Ivar, Pax, Kallax, Billy—these are the beloved IKEA storage systems that come to mind when you want to rid your home of clutter for good. But for the frequent mover or small-space dweller, the front-runners can fall short when you realize you have no room left for a dining table or that your precious kitchen shelves weren’t designed to disassemble. When nothing seems to fit, we turn to the Swedish retailer’s secret weapon: Besta.
Of all IKEA’s storage systems, this lesser-known solution might be the most versatile. In its most basic form, the Besta unit is a standing credenza. As the variations become more complex, the piece can be expanded to function as an all-encompassing media station or mounted to the wall to serve as a floating buffet. However, no matter what you decide to use your Besta for, the provided combinations are only meant to get you so far.
Ask any DIY-er or passionate decorator how they feel about IKEA products and they’ll tell you that transforming the Scandinavian staples into something totally new is half the fun. And when it comes to modular storage units like Besta, the possibilities are endless. Swap out the fronts, add fresh hardware, tailor the legs—whatever your inner Kondo desires.
To get you started, we rounded up a few of our all-time favorite hacks. From a color-blocked filing system to a minimalist book nook, these Besta DIYs are—what else—the absolute best.
The Hack: Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth 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.
Level of Difficulty: 4/10
Pro Tip: Opt for contact cement over wood glue for adhering the wood panel to the top of the unit. Cement glue doesn’t expand like wood glue, so you won’t have to worry about putting weight on it as it dries.
The Hack: 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.
Level of Difficulty: 5/10
Pro Tip: To take her wall-to-wall storage solution one step further, Melling incorporated a felt gray bench in one corner that can double as a reading nook for little ones or a bonus seat for guests.
The Hack: Sarah and Wes Day of This Maine House wanted to create a space near the 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’s Inkwell paint.
Level of Difficulty: 7/10
Pro Tip: Because the Days wanted the bench to be even with the top of the daybed mattress, the pair raised the entire storage unit approximately four inches, creating their own wood platform instead of relying on the legs.
The Hack: Designer 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.
Level of Difficulty: 8/10
Pro Tip: It’s easiest to build around the Besta if you assemble it upside down. For every joint, Samuel used wood glue and a ton of screws.
The Hack: Rose’s next big Besta hack comes in the form of a rainbow-infused credenza. Before assembling the doors, the Sugar & Cloth blogger coated each front in spray paint, adding a clear shellac coat on top to seal the vibrant hues.
Level of Difficulty: 3/10
Pro Tip: This project only works if the Besta cabinets you choose are not high gloss. The Lappviken faces will have a sheen to them that makes them difficult to cover with spray paint.
The Hack: Erin Broege of The Heart and Haven used the Besta TV unit as a divider between her shiplap built-in shelving units. Broege swapped out the Besta’s original doors for Semihandmade’s white supermatte Shaker fronts in order to seamlessly merge the piece with the farmhouse-fresh look of the built-ins.
Level of Difficulty: 6/10
Pro Tip: If you’re installing a unit alongside a shiplap wall that’s already been painted, take your new door fronts to the hardware store to have them color matched. Broege chose an eggshell finish.
The Hack: DIY blogger Angela Rose also opted for a natural finish with Semihandmade fronts. To complement the design of her newly completed mural, Rose chose the brand’s Cove doors by Chris Loves Julia and bone knobs from CB2.
Level of Difficulty: 3/10
Pro Tip: 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.
The Hack: Transform the most basic Besta cabinet with a touch of texture. This project calls for Norse Interiors’s white lace cabinet fronts and side panels, as well as the Leg Vega ash wood legs.
Level of Difficulty: 2/10
Pro Tip: Once you’ve adhered the top and side panels with adhesive tape, use a screwdriver to attach the cabinet door to the hinges. Voilà!
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