One-stop organizational havens such as IKEA and The Container Store have some sort of magical power over people, and at least on the surface, our fierce loyalty seems justified. The reason is pretty simple. No matter what, these palaces of possession perfection always seem to know precisely what the chronically storage-perplexed population can’t live without.

Glossy, quadruple-tiered shelves are a perennial favorite, as are texturally alluring and infinitely stackable cubbies, but those items, while tried and true, pale in comparison to such mind-blowing, can’t-possibly-live-without-‘em innovations like highly customized corrals for our assorted cupcake sprinkles or day-of-the-week pet collars.

There is no doubt that amid their incredibly well-lit and spacious aisles, we are repeatedly asking ourselves how we managed to get by so long without a miniature fruit leather-drying rack or alphabetized energy bar caddy. Unfortunately, but by the time we navigate the 10,000 square feet of storage space, our shopping carts typically runneth over while our credit cards take a beating.

You know where this is going. Make that brilliant shelving unit yourself and chances are excellent that you will spend significantly less than a brick-and-mortar store retail price. Up the ante by using scavenged materials, and before you know it, you will be able to duplicate that storage idea you ogled at IKEA for nothing more than the cost of your sweat equity.

Oh, except that the ideas below are way cooler than what you would find at a big-box shop, not only in regard to the design concept, but also the eco-execution. Instead of your shelf being made out of VOC-laden pressurized particleboard treated with 16 potentially carcinogenic fire-retarding chemicals, it will rock a reincarnated glow made even more notable by the fact that it will be as unique as your own individual fingerprint.

recycled shelves

Make a wall-mounted shelf out of...

Make a freestanding shelf out of...

Reclaimed glass wine bottles and wooden boards

An old barn door or a conventional door cut in half and clamped at a 90-degree angle

A recycled wooden cable spool

Painted wooden boards separated with reclaimed tree branch ‘spacers’

Old skateboards

Window shutters

A ladder — modify it with wooden boards and wire crates for extra storage potential

A bookshelf… made of books (You can create a wall-mounted version as well.)

A vintage whiskey barrel

Recycled plastic container "cubby holes" embedded in rigid polyurethane resin

An upcycled vintage produce box mounted on casters

An old dresser fitted with vintage suitcases

Several stacked computer monitors or televisions; a solo TV will also work wonders