The King is Dead: IKEA Kills the Expedit
ecord storage is a difficult and potentially costly problem facing any owner/collector of vinyl LPs. Those 12" sleeves are so specific in their demands, inconveniently deeper than the vast majority of books and thus bookcases, that some sort of bespoke or dedicated furniture often seems like the only option. That almost inevitably starts to rack up the cost, the price of housing any sort of serious collection being borderline ruinous. To add insult to injury, thats good money that might be spent on even more records if only you had the shelf space to accommodate them.
For years, audiophiles, just like other budget-conscious home furnishers, have turned (in desperation?) to those purveyors of all things cost effective for homes and gardens, Ikea. Even there, the choice was limited. The super-affordable Billy bookcases really arent deep enough for records, the wider and more cost-effective shelf options wont support the weight, and the vertical spacing is off too -- although a quick attack with the electric drill can soon sort that. By far the best solution was the Bonde shelving system; I say was because IKEA discontinued it some five years ago, leaving the Expedit "room divider" as the default choice.
Default they may have been, but they were also far from perfect. Nominally based on the idea of storage cubes, the system surrounded a core matrix of cuboid spaces formed from thin panels with a thicker outer wall. The resulting blocks of cubes were available in a wide range of configurations, from two by two or two by four, to four by four and five by five, which on the surface offers plenty of versatility. However, in practice there were always a few issues with Expedit. The thick outer walls made stacking clumsy, the 39cm/15 1/2" depth was too deep to be ideal, and the open-backed nature of the design also wasnt ideal. However, the short span shelves didnt sag under the weight of records (at least not too noticeably) and with a little ingenuity and some half-round dowel bumpers added to the back of the shelves, curbs could be created to set the depth of the records.
Irrespective of the shortcomings, Expedit was pretty much the only game in town -- until now. Ikea, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to discontinue the range despite its popularity. Instead they are offering an "updated and improved" version of the basic design, dubbed Kallax (pictured above), employing the same internal dimensions -- so all is not lost. Kallax will still fit your LPs, but at this point it isnt clear how extensive the Kallax configuration options will be, while changes to surface finish and the adoption of a thinner outer wall with a more rounded edge profile means that adding new units to an existing installation will no longer be visually seamless.
IKEA haven't announced prices for Kallax yet. Expedit prices vary with size and finish: a two-by-two block can cost anywhere between £20 and £45 in the UK, the five-by-five between £135 and £145. The five-by-five is $200 in the US, which at four albums a buck for the space offered is pretty unbeatable value. The changeover is scheduled for April, so any hardened vinyl collectors with a heavy investment in Expedit (which can be found used through ads on Craigslist) might be well advised to stock up on a few of the flat-packed units now, while theyre still in stock.
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