The 3 Best IKEA Hacks from Small/Cool NYC

published May 7, 2022
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bright happy living space with gold velvet sofa, coffee table with yogi tea setup, patterned wallpaper, red and white rug, shelves with l'objets, plants
Credit: Rikki Snyder

IKEA usually has a solution for whatever problem your space might have, from a crowded kitchen that’s lacking storage to a living room with lackluster shelves. The fun thing about IKEA’s products is you can use them as-is, or you can dust off your DIY skills to turn the Swedish brand’s items into something totally unique. The possibilities are endless, and a few super-smart IKEA hacks are on display at Apartment Therapy’s third annual Small/Cool NYC showcase in New York City.

As part of the showcase, we challenged 12 designers to bring 12 different trends to life in rooms that are just 120 square feet. IKEA is a go-to for stylish storage, especially when you’re on a budget, and a few of our designers put IKEA’s storage to the test in their rooms. These IKEA hacks inside Small/Cool NYC do not disappoint. Here’s a look at what three designers did with some popular IKEA products.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

The KALLAX Bookcase makes a perfect room divider, especially with a shot of high-contrast paint

Sourya Venumbaka the founder of Sove Home and the designer behind the “Bespoke Style” room created in partnership with Toyota Corolla Cross, believes “good design shouldn’t be out of anyone’s reach.” So it’s no surprise she created such a budget-friendly room divider for her multi-purpose office/living room setup with IKEA’s KALLAX shelving unit. Here comes the hack: Instead of settling for the standard walnut finish on the entire piece, she had the inside of the cubby shelves painted Behr’s Cracked Pepper (PPU18-1). Not only does this make the unit look extra sophisticated, the black paint stands also stands out visually from the walnut, making the decor pieces pop as a result.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

The HEMNES Bookcase is absolutely stunning

Founder of Oh Happy Day!, a popular blog and brand, Jordan Ferney is also the designer of this “Happy@Home” living space, created in partnership with Yogi® Tea. In her room, Ferney used the HEMNES Bookcase from IKEA, a reliable living room storage piece. The only thing that could make it better than its off-the-shelf look? A coat of airy green paint, Behr’s Breezeway (MQ3-21), which matches the moulding in her room perfectly. “Consider the HEMNES Bookcase a blank canvas to style with whatever makes you happy,” she says. “It has a tiny footprint, but filling it with a few of your favorite things can have a big impact in a space space.”

Credit: Rikki Snyder

These SEKTION cabinets look totally custom

Designer Jessica Davis, founder of Atelier Davis, created a colorful, moody, lounge-like space for the “Memphis-Deco” trend at Small/Cool NYC. The whole room centers on a back wall of built-in IKEA SEKTION kitchen cabinetry. The hack here is that each of the cabinets is finished finished with a custom-look, DIY slab style door from Semihandmade, painted in Behr’s Broadway (PPU18-20) to match the walls. The cabinets are also outfitted with Davis’ own Nest Studio Tubular hardware in coral, which makes this entire unit look like a million bucks. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t use kitchen cabinets in a living room.

Small/Cool NYC is a shoppable, in real life and digital home design showcase full of decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers. Visit us from April 22 to May 15, 2022, on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 515 Broadway in Soho, New York City. Check out our event schedule and the whole virtual experience online at and follow along on Instagram @apartmenttherapy. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR® Paint, Toyota Corolla Cross, Ashley, Yogi® Tea, and Chasing Paper for making this experience possible.