From Drab To Fab - Reinventing Classic Ikea Pieces

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By: Sarah Rodrigues
Published: January 26, 2018
Last Update: March 11, 2023
Sure we all love Ikea, but in a way, that’s half the problem - it’s so popular that it’s literally everywhere. Clever design is just one of the reasons for its enduring appeal - but that clever design can start to feel more than a little bland, especially when it’s wall to wall in your home. The answer? Hacking: utilising all of the brand’s form and functionality as a base for your own customizations and projects. Maybe you’ve seen something elsewhere that you love but can’t afford; maybe you just need more life and personality in your home - it doesn’t matter. Whether you want to make your interiors look more expensive, more unique or just more you, here are 30 great Ikea hack ideas to get you started.

1. Bekvam Stool

If you’ve had one of these in your bathroom to help the children to reach the tap and wash their hands properly, then you’ll know what a sturdy little number it is. Now that your young ones can reach the sink unassisted, though, it’s time to show the BEKVÄM some love - stain or paint it in a shade to complement your bathroom, add some contrast or detail, and use it as a pretty surface on which to place fresh flowers, a candle and a guest towel.

1. Bekvam Stool Source

2. Another Way With The Bekvam Stool

Young children love to copy what we do (ie slaving in the kitchen all day..) - until, that is, they’re old enough to do it for real. Then they lose interest. It’s very strange. Anyway, while they’re young and enthusiastic about copycatting, a play kitchen is an ideal toy for them to occupy themselves with - and how adorable is this one, repurposed from a Bekram stool?

2. Another Way With The Bekvam Stool Source

3. Lack Side Table

What’s better than a Lack? A stack of Lacks! Assembling a handful of these Ikea mainstays (it’s been in the range for nearly 40 years) makes a striking corner unit, and is a brilliant use of space in a room where you just don’t have enough surfaces to display all of your precious things.

3. Lack Side Table Source

4. Malm Chest Drawers

It’s all very well not having knobs and handles on your drawers for a smooth and seamless look, but what about if you want to add some personality to an otherwise fairly bland piece of furniture? the Malm drawers are the perfect blank canvas: a few coats of paint, some beautiful handles - and you have a piece that you’ll genuinely enjoy having in your room.

4. Malm Chest Of Drawers Source

5. Ingo Table

what’s in a table, you might think? Sure, this one is about as boring as they come, but as long as you set it nicely for meals, that’s fine, right? WRONG. The Ingo could be the rustic, welcoming, all-gather-round dining table of your dreams with a little bit of elbow grease, not to mention the fun you’ll have creating age marks and distressing. How long until Thanksgiving?

5. Ingo Table Source

6. Fintorp Rail

Take a perfectly inoffensive, utilitarian rail. Great for towels, handy for dishcloths - but … how about using it to transform family life and making it a receptacle and charging station for cellphones - bordered with greenery for extra virtue points? The counter is free of clutter and It’s time to have a conversation again, kids!

6. Fintorp Rail Source

7. Tarva Three-Drawer Chest

Serious DIY muscle is required for this makeover project, but the results are stunning and totally worth it! That modern, streamlined look that Ikea is so renowned for gets utterly turned on its head here, with a reinvention that takes it from chest to desk - perfect for sitting at and plotting your next transformative moves.

7. Tarva Three-Drawer Chest Source

8. Tarva Six-Drawer Chest

Mid-century modern is such a desirable home decor style, which is probably just part of the reason that it comes at such a price. Faking it can be done, however - both effectively and enjoyably - with this hack, which reimagines a boring chest of drawers into a genuine find.

8. Tarva Six-Drawer Chest Source

9. Marius Stool

Frankly, your bottom deserves better. And don’t we all love a bit of unnecessary fluff in our lives? Usually its by way of trash TV,  but we think that you’d be better off using to zhoosh up your home with some texture and glamour. This hack will have you wanting to sit at a dressing table and powder your nose - it’s that cute.

9. Marius Stool Source

10. Marius Stool - Mark 2

So hygge it hurts - this fantastic project takes a fairly dull (and to be honest, fairly uncomfortable) looking stool and reinvents it as a side table, incorporating chunky natural elements that you probably won’t even have to pay for. A super cool way to combine earthiness and industrialism in a piece that your home will love.

10. Marius Stool - Mark 2Source

11. Mosslanda Picture Ledge

Measuring just a petite 12 centimeters in depth, it’s not hard to see why you’d use this product simply for what it says on the label - pictures. I mean, what on earth else coud it be any good for? How about removing all of that beauty clutter from around your taps and sink ledge and treating yourself to a nifty narrow shelf instead?

11. Mosslanda Picture LedgeSource

12. Knuff Magazine Files

These magazine files are very handy for .. well, keeping your magazines in, but who says you want your magazines upright? What about if you want them neatly tucked out of sight until you get around to reading them? And then let’s just say that you want to able to make yourself a coffee, sit down, place it on a nearby surface and reach for the magazine from your seat? Ladies and gentlemen, this coffee table is the answer - complete with transformable shapes, so that you’ll never be bored.

12. Knuff Magazine Files Source

13. Rast Three-Drawer Chest

This piece of furniture is literally so boring that the only thing that the Ikea website can find to tell you about it is that it needs to be affixed to the wall for safety. Oh dear. Fortunately, there are some incredibly inspired people out there who can dream up amazing projects, like this gorgeous craft desk, and make them a reality for people like us to copy!

13. Rast Three-Drawer Chest Source

14. Rast Three-Drawer Chest - Again!

This not-so-boring anymore item can also be put to excellent use in the kitchen - the one room of the house where most of us are usually tearing our hair out in an effort to make more space and find more storage. This idea is perfect for the ‘tater-lovers among us, and really, isn’t that everyone?

14. Rast Three-Drawer Chest - Again! Source

15. Billy Bookcase

The Ikea website tells us that one of these bookcases is sold, somewhere in the world, every 5 seconds. That’s great news for Ikea, but not so great for us, or at least not those of us who want to think that our houses contain items which are far less ubiquitous. Still, no denying that they are very handy bookcases - the trick is to make them look like built-ins, which are far more upscale and charming.

15. Billy Bookcase Source

16. Billy Bookcase - Yet Another Way

If you think outside the box - or outside the bookcase, if you will - the hugely popular Billy bookcase also provides an excellent entry hall option, allowing every member of the family their own ‘cubicle’ for storing their coats and shoes. Just remove a good number of the middle shelves and add well-placed hooks and say hello to an uncluttered hallway, and no muddy footprints through the house.

16. Billy Bookcase - Yet Another Way Source

17. Bestå Cabinet With Doors

As it comes, this cabinet certainly looks fit for purpose - I mean, it will definitely store things, and even keep them out of sight, with its doors shut - but it’s more than a little lacking in ‘wow’ factor. A clever up-cycle with reclaimed wood gives it bags of character, as well as adding loads of warmth, texture and natural elements to your decor.

17. Bestå Cabinet With Doors Source

18. Vittsjö Shelving Unit

With its glass shelves and open back, this unit contributes to a spacious, airy feel which is sadly somewhat compromised by its heavy black frame. Enter gold spray paint, which transforms this basic piece of furniture into something altogether more gilded and lovely. Gluing simple but decorative knobs to the top just ups the glamor ante and makes the piece a touch less streamlined and basic.

18. Vittsjö Shelving Unit Source

19. Alex Drawer Unit

Clean lines make this an attractive piece of furniture as it is - but it can be made to look so much more luxe with metallic highlights added to some of the drawers Used like this, as a base for a desk, it glams up a streamlined workspace, adding a touch of decadence to the occasional monotony of work or study.

19. Alex Drawer Unit Source

20. Kallax Shelf Unit

Such a simple design, this storage unit is easily incorporated into your decor and reasonably stylish with it. But if you’ve ever swooned delightedly over a apothecary chest, but have had trouble unearthing a genuine one - or have swooned, in a less delighted way, over the price of a new one, then turn your hand to this project and swoon with pride over the results.

20. Kallax Shelf Unit Source

21. Kallax Shelf Unit - Hacked Again

We love a piece that works in multiple ways and the Kallax is certainly a prime example of that - by laying it on its side and adding a foam’n’fabric top (you don’t even need to sew this - just use a staple gun) you’ll have extra seating, as well as extra storage space. Genius!

21. Kallax Shelf Unit - Hacked Again Source

22. Hyllis Shelf Unit

Maybe a metal shelf unit will do in your garage or workroom, but you really want your living space to be more impressive than the place you store your power tools - don’t you? The combination of metal and wood is always fantastic - it’s that contrast of textures and tones that’s so alluring - and this simple project ties the two of them together to striking effect.

22. Hyllis Shelf Unit Source

23. Ekby Alex

A shelf with drawers is a pretty nifty idea, we must admit - but when you need a petite work space, this Ikea gem can be given a cool makeover to perfectly suit your space and budget, with just enough storage space to keep your desk area free of clutter.

23. Ekby Alex Source

24. Tobias Chair

This chair is quite stylish - it’s sleek, it’s contemporary and it has clean lines - not to mention all of the cool things about perspex, such as its ability to reflect light and to minimize an overcrowded appearance by seeming almost invisible. Even if so, if you want to make a chair like this a little more luxe, it’s easily done with faux fur and a can of gold paint.

24. Tobias Chair Source

25. Borrby Lantern

Sometimes it’s the little things at Ikea. You know - when you go in to choose a new sofa and come out with 6 tea towels, 3 bags of tea lights, a potted plant, some cute glasses and an swag of lanterns. We’ve all been there. No doubt you’ll get lots of use out of your lanterns with all of those garden parties and barbecues you’ll be having in the summer, but if you have one spare and like the idea of constant, rather than occasional use, this sweet terrarium is just the project you need.

25. Borrby Lantern Source

26. Dragaan Cart

We’ll admit, it’s not every home that needs a drinks trolley, but if you’re looking to imbue your life with some old school glamor - think Mad Men - then, yes you need a drinks trolley! Fortunately, a wheeled cart from ikea lends itself beautifully to a project like this and will add a ton of class to your next party. Make mine a martini.

26. Dragaan Cart Source

27. Avskild Cork Placemats

What’s not to love about cork? It’s durable, it’s eco-friendly - uh, yeah, but it’s not that pretty. Customising yours and making them more beautiful and personal with this project is quick, easy and incredibly cute, regardless of which words you use on them. Older kids would probably enjoy doing this - and it’s even a great idea for a gift.

27. Avskild Cork Placemats Source

28. Bekant Desk

Granted, some of the stuff that you do whilst sitting at your desk may be boring and downright unglamorous at times, but that’s not to say that your desk should be. There’s no sorcery at work here - just marbled contact paper and a few carefully-chosen, chic accessories to create a sensational work space.

28. Bekant Desk Source

29. Malm Bed Frame

Most likely, there are many of us who feel that we don’t get nearly enough time in bed - so it’s important to make sure that the time that you do spend there is as pleasing to the senses as possible. Crisp sheets are a must - but personalising your headboard with natural, tactile elements to make it more inviting is a fabulous idea, and one that will contrast beautifully with the other textures on your bed.

29. Malm Bed Frame Source

30. Kura Reversible Bed

This bed for bigger kids is fun, what with its ability for den building or sleepovers underneath - but, even though it’s not insubstantial, it kind of looks like it is. It’s a bit plain and unwelcoming - not quite what we want for our little angels, right? Adding upholstery to the larger surfaces and a lick of paint to the thinner ones will go a long way to ensuring sweet dreams.

30. Kura Reversible Bed Source