Before and After: A Plain Old IKEA KALLAX Shelf Gets a Glam Redo for $200

updated Mar 3, 2021
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Before: Plain white IKEA KALLAX console with books

IKEA is full of wallet-friendly buys that are perfect for organizing your space, but sometimes the most practical options aren’t always in line with your style. Thankfully, many of IKEA’s most loved shelves — like the ubiquitous KALLAX cube shelves — are endlessly hackable.

Starr Simpson (@ohanahouseco) and her husband David had bought their KALLAX cube shelving, shown above, to organize their shared office space. It didn’t really fit their vision for the space, but Starr didn’t want to buy anything new. “So instead, we decided to upcycle our old bookshelf to make it into something more sophisticated that offers some hidden storage,” she says.

Starr and David worked over three non-consecutive days to bring the transformation to life. They started by building doors for the piece using plywood, which they accented with half-round molding to create raised panel doors.

After they finished the doors, they got to work painting both the doors and the rest of the shelf, choosing a dark gray-green (Sherwin-Williams’s Pewter Green) for a luxe feel. Once the paint was dry, they attached the doors to the piece with gold hinges and installed dramatic oversized gold pulls on the doors. “If you want your furniture to not look DIY you want to make sure your measurements are as precise as possible and make sure your hardware fits the scale of the furniture,” Starr says. Since their doors were large, they picked equally large pulls to help everything look cohesive.

New bun feet on the bottom of the shelf give it some elevation, and help it look like a high-end piece.

With this project, Starr and David were able to save their old IKEA piece from heading to the dump and create a piece that matches their style.

“It turned out even better than I imagined and doesn’t look DIY at all, in my opinion,” Starr says. “In comparison, I saw a credenza with similarities that is priced around $1300, so I am more than amazed that we were able to achieve a similar look for a fraction of the cost.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.