IKEA bed hacks - 12 easy ways to give a basic bed a bespoke upgrade

Give a regular Ikea bed the bespoke treatment with these clever hacks that will make it a unique one-off

White bedroom with woven headboard
(Image credit: Future PLC)

While we all love Ikea for its brilliant budget-friendly buys, there’s something very satisfying about taking a standard piece of flat-pack furniture and turning it into something completely different and unique. 

When it comes to Ikea bed hacks, there are lots of super-clever ideas and ingenious customising tricks that will let you take a fairly cheap and ordinary bed and transform it into an expensive-looking one-off that will be the focal point of your bedroom.

IKEA bed hacks

Whether using paint, fabric or wallpaper, there are plenty of quick and easy Ikea hacks that can be a fab way of transforming a basic bed and creating a more exciting, standout piece that can be achieved in just a couple of hours. Alternatively, Ikea bed hacks can also work brilliantly on a practical level too, allowing you to customise a standard item to add useful extra under-bed storage, built-in shelving or adjoining wardrobes for a fully bespoke look.

1. Try your hand at an on-trend woven headboard

White bedroom with woven headboard

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Instead of forking out hundreds for a designer woven headboard, why not create your own version using a standard Ikea shelving side panel? While this hack involves a little ‘crafting’ work to create the piece, if you’ve got a creative eye and steady hand, it should be a doddle to pull off. The finished panel can then be attached to the wall above any standard double bed, creating a chic bespoke focal feature.

To start, you’ll need an Ikea Ivar wooden side unit panel, which will act as the framework for your headboard. To create the woven webbing effect, you’ll need a supply of jute upholstery webbing, which can be bought cheaply online by the metre.

To create the woven effect, start by attaching longer lengths of webbing to the frame, working widthways to cover the panel horizontally and stapling your webbing in place on the reverse of the frame so that staples are hidden. Then simply cut shorter lengths of webbing and weave them through the longer lengths vertically, working your way along the panel from one end to the other. 

You’ll also need to staple the vertical lengths in place, top and bottom, and on the reverse so that they are hidden.

2. Create a ‘faux’ headboard with wallpaper

Pink and white bedroom

(Image credit: Future PLC)

For an ultra-easy hack that requires minimal DIY skills, try faking a headboard effect using a boldly patterned wallpaper. Going for a bright colour or busy pattern will create maximum impact on a plain white backdrop and turn the bed area into a standout feature.

Simply cut your chosen wallpaper idea to size and stick it onto the wall, positioning it centrally so that your bed can be slotted up against it. Opt for a simple squared-off effect rather than a curved design for ease, or if you feel more creative, why not try your hand at a more shapely silhouette like this one.

A vibrant collage-effect wallpaper looks super striking as a ‘faux’ headboard and can be extended onto the base of the bed to create a fully-bespoke effect. Ikea’s Nordli double bed frame has a flat, white finish so can be easily customised by applying lengths of wallpaper cut to size and fixed in place with contact adhesive.

3. Add height with an oversized headboard

Wooden slats behind bed in bedroom

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Panelling the area directly behind the bed is a fabulous way of creating a faux headboard effect - and by running the panelling directly up to the ceiling will help create the illusion of height that is a smart small bedroom idea to make it feel loftier.

To achieve this effect, use wooden battens attached to the wall and left natural or painted for an inexpensive DIY option. Alternatively, Naturewall’s slatted acoustic panels come in ready-to-fit lengths and are available in a range of wood finishes and size options.

Ikea’s Neiden bed has been used in this instance - its simple wooden frame blends in with the wooden panelling for a sleek look. But using an existing divan base or bed with drawers underneath would create the same effect and provide additional extra storage.

4. Create a ‘secret’ storage space

Grey bedroom with storage headboard

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Lack of storage is often an issue when it comes to bedroom storage ideas for small spaces, so ways of squeezing in extra shelves or cubbyhole space where you can are always welcome. Space around a headboard is often under-utilised, but this savvy ‘hidden’ storage idea gives useful extra stowing space behind the bed and makes the perfect spot for stashing night-time reads.

Use this hack to upgrade a standard divan bed without a headboard, either a single or a double will do. Simply make your own basic headboard using a sheet of MDF or ply, either painting it black or covering it with a length of black gloss adhesive Fablon. 

To create the storage sections on the reverse of the headboard, just attach a couple of Ikea Mosslanda picture ledges, screwed into place. By positioning the top ledge upside down, it will create a narrow shelf area that can be used for display. Then by fixing the lower ledge, right-side up, it will give a slot-in area for stowing books or other essentials.

5. Build-in a spot for bedding

White headboard with white bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Maximise bedside storage by building a super-sized headboard with concealed cupboard space inside. Ikea’s Trones shoe cabinets are a prime candidate for easy hacks as their slimline depth makes them easy to slot in anywhere when space is limited. Plus their pull-down design requires less opening space than standard cupboard doors.

Simply stack cabinets one on top of the other to create a size combination that suits your bed and bedroom space. Then simply make sure that the cabinets are securely attached to the wall.  The narrow depth will give you space on top for displaying pictures or decorative odds and ends, while the cabinets themselves are perfect for storing spare bedding, pyjamas, books and general bedside clutter.

6. Create a cool bedroom den

Blue kids bedroom with bunk beds

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While standard white or wooden furniture can be a practical and inexpensive choice that will suit any style of bedroom, in a child’s bedroom idea working in livelier colours or bold patterns is an easy way of creating a more upbeat, adventurous scheme.  

Upgrade a simple Ikea Kura bunk bed with a fun, jungle-print wallpaper. Adding just a panel of pattern against a bright, painted backdrop instantly adds a fun vibe to a plain space that kids will love. Simply cut a length of wallpaper to size and paste the surface of the bed’s front panel, slotting the wallpaper firmly into place.

Turn the bottom bunk into a cool hideaway with a row of cushions, adding books and fairy lights to create the perfect reading nook.

7. Make a hanging headboard

White bedroom with hanging headboard

(Image credit: Future PLC)

This chic hanging headboard is an easy hack that can be created using an Ikea curtain rod - or any similar curtain pole and brackets. You’ll need a length of foam, covered in fabric to create the padded section, with hanging straps added at intervals so the pad can be easily slipped onto and suspended from the curtain pole. 

Unlike a fixed upholstered headboard, a hanging design like this is easily removed for occasional cleaning or if you want a change of colour or pattern later down the line. For an alternative to a longline cushioned headboard, a similar effect can also be created using two single pads or cushions hung from straps above the bed.

8. Match your headboard with your colour scheme

grey headboard

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If a standard Ikea upholstered bed or headboard is looking a little drab or doesn’t match your new bedroom decorating scheme, instead of forking out for a replacement, why not make a new slipcover that can be popped over the old one?

Choose a new fabric in a pretty colour or bold pattern to match your new scheme. You could even consider making two slipcovers, using a bright cotton floral for summer months and a warmer, brushed velvet for autumn and winter.

Begin by measuring the height and width of your headboard, double the amount and then add 2cm more on each side to allow for a hem. Cut fabric to size and machine-sew a 2cm hem. Fold it in half widthways, then sew on fabric or ribbon ties a third of the way from the top, and then the same again from the bottom. Slip the cover over your original headboard and then tie at the sides to give a neat, fitted look.

Get the look: Gladstad upholstered bed, £389, Ikea

9. Boost bedside storage

Blue bedroom with white storage

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Supersize your bedside table ideas, and maximise your storage options using a pair of storage towers, positioned either side of the bed to give a neat, built-in look. Ikea’s Kallax shelving units come in slimline stacks like these that can work as a single unit, or be added to with extra cabinets and cupboards to create a run of full-sized clothing storage.

Start by painting your bedroom wall a bold shade that will provide a colourful backdrop for your bed, while also giving a pop of colour behind the shelving display area. Adding wall lights on each side above the bed is also an option, with wiring concealed inside the unit, although you’ll need to call on an electrician to carry out any wiring work.

10. Build a wall of storage

Grey bedroom with wardrobe next to bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Take bedside storage up a level by creating a wall of wardrobe storage with the bed as the centrepiece. Built-in floor-to-ceiling units put space on either side of a bed to good use and can be connected visually with a full-width headboard in the same colour giving a chic and more streamlined look.

Use Ikea’s Pax wardrobes to create a combination of storage that can be tailored to fit wall space more snugly. Create a bespoke headboard using a sheet of MDF or ply, either painted to match wardrobes or upholstered in a co-ordinating fabric. Make the headboard a boxy shape so that it will give you display space on top where you can slot bedtime books or a collection of favourite pictures and ornaments.

11. Go for neat built-ins

Yellow bedroom with built in cupboards

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Make use of alcove space on either side of a chimney breast by adapting standard cabinets to fit the space. A pair of Ikea Platsa floor-standing cabinets (minus the feet) have been repurposed as wall-hung alcove storage, each with a pull-out clothes rail inside for hanging shirts and jackets face-on. They take up minimal space and are perfect for easing pressure on the main wardrobe ideas.

Extend storage options by taking in the bedside area underneath and adding a couple of bedside drawer units to fit flush against the wall. Both wall and base units have been painted in a soft grey finish with leather strap drawer pulls added to give a chic bespoke look.

12. Add smart end-of-bed storage

White bedroom with white kallax unit

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Place a sturdy Ikea Kallax shelf unit on its side to create a neat end-of-the-bed storage bench. Adding gold feet will elevate the bench off the floor a little and give it a swish finishing touch. Then simply have a length of foam cut to fit the top and covered in a cheery fabric to create a padded seat cushion. 

Add a row of woven baskets to slot in the cubby holes, which will come in super handy for storing spare bedding, clothes or shoes, plus give you somewhere to sit while you take them on and off.

How can I improve my Ikea bed?

If it’s a simple Ikea divan bed, adding an alternative headboard is the easiest way of giving the bed your own twist. It could be a vintage or retro headboard in woven rattan or bamboo that’ll add a touch of boho style or you could simply pair a plain bed with an upholstered headboard in a bright cheery colour.

If it’s an Ikea bed complete with headboard, re-covering it in your own fabric will give it a new look if it’s looking drab. The easiest way is to buy a metre or two of fabric and simply fix it over the old upholstery, using staples or upholstery tacks to secure it at the back. Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, consider making a new slip cover that can be popped over the top.

What are Ikea hacks?

Furniture hacks are easy ways of updating or customising a fairly basic piece and giving it a new look or alternative use. Ikea hacks have become quite popular over recent years, with clever tweaks or upgrades on standard Ikea items that cleverly transform them into something unique and outstanding. 

Ikea pieces are affordable and well-designed so make a good basis for an upcycling project and with just a few DIY skills, it's easy to create a one-off or bespoke piece that better suits your needs or space.

Lisa Fazzani
Deputy Editor

Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.