When it comes to furnishings, IKEA can’t be beat on the intersection of price, design, and function. You have enough to do, so we combed their 2018 catalog to highlight 13 essential items. They’re all sleek-looking, space-saving, multi-purpose, and freestanding (hurray, no messy—or security-deposit-nullifying—holes in walls). Not only practical for college living, this furniture will move with you upon graduating into the real world.
1) New PINNIG coat rack with shoe storage bench, $89
Always dashing out the door? Pinnig keeps your outerwear, footwear, and bags neatly organized so you can grab and go. Image courtesy of IKEA.
Panic strikes. You’re running late and can’t find your shoes, backpack, purse, or coat. Relax, they’re right here resting on Pinnig, a rack and shelf storage combo that keeps your outerwear and footwear organized and where you need it most—right by the door. Utilitarian design complements great storage capacity for those easy-to-misplace essentials. Now, where did you put your wallet?
2) New VEBERÖD rolling room divider, $129
Flexible hanging storage can double as a room divider—or privacy screen to block out roommates (no offense, Melanie!). We love how much potential there is to add hooks for items large and small, plus Veberod is wheelie portable. Like Pinnig, you can park Veberod near the door to display shoes and hang bags and jackets for easy grab-and-go. We’re not sure what goes in the cotton underhang, but your cat may claim it as a hammock.
3) ENUDDEN hanger for door, $6.99
The loneliest spot in the room is the back of your closet door. It’s high time to add functionality for something everyone needs more of: hanging space. Enter Enudden, an over-the-door hook that’s a cheap and simple solution to convert dead space into prime property. The metal knobs are sturdier than competitor alternatives with breakable plastic hooks, so you can shut the front door on needing a replacement.
4) VESKEN shelf unit, $9.99
Good shelf space is hard to find, but Vesken and Kallax add instant storage anywhere. Image courtesy of IKEA.
Perfect for small bathrooms (and even smaller budgets), this open shelf unit can also be tucked into a corner of a kitchen or laundry space. Made of recycled plastic, it won’t absorb moisture and is easy to assemble without tools. Lightweight and portable, Vesken’s storage utility surely exceeds its bargain basement price. (Which reminds us: This would also work great in a basement.)
5) DYNAN shelving unit with cabinet, $59.99 (other configurations available)
An upgrade from Vesken, this shelving unit is similarly versatile and narrow, but stands taller and prouder. The generous height between shelves is ideal for space-hogging towels and linens. Stow cleaning and laundry products out of sight behind the handy cabinet door. Add cabinets and shelves to fully customize Dynan to fit your storage needs, while maintaining a manageable footprint.
6) KALLAX shelf unit with 4 inserts, $95 (other configurations available)
You can’t go wrong with this IKEA classic, which has potential to be much more than a standard bookcase. Kallax happily holds its own alongside or away from walls and won’t get tipsy if positioned horizontally or vertically. Additional drawers, shelves, boxes, and baskets boost functionality. Affix decals and artwork to the sides for a flair of originality. (It’s in your space, after all.)
7) BYÅS media storage and TV stand, $129
Make sure your media storage can support the weight of your media. Image courtesy of IKEA.
We love this media center’s no-nonsense, boxy symmetry and sturdy design. Adjustable shelves inside each end drawer—coupled with the open center—keep your gaming console and accessories nice and tidy. The higher load limit (up to 110 pounds) is about double that of cheaper IKEA TV stands. Bottom line: Byas is a winner on style, price, and support, so your flat-screen doesn’t end up flat on the floor.
8) VANGSTA extendable table, $99
This leggy lovely hides a spacious secret beneath her surface. An otherwise unnoticeable extension leaf is tucked under the table, expanding seating capacity from four to six. (You could squeeze two more at the head and foot, but leg space becomes an issue.) Moisture and messes wipe cleanly off the laminated particleboard top that’s stain- and scratch-resistant. Vangsta can also serve double duty as desk or dining table—or both if you eat while working.
9) JANSJÖ work lamp, from $9.99
Your lighting and laptop can work as flexibly as you do with Jansjo and Svartasen. Image courtesy of IKEA.
This fun-size lamp is small and flexible like Gumby. The two-foot desk version comes in four attractive colors, including classy copper. (A floor model standing 5.5 feet is made only in black.) Jansjo’s slender profile belies its bright output. LED bulbs efficiently crank out up to 25,000 hours of illumination, giving you no excuse to stop studying to look for a new lightbulb.
10) SVARTÅSEN laptop stand, $24.99
Knees and stomachs were not designed for laptops. Instead, work from any chair—or anywhere—with this easy-to-adjust table. Svartasen is not a bad-looking end table either, and comes in classic black and white. Have the night off? The surface can rest a meal and beverage for TV time on the couch.
11) New NYBODA coffee table with reversible top, $69.99
Whether it serves as your coffee or side table, Nyboda’s surface is similarly versatile with its reversible top. Choose from white and gray or black and beige. Need more room? Double the fun with an extra table; Nybodas play well with each other. A smartly-designed shelf just below the surface conceals magazines, remotes, and last night’s pizza box, without hanging too low to show clutter or breed dust bunnies.
12) NOLMYRA armchair, $39.99
This armchair (without arms) is lightweight and extra comfortable. With its laidback pitch and mesh seat cover and backrest, Nolmyra embraces your tired body at the end of a long day in the city. The chair’s clean lines and unassuming design blend well into most environments. For the price, make it double!
13) FRIHETEN sleeper sectional, 3-seat with storage, $599
Serving as sofa, chaise, and double bed, Friheten is the Transformer of the furniture world. Image courtesy of IKEA.
Whether it’s movie night, must-see TV, or a weekend sleepover, maximize your hospitality potential with this 3-in-1 comfort center (sofa, chaise, and double bed), which comes in five colors. Squeeze an extra friend on the sofa thanks to an armless side. Or pack in extra household goods, like sheets, comforters, and pillows: there’s plentiful storage under the chaise. Yes, at $599 it’s an investment, but Friheten is more spacious than a cheaper, leaner sleeper sofa. Layer a memory foam mattress topper over the cushions and it becomes the perfect crash pad for visiting friends and family or an Airbnb rental.