8 budget Ikea hacks so you pimp your cupboards this weekend

What do we love about Ikea hacks? They let us turn plain, affordable furniture into pieces that are entirely unique. Here, we show you how a plain cabinet can be made over in minutes

Ivar cabinet from Ikea hacks by Antonia Schmitz in black
(Image credit: Antonia Schmitz/CRAFTiFAIR)

Here's why you need our Ikea hacks: they're easy to do, they cost next to nothing, they make your home unique quickly AND you can apply the techniques to every piece of furniture (Ikea or not) that you've got at home already.

Here at RealHomes.com, we're avid #Ikeahack hunters... and we're rather pleased with this one. So why not try these Ikea hacks and leave everyone wondering: where is that from? (Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.)

Today's Ikea hack victim? The £45/$70 Ivar cabinet (below). You'll be amazed what you can do with it. Keep scrolling to find out...

Ivar cabinet by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

1. Transform the Ivar into a moody alcove console unit

ikea cabinets painted teal/blue with small handles by ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Looking for alcove storage in a living room or bedroom? Here's how you can with the Ivar (above). With this project, we're going to do a bit of an explainer. After that, the principles are much the same. (Pssst! We've got tons more alcove ideas in our guide.)

  • First prime the cabinets. We'd recommend using the Dulux Undercoat and Primer
  • For the top coat, and to achieve this built-in look, it's vital to choose the same colour for your cabinets as you have for your walls. To recreate this look, we'd recommend opting for Dulux Teal Tension, which is available at B&Q.
  • For an even finish, opt for two, thin layers of paint and a coat of matt yacht varnish.
  • Once dry, attach these Ikea Osternas Leather Handles and mount your painted cabinets on the wall. Style with house plants, framed prints and other quirky curiosities.

2. Keep it clean and simple for kitchen storage

Ivar cabinets by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Not so much a hack as a budget kitchen design idea – and a decent styling tip. The light wood pine of the Ivar cabinet complements a clean, white backdrop perfectly. If you love cosy Scandi style, a clean line of Ivar cabinets, lifted slightly off the ground in their natural pine state is your budget trick. Our advice? Paint them with a matt varnish to protect them from fingerprints.

3. Mix and match naked pine with painted pine in a cool kitchen

Pine cabinets diy painting for kitchen or homeware

(Image credit: Ikea)

Need extra kitchen/utility/hallway/living room storage? We've already said we love the idea of wall-hanging the Ivar at worktop height to create useful storage space on top of them as well as inside. But if you want to be more adventurous with decor, why not pick something that matches your scheme.

The project above is fun for an eclectic look. And, of course, because the Ivar is flat-fronted, you can quickly repaint it if it gets chipped or scratched, or if you want to change up your scheme. The one essential is the right paint: you need to choose the best kitchen cabinet paint for longevity.

4. Pack out the living room with colour coordinated cabinetry

Ivar cabinet by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

The Ivar cabinet is a bargain so why not stock up and stack up? The room above is ultimate inspiration to channel your inner interior designer and style the Ivar in multiple ways in one room. 

With both lower cabinets and wall cabinets you can add depth to your room and enjoy maximum storage space (and hide your not-for-kids belongings out of reach). Create a cosy hub by making enough space for a chaise or armchair in between your cabinets. Then you can coordinate statement cushions with accent cabinets, using a lick of paint to keep your colour scheme consistently popping. 

Perfect for the living room but great in a bedroom or wide hallway, too.

5. Create sleek bedroom or hallway storage 

Ivar cabinet by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Painting your cabinets the same colour as your walls gives you that put-together designer look, without the price tag. Grey is a sleek but also family friendly paint choice (because for some reason, little ones with grubby hands are like moths to a flame when it comes to white surfaces). We recommend using an eggshell or gloss finish that's tough enough to take the odd knock. Farrow & Ball's Mole's Breath at B&Q is a good match, colour-wise.

6. Use colour blocking to add Quirky pattern to a kitchen

orange ivar cabinet diy ikea hacks

(Image credit: Ikea)

The room above just kind of sums up the idea of making your home your own. Mixing and matching patterns is definitely a trend we are backing all the way. Whether you choose to cover your Ivar cabinets in stripes, polka dots or geometric lines, you can totally change their presence in your room. What's more, the natural textures of the wood left exposed add extra interest and depth that paint can't.

7. Paint it black to create a sleek living room sideboard

Ivar cabinet from Ikea hacked by Antonia Schmitz in black

(Image credit: Antonia Schmitz/CRAFTiFAIR)

We LOVE this Ivar cabinet hack by blogger Antonia Schmitz (you can see more of her work in CRAFTiFAIR (use Google Translate to make the most of it). Simply painted black and on short legs, it's a sideboard made to suit her space perfectly. Loving that cool Germanic style, Antonia.

8. Put it on legs and jigsaw the doors for a unique piece

Ivar cabinet on leg stands and with a diy hole cut in the front

(Image credit: Ikea)

When it comes to pimping your Ivar cabinet there's no approach more transforming than this one. Totally revamp its simple look and maximise space by putting it on legs and sawing a hole in the centre. This way, your ordinary cabinet can transform into a display cabinet at eye level. We think this is a really cute idea and suggest painting the inside to expose an extra pop of colour. See below for full instructions.

  • Using a pencil, draw a circle in the centre that crosses over where the doors join. You might want to use a large plate to ensure that your circle is accurate or, for the more technical amongst us, a compass. 
  • Take a saw (a jigsaw is best) and begin, slowly, to cut, making sure to stay just inside the line drawn with the pencil – this gives space for correction if there are any mistakes along the way.
  • Using sandpaper, sand away the harsh edges until you're left with a smooth finish.
  • Attach four Lalle Desk Legs – these could be spray painted a different colour, if you choose – and you're done!

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