3 ways to hack IKEA's most popular furniture into gorgeous pieces for your home

These genius IKEA hacks will leave you wondering just how the 'before' became the 'after'

ikea kallax sideboard
(Image credit: Alimah-Shadia Sitta)

Everyone loves the best Ikea hacks! This reliable, cost effective and versatile furniture can be used in so many ways beyond its original purpose or look. Whether you’re simply changing the knobs of cupboard doors, giving a dresser a paint job, or completely repurposing a piece; Ikea furniture is a blank slate for a good hack!

There are certain pieces that have also become the basis for a majority of the IKEA hacks out there ... and the before-and-afters with these super simple items can be truly remarkable. If you're feeling inspired to tackle your own IKEA hack, I've rounded up three incredible Ikea hacks using the IKEA Kallax shelf and the IKEA MALM dresser that’ll have you scratching your head over how the before become the after!

An IKEA Kallax turned custom sideboard

We’ll start with my own dining room sideboard. I always knew I wanted a sizeable sideboard (or buffet as some call it0. One with ample storage within it, decorative doors or handles and enough space on top to add my beloved vases and ornaments! But, as many will probably know, sideboards don’t come cheap! The type I wanted, typically started at around £600, and I just didn’t think some of them were worth it! In comes brainwaves for a sideboard hack!

I’m pretty sure I had seen the hack idea somewhere before but I completely forgot about it until I found myself with a Kallax shelving unit that was no longer fit for purpose. So it seemed the stars were aligning and it was the time to execute it! The Kallax unit went from this: 

ikea kallax white

(Image credit: IKEA)

To this!

ikea kallax sideboard

(Image credit: Alimah-Shadia Sitta)

Ikea has clearly caught on to the craze for repurposing their furniture as they made it very easy! I purchased six door inserts and two drawer inserts which are very easy to install into the cube shelving. They come with simple silver handles but I opted for something a little more "me," and selected these gold T-bar handles instead.

I also bought four black pin legs as I wanted to raise the height of the unit. These were very easy to drill in since the unit is made from chipboard and not hardwood. 

The finishing touch was the best part of all - decorative panels from Lux Hacks. A small Australian-based business that specialises in decorative panels for different Ikea furniture. It doesn’t get anymore hack friendly then that, does it?

Styled with some of my favourite breakable items too high for my toddler to reach and filled with various things from tableware to books and toys, its perfect and only cost £249! 

IKEA Malm Makeover

If you don’t need to completely repurpose a piece but you have a plain item of furniture like the famous Malm range, then the next Ikea hack is for you! 

The very talented DIYer Shade of @_homeofshade created a beautiful up-cycle of the 3 drawer malm by adding stylish trim, a fresh lick of paint and statement drawer handles!

Here is what it looked like before:

IKEA malm dresser before

(Image credit: @_homeofshade)

And here it is after.

IKEA malm dresser hack after

(Image credit: @_homeofshade)

Shade has made it so simple to do by providing easy to follow instructions. You will need:

  • A tape measure
  • Trim of your choice
  • Tenon saw
  • Mitre block 
  • Wood glue 
  • Caulk (optional)


  • Measure the trim length against the drawer front and saw each end at a 45 degree angle using the mitre block. 
  • If the sawed edges are rough, lightly sand them with a fine sanding block.
  • Use the wood glue to secure in place and clamp down. Let it dry for a few hours. 
  • Caulk the insides (gaps between the trim and wood base) , then paint. 
  • For the door handles - place masking tape where you think you will drill the holes for the handles. 
  • Find and mark the centre and then mark out the distance needed from the centre of the handles and mark over the masking tape. 
  • Use a spirit level to remark, ensuring the points are perfectly aligned. 
  • Drill the holes into the marks, remove masking tape and fix the draws in.

Kallax jute cupboard hack 

Finally, DIY extraordinaire, Jasmine from @_ohabode has another Kallax hack to totally transform it from drab to fab.

She took a regular Kallax, from this:

ikea kallax white

(Image credit: IKEA)

To this! 

IKEA Kallax after

(Image credit: @_ohabode)

A completely different look with a trendy injection of style with the jute fabric doors. 

To achieve this look you may need slightly more DIY experience but Jasmine makes it easy to follow her instructions. Why not try using web cane fabric for the doors instead?

For all the details on this amazing hack, check out @ohabode on instagram

About our expert

Alimah-Shadia Sitta is part of Real Homes' Real Experts panel. She's a UK-based investment banker, designer and DIYer who shares her favourite tips, DIY projects, and budget room transformations with us twice a month. 

Alimah-Shadia Sitta

Alimah-Shadia Sitta is part of Real Homes' Real Experts panel. She's a UK-based investment banker, designer and DIYer and shares her favourite tips, projects, and ideas with us twice a month.