5 Creative IKEA Hacks for Budget-Friendly Storage

Check out our roundup of favorite furniture hacks that'll show you how to turn ordinary IKEA items into new-and-improved storage solutions.

Bargain hunters and DIYers are big fans of IKEA, for good reason. The Swedish retailer's flat-packed, budget-friendly furniture provides ample opportunities for reimagining uses and DIY updates. By making minor tweaks and rethinking an item's purpose, you can organize your entire home, including the entryway, laundry room, home office, living areas, and more. These simple furniture pieces provide the foundation for custom furnishings you can create yourself. Below are five IKEA hacks to cleverly transform basic pieces into hardworking DIY storage. Follow our how-to steps, or tweak the instructions to fit your own vision.

crate shelving wall with leather chair
Blaine Moats

1. Wooden Crate Shelving Unit

When grouped, unassuming pine crates, such as KNAGGLIG boxes ($13, IKEA), become a storage-packed focal point. (We used 32 crates, but you can adapt the design to suit your space.) Arrange four crates, as shown, with an empty space at the center. In the same way, arrange another four crates on top of the first set. Arrange another eight crates in the same manner to form a second stack. Measure the width of one stack and multiply it by two to determine how much space to leave between the two stacks. Cut a 1×10 pine board to create a shelf that spans the entire width. Secure the shelf to the wall through studs with screws and angle brackets. Stack four more sets of four cubes along the top of the board, securing them to one another with screws. Note: The crates aren't overly stable, so this project is best installed in a home without young children.

laundry room with wire baskets and hanging shelf
Blaine Moats

2. Hanging Laundry Rack

Turn an inexpensive trestle leg upside down to reimagine it as a hanging laundry rack. Using a circular or table saw, cut ¾-inch plywood to 25½×15 inches. Mark the center of one long side of the board, and then use a jigsaw to cut a notch 1-inch wide and ¾-inch deep to accommodate the table leg. Using an iron, add edge banding to the three sides of the board that will face outward, filing off the excess. For protection, apply a water-base clear coat to the shelf, following the manufacturer's instructions. Let it dry. Using a bit for metal, drill two holes into the single table leg. Hang it into studs using screws, or heavy-duty drywall anchors ($15, The Home Depot), so the horizontal brace is at a good height for hanging laundry. Place the shelf so it sits on top of the two front legs and the notch fits around the back leg. Check that it's level, and then secure the shelf to the wall with L brackets.

wooden table with pouch for magazines
Blaine Moats

3. Tabletop Dropzone

Add an aftermarket sling-style leather in-box for magazines and mail on a wood console table. This hack works with nearly any slim wood table; we used the Safavieh Marshal console table ($180, Target). Start by drawing a 13×4½-inch rectangle about 2½ inches from the front of the table. Using a ½-inch wood drill bit, drill a hole within the rectangle. Insert your jigsaw blade into the hole, and then cut along the marked lines. Sand the edges. Stain a ¾-inch dowel in a shade you like. Once it's dry, seal it with a water-base clear coat. Cut the dowel into two 13-inch lengths. Then cut a 12 7/8×18-inch leather rectangle. Tape the leather's short ends to the long interior edges of the rectangle to hold in place as you pin-nail the long dowels to the table. To finish, measure and cut short dowel lengths to complete the frame. For the tightest fit possible, wait to measure the space for the short dowels until after the long dowels have been installed.

blue walled entry way with table and mirror
Blaine Moats

4. Mirror Storage Station

Give your entryway an upgrade by tricking out a basic full-length mirror with a shelf, hooks, and mounting board. By adjusting the sizing and placement of the board and the shelf, and adding or subtracting hooks, this basic idea can be easily customized to suit your space and storage needs. Using a circular or table saw, cut a sheet of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to the desired size for your selected mirror. From the remaining scraps, cut a shelf. (Our board measures 25×60 inches to accommodate our 51¼×15-inch mirror ($60, Target), and our shelf measures 4½×5 inches.) No saw? Have your MDF cut at the home improvement store.

Sand all MDF edges. Prime the board and the shelf. Once they're dry, apply two coats of paint to the pieces, allowing drying time between coats. Position the mirror on the MDF. (We placed ours two inches from the top and right-hand side.) Attach the mirror using the provided wall hardware and ½-inch wood screws. Following the manufacturer's instructions, attach one French cleat bracket to the back of the MDF.

Plan the position for your shelf, drawing a level line to mark the spot. Add a small bead of glue to one 5-inch side of the shelf and place it on the line. Clamp to hold for two hours, wiping away any excess glue. Secure the shelf from the back using 1¼-inch wood screws. Plan hook placements and install them with the provided hardware. Secure the remaining cleat mounting bracket to the wall studs in the desired position. Recruit a friend to help you lift and hang the unit by interlocking the two brackets.

modern desk area between two cabinets
Blaine Moats

5. Built-In Workspace

In a space that needs to work as hard as you do, flank a sleek modern tabletop with a pair of wardrobes, and unlock all sorts of hidden potential. Outfit the wardrobe interiors with your choice of shelves, pullout baskets, drawers, hanging rods, or other accessories to maximize storage in your multipurpose space.

To create the workspace, measure and cut a sheet of maple plywood to 21¾×48 inches. Cut an 8-foot 1×3 maple board into one 48-inch-long nose piece and two 20-inch cleats. Using wood glue and clamps, attach the nose piece to one long side of the tabletop with edges flush. Allow to dry 24 hours. Remove the clamps, and sand the surface until it's smooth. Remove any dust with a tack cloth. Using a high-quality brush, apply a clear coat to the tabletop, brushing in one direction with the grain. Let dry two hours, and then lightly sand to remove air bubbles.

Using fine-grit sandpaper, rough up the finish of the unassembled wardrobe parts and doors. Wipe away the dust with a tack cloth. Prime all the wardrobe parts and the two 20-inch cleats. After the primer has thoroughly dried, paint all the primed pieces, allowing to dry between coats. When the paint has cured, assemble the wardrobes according to the manufacturer's instructions, but leave off the doors. Position the wardrobes against the wall 48 inches apart. Measure 29¼ inches from the floor and draw a level line on both wardrobes to mark the tabletop placement. Attach cleats directly below the lines, screwing in from the interior of the wardrobes. Instead of the standard 30 inches, install your tabletop 44 inches from the floor for standing desk height, or 36 inches for counter height.

Place the tabletop on the cleats. Screw through the bottom of the cleat into the bottom side of the tabletop so as not to disturb the finish on the top. To add stability, install the metal bracket into a stud or using drywall anchors. Attach the tabletop to the bracket. Install the wardrobe doors, and add the hardware you've selected. Trim the wallpaper to fit inside the door insets and adhere it with crafts glue.

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