and ceiling are new, and it all looks lovely. Not perfect, but nice.

Note that the fireplace is for decoration only. No fires here! Although that mantel needs more stuff to hold.

I’m still undecided about which side of the table to sit on. There’s plenty of room, though I feel like it will be nice to see this side in the background of some game photos!

Finally, no worries about that direct sunlight. It creeps along slowly and I’m there to close the blinds early on.

A Large and Cozy Area to Play Board Games in Surrounded by IKEA Kallax Shelves

Up, Up, and Away

This selection of games is still enormous enough, but I got on the ground for a little bit of fun. Having both working knees does, indeed, come in handy!

At this level, and even closer to the floor, I found the wonder in enjoying game boxes again. Each one has its place… Literally, now. What a wonderful sight.

My unique way to play involves having the box propped up in front of me for almost every game. Such artwork!

As silly as it may sound, I can find nice memories of almost every game I’ve played so far just from the box.

Looking Up, Up, and Up at Board Games on an IKEA Kallax Shelf

The Desire to Play vs. the Reality of Time

If I could have it my way, I would find at least a few hours to play board games every day. At one point, that was possible! Yet time is an interesting thing in that there’s a lot of it, but never enough when you think about it.

This collection may look enormous and absolutely unnecessary. There is so much joy here, though! As I mentioned, I have fond memories of practically every game… Save for the poor, unplayed variety. I can now walk past these shelves each day and smile, knowing that a great deal of fun is just waiting for me when I have that rare commodity: Time. Ha!

Getting Creative

Early on, it was easy to fill each cube with related games or series. That quickly became a challenge, though!

Most important was fitting all of the reasonably sized boxes, but I also wanted to be sure I could see most games. No sense hiding them all in the back like I did before.

Granted, I put a few boxes facing outwards to cover up some games. This will likely change with time. That’s the beauty of these shelves: Nothing is set in stone.

The best part? You’ll be able to pick out the areas that house my husband’s collection. He likes… Other stuff. Ha!

Admiring the Organization Possibilities with the IKEA Kallax Shelves

Finding Cube Themes

For some areas that turned out to have an odd mashup of games, I still found a way to make it all work. Like this little collection here. Care to take a guess at the theme?

I tried to make it sound fancy. But it was very simple in the end. BLUE. Case closed. A perfectly descriptive cube. Ha!

This was a wonderful project that will be ongoing. It’s so pleasant to see everything neatly organized and safely stacked. Only a few boxes have moved about so far.

Now I even have the chance to play games cube by cube. No game left behind! I’m excited to play some more!

Getting Creative with What to Call Each Cube on an IKEA Kallax Shelf

Continue the Conversation

How have you organized your collection? Are there certain shelves or other solutions you prefer? IKEA Kallax shelves aren’t perfect for every application, though I’m very happy with how this pair turned out! Now to keep thinking about the rest of the house in terms of where more shelves could fit… The board gamer’s eternal dilemma. Ha ha!

12 Comments

  1. Awesome photos of your shelves and collection!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Derek! It’s already changed. Ha ha!

      Reply
    • Excellent! I think I heard of this at one point and promptly forgot all about it. It may be quite useful, as we’re already pushing the limits in terms of what fits comfortably. Some empty space is nice and feels like it gives the boxes a chance to breathe… But optimizing box placement is also important. Thank you for sharing the link!

      Reply
  2. I just got the Kallax-like version from Better Home and Gardens and it will be my Christmas break project. Can’t wait to get my games all in one place.

    Reply
    • Good luck and enjoy! Organizing these shelves was a lot of fun, and although not everything fits, I feel a lot happier seeing the majority of our collection properly housed! Also, a very Merry Christmas to you!

      Reply
  3. My own Kallax shelving arrived today – two black 4x4s, the first of which I put together wrong and had to dismantle (also breaking a wooden peg in the process, d’oh!). Looks so good now though – previously my collection was in untidy piles, such an improvement now. I see you work for Pencil First Games – my copy of Sunset Over Water also arrived today, can’t wait to get soloing on it. Really like your site – keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Those wooden pegs are so tricky! Apparently, they’re not quite standard so finding replacements can be a bit tricky. We got creative and it all worked. So far… No toppling shelves yet. Ha ha! The change in the organization really is noticeable. There are still a few piles of huge game boxes that I wish I could store someplace else. But it sounds like we’re both enjoying our neatly organized collections!

      Have a wonderful time playing solo! The artwork is simply gorgeous and I always love picturing my artist heading off into the wilderness. If you have any questions, you know who you can ask! And thanks again for the very kind words. All the best to you!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing this. It was just so pleasant to browse your collection of games and read what you were thinking. I recognise a lot of the games, but the vast majority of them escape me. Looks like I have more research to do.

    Reply
    • I appreciate the kind words! My husband and I have a rather eclectic collection that’s always expanding… This still doesn’t show everything, particularly the larger boxes. So many games to play! If there’s ever anything you see that you’re curious about, please feel free to ask. I may ramble, but I do love talking about board games!

      Reply
  5. Great article, Jessica. Let me pass along one tip I’ve adopted to help store a collection of several hundred games across several Kallax units in several rooms (he admits sheepishly). I have foregone organizing my collection into logical categories and instead concentrate solely on utilizing every cubic inch of shelf space as possible! I leave the organization of games to a Microsoft Excel database. I created the database several years ago when my collection was much smaller, never realizing how essential that file has become. I have BGG-like data fields that allow me to search my collection on a wide variety of criteria (e.g. theme, mechanic, # of players supported, my own ratings, when/where I purchased the game, etc). It makes choosing a game for family game night much more effective and easier. I’ve since added another field: which game cabinet and which shelf that game is stored on. Prior to doing this, I frequently found it a huge challenge simply to FIND a game I might be interested in!

    Reply
    • Thank you! This is an excellent recommendation, and something I plan to incorporate once I’m vaguely satisfied with the current shelf organization. I originally liked doing some very loose themes, yet I agree with you: Much better to maximize the available space and keep everything tracked separately. Sounds like it works out really nicely for you!

      Might be a better solution than to just continue buying more shelves… Ha ha! Thanks again for sharing!

      Reply

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