This Compact IKEA Cabinet Is My Secret to Creating a Small-Space “Garden”

published Mar 11, 2024
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Credit: FotograFFF

When I moved into my 1960s-era LA apartment, I was particularly excited about the balcony. It’s not super spacious, but it fits a small table and chairs, a dog bed for my pug, and a vertical “garden” in the corner. After mostly living in apartments for the last decade, I’ve learned how to create a container garden with very little (if any!) outdoor space from just two key things: plenty of sunshine, and durable shelves. Fortunately, my west-facing balcony gets lots of afternoon light, so I just needed to find something for my plants. 

I wanted a budget-friendly shelving and cabinet unit that would allow me to create a vertical vegetable garden, didn’t take up a ton of space, and could withstand the LA weather. It also needed some sort of storage for gardening tools, plus soldering supplies for my metalsmithing hobby. That’s how I landed on the IKEA KOLBJÖRN cabinet collection.
The nine-piece IKEA KOLBJÖRN line features a range of indoor/outdoor furniture, whether you’re looking for a simple storage piece like the mini KOLBJÖRN shelf unit or something more substantial like the bestselling KOLBJÖRN bookshelf.

My balcony feels spacious but is still fairly small, so I opted for the compact KOLBJÖRN shelving unit with a bottom cabinet. It provides a home for the smaller plants in my potted vegetable garden, plus a safe covered area for gardening accessories, extra pots, or other items you might typically store in a garage.

The cabinet feels sturdy and comes with the option to anchor it to a wall, if you live in an earthquake-prone area or are concerned about it being too top-heavy. Its adjustable feet also allow you to customize the height of each leg when dealing with slanted flooring, which, unfortunately, is common in old apartment buildings like mine. On top of that, the metal IKEA cabinet features a powder-coated finish that holds up incredibly well outdoors — mine still looks as good as new with no rust or fading. 

Credit: Jessie Quinn

That said, this unit — and others in the collection — function inside, too. The minimalist, industrial designs can double as office and garage storage, or additional shelving and cabinetry in a kitchen, craft room, or mudroom. Even the shorter KOLBJÖRN pieces would also style well as a small-space-friendly media center. Either way, indoors or out, it’s easy to customize IKEA’s versatile KOLBJÖRN collection for your space constraints and lifestyle, starting at $119.