34 IKEA Hacks to Finally Launch Your DIY Era
From colorful consoles to stenciled drawers.
Updated Mar 31, 2023 11:11 AM
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IKEA’s never-ending arsenal of versatile furnishings at super-affordable prices makes the retailer an obvious must-shop, but we’ve always loved the added bonus: the DIY-friendly nature of those products. The simple Scandinavian style of everyone’s favorite pieces (we’re looking at you, Billy bookcase) is prime for customization.
From headboards and nightstands to outdoor furniture and dressers, there’s more than enough fodder for hacks. If you’re seeking some inspiration to finally pick up the power tools or craft supplies, here are 34 ideas to get you started.
The Pax Wardrobe That Looks Old
For a mere $150, Mallory Fletchall, the creator of the popular design-focused Instagram account @reserve_home, made her Pax closet look like it had been in her two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment for decades. The secret? She cut picture frame molding with simple miter shears and attached them to the doors using a nail gun, added trim to the top and bottom, and painted the whole thing pink.
Pax Wardrobe Frame, IKEA ($140)
The Groovy Vallentuna Sofa
Swathing a basic sofa in ultra-luxe fabric is a surefire way to elevate the piece. Christene Barberich likens her re-covered (and now discontinued) Vallentuna sleeper sofa to “1960s atomic Italian modernism.” The funky printed velvet fabric in question is Princesa by Gaston y Daniela and was fitted by Brooklyn-based Y&C Upholstery. Try a similar transformation with the Finnala sleeper sofa.
Finnala Sleeper Sofa, IKEA ($1,449)
The Besta Breakfast Bench
Kendra Joseph, the Bay Area–based designer and founder of Rise Up Home, combined two Besta base units, topped them with a waterfall wood seat, and painted the drawers with Benjamin Moore’s Midnight, resulting in a banquette for her guesthouse.
The Sculptural Ivar Cabinet
Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein, the founder of Atelier Akuko, repurposed a set of four Ivar cabinets that previously served as a custom bed frame. With this iteration, she covered them in painted foam shapes for a bas-relief effect reminiscent of the work of French artists Constantin Brâncusi and Garance Vallée.
The Woven Ivar Headboard
The floating woven piece hanging above Julie Katrine Andersen’s bed is actually part of a bookcase. She used nylon webbing from eBay to upgrade the simple wood frame. It’s inspired by Alvar Aalto’s iconic 611 chair—a nod to the graphic designer’s Finnish heritage.
The Cane Hemnes Bed
Former Domino editor Rebecca Deczynski had grown tired of her Hemnes frame, so she gave it a revamp with a sheet of caning and a staple gun. It took 10 minutes flat and has completely transformed the space.
The Chic Flisat Bookshelves
New mom and Holyoke Paper Co. creative director Christina Healy chose the most straightforward upgrade possible for her daughter’s nursery: a chic spin on two Flisat wall shelves. With just a staple gun and some leftover strips of cane from an old DIY project, the design is as practical as it is easy: The cute display makes it a piece of cake to find any book when it’s bedtime.
The Makeshift Entry Starring the Eket Cabinet
Designer Kate Hamilton Gray’s 500-square-foot apartment lacks a proper foyer, but she still needed a place to stash her keys. This floating cabinet was the perfect fit. For a personal touch, she drilled holes in the doors and added vintage knobs she found on a trip to London.
The Irja Wall Shoe Rack
Alyssa Coscarelli’s New York City closet essentially resembles a store thanks to a floor-to-ceiling shoe display mounted to the wall. Look twice at the slim white bars holding up her favorite heels—they’re actually curtain rods.
The Painterly Kyrre Stool
Wallpaper designer and illustrator Kate Zaremba gave her two Frosta stools ($15 each!) literal facelifts by turning them into abstract portraits. There’s no special technique involved—simply draw the main features of the face, such as the forehead, nose, mouth, and chin. One stool should take only 30 minutes to complete.
The Billy Bookcase Library
When design blogger Elise Joseph asked a millworker what a custom built-in bookcase would cost, he quoted her $3,000. So she decided to make it herself for just $500 by nailing five Billy bookcases to one another and securing them to 2-by-4s on the wall. To hide the spaces between the individual cases and the ceiling, she added a trim board.
The Rainbow Besta Credenza
Before assembling the doors of her Besta cabinet, Ashley Rose, the DIYer behind Sugar & Cloth, coated each front in spray paint, adding a clear shellac coat on top to seal the vibrant hues.
The Moody Ivar Console
A simple green wood stain takes this Ivar cabinet to the next level. Add some sleek black pulls, mount your storage system to the wall, and voilà! A piece that appears totally custom. If you want to kick it up a notch, paint the wall a similar shade of green. We have it on good authority from Scandinavian design pros that the monochrome look is the way to go.
The Stenciled Malm Drawers
Take it back to your elementary school days with a good old-fashioned stencil project. Wendy of Wendy’s Living Room has the right idea for updating a basic Malm dresser: She used a modeling paste to decorate the drawers with a 3D motif, adding a coat of chalk paint at the end to emphasize the texture.
The Floral Ekebol Sofa
Blogger Lana Red designed her own print and reupholstered her Ekebol sofa to create a pink botanical statement for her living room. If you can’t go the bespoke route, not to worry—companies like Bemz and Comfort Works make specialty covers for IKEA couches.
The Floating Desk, Made Possible by Granhult Brackets
This desk DIY from blogger The Crafted Life is ideal for small spaces lacking in floor space. Use Granhult brackets to craft a modular shelving unit (painted in the color of your choice for a fully custom workspace) to make the most of an empty wall. Vibrant books and baskets are definitely encouraged.
The Lallerod Toy Cubby
Trust Oh Joy! to come up with the most fun organization solution ever. With a bit of spray paint, Joy Cho turned mobile IKEA coffee tables into cheerful toy storage. Take a cue from Cho and paint yours in tonal hues to really pack a punch.
The Alex Drawer-Turned-Workspace
Who says you need to buy a proper desk for your workspace? Not Asa Dyberg. The IKEA stylist used a combination of drawer units, a pegboard, and a floating shelf to concoct this improvised home office. The best part is that you can reuse each piece individually, rather than be saddled with a clunky workstation that will eventually end up in your attic.
The Hemmahos Bench Headboard
A chic bed frame can be a splurge, but this DIY from A Pair and a Spare proves that bespoke on a budget can look just as stylish. To realize this IKEA bedroom hack, simply wrap one of the retailer’s cushy bench pillows in your favorite fabric and adhere it to the wall with leather straps. If you sleep on crisp white linens, use this opportunity to make a statement—maybe a bright orange print or bold stripes.
The Hemnes Dresser Desk
If your files are constantly overflowing the drawers of your traditional desk, it’s time to think outside the box. That’s what Emily Lex of Jones Design Company did here, using three (!) Hemnes dressers and a wood IKEA countertop to make one giant workspace in her garage. Be sure to upgrade your dressers with custom pulls or knobs, too—DIYs are all about getting creative, right?
The Regolit Balloon Lamp
Filled with mini stuffed animals, this whimsical DIY from Husligheter is the ideal adornment for a little one’s room—regular pendant lights have nothing on this fixture. You’ll have to Google Translate the instructions, but trust us: It’s worth it. Use any leftover leather scraps to update the pulls on an old dresser.
The Sunnersta Bar Cart
Here’s the stylish entertaining station you never knew you needed. The multipurpose piece can be used in a multitude of other ways—a library on wheels, coffee cart, side table—and your choice of wallpaper prints means you can tailor this to any room’s color palette. It’s a small-space dweller’s best friend.
The Sektion Statement Storage
Show us an IKEA cabinet system and we’ll show you a front replacement that instantly transforms it into a statement piece. Installing Copenhagen-based studio Reform’s contemporary cabinet fronts is basically the easiest craft project ever.
The Built-In Billy Shelving System
Can you spot the hack? Blogger Designsixtynine arranged a fleet of the ever-popular Billy bookcases in differing sizes in his living room, then coated them in a shade of deep gray so they blend right into the wall like custom built-ins. This trick is a handy way to keep bulky storage from overwhelming a small space.
The Floating Solig Centerpieces
Set the scene for your next dinner party with plenty of ethereal textures, like these net “chandeliers.” The tablescape idea is ideal for intimate outdoor weddings or special occasions where you want to go all out.
The Sinnerlig Accent Table
Here, the popular bamboo fixture is reimagined as a sculptural accent just waiting to be plopped into your living room in lieu of a side table. With the simple addition of wood peg legs, it doubles as a low-sitting floor lamp.
The Tiny Vardagen Herb Garden
Not much of a baker? Use this muffin tin as a handy mini garden instead. Either place it on a deep kitchen windowsill or your dining room table as a living centerpiece. Pro tip for the black thumb: Start with mint and chives, two hard-to-kill herbs.
The Bohemian-Style Albacken Seat
The original Stockholm 2017 chair in this Brit + Co DIY is unfortunately out of stock (consider yourself lucky if you nabbed one while they were available). But thanks to the fortuitous resurgence of rattan decor, IKEA still has plenty of woven seating that will work just as well. A little jersey cotton and yarn goes a long way in transforming this boho staple into a more colorful statement.
The Wall-Mounted Ivar Mural
Stack four sets of Ivar cabinets side by side and mount them to the wall for this fun IKEA hack. Then go to town picking out a splashy wallpaper to cover the doors—or get creative and try your hand at a painted mural. Something simple like abstract color-blocked shapes is a great idea for a rookie.
The Luroy Entryway Station
The secret to a tidy entrance is keeping everything you need where you can see it. Mail, reminders, and even a hanging basket for keys fit neatly on this DIY wall-mounted storage from Ich Designer. You’d never guess it used to be a slatted bed base.
The Scandi-Chic Ingefara Planter
If you only have a couple hours to DIY, turn your attention to revitalizing a tired old plant vessel. Blogger Trendenser proves the power of paint with this foolproof pot hack. A deep gray one will mimic the look of on-trend concrete.
The Dream Godmorgon Vanity
Superfront, a Swedish company that will help you hack your IKEA cabinet fronts, is here to cure your bathroom of its drab cupboard woes. Couple your new doors with an equally lustrous faucet for a vanity that exudes effortless elegance.
The Artful Ribba Frame
Forget painting your frames—give the mats a fresh coat of color instead. The Sweetest Digs shares the how-to for this super-easy (yet super-impactful) DIY. All you’ll need are a few inserts in different bold hues. Wallpaper samples work perfectly.
The Trendy Coaster Catchall
Paint transforms these basic coasters into one-of-a-kind trinket dishes. Whether you choose to use them as catchalls for your daintier jewelry or keep them as (much more exciting) table protectors is completely up to you.
This article was originally published on March 4, 2016. It has since been updated.