29 March 2013

IKEA Vrijdag: Expedit Open Kast/Shelving Unit (4x4)

As I mentioned in last week's review of the IKEA Expedit bookcase (5x1), we purchased multiple Expedits for our home. They're simple and clean looking and are a great way to display books, tchotchkes, and assorted what-have-yous... In the living room in particular we needed a big bookcase - in Chicago we had 3 large bookcases just for the "grown-ups' books"and we still had a bunch of books on the floor for lack of better book housing. We cleaned out a lot of books before we moved but there were plenty that we just couldn't part with, and so in preparation for placement of the masses to come we purposely searched for a large bookcase.

We purchased an Expedit Open Kast/Shelving Unit (4x4) for our living room in high-gloss red. Going along with the red/white/dark blue-grey color scheme in the living room, we decided to make the bookcase a focal point as well as a way to divide the living room from the kitchen and create a better sense of two distinct spaces. Initially, we thought about getting a 5x5 Expedit but there are fewer color options, and since we liked the red so much we settled on the 4x4.

Expedit Open Kast/Shelving Unit (4x4)


The bookcase is made up of particle board, fiberboard, ABS plastic, and acrylic paint. The ABS plastic is known to hold up well in high-impact situations (it's used in car parts), so it's likely to survive the Little Man. The plastic is also what makes everything "high-gloss." It's easy to clean, which is good because it attracts fingerprints very easily - the bookcase needed a buffing to take off our fingerprints after we put it together and needs an occasional buffing to remove tiny finger and hand prints and paw prints.

Little Man listening to "rock and roll" - this is how we find fingerprints.


While the care of the completed Expedit is easy, the construction is not. IKEA warns you on their website and on the box that this is a two-person job, and with good reason. This thing is a monster and very heavy. When searching through the enormous IKEA warehouse at the bottom of the store, it's important to realize that the larger Expedits come in two boxes - so make sure to search for both boxes and double-check that the colors match. IKEA also points out that this should be fastened to the wall, again with good reason since this is a monster piece of furniture with a high center of gravity that attracts tippage if not secured to the wall (mounts are included with the hardware).

The general instructions are systematic and easy to follow since there really is no difference between the back and front or top and bottom. Per usual, IKEA includes the little allen wrenches in with the hardware, but unless you're a glutton for punishment you should just use a power drill. If you don't own one, I highly recommend that you borrow/rent/buy one before trying to put this together or the little allen wrench may leave you with a puddle of tears and a thumb blister worthy of a Guinness World Book record. That being said, there are three main difficulties we found when putting this piece of furniture together:

  1. Pushing sliding the pieces together. Because some of the pieces are large/longer than your wingspan, it's hard to feel like you're really getting them pushed together properly. If you have a soft mallet you may be able to push everything together more effectively, but I'm betting that a hammer is just a bad idea all around. Pushing the pieces together (with little upper body strength) caused another "sternum pop" that left me muttering under my breath for a few days.
  2. When you go to put the last piece on to "cap it off" and connect the whole contraption together. Perhaps this is related to point #1, above, or maybe it has something to do with physics that I just can't fathom or explain; but the sides seem to bend slightly outward. When you go to put the last piece on you have to use all your strength to push the sides toward the center of the Expedit to allow the holes to line up vertically for the screw to go in correctly while drilling. This also is a two-person job. 
  3. It just didn't look quite right. Once all the pieces are secured together, it still looked like they just didn't get pushed together correctly (Again, see point #1). While the Expedit was still lying on the floor, I performed what I can only describe as horizontal body slams (think short, quick rolls) against the sides of the bookcase in the hopes that maybe I would knock them into place just a little better.

We added the little soft furniture pads (included with the hardware) to the bottom piece, stood the bookcase up (again, a two person job unless you want to end up underneath it), and pushed it over against the wall to mount it. It was here that we discovered we had to unscrew one side to attach the mount to the Expedit. It would have been nice to know this before we got all the pieces together because of the leaning out issue (see point #2, above) which would only have needed to be dealt with once. It was't a big deal but it was annoying. The next day we went the additional step of adding in the little grey cabinets (to be reviewed in another entry).

When our things from the States finally arrived, we we able to just add all the books right to the shelves. Most of the shelves "settled" and the unit looks finished now, without the spaces between pieces. It adds a nice balance to our living room, and it effectively holds most of our books.

We give the Expedit Open Kast/Shelving Unit (4x4) 3 Swedish meatballs on our 5 meatball scale. Two meatballs were deducted for the three issues found during construction. The piece itself is holding up, but the construction was a bigger pain than anticipated for the simplicity of the design.

Life in Dutch Rating for Expedit Open Kast/Shelving Unit (4x4):


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