The 15 Best IKEA Hacks We Saw This Year, Starting at Under $50

published Dec 12, 2023
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Wall mounted media center in pink living room.
Credit: Natalie Goff

IKEA furniture is practical, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing on its own, but taking it beyond the flat pack are the keen DIYers who love to create custom pieces through a range of DIY IKEA furniture hacks. 

While the concept of IKEA furniture hacking is nothing new, this year has seen many designs to spark refreshed inspiration. From shoe racks to media consoles, Apartment Therapy’s favorite IKEA hacks of 2023 span every room of the house. Each of these intrepid DIYers had a clear goal in mind, and while the process wasn’t always easy, the end result is what matters most here. And those results? Beautiful, bespoke pieces of furniture that you won’t find off-the-shelf in any store near you.

1. An IKEA HEMNES Gets the Look of Expensive Bone Inlay for $43

Claire Champion (@charnwoodtowers) elevated her HEMNES shoe cabinet with paint, stencils, and less than 50 bucks. For her first-ever stenciling project, which was “easier than expected,” Claire worked with a stencil from Dizzy Duck Designs to achieve an eye-catching floral look and opted for a black and white color scheme that gives a sleek, cohesive finish. To amp things up even further, she added six hex-shaped brass pulls. In the end, she had a stunning cabinet that has since become the focal point of her entryway.

2. Three IKEA KALLAXes Create Chic Playroom Storage for $560 

The IKEA KALLAX is one of IKEA’s most recognizable pieces, and in this playroom transformation three of them come together to create mammoth toy storage that works for both the kids and the adults of the home. Selma Chatto (@chateauchatto) and her husband, Stuart, used a roll of wood-grain-effect vinyl over top of black KALLAXes. They also added two long pieces of plywood to connect the top, and modern black knobs. Selma’s best IKEA hacking advice is to buy backup doors and drawers for your piece, especially if it’s going to be in room like a playroom where it gets a lot of wear and tear (and especially if IKEA is more than a quick car ride away, as is the case for her).

3. This “Dopamine Decor” IKEA Hack Is $100 and Super Funky

DIY duo Lischa and Cira Steiper’s (@donanddandy) home is bold, eclectic, and full of “dopamine decor.” The sisters create funky furniture that will bring a ton of personality to the home, and their IKEA KALLAX-turned-sideboard is no exception. To create the one-of-a-kind piece, they cut out a squiggly design on a piece of fiberboard using a jigsaw, nailed it to the front of the KALLAX, and painted the whole thing purple. (The key to a successful IKEA hack, according to Lischa and Cira, is prepping the piece for painting. They recommend starting with a coarse sandpaper and then switching to finer sheets as you go.) The whole project cost around $100, but the simple spruce-up looks so much more expensive. 

4. $90 IKEA MALMs Form the Foundation of This Luxe-Looking Storage

A DIY worth talking about? Turning a bunch of unassuming IKEA MALMs into a luxurious behind-the-sofa table that looks like it should cost a lot more than it actually did. To complete her project, Annie Williams (@champagne.chaos) took five MALM nightstands and inserted small pieces of trim in the gaps between them to allow them to be screwed together. Then she used peel-and-stick veneer to cover the top of all the nightstands, making those look like one long, seamless piece of wood.

5. An Easy IKEA Hack Brings Statement Shelving to This Bare Wall

DIYer Bea Copeland (@bea.copeland) wanted to make a statement in her living room, so she opted for eye-catching shelving that both became the focal point of the room and added in some extra storage space for books, decor, and more. Using IKEA’s popular HAVSTAunits — which fit snugly in the exact space she needed (with less than an inch to spare between the walls!) — Bea customized her own cozy library-like wall that brings personality into the space. “Even though it’s functional, it feels like a massive piece of art that can change with the seasons,” Bea says of her creation.

6. A Luxe $540 IKEA BILLY Redo Uses Serving Bowls in a Surprising Way

Dalia Aly (@dalia.ea) transformed her IKEA BILLY in two totally unexpected ways. First, Dalia felt she’d get more out of the shelves by using them as a media console rather than a standing bookcase, so she started her project by flipping the unit onto its side. From there, she added linen to the OXBERG door fronts and brass pulls from Zara. But the true light-bulb moment, and the second completely unexpected twist, was creating furniture legs out of wooden serving bowls. Real furniture legs hidden inside the bowls support the weight of a fully stocked media console, but from the outside all you see is a cleverly designed piece with a high-end look.

7. A BILLY Hack Makes a Bathroom-Laundry Hybrid Work Beautifully

Agathe Corbet (@amastudiointeriors) and her husband moved to a French pied-à-terre, and their bathroom was “probably the worst-looking space in the entire apartment.” After completely gutting the room, the couple upgraded everything from the tiling to the vanity (also a modified IKEA beauty). But the true star of the space is the IKEA BILLY partition that creates a small-yet-mighty bathroom-laundry hybrid and doubles as a hidden “laundry room” to conceal their small washer/dryer, while the bookshelf side of the BILLY adds ample shelving for bathroom essentials.

8. A $50 Hack Turns This Plain Glass IKEA Cabinet into a High-End Statement Piece

While the IKEA MILSBO glass cabinet can be a statement piece in itself, Manchester-based DIYer Jen Rothbury (@crack_the_shutters) took things a step further and created something that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end furniture store. To create the piece, Jen cut MDF arched details for the front doors using a jigsaw and painted the arch cutouts black using Rustoleum’s matte black all-surface paint to match the frame of the cabinet. Jen completed the look by adding peel-and-stick film with a fluted glass pattern, which she cut to size with a utility knife. 

9. An IKEA Hack Bench Is a Space and Budget Win in This Kitchen Redo

This project takes an old IKEA LACK coffee table and turns it into something totally new. DIYer Jacqueline Schowetsky wanted to create more storage in her large kitchen in her family’s farmhouse home, so her husband Brian used the existing MDF and used it as framework for a bench (with storage!) for the dining area. According to Jacqueline, the addition of the bench made a big difference in her kitchen space overall, allowing the family to move around more freely while seating more people at the dining table. 

10. A $60 Redo Gives This Plain IKEA MALM Dresser a High-End Custom Look

Jennifer Liu (@jnn.liu.liu) transformed a $15 Facebook Marketplace find — a worse-for-wear MALM dresser — into a gorgeous high-end piece that looks totally splurge-worthy. Jennifer first used wood filler to patch the chipping veneer and scratches; then, she sanded the dresser smooth to help those patches blend and to help the paint adhere. To give it a custom look, she added pole wrap to make the dresser look a little different from a standard MALM. Finally, she painted the whole thing black (Behr’s Black) for a sleek finish that doubles as camouflage for any remaining surface imperfections.

Credit: Ariana Ervin
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11. An IKEA IVAR Hack is a Sneaky Small-Space Win in This Bathroom

DIYer Ariana Ervin and her wife, Lucy, wanted to take their boring black-and-white bathroom to new heights, and they did exactly that with a six-month renovation that included a new tub, fresh tiling, and lots of whimsical wallpaper. Behind the door, they would need a super-slim vanity, which is where the IKEA IVAR comes in. With a piece of reclaimed wood attached to the countertop, the IVAR creates a unique and space-saving vanity. It’s one of Ariana’s favorite features of the $6,000 bathroom makeover. 

12.  An IKEA Basket-Turned-Chandelier Is Perfect for This Renter-Friendly Balcony Redo

Nailing a renter-friendly renovation can be a tough feat, but blogger and business owner Erin DeCarlo managed to personalize her balcony in a temporary way in this boho balcony makeover. If you look up, you’ll spot a clever IKEA hack using the SNIDAD rattan basket as a chandelier. “I took a wicker basket and removed the handles; then, I used a remote-controlled, battery-operated puck light, so no electrical wiring was needed,” Erin explains. She used macrame rope and an outdoor-friendly Command hook to hang it. 

 13. A $525 Bedroom Redo Has a Must-See IKEA Headboard Hack

Headboards might not be an essential, but they sure make bedrooms look a lot more pulled-together. DIY fan Nicole Herrick (@nicoleherrickdiy) updated her headboard in a group of smaller transformations that made a big difference in the look of her whole bedroom. Her once-simple IKEA TARVA bed frame is now “a luxury-inspired goddess,” Nicole says, thanks to some plywood that she wrapped in batting and fabric. According to Nicole, the double-layered cushioning that she added gives it such a sumptuous feel — and no one would ever suspect its budget-friendly bones are actually IKEA.

14.  A “White Box” Bedroom Is Now Packed with Storage, Thanks to IKEA

DIYer Rebecca Rajs’ (@rebs_home) priority for her bedroom makeover was to add more storage space, and she did just that thanks to one simple IKEA hack. Rebecca built IKEA PAX wardrobes in one corner of her room, secured them in place, and then added some wood pieces to make the wardrobe go all the way to the ceiling. Rebecca opted to add some trim, too, to give the plain cabinets a custom look. As a finishing touch, Rebecca painted her new wardrobe a sage-meets-gray (Benjamin Moore’s Sea Haze) to give the space a calming feel.

15. A Designer-Looking Media Console Is Made of 2 IKEA Pieces

The floating media console in this living room redo by Katie Unicorn (@katieunicornofficial) is made of two IKEA favorites: a two-door IKEA BESTA and a SALJAN butcher block countertop. The slightly longer countertop over the floating cabinets gives the piece a unique silhouette that feels anything but off-the-shelf. Katie says she chose to mount the piece on the wall to “capture valuable space underneath and reduce clutter in the room.”