3 Brilliant IKEA Hacks Make This Studio Living Room Super Functional

published Mar 24, 2024
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When you’re working with a smaller space, you have to get creative to best utilize every square inch. DIY aficionado Ashley Buchanan (@historyinhighheels) is familiar with that puzzle — and in her small studio apartment, creativity was her guide.

Not only does Ashley live in a 480-square-foot studio apartment, but she works from home, meaning her entire place needed to be multifunctional. She wanted to ensure that her space was practical while still looking great. In the living room area that also doubles as an office, three separate IKEA hacks — plus other clever, colorful DIYs — helped maximize her space and bring in some character. 

A BILLY bookcase doubles as a stylish wall divider. 

The standout in the studio is the “giant pink bookcase” that helps make the living room its own distinct zone; and it’s actually a unit made of multiple BILLY bookcases and extenders, all painted pink (Behr’s Pink Taffy).

Ashley started with a base made of 2x4s and then added her IKEA pieces. “I used three large BILLY bookcases built upside down on BILLY extenders for the longer side and one small BILLY bookcase built upside down on a BILLY extender for the short side,” she says.

To achieve the built-in look, Ashley and her friend added trim and molding to the case before painting it. The project was the most expensive of the three, costing around $800 in materials and tools, but Ashley says that the results are priceless. “It is one of my greatest accomplishments,” she says. “I’m obsessed! Not only does it create an incredible statement in the apartment, it provides a ton of functional storage.”

There’s an expensive-looking bar cabinet (without the price tag).

Of course, there’s another gorgeous pink IKEA hack in the room, too. “And a pretty simple one at that,” Ashley wrote on her blog. “You are basically just adding some elevated details to the SKRUVBY cabinet, which is only $119.”

The tufts on the cabinet doors are made of a surprising material: pool noodles! Once Ashley had glued the noodles (cut to size) to the cabinet doors, she stapled a pink velvet material over top. To finish the cabinet, she added the legs, attached marble contact paper to the top, and installed door handles. 

“The handle was the hardest part to figure out. I ended up finding a marble soap dish at Target that looks almost exactly like our inspo cabinet. I painted the sides gold with my gold paint and then affixed it to the right-hand door with a U-bracket,” she explained on her blog. “I used very strong glue to attach the marble dish to the metal bracket and small wood screws to screw it into the door.”

The blue TV stand — plus other pops of color — complete the living area.

The final IKEA hack in the living room is the blue media cabinet. It’s an IKEA BESTA painted blue (Behr’s French Court) with fan-shaped Anthropologie handles and lucite feet from Amazon. Not an IKEA hack, but still incredibly clever, is the burled wood console-turned-coffee table from Target that Ashley customized to her liking by cutting the feet down. 

The other pops of bold color in the living room are the green cherry blossom peel-and-stick wallpaper, the blue velvet chair, the green Amazon sofa and the Rifle Paper Co. rug. 

The way it all comes together is a testament to Ashley’s small-space planning and an eye for color. “I knew with some thoughtful space planning and strategic DIYs the space would be perfect for me!” For more studio makeovers, check out these 11 transformations.