Guide to IKEA Hack Projects: From Planning to Execution

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Have you ever found yourself wandering through an IKEA store, inspired by the simple Scandinavian designs, wondering how to upgrade and add a personal touch? Or maybe you have a space in your home where you want something custom but don’t have the budget. Then, you’re ready to master planning, customizing, and even constructing built-in furniture with IKEA hacking projects!

This comprehensive guide elevates your next DIY project to look custom and designer-inspired. We’ll walk you through planning, preparation, and execution to make your IKEA hack successful.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Kitchen featuring ikea cabinets with custom doors, the ultimate ikea hack
My Budget-Friendly Kitchen Remodel

The Planning: Research + Ideation of Your IKEA Hack

Discovering Your Style

Before you even set foot in an IKEA store, take some time to research. What styles appeal to you? Are you more into a rustic farmhouse look, sleek modernism, or a blend of eclectic elements? Knowing your style will guide your choices for upgrading your IKEA furniture. This is a key step in the planning of your IKEA hack.

Seeking Inspiration

Expand your research to IKEA’s catalogue. Check out platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, or DIY blogs for IKEA hack ideas. Save your favourites for reference.

Inspiration from my home

Let’s dive into some of my IKEA hacks covering various spaces, skills, and ideas.

More Inspiration

a built-in ikea pax wardrobe creating a great upgrade from the traditional pax wardrobe.
IKEA Hack: Creating a Hidden Wardrobe with PAX

Making the Right Choices: Selecting Your IKEA Foundation Piece

Understand Your Space

Measure the area where the furniture will be placed. Knowing dimensions is critical to planning and selecting the appropriate IKEA piece for your hacking project or upgrade.

Consider Functionality

What do you need from this piece? Is it storage, aesthetics, or perhaps both? Understanding its role will help you decide how extensive your hack needs to be.

Using IKEA kitchen cabinets to create a custom built-in wardrobe hack solution
IKEA Sektion: Built-In Wardrobe For Sloped Ceilings

Essential Tools and Supplies

dresser with new custom knobs to create an elevated look in this nursery
Nursery Ideas for Small Rooms

Techniques to Personalize Your IKEA Furniture

Painting Techniques

  • Colour Blocking: Play with two or more colours to give your furniture a contemporary edge.
  • Distressing: Use sandpaper to age the piece for a vintage or rustic appearance.

Hardware Makeover

  • Replace Handles and Knobs: Switch to stylish handles or knobs to add instant flair, an easy upgrade to your IKEA furniture.
  • Add Legs or Casters: Enhance the piece’s utility and aesthetic by adding unique legs or casters to your IKEA project.

Textile Transformation

  • Cushion and Upholstery Upgrades: Use fabric that complements your room’s decor to reupholster chairs or add cushions.
  • Custom Slipcovers: Change the look of sofas and chairs seasonally or as your taste evolves.
kitchen with cream paint and brass knobs and hardware
Make an IKEA Kitchen Look Custom with Retrofit Cabinet Doors

Building It In

For a seamless look, consider building your IKEA furniture into existing spaces. This can create a custom, built-in appearance, perfect for entertainment units or shelving. This is a more challenging IKEA project, but worth it!

  • Adding a Base: Elevating your piece off the floor adds height and allows for baseboards, enhancing the built-in look. This is especially effective for storage units and sideboards.
  • Adding Crown: Elevate the look by adding crown moulding to the top of your built-in IKEA project.
  • Filling the Gaps: If your IKEA furniture spans the length of a wall, you might be able to add filler pieces. This will make it look more custom, and in some cases, like a wardrobe, it can look like a panelled wall.

Changing the Legs

Switching out the standard IKEA legs for something more unique can completely transform the look of your piece. Consider hairpin legs for a mid-century modern vibe or ornate legs for a more classic look. PrettyPegs has some beautiful options.

Furniture Slipcovers and Recovering

Custom slipcovers can breathe new life into and upgrade IKEA sofas and chairs. Choose a fabric that matches your decor, and get creative with textures and patterns. Alternatively, skip the IKEA covers when buying your new furniture and go straight to custom. Comfort Works is a website I have used for IKEA slipcovers; another option is Bemz.

painted wardrobe with air holes and brass hardware
Pax Wardrobe Hack 2.0 + Painting IKEA Pax and Other Furniture

Changing the Hardware

One of the easiest but most impactful changes for your project you can make is switching out the hardware. From sleek, modern handles to vintage knobs, this small change can make a big difference.

Adding Trim and Moulding

Trim and moulding can add elegance and sophistication to any piece. Whether you’re aiming for a classic look with intricate moulding or a modern style with simple trim, this addition can make your furniture look custom-made.

a great ikea hack of a tv cabinet, sanded down and stained
How to Sand and Stain IKEA Hemnes TV Bench

Detailed Steps for Common Materials

Solid Wood IKEA Furniture: Sanding and Refinishing

Solid wood pieces like Hemnes or Tarva are perfect for sanding down. Use fine-grit sandpaper and always sand along the grain for a smooth finish. This prepares the wood for staining or painting.

Laminate or Veneer Pieces: Painting Success

IKEA’s laminate or veneer furniture may be a bit tricky to paint. Always sand lightly first, apply a high-adhesion primer, and finish with paint and a durable topcoat.

fireplace with hidden wardrobe beside it
IKEA Hack: Creating a Hidden Wardrobe with PAX

Execution: Making Your IKEA Hack Happen

Step-by-Step Implementation

Plan your actions step by step. Sometimes it helps to do a ‘dry run’ to see how all the elements come together before making permanent changes.

Quality Check

After each major step, examine your work to ensure it meets your desired standard. Make adjustments as needed.

Final Touches

Once the construction and painting are done, focus on those tiny details that make a piece unique. This could be additional trims, installing lighting, or other minor but impactful add-ons.

The Grand Reveal: Show Off Your Successful IKEA Hack

Document your masterpiece after putting in the time, effort, and creativity. Share your before-and-after photos on social media or home improvement platforms to inspire others.

3 column bookcase with baseboard and crown moulding, this would make a great ikea hack using 3 billy bookcases
Please note this is not an IKEA back but follows the same principles of building a 2×4 base, adding trim and crown moulding.

PRO TIP: You can paint IKEA! Learn more about the steps here.

Wrapping Up

Embarking on an IKEA hack is not just about enhancing furniture but also about unleashing your creativity. With this guide, you’re fully prepared to take your IKEA hack to the next level, making your home unique and tailored to your style. Happy hacking!


How to jazz up IKEA furniture?

Add unique hardware, apply fresh paint, use stylish slipcovers, or incorporate decorative trim and moulding to personalize and enhance IKEA furniture.

Can you modify IKEA furniture?

Yes, IKEA furniture can be modified through painting, changing hardware, adding trim, altering dimensions, or customizing with various DIY techniques.

Can you paint IKEA Besta furniture?

IKEA Besta furniture can be painted, but it’s important to sand the surface lightly, apply a primer suitable for laminate surfaces, and then use a high-quality paint for best results.

How to make IKEA wardrobe look expensive?

To make an IKEA wardrobe look expensive, add elegant hardware, use high-end finishing materials like quality paint or wood veneer, and incorporate custom elements like crown moulding or built-in lighting.

panelled ikea hack wardrobe using doors to make the perfect upgrade and make it look like board and batten.
IKEA Sektion: Built-In Wardrobe For Sloped Ceilings

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