You know, besides the meatballs. 

By Katie Holdefehr
February 07, 2020

At Real Simple, we're always on the hunt for the best IKEA hacks and we never met an IKEA organizer we didn't like. Many Real Simple editors have turned to IKEA to furnish their dorm rooms, their first apartments, and their first homes—and then ended up keeping that KALLAX and RÅSKOG and FRAKTA for many years to come. These are the IKEA products that have stood the test of time, that we've moved with us from home to home, and that we plan to hang onto. Yes, we may even go so far as to call these editor-approved IKEA favorites nothing short of "life-changing."

RELATED: The Best Furniture to Buy at IKEA, According to Designers

IKEA

1
TEKLA Dish Towels

"They may be small, but they’re oh-so-mighty! A former roommate kept them all around our kitchen, and I became obsessed—they’re soft, super-absorbent (without getting too smelly), and have a timeless design. And because they’re only 79 cents, I’ve built quite the dish/bath/all-purpose towel collection now that I’ve moved elsewhere—you can’t have too many." —Taylor Eisenhauer, Associate Producer

To buy: $0.79, ikea.com

IKEA

2
ALEX Drawer

You know an IKEA product is good when not one, but two Real Simple staffers call it out as their all-time favorite! 

"It’s held crayons. It’s held squishies. And now it holds her makeup. Several years ago, my then-tween daughter decided on an all-white color palette for her bedroom. I was like, sure. Then I was like, we’re going to IKEA because…white. We bought two of these for $200 total, and they beautifully flank her white desk. They’re clean, pleasing, and adaptable to the collection-of-the-moment. When she goes to college and leaves me, I can fill it with my memories!" —Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief

"Ask any beauty editor or YouTuber and they’ll back me up—the ALEX drawer is truly a blessing from the storage gods. I’m not sure if the Swedish have figured out some sort of Undetectable Extension Charm, but it just holds so much stuff. If you have hordes of makeup palettes and skincare tubs like me, stashing them away in these drawers will make your life feel a bit more put-together." —Hana Hong, Associate Digital Editor

To buy: $89, ikea.com

IKEA

3
TOSTERÖ

"IKEA’s outdoor cushion storage bags are life-changing. I’d considered so many other options, and they were either mind-bogglingly expensive or laughably bulky (or both, TBH). But these are $15 each! (I bought two to hold my three outdoor sofa cushions plus throw pillows.) They’ve been outside in the yard during utter torrents and buckets of rain, and the cushions have remained dry. The corners also have these little vent tabs, so the interior remains aerated and vented, while keeping the elements out. Also: we recently moved and I used these bags to shuttle most of my wardrobe from one place to the next—incredibly roomy and accessible thanks to that three-sided zipper." —Rory Evans, Executive Editor

To buy: $15, ikea.com

IKEA

4
FRAKTA (AKA the iconic blue storage bags)

"Every time I stop by IKEA (which is pretty often), I can't help but grab another FRAKTA bag. I use them to lug my clothing to the laundromat, and when I moved apartments this past fall, I skipped the disposable boxes and used lots of FRAKTA bags to transport all of my stuff instead. These are unbelievably durable." —Katie Holdefehr, Senior Editor

To buy: $1.50, ikea.com

IKEA

5
KALLAX Shelving Unit

"KALLAX is my ideal bookshelf. It’s so adaptive: You can use it for books, of course, but you can also fill its handy squares with file boxes, picture frames, drawers for knick-knacks, and so much more. I’ve had a few different ones throughout the years, and I love the huge 5x5 grid options (it can store anything!), but even a smaller version is incredibly versatile." —Lauren Phillips, SEO Editor

To buy: $179, ikea.com

IKEA

6
SMIDIE Sheepskin

"I love the SMIDIE sheepskin rug. I leave it on my side of the bed so it’s the first thing my feet touch when I wake up in the morning, and it is so cozy and soft. I’ve also used it to soften up a wooden bench or seat back. There are infinite design possibilities with this 2-foot-long accessory!" —Stephanie Sisco, Home Director 

To buy: $30, ikea.com

IKEA

7
RÅSKOG Utility Cart

"The RASKOG utility cart is a serious lifesaver for product hoarders like yours truly. It slides seamlessly into my tiny hall closet, and helps me wrangle all of my beauty buys into a single place for safekeeping." —Rachel Sylvester, Lifestyle Editor

To buy: $30, ikea.com

IKEA

8
KULLEN Dresser

"After my son outgrew his ridiculously expensive (and ultimately totally cheap) “nursery” dresser, we bought two of the KULLEN 5-drawer chests (for less than $200!) and assembled them side-by-side. They hold ALL his clothes, plus his vintage Polaroid camera, assorted swim goggles, and various 10-year-old treasures. Plus, there’s a nice double-surface area up top for his books and Chapstick collection (49 at last count)." —Melanie Mannarino, Acting Deputy Editor

To buy: $79, ikea.com

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