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.
Color boxes are very versatile. You can use them in every room in your house to store almost anything.
You can also buy specially sized drawers (hikidashi, 引き出し) to give your color box a facelift.
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.
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).
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.
But when you lift the veil, this is what the sideboard looks like underneath:
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.
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.
Or make a cute shoe storage box by adding dividers to a standard color box.
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 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 3: Place a mattress on top of the slats
Place a mattress on top of the slats to complete your bed!
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?
You may also be interested in: Five Space Saving Ideas for Living in a Japanese Apartment