IKEA hacks – 32 ways to give flat-pack furniture an easy update

Transform budget-friendly IKEA buys into trend-led, custom pieces for your home

Blue Ikea sideboard hack with rattan lining.
(Image credit: Paul Knox)

Affordable, easy to customise, build and get your hands on - revamping your home with an IKEA hack is a no-brainer. The iconic Swedish brand is renowned for its simple flat-pack furniture, meaning that whether you're looking to save money or hoping to upgrade existing decor, they're bound to have an easy DIY project right for you. 

While sometimes no-fuss designs that maximise storage are exactly what you want, they can sometimes be lacking in creativity. Colourful, individualistic homes are a fool-proof way to add joy to your everyday life, and playing with IKEA furniture offers the perfect low-cost solution for creating a personality-packed space, from living rooms to bedrooms and everything in between.

Some of our favourite IKEA hacks may require a few more tools and DIY knowledge than others, but each and every one of them will allow you to create a design-led look for less. 

IKEA Hacks to update budget-buys

'Simple and neutral IKEA furniture is the best base for re-imagination. With different pieces of furniture come different possibilities,' says Tom Revill, co-founder at Plank Hardware. By taking inspiration from upcycling furniture ideas, you can create a stylish spot almost anywhere in your home, from your wardrobes to your TV cabinet. 

It's easy too - with an image to use as inspiration, a couple of tools, and some paint, you can achieve an entirely new look. 

'If you’re on a budget and focusing on updates only, Chalk Paint™ works just as well on plastic and MDF and brings a lovely matte finish to Ikea furniture,' echoes colour and paint expert, Annie Sloan

1. Add curve appeal

Blue Ikea sideboard hack with rattan lining.

(Image credit: @crack_the_shutters)

Moon-like shapes have been cropping up more and more in our homes, and luckily they're easy to DIY. @crack_the_shutters has elevated the doors on this IKEA BESTA cabinet by cutting out a curved shape, and filling this in with a rattan sheet. 

The effect? Right on-trend and premium-looking. Tom also suggests adding 'brass feet and matching brass hardware' just like in this hack to elevate the simple cabinet even further.  

DIYing an IKEA unit yourself also offers much more flexibility when it comes to colour. Whether it's on-trend pink, baby blue, or any other shade you can get your hands on, you can match it precisely to your interior.

Our Deputy Editor, Rebecca Knight, recently painted her own cabinet using a bold black Frenchic paint, and said 'if you're looking to change the colour of a piece of IKEA furniture quickly and you're not the best painter like me a matte furniture paint like Frenchic hides a multitude of sins and is one of the easiest I've used for a professional finish. Just remember to use a top coat to keep your paint revamp looking good.'

2. Work in a built-in desk

Green Ikea billy bookcase hack in a home office.

(Image credit: @fromcatterytohome)

Working from home can be uninspiring at times, but this clever IKEA hack is bound to get the creative juices flowing. @fromcatterytohome has created a wall-to-ceiling office set-up by positioning BILLY bookcases on top of a desk, offering a place to store paperwork, stationary, and even some decorative accessories to make the space feel like home. 

By painting the bookcases to match the walls and base units, it creates the illusion of an all-in-one built-in desk that has been fitted bespoke. This way, you can have a chic home office idea that flows effortlessly into the rest of your home.

3. Create a cohesive design

Ikea Besta sideboard hack in grey with wall panelling.

(Image credit: @melanielissackinteriors)

One way to make a living space look expertly designed is by mirroring the same texture around a room, just like @melanielissackinteriors. This Ikea hack uses the BESTA cabinet, which is the ideal shape and size to fill a gap in a dining room for extra crockery, or in a living room for storing games or electronics. 

The added moulding creates a fluted look that aligns with similar wall panelling ideas, and instantly makes the Ikea unit look bespoke. You can also add a marble-look top for a luxe touch which means you can easily style up accessories on the top of the cabinet too. 

4. Go bespoke

Green built in bookshelf with curved edges.

(Image credit: Paul Knox)

An IKEA hack that potentially saved £9000? We couldn't believe it either. Paul Knox wanted to achieve the look of a built-in bookshelf to cover the entire wall of his open-plan dining room, but it wasn't within his budget. 

Instead, he purchased five BILLY bookcases that fit the exact dimensions of the wall and got to work creating his dream bookshelf, all with minimal tools. 

'We bought the matching doors for the standard-size bookcase, hardboard for cutting the arches, and then some MDF sheets for the edges of the bookcase to give the impression they were flush to the wall,' Paul says. 

To take the IKEA bookshelves to the next level, Paul and his partner also 'used beading that would usually be used for flooring to top off the bookcase, and then bits of textured moulding to cover the joins of the bookcase.'

5. Perfect a boudoir-style space

Green Ikea wardrobe transformation in bedroom.

(Image credit: @diydoctorsoph)

The IKEA PAX wardrobes are a popular bedroom storage idea for good reason - they're fully customisable on the inside so you can create a storage system that works entirely for you, at a lower price. 

Tom says, 'You can upgrade your PAX in several ways, such as adding further framework to create the covetable built-in look. Laura of @houseproject_36 got creative and sourced TV cabinets that were the ideal dimensions for the height of her ceiling, which she slotted on top of her PAX units. She then added beading, a fresh coat of paint and detailed hardware for the ultimate DIY project.' 

By opting for PAX wardrobes as the foundation of this IKEA hack, it means you can easily add to the design if your storage requirements grow, without needing an entirely new bespoke quote. 

6. Take inspiration from designers

Grey Ikea IVAR cupboard in grey with raised squares.

(Image credit: @lukearthurwells)

Obsessed with designer furniture but want to achieve it for less? @lukearthurwells upcycled his IVAR cabinet to give it a new look inspired by premium interiors. 

Tom from Plank Hardware says, 'He planned out the layout of the design and cut strips from leftover MDF board, making sure to number each piece. He then sanded down the sides and created a bevel around the edges.'

'Using wood and moulding strips for a consistent gap between each piece, he glued down each block. Then he used furniture paint, which means you don’t have to prime. He drilled through two of the blocks for handles, using Plank Hardware PLANE Knobs, the perfect finishing touch. He used a clear matte varnish over the top, for a simple effortless look.' 

7. Stencil drawer fronts

drawers with potted plant and floor mat

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

Bespoke a plain chest of MALM 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 OSTERNAS handles.

8. Make a secret shelving den

red wall room with bookcases and carpet

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

Instead of placing BILLY bookshelf 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.

9. Replace solid wardrobe doors with rattan

wardrobe with clothes and carpet on floor

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

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 HAUGA 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.

10. Top a stool with drawers

white bedroom with bed and table

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

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 chest to the legs of a TENHULT 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.

11. Update doors with fluted film

white room with armchair and cupboard

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

You won't believe how simple it is to achieve these designer-look cabinet doors. Just use glass film to transform a plain RUDSTA 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.

12. Create wall-to-wall storage in a boxroom

boxroom with wooden drawer and clothes hanger

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

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 MALM 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.

13. Make a space for storage in a kids room

child's bedroom with raised storage bed and carpet flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

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 base units and MAXIMER 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.

14. Built bespoke storage using BILLY bookcases

white room with shelf and wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

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.

15. Create a slimline vanity unit out of a shoe cupboard

room with white cupboard and walled mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

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.

16. Upgrade basic flatpack wardrobes with designer doors

green bedroom with blue bed and tropical picture

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

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 PAX 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.

17. Use simple spice racks to make a mini beauty station

blue wall with shelf and hair dryer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

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 the hairdryer, straighteners and tongs.

18. Fashion a work space with painted panel and floating shelves

blue wall shelf with toys

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

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, and cleverly mounting two floating LACK 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 – a brilliant alternative toy storage idea.

19. Create a simple and stylish media unit

blue wall with tv unit and carpet on floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jo Henderson)

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.

20. Mount a rail to display houseplants

blue wall with sofa and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

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 them to a wall and suspend your macramé plant hangers at different heights to create an interesting house plant idea.

21. Hang a handy kitchen roll

white kitchen wall with shelf and books

(Image credit: Future Plc/ Joanna Henderson)

The stylish OSTERNAS leather cabinet handles are transforming kitchens in more ways than one. 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.

22. Make a bespoke lampshade with a basket

dining room with table and hanging lampshade

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

Never have natural materials been more popular as home accessories. This clever hack turns the SNIDAD rattan 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 its 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.

23. Fashion a hairpin-leg console table

white room with baskets and white drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

Transform the EKBY shelving unit 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.

24. Give a chest of drawers an industrial luxe look

white bedroom with drawer and flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

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.

25. Fake a high-end, marble-topped side table

marble top table with plant pot and sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Max Attenborough)

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 of the VITTSJO Nest of Tables, 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.

26. Hang alternative vertical storage

white wall with vertical storage and baseball racket

(Image credit: IKEA)

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.

27. Make a home office desk drawer with a picture ledge

study room with desk and black lamp

(Image credit: IKEA)

Making work-from-home a regular occurence? Add a makeshift desk drawer to keep it free of clutter. Attach two picture ledges on their sides to the underside of a desk. 

Leave enough 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 leaving 23.5 cm).

28. Sew small mats together to make a bigger rug

bedroom with grey bed and carpet

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Philip Lauterbach)

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.

29. Use kitchen and bathroom storage in your home office

grey wall with wooden table and shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

Repurpose a 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.

30. Build a bespoke storage headboard

bedroom with bed with headboard storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

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!

31. Do the shelf switch

white room with shelf and rocking chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

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.

32. Turn a picture ledge into a pretty jewellery display

white wall with pink shelf and jewellery storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

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.


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 that 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 thousands 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 hashtag 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 bench storage.

Completely play with orientation and don't accept that a shelf's purpose is its only use, your imagination can take it anywhere!

Now, the big question - are you going to revamp an existing IKEA piece, or head to the blue and yellow store to recreate one of these inspirational ideas?


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. 

With contributions from