Published on August 1, 2019

We all have our favorite IKEA product, but one, in particular, seems to be a stand out among Danish and Swedish design lovers. It’s $70, it’s made of raw wood, and it’s as simple as it gets. It’s the Ivar Cabinet system, and if your hobby is poring over images of beautiful Scandinavian homes (we’re right there with you), you’ll likely recognize it as a staple. 

We have empirical evidence: Niki Brantmark, the blogger behind My Scandinavian Home (and resident of Skåne, Sweden) dubbed the Ivar system her all-time favorite IKEA product. Allan Torp, the Danish local who runs the design blog Bungalow5 agrees: “I used to have it in my teenage room; as my mom said, it would last a lifetime and never go out of style. She was right. Here I am, 25 years later, buying three of them for my office,” he says. 

While Torp chose to keep his cabinets wall-mounted and in their most stripped-down form, that’s far from the only way to go. This storage system is super easy to customize, should you want something a little jazzier. And we have some ideas on where to begin: 

Embrace stains

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Photo Courtesy of IKEA

The wood, not the wine, kind. For this IKEA hack, all you need is one layer of colorful varnish. Lightly brushing on a colorful stain—as opposed to painting—keeps the natural grain and grooves of the wood prominent for a rustic feel that you’ll find in the coolest Nordic cabins. Add some bespoke pulls, mount the cabinet to the wall, and you’ll be good to go. 

Pile on some texture

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Photo Courtesy of September Edit

If your space is a neutral haven, make it feel less one-note by incorporating lots of texture. This rattan-esque Ivar cabinet couldn’t be easier to copy; all you need to do is glue woven fabric to the door fronts (we also like this cane webbing). Considering how expensive wicker furniture can be, this DIY is a must.

Go monochrome

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Photo Courtesy of IKEA

For a true Scandinavian vibe, look to their go-to color palettes and paint your cabinets and walls the same moody color. In this DIY, matching coats of teal paint (along with simple leather straps) really bring the drama—even in this tiny nook. Try the idea in your entryway to make a major first impression. 

Channel your inner artist

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Photo Courtesy of We Are Scout

Don’t panic: You don’t need an art degree to create this detailed design. Blogger Lisa Tilse used chalk paint to color block her Ivar system and then went the decoupage route with photos of florals. Make the project even easier by sticking on the decals of your choice instead. 

Do the bare minimum

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Photo Courtesy of @rohouseproud

Novice DIY’er? There’s no need to concern yourself with custom cabinet legs or intricate details. Keep your Ivar on the floor and make it more interesting simply by painting the top of the piece. All you need to replicate this sweet nursery’s style is some masking tape and your hue of choice—you might even have some paint samples hanging around just waiting for you to use up. 

See more IKEA hacks:
6 Fun Ways to Upgrade Your IKEA Malm Dresser
Everyone Is Hacking IKEA Lighting
We Asked Interior Designers: What’s Your All-Time Favorite IKEA Hack?

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