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Ivar, Pax, Kallax, Billy. These IKEA storage systems might come to mind when you want to declutter your home for good. But for the frequent mover or small-space dweller, the front-runners can fall short when you realize you barely have room for a dining table or that the cabinets in your galley kitchen just won’t cut it. When nothing seems to fit, we turn to the Swedish retailer’s modular marvel: the Besta. Whether you stack them, paint them, or mount them on a wall, it’s easy to make these units your own. From a color-blocked filing system to a minimalist book nook, these IKEA Besta hacks are the absolute best.

A Besta Breakfast Nook

Kendra Joseph, the Bay Area–based designer and founder of Rise Up Home, combined two Besta base units in this kitchen corner, topped them with a waterfall of wood, and painted the bottom with Benjamin Moore’s Midnight. The result is a $300 banquette that makes room for everything from morning coffee to midnight snacks. 

A Facebook Find

Photography by @wick_homelife

Jacky Mack, a DIY dabbler based on the Dorset coast of England, came across her Besta unit on Facebook Marketplace—for free. She initially planned to use just the doors for another project in her living room, but after measuring the base, she found out it was the exact width of her king-size mattress. She plopped a long cushion on top, and now the benchlike cubby lives at the foot of the bed and corrals extra pillows in between sleeps.

An Artful Perch

As an artist, Agi Raw couldn’t resist tackling a few hands-on projects in her 580-square-foot Berlin apartment. As well as creating foam picture frames and tiling a nightstand, her IKEA Besta hack included adding a slab of stone to fancify the unit in her main living space. Extra seating, ample storage, and a spot to display objets d’art are all part of the masterpiece.

A Jewel-Toned Moment

Kelly Mindell’s colorful take hinges on the plywood frame she added to the top and sides of the original item. The wood is infinitely easier to paint than the original glossy surface. The seasoned DIYer gave the piece a vintage touch by swapping the drawer fronts with cane inserts.

A Fluted Seat

For her daughter’s bedroom, Chelsea Foy sandwiched a Besta unit in between two bookcases to create a cozy window seat. The Lappviken doors she chose have a smooth finish that allows wood glue to grip onto them, which was key to her plan to cover them with 3/4-inch wood half-round trim.

A Picture-Perfect Pass-Through

Ashley Rose made her IKEA Besta hack look truly built in by covering the open space underneath it with a toe-kick and buying fresh doors from Norse Interiors.

A Marble Marvel

Leftover marble scraps from this Brooklyn kitchen renovation came in handy in the living room. Designer Crystal Sinclair had the offcuts honed to fit on top of the Besta cabinets that line the TV wall.

A Chunky Support System 

Sarah Sherman Samuel’s cabinet looks like it’s sitting on the ground, but the two Besta units are actually hooked into the wall with suspension rails. Using an orbital sander, she flattened the top and bottom of four wood balls and screwed them to the bottom of the furniture so they look like proper feet. To get a flat plane on the balls, the designer recommends holding the sander as still as possible. If your floors aren’t level, sand a bit, test it out, sand a bit, test it out, until it’s perfect.

A Floating Bedroom Credenza

Ashley Rose wanted to give her daughter’s bedroom a more mature look while still making it easy for her to put toys away. She used the shell of the high-gloss Besta shelf as her base and upgraded the top with a panel of aspen, cut down to size and stained at her local hardware store. 

A Family Room Bench

Designer Laura Melling went for a custom millwork look in this family room by pairing crisp wood paneling with a configuration of mounted Besta modules. To take her wall-to-wall storage solution one step further, Melling incorporated a gray felt bench in one corner that can double as a reading nook for little ones or a bonus seat for guests.

A Daybed for Days

Sarah and Wes Day of This Maine House wanted to create a space near their kitchen where they, along with their little one, could comfortably lounge post-dinner. A daybed-and-bench combination with soft closing drawers proved to be the perfect fix. The couple went outside the box with brass cabinet knobs from Schoolhouse Electric and five coats of Sherwin-Williams Inkwell paint.

A Little Side Action

Here, Sarah Sherman Samuel used her Besta storage unit as a building block for a larger credenza made from birch plywood, and incorporated sleek side channels into the design for added stability. It’s easiest to build around the Besta if you assemble it upside down. For every joint, she used wood glue and a ton of screws.

A Color-Blocked Cupboard

Ashley Rose’s other big IKEA Besta hack comes in the form of a rainbow-infused credenza. Before assembling the doors, the blogger coated each front in spray paint, adding a clear shellac coat on top to seal the vibrant hues.

A Shaker-Shiplap Scene

Erin Broege of The Heart and Haven used a Besta TV unit as a divider between her shiplap built-in shelving units. She swapped out the original doors for Semihandmade’s supermatte white Shaker fronts in order to seamlessly merge the piece with the farmhouse-fresh look of the built-ins.

An Adult-Approved Toy Cabinet

DIY blogger Angela Rose also opted for a natural finish with Semihandmade fronts. To complement the design of her newly completed mural, she chose the brand’s Cove doors by Chris Loves Julia and bone knobs from CB2. Semihandmade’s cabinet fronts come with the hinge cup hole already drilled. When you’re drilling to make pilot holes for the screws, be sure not to drill all the way through the door.