On the IC site there are 2 designs available and they come in small or large. I had the space available (well kinda) for either size and as I'm finding in the shoe room, any extra storage space is warmly welcomed, so it seemed sensible to opt for the larger one which held more shoes. Design wise, the mermaid one was most definitely my first choice. I've always loved that box (and sole) design, it's definitely in my top favourites, so I was ecstatic that was one of the choices. If I'm honest, I pretty much like every box IC have made. Yep, even the pattern clash one of SS16 (so many people are so mean to that poor box), but even so, there's only a few that would wow me enough to buy in storage chest form and the mermaid is definitely one of those. So that was the decision made (very easily) and I went ahead with contacting IC. Initially you deal with IC (all chests show as out of stock as you are required to get in touch to order rather than add them to your basket online), then once the order has been finalised you get passed onto the company making them. Each piece is made to order and because of this, there's a 4-6 week lead time. My order was dealt with quickly (sooner than I expected) and the actual production just takes several days, but of course it will vary.
The only delay for me was delivery, as the couriers were on holiday, otherwise it would've been here super fast! It was delivered one evening when my nephews were here (staying over), so I barely got a look in, as they were full of stories about how MASSIVE and heavy it was and it was a lot of excitement for them! You should see them let loose in my shoe room, it's adorable! It wasn't until a few days later that I found the time to have a proper look at it and with the run-up to Christmas being manic, then recovering from the flu this year, it's taken until now for me to take photos and write this post for you. So here's a better look at it, if you're considering buying one yourself. It will hopefully answer any questions you may have.
First up, I want to address the myth that it's a giant shoe box. I've heard several people say "the shoes already come with boxes, why would I pay this amount for another one?". This is not a shoe box. Yes, it looks like one, it's designed to look like one and frankly that's the whole selling point of it, but it's not a shoe box, it's a piece of furniture. A very big and very heavy piece of furniture, so surprise, surprise, it's going to cost more than a cardboard box. The large one measures more than a metre in length, with two levels for shoe storage. It weighs approximately 40kg, so funnily enough can't be squeezed into a jiffy bag and sent 2nd class Royal Mail to you (believe me, some people would like IC to try)! You have to be prepared to pay for a courier to deliver it (who will pick this up specially for you and deliver, door to door). It is at least a 2 person job to lift it into the house, so you are given the option of helping yourself or paying for an additional delivery person to aid with this. I personally can't lift it, but I knew my Dad would be here to help, so was satisfied with a one-person delivery. Actually in the end it was a couple that brought it, though Dad did a lot of the heavy lifting and they even offered to help get it upstairs and into the shoe room, but because it was getting late and the kids were here, we opted to leave it at the front door. Then once they left, my Mum changed her mind (I was entertaining my nephews, so hadn't even seen it at this point) and decided it would be better to try and get it upstairs and out of the way as it was blocking the stairs. My parents at each end (with my middle nephew acting as a 'guard' to my Mum falling backwards downstairs!) managed to slowly ease it up step by step and into my shoe room. As you know my shoe room was filled as much as it could be with storage units, so I've chosen to replace the Ikea Kallax that was in front of the window with this. My bedroom is closing in around me, so it definitely couldn't have gone in there, but my preference was for it to go in the shoe room anyway. To be honest the Kallax was a bit of an annoying size. Each box/shelf was too roomy for shoes, but not big enough for my bags to face forward and although I liked the height of it and having that top counter to display stuff on, this serves a better purpose and holds a lot more shoes. I know I've really left you hanging with the progress of the shoe room and you'll be pleased to know, I have started re-writing the follow-up (after accidentally deleting it over a year ago, which I never forgave myself for), so look out for that coming soon! I've tried to photograph the chest with something to compare size to, but I still don't think you can appreciate the size from these photos. If I didn't know any better, I wouldn't think it was that large from these photos.
So the outer (mermaid) pattern is printed vinyl, as is the image on the inside of the lid. The great thing about these boxes is, you could choose to keep the lid open and 'properly' display your collection if you wished as the lid is so pretty inside and stays up by itself (though please don't if you have kids that could be nearby as the lid is very heavy). The inside of the box is painted, as is the shelf (turquoise and lilac). The lid is very heavy to lift up and down, but opens on those air-sprung hinges. You know the type that do the heavy lifting themselves once you've started and make a little 'pfft' noise? The really cool thing is there's a rope handle in the centre front of the lid, like a giant version of the ones you really get on IC boxes (unless *gasp* Schuh bought). It perfectly finishes off the chest and adds authenticity. The box is patterned on every side, so can be placed in the centre of a room with a 'nice' side from every view point. Another thing I really adore is the labelling on the bottom front of the box. There's boxes for the style name, number, colour and shoe size, exactly as you'd find on an IC box. I'm so tempted to get the Sharpies out and write "38" in the shoe size!
The inside of the lid features two big fishies with a crab and heart with Irregular Choice written on it. The outside is just stunning, with a super large Betty the mermaid and beautiful seahorse. You all know I adore mermaids and I also love seahorses big time, so this illustration is just perfect for me and the colours are lovely. It's not just the main image that is copied from the regular box, but the overall design. I can't get over the frame design and patterned corners, exactly like the SS12 boxes, it's so cool. I wish I had one of the original boxes to hand to photograph alongside the chest, but all my boxes are currently stored up in the attic. Once the lid is lifted, you can pull the drawer section out.
So, how many shoes does it hold? Obviously it's going to vary between styles and shoe size, but for the mix of 38's and 39's (heels) that I have, I can fit 5 pairs in a row and three rows. This is if you choose to have all shoes facing forwards (or backwards). Annoyingly, you can fit another single shoe in each row, but it's unlikely you'll want to start separating pairs. There's ample room width wise anyway, but from front to back, you might struggle with 3 rows if you are placing flat shoes and/or bigger sizes in there, as it's not quite as generous. I didn't have either of those in my possession to try out. If you choose instead to place each pair heel/toe (i.e. one shoe facing forward and one facing backwards) then you'll fit 6 pairs in each row, without it being a squeeze. The bottom drawer fits exactly the same amount (sorry the photo of that drawer is a bit misleading, it looks like the shoes only fit in at an angle, but it was just because I was rushing to photograph them that I hadn't realised they weren't perfectly straight). So with 5 pairs per row, you fit 30 shoes in the chest and with 6 pairs, 36 pairs. As for height, there's enough room to fit high heels as you can see, some platforms (even the likes of One Lump Or Two or My Cup Of Tea but not Antonella, Pixie Dust etc), shorter shoe boots (like Abigail's Party) and ankle boots (Who In The World Am I?, Otters, Dolly Mixture, Rows Garden etc).
I've seen some people say it's not worth it, if it's not going to fit your whole collection in it. I disagree. It was never my aim to fit my entire collection in one or buy multiples to store the whole lot. I'm quite happy with the rest of my shoes on display on shelves, as they already are in the shoe room, with this chest as a centre-piece. Even if money were no object, I can't quite picture how multiple chests would look squished in a room, I suspect it would ruin the magic of it. So it's certainly not an issue for me that my whole collection doesn't fit in. I got round to filling mine the other day and I've put the 'less exciting' IC styles (if there's such a thing) in the chest or those that I've struggled to match up with similar partners on the shelves in my room or that look messy on the shelves (things with lots of raggy laces like Abigail's Party or Rainbow Bright). There are some colours that just don't sit well with others (more on this in my shoe room post), so they are nicely 'hidden' in the chest (I'm keeping mine shut) and I'm not fretting so much about needing it all to look very uniform. The character heels that look stunning on the shelves are staying out, as I do a little wee every time I look at those, so I like to keep them out for the wow factor. This is why I personally wouldn't want my whole collection in there, as there's so many that deserve to be on display for everyone to see, all year round. If you prefer to keep them in boxes already, then this chest might be a bit redundant for you. It would be possible to keep your boxes in there, but it would drastically reduce the amount of pairs you could store and is just another thing to open each time you need the shoes (too much of a faff for me).
My only gripe is not being able to store stuff on top of it. For one, I wouldn't want to cover the pattern and secondly, you need to be able to lift the lid to get into it. I accumulated a lot of beautiful