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Before and After: A $120 Project Gives Old IKEA KALLAX Shelves a Farmhouse Spin

updated Jun 15, 2020
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IKEA KALLAX eight-cube shelf in brown-black
Credit: IKEA

A plain KALLAX shelf from IKEA has a lot of storage versatility, thanks to its generously sized cube shelving. The slots are big enough to file away books, neatly stack clothes, or even slot in some baskets to hold odds and ends. And that versatility means that they can get a lot of use for a long time. In Teresa’s home, they were a presence for more than a decade.

“We’ve had a couple of these IKEA KALLAX shelves in our family room for about 12 years now. We’ve been moving things around, cleaning things out, and changing the colors on the wall and after all those changes these just started to look busy and heavy and dark,” Teresa says. They also no longer needed two shelving units. So after getting rid of one, Teresa decided to try to flex her creative muscles on the remaining one to help it fit into the family’s newly redecorated family room. “Amazingly it was still in really good shape considering how long we’d had it,” she says.

Credit: Teresa

Teresa decided to turn it into an armoire-type cabinet, so she turned it on its side and hit up Home Depot for supplies. “I’m not that handy with tools, so I looked for an easy way to do this,” Teresa says. Fortunately, she found louvered pine shutters at Home Depot that fit the KALLAX perfectly, and cost only $100 for the pair. She then stained the doors using stain left over from a different project—but found that the end result was patchy. To help even it out, she used liming wax. “The lime wax toned down the bad stain job and give it a weathered look,” she says.

Credit: Teresa

Teresa added a backer board that Home Depot cut to size, plus oil-rubbed bronze hinges and simple knobs. All of that came to just $20. Teresa ordered feet from Amazon to lift the KALLAX off the floor and give it a more polished look. “They were more difficult to attach to the cabinet than I expected,” she says. “There is only a small part of the cabinet sides that are wood, or solid enough to hold it.” But the struggle was worth it—once on the cabinet, they made the piece look almost unrecognizable.

With just a few elements, Teresa transformed the sleek and modern KALLAX into an armoire with a modern farmhouse vibe.”This is the first time I’ve done something like this and I have to say it was fun thinking through the steps and figuring out fixes along the way,” Teresa says. “All in all I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

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