Before and After: A Leftover IKEA KALLAX Gets a $40 Redo with High-End, Minimalist Style

published Nov 3, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: IKEA four-cube KALLAX unit in black

As far as versatile furniture pieces go, it’s hard to beat a classic like the IKEA KALLAX. It’s not only inexpensive, but it’s also available in multiple sizes, and is a sturdy enough piece to function in nearly any room of your home. It’s also endlessly hackable, as this redo from Joana Bianchi (@joana_bianchi) shows.

“I think everyone has had a KALLAX in their home at some point,” Joana says of the IKEA standby. “When I was renovating a friend’s bedroom, they needed some place to store paperwork and some random items, so I decided to figure out a way to incorporate this piece of furniture they already had into their new bedroom aesthetic.”

Joana wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted her project to look like at first, but knew she wanted it to have chunky legs as its base. So she started by building supports using a 2×4, then sanded, primed, and painted the body of the piece a soft beige color. (That came after her first pick didn’t go as planned: “I started by painting this piece gray, but then realized I didn’t love it, so I pivoted,” Joana says. “That’s normal and part of the process!”)

To hide the shelf’s contents, Joana cut plywood doors to fit the front of the shelf. She considered having the doors inset, to fit flush with the frame, but “because the doors could not be inset without messing with the inside shelves, I decided to use some pretty hinges that could be exposed and assemble the doors in front,” Joana says.

To add some texture to the door fronts, Joana covered them in burlap left over from another DIY. Then, to make minimalist handles, she cut half circles from plywood and painted them to match the body of the shelf. A little bit of scrap wood helps the handles stand out a bit to make them easy to grab.

“I love that you would never guess it used to be a KALLAX!” Joana says of the redesigned cabinet. Best of all? She only spent $40 on the glow-up, making this gorgeous (and functional) piece a bargain, too.

“This is a simple, low cost, one weekend project that I think anyone can achieve,” Joana adds. “It really transformed the look of an object that so many people have at home. It shows that you can make your home feel like you, even on a tight budget.”