Product Type: Ikea home furniture
Newest Review: ... strong and sterdy, reasonably easy to build, simple to buy and handle. I think Ikea units are great for the cost. I would def recommend ... more
Member Name: historywitch
Advantages: Good for older children's toys, not as expensive as some storage units
Disadvantages: Small, boxy, no good for younger children's toys, expensive if you want all the extra bits
With two children and quite a small house, toy storage is a massive problem. With an accumulating pile of blue plastic boxes filled with assorted plastic starting to take over our lounge and my daughter's room, my husband took a trip to IKEA and came back with two Traby units.
***The Traby System***
The Traby units we got were the square wooden units with four spaces at £60. But in common with most IKEA storage systems it comes in several different forms and there are other alterations you can make to the basic units. As well as the four space unit you can get a single space and a double space unit which are proportionally cheaper at £30 and £40. You can customise the basic unit by adding a wooden or glass door (£10 or £13 per door), adding drawers to the spaces (£22 for two drawers-one set does one space), raising the unit with additional feet (£5 for four) or replacing one of the wooden shelves with a glass one (£5 for one).
The units can be fixed to the wall whilst resting on the floor, or fixed higher on the wall. Two or more units can be screwed together to create a truly flexible and adaptable storage system. The fittings to enable this are all included with the Traby unit.
For those who are interested in such things, the Traby units are not solid wood. The back is fibreboard (the thin wobbly stuff) and the shelves and main frame are veneered particleboard with a recycled paper filling.
Measurements for the four space unit are:
Width: 80 cm
Depth: 39 cm
Height: 80 cm
(from the Ikea website)
The main box is incredibly easy to assemble. It took me less than twenty minutes with an inquisitive toddler trying to eat my screwdriver and getting in the bag of bits. The four sides just slot together and the back slides in easily. The only problem I had was working out which of the four pieces were the top and the bottom as the pieces were different sizes. Once I located the four holes on the bottom of one piece for the feet to slot in, the construction just zoomed ahead as I could then work out which one was the top.
However I found the shelves more of a problem to fit together. The instructions are the typical IKEA instructions with no words, just pictures and whilst they were very useful for the first bit, I could have done with a little assistance when adding the shelves. The Traby comes with lots of little holes running about two inches from all the inside edges and working out which hole to put the shelf fittings in was a case of trial and error. The shelves are one long piece for the horizontal and two shorter vertical pieces and you are given six long pieces of metal to hold them in place. Each piece of metal has a bent end which you hammer into two of the holes along the side and the top. An unfamiliar method but I gave it a go. First I located a hole on its own which seemed to be the obvious choice and banged the metal in but the vertical shelves didnt fit. After several trials I discovered it was the 12th hole from the bottom that is the magic hole (hope that helps someone struggling and searching Google for help, which would have been my next step as I was getting seriously cross). The shelves have a groove to slide them onto the metal, but they are tight, very tight and I was very hot and bothered by the time the unit was completed.
I could see that the first unit was going to be heavy when I unpacked the box but unfortunately we did not have enough space upstairs to construct it. Instead I put the main frame together downstairs and 'rolled' it up the stairs which was manageable and quite easy (and I am not particularly strong), before putting the shelves in once the unit was in position. Once everything was put together I was impressed. The unit looks like real wood and is very strong and sturdy. The top is wide and I was able to fit my daughter's large doll's house on the top which freed up a great deal of floorspace in her room. One of the spaces fitted a mid-size plastic box full of dolls house stuff, whilst another was filled with stacked Playmobil boats and helicopters. The other two were more problematic as the boxes are too square for the paperback books my daughter reads. I think picture books would fit well in these spaces, but I ended up stacking some boxed games in there instead which was a rather unsatisfactory solution.
The Traby comes in quite a light wood effect veneer so for the other unit my husband used a wood stain to change its colour. The surface took the stain well with no blotches or odd patches so I assume this unit would also be easy to paint if necessary. When we came to fill it though we discovered that it only took one of our larger plastic boxes and even then it had to be wedged in a bit. So the overflowing wooden railway and the large box of duplo are still taking up oodles of floorspace! We use the remaining space haphazardly with a lot of wasted space; it has some books, some odd toys etc, but its not the storage solution here that we were hoping for. Part of this problem is the fact that the two higher shelves are just at the right height for our toddler to investigate. When a box of wooden bricks was placed on one of these shelves he managed to pull it out and it landed perilously close to his feet. When it was helpfully replaced by his older sister the next time it narrowly missed his head, so light toys only for the higher shelves- which is naturally very limiting as they don't stack all that well. I suppose if you wanted to could make this a one shelf unit by leaving off the vertical supports
but I'm not sure how well the single long shelf would hold up without the extra support given by the smaller shelves. The metal pieces holding the shelves are not exactly formidable, they are only banged in a centimetre deep into the unit, plus the shelf itself is quite heavy.
Another drawback is the fact that without the drawers, doors or storage boxes it does make the room look quite messy when used as toy storage especially when things are put away in a hurry by children, there is no hiding it. This is because nothing quite fits in the holes properly, especially smaller books which are stacked in wobbly towers with lots of wasted space. I think the doors would probably have made the difference here, enabling us to shut it all away neatly, but the doors themselves looked quite flimsy and at £10 each, the £60 unit becomes £100 which is a lot of money for a small display unit.
IKEA markets the Traby system with the bookshelves but I think if you are buying it for this purpose it is only useful if you have lots of folders/coffee table type books/picture books ; its no good for paperbacks or smaller children's books because of the amount of space that you would be wasting. We have a home office but wouldn't consider putting this unit in there because of the space it takes up, its just sticks out too much.
It would make a good display unit in a modern minimalist house if you painted the unit, although with the weight of the Traby I would be concerned about how it was fixed to the wall without support from the floor. Because of how far it sticks out I would also be concerned about knocking body parts against it, hence the minimalist suggestion!
If you are able to find plastic boxes that fit (and again we didn't want to fork out another £30 ish after already spending £60) and you have toys that fit in the boxes it would make good playroom furniture. It works very successfully in my daughter's room, although as it is a small space and quite a large unit it does tend to make the room feel smaller and more cramped. Her small boxed games and a small boxes of little toys fit reasonably well. If we hadn't already bought another storage box to store her Lego this would have worked very well to store it all in. It does not work as well as storage for younger children's toys which don't stack so well and it can be borderline dangerous for this age group if there is a box in each space.
I like the unit in my daughter's room and within a few years I am hoping that the downstairs unit will be transferred to my son's room instead. It does take up a lot of floorspace and it doesn't hide away the toys very effectively. I think that it is highly unlikely that it will ever be used as a bookcase - or that this is a piece of furniture that we will hold onto once the children are older.