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How to Store Your Board Games: Tips for Saving Shelf Space

Most “organization” problems are actually accumulation problems. Like, if you want to clean up the mess in your basement, don’t buy an elaborate system of bins and racks and shelves for all your junk. Get rid of the junk.

But I really like the junk I’ve accumulated over the years and I’m loathe to get rid of it. I bet you feel similar.

So the question becomes: How do I fit 43,217 board games into a single shelving unit? Well, here are some tips:

Tips for Saving Shelf Space


Cull Your Collection

Cripes, man, you know I don’t want to say this, but I have to go there. The best tip I can give you is to get rid of some stuff. I know, I know. That’s hard to hear, but you know it’s true in here [points to heart].

And, honestly, it’s not so bad. We both know there are some games you haven’t played in a while, and likely won’t play in a while. Get rid of them.

One more piece of difficult advice: Don’t develop some sophisticated strategy to sell them on eBay or Craigslist. You ain’t got no time to be giving yourself an errand like that. You’ll spend a buttload of time taking the pictures, writing up the posting, then fending off those jackwagon scammers that try to tell you they’ll pay an extra $50 for shipping if you’ll just make the deal straight away.

Just give the games away. Be a champ and give the games you aren’t playing a new home. Pay them forward. You can be generous and in the time you’d spend trying to sell an 8-year-old board game or whatever for $15 you can fit in more play time with favorites or new additions.

Reduce Boxes

Some games turn storage into an art form and produce a box that’s just the right size to place all the components inside neatly. Others are just a big cavern where the components rattle around willy-nilly.

One of my fvorites is Raiders of the North Sea. Not only is it an EXCELLENT game (I review it here), it has a perfectly sized box. Unlike the typical-sized Ticket to Ride sized boxes, Raiders comes in at a svelte 10 x 10 x 3 inches. I wish more boxes were this size.

Alas, they are not. But the larger game boxes can hold more stuff. So stuff stuff in there! Start with expansions, as those are the most logical products to box together. But if you are desperate, you can slide several fanny-pack-sized games into a giant box that still has space to fill.

This can also be called the “Games Inside of Games” method. Just remember where you stashed them!

Split Your Games With Friends

Hey, don’t be afraid to make your friends help out with storage! If you have a regular gaming group, don’t routinely schlepp your games back and forth. Simply store some of them at the friend’s house.

Listen, I don’t know how trustworthy the knaves you call friends are, but let’s assume you can count on them. If so, not only can you save some shelf space in this manner, but you can also mitigate transport. Not a bad option, actually.

Ask a Swede

One option is to buy an elaborate systems of bins and racks and shelves for all your junk. Specifically, I’m talking about the Kallax shelving system that originated at IKEA, but now has knockoffs available at Wal-Mart, from what I understand.

The Kallax shelving system is what I use and I swear by it. I have a 2 x 3 “cube” that I lay on its side, meaning I store games in the cubbies, while also having space on the top for D&D books and whatnot.

I also bought a couple doors for a couple of the cubbies so I can stash things in there. This is another benefit of the Kallax system. Not only is it perfectly sized for storing board games, but it is nearly endlessly customizable as only IKEA can do, meaning you can get all sorts of add-ons to trick out you shelving units.

Yes, this is what American culture has come to, nerds. We trick out shelves in order to store our enormous board game collection. [Cues up Lee Greenwood.]

Play Tetris

Look closely and you can see that once I pulled away a game, several other games were hidden behind it. Another benefit of Kallax.

If you use the Kallax shelving system (and I’m sure this is partially true with other shelving options as well), you can think of your board game storage as having two layers. There is the layer you see and the layer behind it.

The Kallax unit easily handles 4-5 Ticket to Ride sized game boxes that are aligned flush with the front of the shelves. but that leaves a lot of space behind! Every single ones of the cubbies of my shelving unit has games behind the front games, meaning I’m often 2-3 extra games per cube, yet you never see them.

Treat the whole thing like a Tetris game or pretend you are packing a trunk. The point is to fully maximize the space.


Board game storage is an affliction that infects all us nerds. But we’re heroes: We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we can get more games.

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