One Room Challenge

Before and After: This $1,600 Closet Redo Makes IKEA BILLYs Look Like Luxe Built-Ins

published Sep 2, 2022
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About this before & after
Before: Empty closet
Credit: Alice Kuaban

Although closets can be great for stashing coats, scarves, umbrellas, games, sports equipment, and more behind closed doors, recently designers and DIYers have proven that removing the doors can also be quite fruitful — that is, if you want to create an alcove-esque design feature without having to do much demo. (Check out this closet-turned-home office or this cute entryway bench for inspiration!)

During the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, professional organizer and DIYer Alice Kuaban (@odd_essence) turned an ordinary coat closet into an ultra stylish and functional space with IKEA-hacked built-ins.

Credit: Alice Kuaban

Alice wanted this “builder-basic coat closet” located just off the living room to be “something functional, fabulous, and special,” she writes on her blog; she wanted to create a place to store some odds and ends but also create a design feature. It was a tall order for a mere closet, but with $1,600 and eight weeks of time, Alice was able to pull it off.

Her first step was enlisting the help of a general contractor to create extra space in the closet. The contractor removed the double doors and made the square opening of the closet wider before adding an arch overhead. They also helped Alice mount a couple of 93-inch IKEA BILLY bookcases on the sides of the closet to maximize vertical space for storage.

Credit: Alice Kuaban

Alice then swooped in to add trim and fluted panels around the sides of the bookcases to make them look built-in. To give her BILLYs an extra high-end look, she outfitted them with glass doors and brass pulls.

Credit: Alice Kuaban

After the new foundation of the closet was set, Alice got to decorating. For the walls, she used a charcoal gray-colored paint (she painted the outsides of the BILLYs the same color for a seamless look), and she added a peel-and-stick Victorian-style wallpaper for a patterned accent.

One of Alice’s favorite details in the small space is that she left the insides of the bookcases unpainted. “Remember for dark spaces, it is all about creating contrast,” she writes on her blog.

Credit: Alice Kuaban

A vintage gold-toned mirror, easily the focal point of the space, rests above a vintage red-toned washstand. For a bit more light in the space, Alice hung two battery-operated wall sconces next to each bookcase, and she didn’t forget a couple of hooks for hanging hoodies and tote bags. After all, she says, it is a closet!

Credit: Alice Kuaban

The final result perfectly fulfilled Alice’s vision. “The coziness and functionality of the space makes me quite happy,” she says. “I was able to ensure that the final product had everything I wanted in the space, including a spot for hanging coats.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.