IKEA Hacks: 7 Ways to Upgrade Basic Furniture

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While you might not love building IKEA furniture, the Swedish retailer’s smart designs and affordable finds make the effort (and the tears) worth it. But if you think your basic IKEA pieces are in need of a style upgrade, you’re not alone. There’s a community of thousands of IKEA hackers dreaming up creative ways to transform their pieces on a budget. Whether you’re a first-time or devoted furniture hacker, we scoured the internet to find some of our favourite IKEA hacks for your home.


Image via A Beautiful Mess

Play kitchen 2.0

Toddler toys are often an eyesore parents would prefer to hide away. But after doing this IKEA hack you’ll want to show off your little one’s kid-sized play kitchen. For this hack, A Beautiful Mess blogger Elsie started with the $99 IKEA DUKTIG play kitchen and used leftover paint, hardware (pull handles) and wallpaper from other projects around the house. Not only will you save money on supplies, your mini kitchen will match elements from other rooms in your home, making this kid’s toy blend seamlessly with your home’s dècor. 

A minimal desk with maximum storage

This hack uses the classic IKEA HEMNES dresser ($219) to create a minimal desk that does double duty as extra storage space for crafts, files, or clothing. Nichole from Design Style Love started by deciding on a desk opening width (where the chair goes) and the depth of the desk surface based on her needs. Next, she built the desktop by glueing two pieces of wood together (ask your local hardware store for tips and materials) and staining the wood before attaching the desktop to the dressers. The result is a custom work-from-home solution that’s functional and stylish.


Image via @cloe.thomson

A high-end fluted dresser dupe  

Cloe (@cloe.thomson) was inspired by a $2,000 dresser when she came up with this IKEA hack that’s a fraction of the price without sacrificing style. To achieve the look, Cloe replaced the hardware with cabinet edge style drawer pulls, sourced wooden dowels from Dollarama, cut the dowels to size and glued them to the $299 eight-drawer IKEA HEMNES dresser. After sanding the edges and reassembling the dresser, the result is a high-end look on an IKEA budget. Check out Cloe’s fluted dresser Instagram story highlight for tips on the process from start to finish. 

A trendy desk for less 

Materials like cane, wicker, and rattan are trending in 2020. To help you embrace the look for less, check out this cane-inspired IKEA hack. For this hack, Esther from PrettyLittleTerrace used two $45 IKEA BESTA frames to build the foundation for a wall-to-wall desk. Esther elevated the cabinets with black legs sourced on eBay and a made-to-measure desk surface with help from her local hardware store. Next, she used glue to attach the cane (also sourced on eBay) to two IKEA OSTVIK glass doors ($35 each). To complete the look, she painted the middle support leg to match the wall. Watch Esther’s IKEA cane desk Instagram highlight for more tips and ideas. 


Image via @the_house_acc

An easy entryway overhaul 

It’s easy for an entryway to get cluttered and chaotic with everyone coming and going, especially if you have kids. IKEA’s HEMNES shoe cabinet is a $149 solution that adds lots of storage space without taking up a lot of room. For this hack, Robyn (@the_house_acc) added a second HEMNES unit, swapped out the hardware and installed a piece of stained wood (a leftover scaffolding board) to connect the units and make this entryway organizer look like a custom piece of furniture. Be sure to secure this piece to the wall as per IKEA’s instructions.  

A couch glow up to swoon over

If you love the idea of an IKEA hack but don’t love the idea of a DIY project, consider upgrading an IKEA couch with a stylish slipcover. This hack starts with the $740 IKEA SÖDERHAMN couch covered in a Bemz velvet sand beige slipcover (about $400), taking this couch from basic to anything but. Plus the slip cover is machine washable and available in more than 20 linen and velvet fabric options. If you already have an IKEA couch in need of a refresh, checkout Bemz’ other slipcover options for a wide range of IKEA couches (shipping is free in Canada for orders over $150 and they offer free samples, too). 

A moody closet makeover 

To pull off this stunning closet makeover, Megan (@copperandgoldproject) added a $50 IKEA BILLY bookcase between two IKEA PAX wardrobes (prices range) and took a risk painting the whole thing black. The result is dark and moody and totally transforms these basic IKEA pieces. Painting IKEA furniture is doable, but you’ll need to do some prep. First, Megan wiped down the pieces, cleaned them with a degreaser (check out T.S.P.) and sanded all surfaces to be painted with 220 grit sandpaper. Next, she cleaned the pieces again and then used Fusion mineral paint in coal black to achieve a flawless, matte finish. To complete the makeover, Megan swapped out the hardware for copper cabinet pulls from Lowe’s. 

To make these IKEA hacks even more affordable (and to skip out on assembly), try searching local online marketplaces like Kiiji or Facebook Marketplace for used IKEA basics. Whether you start with a new, secondhand or much-loved IKEA piece, there’s no limit to what you can create with some creativity and elbow grease. 


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