Before and After: A Brand New Look for A Plain IKEA VITTSJÖ

published Apr 26, 2018
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IKEA’s VITTSJO shelving line boasts clean, modern lines, and an attractively reasonably price, but one DIYer found it to be lacking a bit of flair. The shelf unit is now chic and unique—and hopefully a little bit more kitten-proof!

Tonya Sutfin of Happy Go Home Vittsjo created this makeover, and the results are so great! The hardwood boards are beautiful on their own and look amazing against the bright paint, while the baskets enhance the organic beauty of the plants and wooden shelves. Mounting the television on the wall was a good move: it allows the shelf and all of its contents to function as an independent whole, while the personal decorations draw attention away from the TV.

The VITTSJO before looks so plain in comparison to the new version, and I really like the VITTSJO! And that television now seems quite low. Let’s hear a little more about the inspiration behind this project:

The VITTSJO system from IKEA was the perfect choice for our small living room. We purchased two single shelves and the tv unit, just the right scale and price point. But out-of-the-box, it lacked a certain amount of style that we were looking for. Initially, I gave it the oft-seen paint makeover, but it didn’t feel complete. Enter a new kitten who just wouldn’t stop jumping around the shelves and I needed a solution! Inspired by metal and wood shelving from Crate & Barrel and West Elm, I set out to give our VITTSJO a next-level makeover, to enhance its design and thwart a young kittens attacks.

Once I had my idea, I was set into a flurry to get it done. This could be a weekend project, but I did it over a few days while our daughter was at school. I used simple Aspen board, Varathane Stain & Poly and a nail gun. Total cost for materials was about $125.

If you can thwart a kitten for $125, I salute you!

The rug looks so great with the upgraded shelf unit, and the finished wooden shelves look wonderful with the floorboards. Credit must also be given to the white-painted wall; it allows the blue to pop so much better than that slightly muddy color would have.

I knew with a little effort, the Vittsjo could be right for our space. Painting it definitely made it more our own and adding the wood sealed the deal. The shelf along the bottom works to unify the three pieces, helping them read as one. And the two open boxes not only keep the cat away from some of our valuables, but also clear some of the visual clutter. All in all, the wood helps to ground the tall shelves and give the whole thing more weight. To me, it looks a lot less temporary and more moved-in.

It totally looks like one single piece!

This photo reveals that the vent has also been painted—black is a great choice. The new paint links it to the television and works well with the wall frames. Meanwhile, the colorful accessories go great with the blue and coordinate the whole thing with the rug.

If you’re interested in tackling a similar project—or really any IKEA hack—Tonya has some guidance to share:

Be fearless and don’t settle. One thing I love about any IKEA hack is that risk is minimal. The financial investment can be small if you choose wisely, and anything mass-produced can be turned into something personal for you. Never use paint right out of the tube!

Thank you, Tonya Sutfin and Happy Go Home!