Before and After: IKEA BOAXEL Shelves Turn This Living Room into a Collector’s Dream

published Nov 19, 2023
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About this before & after
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There’s a lot of talk about decluttering in the interiors world, but what about recluttering? That is, celebrating the trinkets, tchotchkes, and stuff that makes you feel happy, nostalgic, and like you! This apartment redo by Bertie Ocampo (@bertsplace_) is a good example of exactly that. 

“I wanted my living and dining room to feel cozy and welcoming,” Bertie says. “When I purchased my apartment, I was lucky enough that my living and dining room didn’t necessarily need much fixing. But the one thing I liked least about my apartment was the entire space was covered in a dark gray carpet along with dark gray doors.”

Light-toned laminate flooring is a modern, affordable upgrade.

The first upgrade Bertie made to her apartment (which she owns) was ripping up the carpet and adding laminate flooring. “This was a cheaper alternative to real wood flooring,” Bertie says. Before, the kitchen had an off-white linoleum flooring which created a jarring contrast between the carpeted living area and the cook space. But this time, Bertie says, “I made sure to keep the flooring of the kitchen and living/dining room consistent so the space would feel bigger and wouldn’t feel ‘cut off.’” 

The lighter flooring that covers the whole apartment (especially when paired with the white paint) makes the place feel brighter and bigger.

Floor-to-ceiling IKEA shelving makes smart use of horizontal and vertical space. 

Bertie’s favorite upgrade she made to her open-concept living and dining rooms was the back wall, which has impressively become a colorful feature wall without paint or wood paneling or wallpaper. 

“It’s been my dream to have [a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf] installed to display all my treasures and collections,” Bertie says. “The first thing was to try and find a bookshelf that worked. There were so many options, it was rather overwhelming.” Bertie landed on a BOAXEL system from IKEA. She used five rows of shelves at varying heights to accommodate collectibles of many shapes and sizes.

She used IKEA’s online planning tool to map out her layout, and then she hired a freelance tasker to install the shelving, which turned out to be a great way to add lots of color to her apartment without creating any changes that are too permanent. “I used to avoid hanging things on the wall because I was scared of damaging the wall and creating too many holes,” Bertie says. “But in this apartment, I had so much blank wall space it just needed to be filled.”

This apartment owner’s advice? If it brings you joy, display it. 

For both the items on the shelves and the furniture in the space, Bertie used a lot of secondhand finds. “Make Facebook Marketplace your new best friend, or spend time checking out your local antique and thrift store,” she recommends. 

Her coffee table, side table, and lots of her lamps are secondhand finds, as are her dining table and chairs, and many of her collectibles. (Her sofa is from Brosa.)

Bertie has lots of advice for styling a space to make it more personal. First, “Don’t be in a rush,” she says. “All the items I had took years to collect, and when I finally placed everything together I was filled with so much pride and joy because it was a culmination of different things I’ve loved and memories I’ve had over the years.”

Second, add in flora and fauna for a pop of green. Third, mix old and new finds for a truly eclectic look. And lastly, “If an item truly means something to you and brings you joy (even if it’s an unconventional item), go ahead and display it,” she says. 

Lamps galore added cozy vibes. 

Bertie’s last piece of advice is so important that it deserves a bullet point of its own. “Add in lamps to bring in more ambient lighting and warmth,” she says. “I hate overhead lighting; it feels too stark and cold. So I was determined to fill my living/dining room with ambient lighting. I tried to install as many lamps and candles as I could to highlight all the key areas. Again, I found the majority of lamps in vintage shops, but also bought a few pieces from IKEA.”

Bertie is proud of the way all of her special finds came together in her living and dining area. “I’m someone who needs to be constantly surrounded by beautiful, quirky, and interesting things to get inspired,” she says. I love that my dining/living room has become the perfect space to entertain guests, and I love that it’s turned into my own mini museum. Whenever I have guests over, they spend a good amount of time looking at my wall and they always tell me that every time they have a second or third look, they always find something new.”