Before and After: IKEA Hack Built-Ins Bring New Life to a Family Room for Just $800
Family rooms, throughout history and especially throughout the pandemic, have been a refuge — a spot to hunker down and watch TV, play games, read books, take naps, and just be together.
But DIYer Sahana Begum (@styledbysahana)’s sister’s family room wasn’t fostering the family vibe she wanted it to. “It felt uninviting and was not a place anyone spent any time in,” Sahana says. “Nothing in the room attracted anyone toward it.”
The space was fairly empty, with a short tiled fireplace and sparse mantel on the main wall. Sahana wanted to make a change to “give the room some meaning.”
“This is, after all, the family room, a place for the whole family to gather to spend time, watch TV, or play board games,” she says. “Nothing of that sort was being done here, so I decided to give it a new look, something that’ll attract everyone!”
In a three-week reno, Sahana decided to revamp the main wall, which gave the whole room a much more inviting and complete feel.
She removed the existing square tiles from the fireplace, detached the long, thin mantel, and then patched up the drywall to install built-ins, which are custom-looking but for a fraction of the cost — about $800, she says, with the trim being the most expensive part due to lumber shortages.
For her added storage, Sahana used pre-made wall cabinets from Menards ($65 each), attaching two cabinets and adding a base frame on the bottom and trim on the sides to make them look built-in. She used IKEA GERSBY bookcases ($35 each) on top of the the cabinets for shelving, trimming a bit of length off the bottoms so they would fit between the cabinets and the ceiling.
“With shiplap and trim work all throughout, it turned out to be a beautiful custom piece,” she says.
Sahana said on Instagram that if she could change anything about the project, it would be to hang the mantel a bit higher — but because the fireplace isn’t actually used for heating, it’s something she can live with, and she’s proud of all the hands-on work that went into the living room transformation.
“I was determined to complete this without any outside help and make it an all-DIY project,” she says. “I worked on this project after my full-time day job. At times it was very stressful, but I did take breaks in between. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to take breaks!”
Sahana says she loves everything about the “after.”
“Now it’s finally a space where the family can gather and enjoy time together,” Sahana says. “And the space finally feels like it’s an extension of the house. It’s no longer a neglected room!”
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