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Sunday, April 29, 2018

IKEA Furniture Hacks

As promised, this post is all about the IKEA furniture hacks I've done.  I don't have too many, but enough variety that should hopefully inspire some hacks of your own.  For each of them I was in school and on a student budget, thus IKEA was one of the only affordable places to buy furniture.  I am not a fan of modern furniture and prefer the more classic preppy styles of places like Pottery Barn.  However, that is a store that is not in my price range. I found a lot of these hacks on Pinterest and others blogs but though I would share my own creations. Enjoy!

End Tables

The first IKEA hack I created was these two end tables.  My boyfriend was moving into his first apartment and needed furniture.  I found two white IKEA Lack side tables at a local thrift store for $5 for the pair.  

Step 1: I spray painted the legs and table top in black.  I didn't like the white as it did not fit with his man-cave theme.  You can buy the tables in black from IKEA which would be easier than painting them, however, you could paint them whatever colour you'd like. 

Step 2: I then went to my local hardware store and bought a few 2 by 4 pieces of wood.  I am lucky my uncle is a carpenter and helped me with this step. He cut the wood into equal lengths to fit across the table.  I stained the wood pieces in a dark stain and once they were dry (give it a few days), I screwed the boards onto the tops of the table.

Step 3:  These were originally used as a coffee table, so I attached two metal brackets on the underside of the table to hold them in place and prevent them from moving a part.  Now I use them as side tables.

Total Cost= $9.99 per table + $5-10 for wood + $20 for wood stain (can be used multiple times) + $10 for spray paint (optional depending on table colour)

Nesting Coffee Table

When I moved into my student apartment, I also needed furniture.  Being on a student budget and knowing I'd only be using it for a few years, I went to IKEA. 

I saw this hack on someone else's blog and decided to try it out.  I bought these VITTSJÖ nesting tables at IKEA in white for $69.99.  I liked the idea that you could keep them together like in the photo or separate them  and use one as a coffee table and one as an end table  (this was like a two-for-one deal!).

Step 1: I spray painted the frame of the tables with gold spray paint.  I went to my local hardware store and asked for a classic gold colour.  Usually the sales associates can help you find the colour you're looking for.  Tip- I spray painted the frame BEFORE I attached it, this way every piece was fully covered.  I also did this at my parent's house and still had to transport it to my apartment near my school.

Step 2:  The main table has a white bottom.  You could definitely leave this how it is, but I decided to use marble contact paper to give it a more luxury feel. With marble still on trend I highly recommend doing this to make it not look like student furniture or even just add some flare.  I bought the contact paper at the dollar store and used a full roll.  

Tip- My mom helped me with the contact paper as it is tricky to line it up properly and to roll it out straight without bubbles.  She held the paper at one end and I peeled the backing and smoothed the paper as we rolled it out. 

Tip- Since this piece would later be screwed into the frame, I could cut the contact paper after attaching leaving a bit over the edge to ensure the top would be completely covered. 

Total Cost= $69.99 for nesting tables + $10 for gold spray paint +$2 for marble contact paper


Below are pictures from my student apartment.  I now use the nesting tables and bookcase in my office, but originally used them in my living room.


For the bookshelf and bar cart, I used the same gold spray paint.  I think I bought three cans when I originally decided to do these hacks and used the same colour for each.  

This shelf is actually a metal shelf that should be used in a garage or for storage, however I thought it would be perfect for a book shelf.  A lot of the IKEA bookshelves were over my price point and the Hyllis shelf unit was only $14.99.  

Step 1: I spray painted all of the pieces gold.  Again, I did this BEFORE I assembled.  

Tip- I made sure to spray paint the inner edges of the shelf as well as the bottoms of the shelves (if you don't, while sitting you can see the silver underneath). 

Step 2: I decided to also use the marble contact paper for the shelves.  I didn't want it to be all marble so I picked two shelves (alternating) and put the contact paper.  I followed a similar process to the nesting table and used my mom for extra hands. I found this one was harder to cut as the ends are visible.  However, when assembling, I tried to put the sides with a bit of contact paper hanging over towards the back (it would be up against the wall).  

Total Cost= $14.99 for shelf + $10 for gold spray paint + $2 for marble contact paper

Below is a picture from my student apartment.  As I mentioned above, I now use the nesting tables and bookcase in my office, but originally used them in my living room.

PS- I intended to use the bookcase only for aesthetics. But after finishing my first year of law school and having my desk over flowing with books, I decided to use the bookcase for actual books! LOL!

Bar Cart

IKEA unfortunately no longer carries the kitchen cart I used as a bar cart.  I really wanted a bar cart for my dining room area because I thought it added an extra bit of class and made my place not seem like a student apartment.  I have linked a similar style carts one that is cheap and the other a bit more expensive.  The Sunnersta IKEA utility cart is $39.99 and is similar in design and function to mine but is a bit more modern looking.  The IKEA PS 2017 kitchen cart is more like the design of the cart I have, but is smaller (one less shelf) and much more pricey at $129. I would personally go with the cheaper one if you plan to paint it anyways or even look at other places.  The key is to look for kitchen/utility carts and NOT bar carts!

Step 1: Like every other piece (see the trend LOL!), I spray painted the frame gold before I assembled.  This was mainly due to transporting it, but the pieces could be assembled and then painted if you are painting in the place where they will go.  For me, everything needed to be put back in the packaging to move, so assembling wasn't an option. I just caution that if you do assemble and then paint, make sure to really get every corner and crease!  

This one was quite easy and I didn't do anything but paint it! I liked the white shelves as they were.  You could add contact paper or something else but I thought the cart looked good just with some paint. 

Total Cost= $35 for the utility cart (the one I purchased) + $10 for gold pray paint  

Below are pictures from my student apartment.  I used the bar cart in my dining room, but now use it near the kitchen/dining room (my apartment now is open concept vs my previous which were all separate rooms). 

PS- Note how much more alcohol we have as "adults" who "entertain" vs when I was in college! LOL!


For his birthday, I bought my boyfriend the Malm 6-piece dresser in black-brown for his apartment. He kept it this colour as it matched his decor, however, when we moved in together, the black-brown did not match.  I still wanted to use the dresser and he was fine with me painting it (by this time I had painted lots of furniture, so he knew I could do it! PS check out my other post about my bedroom furniture here).

Step 1: I painted the entire dresser in navy.  I bought normal interior wall paint in navy and used this for my dresser and a few other pieces (the linked post goes more into detail about the other pieces).  I took out the drawers to paint them and used about three coats of paint.  I used a roller as this gave it a more even look.  

Tip- If you plan to paint the dresser, I recommend buying it in the wood colour or white.  These are light colours and you would need less paint.  Since I was painting it another dark colour, the black-brown was fine, but if I wanted to paint it light pink/blush, white would have been better. Nonetheless, I didn't plan to do this hack, so I was stuck with the black-brown!

Step 2:  I didn't like the modern look of the dresser, but the pull drawers are convenient. I decided to put pull knobs on each drawer (one of each small drawer, and two on each large drawer). I found these awesome lion head pull knobs at Home Depot for $2.50 each. You could use any type of knob. I think antique knobs would look amazing! I wanted something a bit preppy-ier and thought the lion head were just so classic! My boyfriend drilled holes into each of the drawers (10 holes total- all were in line with each other). We then screwed on the knobs.     

Tip- IKEA has an entire Malm series with smaller dresser, nightstands, etc. and this hack could be applied to any piece depending on your furniture requirements. 

Total Cost= $149 for dresser + $12 for paint + $2.50 per each knob ($25 total for 10)

I hope you have enjoyed this post! These are just some examples of furniture hacks that can make cheap furniture look like something from a catalog.  Any colours can be used and there are many variations of what I did.  This post was also NOT sponsored by IKEA (I wish LOL!) but like always I wanted to share so that hopefully others can have beautiful home decor without breaking the bank!


  1. Hi!
    I like the thing you did with the square table. I have two like that, both white, and each day when I look at it I suffer. I damaged both with hot coffee (I put it without any coaster and now there are "bubbles" all over it). I think I'll use your idea of putting a piece of wood on it, it might give it some style.
    I was also thinking about stickers that you can buy in IKEA and simply place on your furniture to change it's colour. I don't think I'm gonna try this (it might be more expensive than the table itself) but it's an opition nevertheless.
    Have a great day,

    1. Thank you Dorota! I find spray paint honestly is great for painting furniture (especially if it's cheap!), this way it is easy to repaint. The contact paper also does wonders to cover things like water stains. I know it comes in wood patterns, marble, stone, and just colours as well!

  2. I love all of these ideas! Such good ideas!!
    Xo, Kelsey | www.bleuandwhit.blogspot.com

    1. Thank you so much!! I'm glad you liked them!