These 4 Budget IKEA Hacks from Small/Cool Are Perfect for Small Spaces

published Dec 28, 2023
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Head on view of a white day bed, in a room with green and yellow floral wallpaper.  The bed is made with a large assortment of pillows with different prints.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

For the 2023 Small/Cool experience in New York City, 18 designers, like Drew Barrymore, Nate Berkus, and more, were challenged to bring 18 trends to life with the constraint of a small space. Given the small footprints, it would have been enough for the talented designers to simply create stunning spaces. But these designers went beyond just looks — the small spaces were stylish and full of smart ideas, creative storage, clever product uses, fun DIYs, and many more functional ideas.

Among those ideas were several IKEA hacks that not only wow with their creativity, but also their affordability.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

This $5.99 IKEA find makes an eye-catching bookshelf

Danielle Blundell’s Small/Cool room was an explosion of energetic patterns. A floral woodland print in several different scales covers the walls and duvet, while other complementary prints add lots of interest. But while the whole room was inspiring, there was a delightful and affordable IKEA hack hiding in plain sight. The wall above the daybed featured five hanging stacks of books, but there was no pricey product holding these books up. Instead, it’s an IKEA item that only costs $5.99 and wasn’t even intended for books.  Just 5″ wide, 11″ long, and less than $6, this dish rack can hold dishes, cups, or mugs for drying, or, as you can see here, can also be repurposed as a way to stylishly display a book collection.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

This $5.99 IKEA product can also keep you organized

Blundell wasn’t the only one who implemented IKEA’s versatile OSTBIT plate holder rack into a Small/Cool space. Megan Baker Detloff, a writer and editor who specializes in home upgrades and DIYs, wowed with the solution she came up with using the humble dish rack. In the “A DIY-Buy Paradise,” an OSTBIT and a fresh coat of fun paint transformed the plate rack into a sleek file sorter that both looked great and functioned beautifully. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

This FREE hack makes IKEA cabinets look fresh. 

Maitri Mody is a Brooklyn-based digital creator, interior decorator, and pug mom, and when it came to decorating her room for Small/Cool, she went all in on color, pattern, and lots of joy. Tasked with the theme of “Creative Cabinetry,” she tackled the challenge beautifully, incorporating color and cute fruit knobs to create a kitchen anyone would be happy to cook in. But it’s not just what she added to the space that makes it so great; by removing some of the doors of the IKEA SEKTION cabinets, she created the look of pricey open shelves. The hack is 100% free to do, and provided more places to style colorful kitchen accessories! 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio

Create custom-looking IKEA furniture with this under-$25 Amazon find.

Hollie Velten-Lattrell is the designer behind the interior design studio SPACES by Hollie Velten, and the room she designed for the Small/Cool experience, named “Hipstoric Nowstalgia,” was a brilliant mix of vintage finds with smart new buys. One of those new purchases was IKEA’s IVAR shelf, a stripped-down, utilitarian item that’s made for holding your things, and not much else. But in Velten-Lattrell’s room, she elevated this simple shelf into a downright elegant storage piece with a very smart and very affordable buy: Adding Amazon bun feet, which retail for $22.99 for four.