DIY Ideas

7 DIY Furniture Ideas for a Japanese Apartment

So now you’ve moved into your new apartment and are ready to start your life in Japan!

But wait. Something is missing. Yes, it’s the furniture, and as a rule, new furniture is not inexpensive in Japan.

Of course, there are many ways to inexpensively furnish your apartment here: sayonara sales, second-hand (recycle) shops, and IKEA, for example.

The humble “color box”

In this article, we present some creative ways to semi-build your own furniture starting with one of the most humble DIY pieces of furniture available in Japan: the color box (カラーボックス).

Color boxes are widely available online (Amazon, Rakuten) and at discount chains. A standard color box is about 87-cm high x 41-cm wide x 29-cm deep and is made from laminated pressboard. They are usually sold flat-packed but are easily assembled. A new standard-sized color box costs ¥2,000 ($19) or less. They are also available in many different dimensions and with different interior dividers.

 

standard-size-color-boxes

Standard “color boxes” are an inexpensive and quick way to add storage space to a Japanese apartment, many of which do not come with built-in storage. They usually come flat-packed and are easily assembled.

Color boxes are very versatile. You can use them in every room in your house to store almost anything.

Add Drawers

You can also buy specially sized drawers (hikidashi, 引き出し) to give your color box a facelift.

Color Box Bedroom Storage

Basket drawers have been added to these color boxes to make storage space for clothing and toys in a child’s room.

Here are some even more creative ways to use color boxes in your home.

DIY Kitchen Island

Use two color boxes as the supporting “legs” for a combination kitchen island and dining room table.

color-box-kitchen-counter

Make your own kitchen island/dining room table using two (or four) color boxes and a stained plank of wood. Great use of space here: under-table storage and a compact space to feed the cat, it looks like, in the bottom right corner.

DIY Desk

Using the same principle as above, you can use two color boxes as the supporting legs in a DIY desk. You will have to be careful, obviously, about the board you choose so you can have a good writing surface. (Visit your local DIY home store to find planks).

colorbox-board-desk-idea

An elegant DIY workspace made from two color boxes and a surface board.

DIY Side Board

If your apartment is big enough to have a dining room where you need a side board, you can make your own using two color boxes, a plank, and a large piece of fabric. The dining room below is quite posh.

DIY side board

DIY side board using color boxes, a plank, and a large piece of fabric. Photo: kurashi.com

But when you lift the veil, this is what the sideboard looks like underneath:

color-box-side-board

Lift the fabric to reveal color boxes making up the legs of the side board. Photo. kurashi.com

DIY Wall Unit with Cushioned Bench

This next idea is more elaborate but so cute we couldn’t pass it up. This is a whole wall unit and cushioned bench made from color boxes.

Wall unit with cushioned bench made from various sized color boxes. Photo:

Wall unit with cushioned bench made from various sized color boxes. Photo: http://lovemo.jp/56060

Increase Storage Space in Your Genkan (Foyer)

Use color boxes to create storage space in “dead” areas of your apartment, like your genkan (foyer), which is usually only used to store shoes.

storage-shelf-under-circuit-breaker

Create storage space by using a tall color box. In this example, five whole shelves fit under the circuit breaker panel. Phoot: kurashiru.com

Or make a cute shoe storage box by adding dividers to a standard color box.

color-box-shoe-storage

Dividers have been added to this color box to make it into a shoe storage space. Photo: iemo.jp

DIY Slat Bed

This next one is for the more adventurous of you. Make a slat bed (with lots of storage space!) using color boxes, wooden slats, and a simple mattress. Ready?

Step 1: Lay out color boxes facing up

Lay out your color boxes face up and hide away your treasures in the cubbies.

Step 1: Make the base board of the bed by laying out color boxes face up. Photo:

Step 1: Make the base board of the bed by laying out color boxes face up. Photo: kurashiru.com

Step 2: Place wooden slats on top of the boxes

Place wooden slats on top of the boxes. Slats (grids)  are called sunoko (すのこ) in Japanese. You can find them online and at DIY home stores.

Step 2: Place wooden slats on top of the boxes. Photo: kurashiru.com

Step 2: Place wooden slats on top of the boxes. Photo: kurashiru.com

Step 3: Place a mattress on top of the slats

Place a mattress on top of the slats to complete your bed!

Place a mattress on top of the slats to complete your "color box" bed. Photo: kurashiru.com

Place a mattress on top of the slats to complete your “color box” bed. Photo: kurashiru.com

DIY Cat Condo

Because we are cat people, we would like to share this idea with you. What feline would not like to have a cat castle made from color boxes?

DIY cat condo made from color boxes. Photo:

DIY cat condo made from color boxes. Photo: nekomemo.com

You may also be interested in: Five Space Saving Ideas for Living in a Japanese Apartment