Before and After: IKEA Hack Built-Ins Bring New Life to a Family Room for Just $800

published Mar 9, 2022
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Credit: Sahana Begum

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.”

Credit: Sahana Begum

“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.

Credit: Sahana Begum

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.

Credit: Sahana Begum

Rather than re-tiling around the fireplace, Sahana added shiplap boards (about $9 each), mounted a TV, and added a wooden mantel (stained in Varathane’s honey shade) that’s more proportional to the size of the fireplace.

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!”

Credit: Sahana Begum

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!”