Select Page

The Other Shelf

by Blog, Reviews

  • Value compared to Kallax 80% 80%
  • Ability to hold big boxes 80% 80%
  • Overall Satisfaction 60% 60%

I bought Ikea shelves for my board games,
but not the Kallax…

…Do I regret it?

It wasn’t that I wanted to buck the trend, or live outside the proverbial boxes. It was a decision about space, and how best to use it. When we bought our new house, a small 60’s bungalow with a half-finished basement, we decided that the basement “bedroom” would be the games room… and my office. So space was going to be cluttered or tight. Well cluttered and tight really.

To sub-divide the room into office space and the game room we built a half wall out of Billy bookcases with a few tall skinny Billies on one end to form the doorway to the office. Then with limited room remaining for the main shelves, since Billy bookcases have a hard time with bigger boxes, a Kallaxs was the obvious choice. Or was it? I came across the Brimnes and noted the dimensions. Just deep enough to be interesting. Wide enough to fit in small spaces and tall enough to promise they would hold quite a few games. Volume wise the shelf space came up a bit short in comparison to the Kallax but these had a couple of spacious drawers at the bottom to hide clutter.

“Hmm.” I thought.

I searched for a valid review, something from someone who had crammed board games onto them before. Something to help me decide. I could not find a single article, forum post, or photograph of anyone using the Brimnes for board games. Was that an omen? Or had I made a discovery?

“What the heck.” I thought next and ordered the Brimnes bookcase.

(I had actually ordered everything at the same time as the Billy bookcases but the thought process was there.)

So, do I regret it?

The short answer is no. Not at all. They fit right in where they were supposed to and they hold a good amount of big boxes.

The long answer, yes, maybe a little. Here’s the thing. The Kallaxs are as close to perfect as you can get. For everything. Records, board games, knick-knacks. We have a half set (8 cubes) that we have done up for our coffee buffet in the kitchen. They are hard to beat for any purpose – except paperbacks and VHS, those are awkward on Kallaxs. The Brimnes are less than perfect. They are of a lesser quality even. The shelves only have so many preset holes, which I know sounds standard, but they are not standard. The Billy’s only have so many preset holes but they are everywhere. Only so many meaning the whole of the box is drilled with holes so you can move the shelves wherever you want. Not so with the Brimnes. The height of the box for the main shelves also does not divide evenly into a 4 big box heights. You can get 3 good big box shelves and then one more shorter shelf, which is great for sticking wide box games on, they need a home too so that kind of works out.

They work great. I like them even. No, Seriously, I like them. Would I buy them again? Maybe, but probably not. 

Would I recommend them? I would, but with the same caveat that made me buy them: space saving (thinner and taller than Kallax, and two big drawers on the bottom). They really are a great sized shelf and are only about $25 more than an Kallax (Canada anyway) but they are awkward to configure and you will be shuffling your boxes around a lot more to fit things than you would need to do with the Kallax.

They also only come in black or white so that’s a thing too.

How do they measure up? Let’s say that the Kallax is the scale and on the Kallax scale each cube is a star. So in this case the best the Brimnes could do would be 8 stars, size wise. I would give it a 5 out of 8. That’s a dumb system. How do you do fractions again?

Let’s see, that’s about a 6 out of 10 is that right? So 3 out of 5? That’s better.

3 Stars

They’re pretty good. They are definitely an alternative to the Kallax if you are looking for something different. If they were a cheaper option than a Kallax they would be a great option. They aren’t. 

Brimnes as Game Shelves


Summary They work and if they fit your space then they work great, but they are not quite right and the quality is not quite there compared to Ikeas other go to shelves.

How do they compare?

About The Author


Mitch is a graphic designer with what could be referred to as a compulsion to design and redesign things that may or may not need it. Truly a jack of all trades and master of none (well maybe the one) he will retrofit your kitchen table or redesign your player mats. He can’t help himself. Mitch sometimes jokes that he was "Raised according to Hoyle" His grandmother instilled a love of games in him early on that has continued to grow year over year.