This customized drawer unit from the Container Store is one of the most practical purchases I've made for my small apartment
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- When looking for a nightstand for my small city bedroom, I found the Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System at The Container Store.
- While it’s not technically a nightstand, I customized the unit so it wound up being the perfect size.
- It’s a multipurpose unit I know I can make good use of for years to come.
Being in my twenties in New York City, I know that the apartment I’m in now won’t be mine forever. That’s why, when I first moved in, I decided to prioritize buying pieces that are functional rather than ones that just look good. That fact — plus a small room and closet situation — prompted me to search for a nightstand that could serve double duty and provide some extra storage.
My search led me to the epicenter of all things storage: The Container Store. There, I designed my own Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System and it’s probably one of the smartest purchases I’ve made for my apartment.
The Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System comes pre-made or you can customize it based on your needs
Elfa is exclusive to The Container Store, known for its best-selling closet solutions that maximize space and make organizing easy. The Mesh Closet Drawer System is a free-standing storage unit with a durable, epoxy-bonded steel frame and finely-woven mesh drawers that can hold all sorts of products.
You can choose to purchase a pre-made unit or customize your own with specific dimensions for what you’re looking for; both options come in with all-white or silver mesh.
I chose to make my own unit to be sure it would fit in my room. Elfa has a custom drawer planner online, which guides you through the customization process and helps you see what the unit will look like in real time.
Here’s how you can customize the Elfa unit
1. Pick a color: The options are easy — white or platinum. The platinum definitely has a more industrial look, so I went for white.
2. Pick a height: Options range from 17.5 to 81 inches tall. The taller you go, the more storage you can get. I chose a 29-inch unit, which works perfectly as a bedside table next to my 1- inch bed frame and 10-inch mattress.
3. Pick a width: Sizes start at 10 inches (extra narrow) and go up to 22 inches (extra wide). I went for medium at 18 inches.
4. Top it off: You can cover the unit with a surface of either white melamine, driftwood melamine, a butcher block, or leave the top open. I went with the white for a monochromatic look.
5. Pick feet, labels, and stops: Choose frame feet for a unit you want to stay in place, or casters (which are like wheels) if you want more mobility. Add stops if you want to ensure your drawers never fall out. I didn’t buy stops, but my unit is pushed against a wall, and I haven’t had any issues with drawers coming out of the frame. I didn’t add label holders, but if you’re trying to get really organized, these could be a good addition.
6. Choose your drawers: Instead of S, M, L, drawers are sized as 1, 2, or 3 — indicating how many runners each drawer needs to fit in the unit. One is the shallowest drawer and 3 is the deepest. How tall you make your unit will determine how many drawers you can fit.
My 29-inch unit has seven runners, so I filled it with one 3-runner, one 2-runner, and two 1-runners. The 3-runner is on the bottom, holding bulky items like backup toiletries and cleaning supplies. The 2-runner is in the middle, holding similar products, though it fits a tad less. The top two drawers are 1-runners, which hold paper goods and other small supplies. Ultimately, my unit cost just over $150.
The bottom line
These drawers are not cheap, but their value lies in their functionality. With ability to customize height, width, and drawer sizes, you can easily build a system that’s perfect for your storage needs. If you have the space and aren’t too particular, you can make it even easier and just buy one of the pre-made systems.
The drawers make everything I put inside easily accessible, and the finely-woven mesh construction provides the perfect balance of visibility and privacy, so I can find my objects easily without putting everything on display. The neutral colors and minimal style make this unit a timeless piece that can fit in just about any room or apartment I’ll move into in the future and be used for storing just about anything, making it well worth the up-front expense.
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