Just about everybody has one of those “cube” organizers, whether it’s Ikea’s Kallax or one of the thinner knock-offs sold elsewhere.
We had a six-cube unit* that floated around the house for years — closets, bedrooms, different closets — before winding up in our daughter’s room. Now it’s a six-unit Barbie office complex, complete with a dentist and a daycare centre.
Years ago my mom let me take her 16-cube light birch Kallax. It was my first Ikea piece and I was so proud of it.
We used it for corralling toys for a long time and only had a few fabric bins to slip inside the cubes. Mostly, the toys just sat in their own little cubbies. It was great.
Fast-forward to the past few months and my huge home office makeover. The Kallax was no longer working for toys and I commandeered it for fabric storage.
The trouble was that my fabric looked sloppy when it was folded and stacked in the cubes. Unless I was going to painstakingly iron each piece and wrap it around a piece of cardboard — which I would certainly never do — it was going to look terrible. Always.
Now I organize my cottons, my colour and everything else according to the type of fabric (upholstery, knit, fleece, etc.).
The cheapest fabric bins were about $10 each before tax, and I had 16 cubes to fill. I tortured myself a few times by filling up virtual shopping carts with exactly the right colours, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend close to $200 on those cruddy little cubes.
(Have you ever really looked at one? They’re CARDBOARD covered with the thinnest, flimsiest layer of cheap fabric that tears easily. They are not worth $10 each.)
I was on a mission — and also pretty annoyed at the makers of these fabric cubes. I went around the house and rounded up every single fabric cube we had.
There were a few red ones from when I used them in our entryway closet. There were a couple of purple ones from our daughter’s old dress-up station. There were also a few neutral singles from who-knows-where. Put together, they were a hot mess of clashing colours, tears, and dust.
I sketched out which colours I needed for my fabric, and then stuck scraps of paper on each bin to “assign it” its new colour. One of the red bins would stay red, and so would one purple bin. I even had a black and white chevron bin for my black, white, grey, and black-and-white fabrics. The rest were lined up in the basement and attacked with paint.
I had flipped each bin around so the handles were now on the back, to make the bins look more cohesive (and some had busted handles). All of the bins needed multiple coats of paint, but I was only doing the fronts since the sides wouldn’t be visible in the storage system.
It was frustrating when I realized some of them started to bubble where I’d applied the paint too thickly.
The worst ones were the pink and yellow bins, where I’d used really old sample cans and the paint was too gloppy. (If you attempt this, please learn from me and do several THIN coats.)
To disguise some of the bubbled areas, I cut shapes out of matching felt and hot-glued them on — along with matching buttons. The yellow bin was decorated with yellow felt lemons and sparkly yellow buttons. The pink bin got a handful of pink felt hearts and a smattering of pink buttons. It added texture and definitely camouflaged the bubbles.
When I was finished, the top eight cubes were filled with custom-coloured bins. I used four rattan baskets for the third row and four clear bins for the bottom row. The entire Kallax is well-organized with fun splashes of colour, plus it’s super easy to know which bin to grab when I need a certain fabric.
Maybe I’ll take the $200 I would have spent on new cube bins and treat myself to … some more fabric?