You'd be hard pressed to find a home in the UK that doesn't include one or more Ikea hacks. Taking a simple flat-packed piece of furniture and turning it into something more exciting and adventurous results in bespoke beauties for your home, that don't cost the earth. While some Ikea hacks take a little more creative know-how, most are easy, simple and quick to achieve, making them the ideal weekend project.
IKEA Hacks to update budget-buys
Transforming an affordable piece of furniture into something totally unique for your home is a savvy way to decorate, ideal if you don't want to splurge on new furniture. Equally appealing if you aren't a fan of mass-selling pieces that will result in you having a carbon copy of your friends' living room or bedroom.
With imaginative upcycling furniture ideas and personalisation, you can transform these simple IKEA pieces into unique and expensive-looking features in your home. Take a look at these striking IKEA hacks that are cheap and easy to do.
1. Stencil drawer fronts
Bespoke a plain chest of drawers with a simple chevron stencil, made yourself or bought online. First you might want to give the whole set a new lick of paint to transform it from bland and boring, to something more on-trend. Next, lightly tape your stencil onto the drawer fronts using washi tape, then stipple on furniture paint using a dry, coarse-haired paintbrush. Leave to dry then finish with clear matt varnish and add smart, leather tab handles.
Buy now: Malm six-drawer chest, £120; (opens in new tab) For similar leather handles, try Osternas leather handles, £12 for two, (opens in new tab) all Ikea
2. Make a secret shelving den
Instead of placing shelf units against a wall, face them towards each other to create a special reading nook. Suspend floaty fabric over a swing curtain pole for a magical hideaway canopy, letting it drape to the floor for a fairy-tale feel. Or if space is tight, swap one unit for the back of a bed head.
If kids are sharing a room, assign a shelf each, hanging individual hooks at the end for and cherished personal belongings or special toys.
3. Replace solid wardrobe doors with rattan
This is a great Ikea hack that will give you a designer look in your bedroom, without the expensive price tag. Remove the inside wood panels from wardrobe doors and staple sheets of cane to the backs. There's no need to wet-stretch the cane- just pull it tight and fix in place. While cane is hugely on-trend at the moment, you could achieve a similar look with a woven linen or soft slub cotton to add texture.
Choosing sliding doors for wardrobes will help save space if it's tight in your bedroom, plus lidded boxes and baskets can be popped on top for more storage.
4. Top a stool with drawers
Give this simple hack a go for an easy bedroom update by combining two Ikea staples, to make a bedside table. Start by attaching a Moppe (opens in new tab) chest to the legs of a Tenhult (opens in new tab) stool using wood glue. Paint the drawer fronts with leftover emulsion or tester pots, in an ombre formation, starting with the lightest shade at the top, with the darkest at the bottom. Leave to dry, then coat with a matt varnish. Alternatively, swap the paint for decoupage paper or pretty wallpaper offcuts to match your scheme.
Keep surfaces clear and tidy by adding a simple pendent or wall-mounted lamp above the bedside table.
5. Update doors with fluted film
You won't believe how simple it is to achieve these designer-look cabinet doors. Just use glass film to transform a plain display cabinet into an up-to-date storage piece. Measure the size of your doors, then cut the film to fit. Spray the doors with water and apply the film, smoothing out any wrinkles and air bubbles as you go. Don't overcrowd the shelves inside, use stacks of bowls, piles of books and objects with interesting shapes to create balance in your display.
The fluted glass film will also help to prevent chips and scratches, plus you could choose to use a stained glass or patterned window film for a truly bespoke cabinet.
6. Create a craft house
This is one ideal for a kids room or playroom. Make tidying up paints and brushes more exciting by giving them a special home. Wallpapering behind a cube shelf transforms it into a fun little house, that little ones will love to keep neat and tidy... hopefully!
If you have skirting boards, add legs to the unit so that the wallpaper starts at the same level as the shelving.
7. Create wall-to-wall storage in a boxroom
If you have a space that is too small to function as a bedroom, perhaps see it as an opportunity to create your dream dressing area and free up space in your own room too. A wall-to-wall run of chests, painted the same colour and topped with a bespoke-cut piece of wood, will create the ideal space to store all-sorts. Adding a ceiling-hung rail will also make the most of the space and provide a place to hang clothes and accessories.
Adding shelves above the chests would also make a great stop for perfumes and toiletries.
8. Make a space for storage in a kids room
Another fab idea for a kids room and one they are sure to adore! Get the most from limited floor space with a built-in high sleeper made from storage units, for a child's room. Here, we added custom-made ply doors to Metod (opens in new tab) base units and Maximer (opens in new tab) drawers, both Ikea. A step-stool will help younger kids climb up a cosy-reading nook.
Hanging curtains will turn it into a cosy den for young children.
9. Save space with a skinny night stand
This is one of the best bedside table ideas if you're on a budget or even just lacking space. Take two of the IKEA Mosslanda picture ledges, attach one to the walls as 'normal' then take the second and turn it upside down and position on top. Affix this to the wall also, to form a small cubby space to keep bedside essentials to hand, such as books, reading glasses etc.
To enhance the smart nightstand further add an LED strip light, to help shed subtle light on the contents. So you're not feeling around in the dark looking for things.
10. Luxe-up blue furniture with gold detailing
Painting Ikea furniture to turn it into a unique and expensive-looking item has been on our radar for quite some time, but adding metal detailing notches a DIY and decorating project up a gear.
This unit has been transformed with Rust-Oleum furniture paint and finishing Wax to provide a matt finish for projects that require more durability against knocks and stains. With corner plates added for extra wow factor.
Position the corner plates on the edge of the drawers pre-drill small holes, to make it easier when screwing in the fastening screws. Take your flat-topped screws and screw into place to secure the corner plates. Repeat this step to add the handles to complete your project.
11. Build bespoke storage using Billy bookcases
Think outside the box with the much-loved Billy bookcases. Use a single width bookcase attached to the side of a double width version to create an 'end' so to speak. This then frees up a side panel on which to mount a cut-to-fit vinyl chalkboard sticker – making it even more versatile and useful.
In addition to providing all the storage a busy household needs, there's now a memo board to jot down all the necessary family to-do lists etc.
12. Customise a toy cupboard
Update a basic pine cupboard with a lick of paint to add personality to a playroom idea. With just a few tester pots and a bit of Frog tape the plain pine unit can be transformed to a welcomed colourful addition to any room that requires toy storage. Wall-mount the unit to maximise floor space for play – ideal for a small kid's room idea.
13. Turn a slimline bookcase into a swish bedroom bench
Place a sturdy Kallax shelf unit on its side to create a bespoke storage bench with cubbies to sit at the end of a bed. Perfect for basketfuls of shoes or spare bedding, cut foam to size and cover in a co-ordinating fabric to make a comfy cushion to sit on. Add gold longline feet at each end for a luxe finishing touch.
14. Create a slimline vanity unit out of a shoe cupboard
Pushed for space in a small bedroom? Make room for a micro-sized vanity unit with this clever hack. Ikea’s Hemnes shoe unit measures only 22cm deep, so will butt up against a wall taking minimal floor space. With a handy top ledge to store bedroom essentials, there are four pull out compartments for holding clothes and lingerie. Swap standard drawer pulls for chic leather tabs and add a smart mirror on the wall above.
15. Upgrade basic flatpack wardrobes with designer doors
Built-in floor-to-ceiling storage puts alcoves either side of a bed to good use. Give flatpack wardrobes a swish new look by swapping standard doors for an on-trend option with decorative Deco-style fluting and accent gold door pulls.
Co-ordinate bed with wardrobes by adding a full-width headboard in the same colour to give a streamlined shelf for books and other bits. Fill wall space above with a flamboyant wallpaper.
16. Use simple spice racks to make a mini beauty station
Supplement a crowded dressing table with handy wall storage for hair styling kit and beauty products. Fix a couple of Bekvam spice shelves on the wall to hold bottles and tubes, fixing the bottom one upside down to create a hanging rail. Add a few S-hooks so you can hang hairdryer, straighteners and tongs.
17. Pep up a plain chest of drawers with fancy fretwork
Stick-on fretwork panels are an easy way of giving a simple white chest of drawers a snazzy designer look. Stick directly onto plain white drawer fronts for an understated look or for a colour contrast, try painting drawers a vibrant shade first.
18. Turn wall space into a drinks station
If you’ve no spare room to squeeze in a cocktail cabinet or drinks trolley, why not utilise some un-used wall space instead. Slimline picture ledges sit close to the wall, but are just wide enough to hold glassware and bottles.
Make your drinks station a focal point by painting the wall area behind in a standout colour or go one better and opt for chalkboard paint so you can chalk up your favourite tipples.
19. Put wall space to work with a bespoke pegboard
Swap a shabby sheet of corkboard for a Pinterest-worthy office upgrade. Kit out your desk wall space with a sheet of pegboard painted in a soothing shade to match your scheme.
Add a couple of super-versatile Bekvam spice racks, put to use as mini shelves for holding stationery and office bits and bobs. Paint a complementary colour or in a contrast shade for a standout look.
20. Fashion a work space with painted panel and floating shelves
Create the ideal place for youngsters to work from with this simple hack, a winning small home office idea. Dedicate an area of the room by painting a panel section, cleverly mounting two floating shelves to create the illusion of a wall-mounted unit. Complete the space with a wire memo rack, compact desktop and a chair to provide everything they need.
Adding clever magnetic strips helps to store everything from toy cars to pens – brilliant alternative toy storage idea.
21. Create a simple and stylish media unit
The Bekvam birch step stool is a resident hero in most households (everyone on the team has one!). But never before has it been used to such an extent as this. Thanks to two Fonnes wardrobe doors through the middle a simple pair of steps are now acting as a bespoke media unit. This design could also be made using sheets of MDF, salvaged floorboards or scaffolding boards – providing they can safely support the items placed on top, anything goes.
This clever and not to mention affordable storage solution can be updated further with a splash of paint, to disguise the different elements altogether.
22. Mount a rail to display houseplants
Here's a fine example of when something so simple becomes something so unique. The IKEA Racka curtain pole takes on a new life as a bespoke hanging plant rail. The simple curtain pole, sold complete with fittings, comes in black, white or grey and can be easily used to create a wall display of plants.
Simply affix to a wall and suspend your macramé plant hangers at different heights to create an interesting house plant idea.
23. Hang a handy kitchen roll
The stylish leather cabinet handles are transforming kitchens in more ways than one. Here we're used the attractive Osternas leather handles to fashion a home-made kitchen memo board. Fix two of the cabinet handles to the wall and slip in a wooden dowel to make a stylish holder for the kitchen.
You could also use this quirky idea to attractively store your kitchen towels, baking paper or foil.
24. Make a bespoke lampshade with a basket
Never have natural materials been more popular as home accessories. This clever hack turns a simple storage basket into a designer-look lampshade with very little effort. We started with an IKE Snidad rattan basket, removed the handles and sprayed it black to instantly transform it. You could leave it in it's natural state to retain a more natural element in your decor.
Drill a small hole in the base to add a bulb and hanging cord and presto – cool basket lampshade complete.
25. Fashion a hairpin-leg console table
Transform shelving units into a sleek hairpin-legged console table for a hallway or living room. Double-stack the shelving units and attach the metal legs to create a one-of-a-kind space efficient and stylish storage solution for a smart hallway storage idea.
26. Give a chest of drawers an industrial luxe look
For this hack, you'll need a Malm chest of drawers and a bit of confidence with a screwdriver. First attach a set of hairpin legs in your choice of metallic finish – The Hairpin Leg Co has a wide selection. Then paint the strips between the drawers with paint to match – we recommend going for gold for the ultimate glam look.
27. Fake a high-end, marble-topped side table
Glam up a table with metallic paint and marble-effect sticky-backed plastic. Carefully remove the table's glass top, and spray the frame with Plastic-Kote metallic paint, making sure you pick a well-ventilated spot that's protected with newspaper.
Measure the width and length of the glass top, adding 5mm to each side. Cut your plastic to these dimensions (including the mm allowance). Peel and stick the plastic to the top, allowing the 5mm to overhang. Smooth off with a cloth as you go. Finally, trim away the excess with a craft knife and replace the top.
28. Hang alternative vertical storage
Being smart with space is always a must for any room, especially in a small home where storage space is premium. Vertical storage helps to keep things streamlined – ideal for brollies and sporting equipment, rather than bulky alternatives.
When affixing to the wall turn the ledges facing inwards, so the lip of the design is not visible from a side view. Choose decorative knobs to attach at the top and bottom of each one. Then using a chosen string or even a colourful flex, securely intertwine around each one to create a fence-like effect.
29. Create a fun cat climbing wall with shelves
If you have the wall space and a cat you adore, why not give them the run the house! Quite literally, with this ingenious climbing wall creation. The team at IKEA have shown us how the picture ledges can be staggered on one wall to create a playground for feline friends.
Affix the picture ledges at various heights and distances on one wall, even line one with slithers of matting to provide a scratching surface. The team have even used wall brackets to dangle toys, to make the attraction more appealing. This is a great idea for house-bound cats especially.
30. Make a home office desk drawer with a picture ledge
Got a makeshift home office desk? Add a makeshift desk draw to keep it free of clutter. Attach two picture ledges on their sides to the underside of a desk. Leave enough with space in between for a storage box, to run along the ledge – to slide in the same way as a pull out draw would. (The IKEA team suggest left 23.5 cm).
31. Give a desk a glam makeover by spraying it rose gold
Give your home office a stylish feminine makeover by spray-painting your desk with rose gold paint. Remove the glass top from your desk, and take the frame to a well-ventilated area. Clean the frame with a damp cloth, then leave to dry.
Spray with primer, leave for four hours, then spray with metallic spray paint. Leave to dry for 24 hours, then place the glass back on top an admire your brand-new desk.
Get the look
Buy Now: Vittsjo Desk, £30, IKEA (opens in new tab)
32. Sew small mats together to make a bigger rug
Need a large rug but don't have a large budget? Follow the lead for this clever homeowner, who, desperately wanting a floor covering to cosy up her bedroom, had this genius idea! To save money, this savvy homeowner took nine £1.90 Ikea mats and sewed them all together to make a larger rug.
33. Use kitchen and bathroom storage in your home office
Repurpose basic Ikea kitchen storage idea into a wall-hung system for your workspace. Give a scoreboard and a spice rack a complete overhaul with a simple lick of paint that tones in with your colour scheme.
The spice rack transforms into a shelf, while Stugvik bathroom holders become storage for bits and pieces that can clutter up a drawer. Simply tap a nail into the wall to hang them up.
34. Build a bespoke storage headboard
Build a storage headboard by stacking Ikea Trones shoe cabinets and fixing to the wall for safety. This DIY headboard idea can be useful to store bedding, pyjamas and out-of-season clothes where they are easy to grab. Changing the sheets just got a whole lot easier!
35. Use furniture wax to transform a simple desk organiser
Give an untreated wooden desk organiser a luxe makeover by staining it with finishing wax. Give the drawers a wipe over with a damp cloth and leave to dry. Using a paint or wax brush, apply finishing wax all over the item, then immediately wipe away any excess using a clean rag. How much wax you remove is up to you - we applied plenty to give a lovely deep colour. Leave to dry, and then buff to a soft sheen.
36. Paint an office shelving unit gold for a style upgrade
Cover the shelves of the unit with newspaper and tape down with masking tape. Wipe down the frame with a damp cloth and leave to dry. Spray with a metal primer spray, then spray with a metallic spray paint. Leave to dry before applying a metal sealer.
37. Do the shelf switch
You really can't beat Ikea for affordable storage, as these homeowners know well. However, finding the glass shelves of this shelving unit a little impractical – especially when it came to gathering dust – they decided to switch them out. These cut-to-fit plywood shelves are a sturdier alternative.
38. Create colour-coded dressing areas for the kids
Give the kids their own tidy areas by painting wooden stools in bright colours. Ikea regulars will instantly recognise these as the Bekvam step! Once dry, space each along the wall – mark vertical lines just the width of each seat from just below the top step. Use the same colour to create a panel up the wall for a fun finish.
39. Turn a boring pine chest of drawers into beautiful storage
Simply cover the chest of drawers in a wallpaper of your choice. Begin by painting the sides and top of the chest of drawers with a furniture paint that has a chalky finish.
Next, remove the drawer handles and cut your chosen wallpaper to fit flush to the edges of each drawer front. Use a ready-mixed wallpaper paste to stick the wallpaper onto the drawers. Finish it off by adding smart ceramic knobs.
40. Update a headboard to match your new chest of drawers
Choose a fabric in a co-ordinating shade to the bedroom wallpaper idea – used to transform your chest of drawers. Measure the height and width of your headboard, double the amounts and add 2cm more on each side to allow for a hem.
Cut your chosen fabric to size and machine-sew a 2cm hem. Fold it in half widthways, then sew fabric or ribbon ties a third of the way from the top, and then the same again from the bottom. Slip the cover over the headboard and tie at the sides.
41. Add a pop of fun fluoro
We love this funky spin on Ikea's simple Ivar cabinet. Cut four wooden spindles to length using a handsaw to make legs. Sand, then cover with Rust-Oleum pink neon spray paint. Apply several light coats. Once dry, attach the legs to the cabinet.
42. Paint wooden stools in two colours for a modern look
Give wooden stools a dipped effect by painting them in two shades. Sand the stool all over, then clean it thoroughly to remove all traces of dust. Apply masking tape around the legs where they meet the struts. Paint the top part of the stool white and leave to dry. Turn the stool upside down and remove the tape. Apply fresh tape to protect the new paint, then paint the bottom part of the stool in a mid-grey shade and leave to dry.
43. Turn a picture ledge into a pretty jewellery display
Repurpose picture ledges as a jewellery organiser and put all your favourite treasures on show. Make tangled necklaces and missing earrings a thing of the past with the ultimate jewellery organiser as a smart bedroom storage idea. Turning the shelves upside down will double storage space: screw hooks and eyes into the front and back edges for hanging necklaces and earrings, leaving the flat top surfaces free for make-up and accessories.
44. Turn a basic sideboard into a coastal-style piece with wallpaper
Use a plank-effect wallpaper to give a sideboard a weathered look. Remove the sideboard's handles, then sand it down all over. Wipe away the layer of dust, then use a ready-mixed wallpaper paste to stick washable wallpaper onto the sideboard's front, sides and legs. Apply a decorator's varnish to protect the wallpaper, then leave to dry. Stick laminate flooring to the top of the sideboard with a high-strength contact adhesive. Paint the sideboard's original wooden knobs to match your chosen wallpaper and screw them back onto the sideboard.
45. Give a coffee table a distressed look to match your reinvented sideboard
Cover this simple coffee table with textured laminate planks. Choose a pale laminate - you'll need at least six planks. Measure the table top and shelf, and cut the planks to size. Lay the planks on the table top and on the shelf below to work out how to arrange them to fit. Stick the planks down using a high-strength contact adhesive.
What are Ikea Hacks?
Ikea hacks are when you take a piece of Ikea furniture and adapt it, update it or re-work it to become more useful, beautiful and unique. By customising items than perhaps might have been intended for something else, you create a bespoke piece of furniture or storage solution, using the in-expensive and easy-to make Ikea bones. There are 1000's of hacks from all over the world, so you'll always find something to inspire a new project or upcycle. Searching on social media using the hastag IkeaHacks is a good place to start, or try re-creating one of our above ideas!
How do you reuse Ikea furniture?
There as so many ways to reuse Ikea furniture, and it's a great way to make something really special for your home. Most second-hand stores or sites will have a bevy of Ikea hand-me downs crying out to be made into something more beautiful, so you don't even have to buy brand-new, before taking on an Ikea Hack. Try to completely free your mind of restraints, and just because Ikea have suggested you use their furniture in a certain way, doesn't mean you have to do it!
A lick of paint, a change of knobs, or a covering in wallpaper are all inexpensive ways to give your Ikea furniture a new look.
How do I make my Ikea bookcase look more expensive?
The easiest way to make your IKEA bookcase look more expensive is to give it a style makeover! Take any IKEA piece of furniture, change the handles and give it a coat of on-trend colour and it will instantly feel bespoke – and therefore more expensive.
Changing the handles can make all the difference, and gives you the freedom to make it totally personal – our guide to how to fit a door handle has some top tips if you want to give this a try.
All of these imaginative IKEA hacks are a great way to update your home on a budget.
How do you modify Ikea shelves?
Try adding backs to open shelving, or removing backs from closed shelving! Try using spice rack shelving for storing and displaying books instead, picture ledge shelves flipping upside down, as slim bedside tables and shelving units turned on their sides and use a bench storage. Completely play with orientation and don't accept that a shelfs purpose is it's only use, your imagination can take it anywhere!
Additional words: Holly Walsh
Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
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