The Swedish retail giant’s brilliant basics make ideal canvases for upcycling hacks. These are five of our very favourite ways to put an individual stamp on your new IKEA purchase.

IKEA is an export beloved by millions – relationship-testing rows in its warehouse aisles and frustration with allen keys notwithstanding. It’s no stretch to see why. The designs are simple, classic and fresh. Crucially, too, they are also eminently affordable.

But for the creative and competent DIYer, IKEA’s onus on simplicity and functionality also makes its products the perfect canvas for a good hack, enabling the aesthetically minded to elevate a standard IKEA buy to something a good deal more special.

Here we take a look at five of our favourite IKEA hacks from around the internet.

MALM Bedside Table Hack

The Product: MALM Chest Of Two Drawers, £55

The Hack: As seen on Lick.

As Lick tells us, Malm is one of the most upcycled products in all of IKEA’s extensive arsenal thanks chiefly to its extreme simplicity. As they say, ‘IKEA Malm furniture has a simple, streamlined design that provides the perfect blank canvas on which to get creative and add your personal touch. Not only can it save you the expense of having to get new furniture, but you’ll also have a refreshed piece that’s totally unique. And it’s great for the environment. Not a DIY expert? No worries, once you’ve revived one piece, you’ll quickly realise that you don’t need to be a pro to upcycle with impact.’

You can, of course, simply paint it for a quick uplift. But for something even more dazzling, why not try this hack from one of Lick’s community of creatives? @anotherfknflat uses strip wood from Wickes to showstopping effect – and with no need for advanced DIY skills, either. Do try it at home here.

IVAR Cabinet Hack

The Product: IVAR Cabinet, £70

The Hack: As seen on Cath Creative.

Whichever way you slice it, this basic pine cabinet is crying out to be upcycled – whether you go with a lick of paint or something a little more bells and whistles than that. Cath Creative shows us how, with a little effort and ingenuity, two of these very plain cabinets can be yoked together and transformed into a sophisticated fluted sideboard. Just a glass top, leg supports, balsa wood, brass handles, some wood glue and some white primed trim wood later and it wouldn’t look out of place in a chic boutique hotel. Do try it at home here.

DUKTIG Play Kitchen Hack

The Product: DUKTIG Play Kitchen, £89

The Hack: As seen on This Haus Of Ours

The Duktig play kitchen is one of the most hacked IKEA items. Ideas for its upgrade abound online and it is well worth trawling through to get inspiration for the perfect magical imaginative play kitchen for your child and home. We particularly like this one from This Haus Of Ours, which uses wallpaper for the delightful splashback and spray paint for the brass handles and taps. We’d go so far as to say that we covet a grown-up sized version of this kitchen set up. Do try it at home here.

MILSBO Glass Door Cabinet

The Product: MILSBO Glass Door Cabinet, £229

The Hack: As seen on @PlentiPlanties

This one doesn’t require the sideline skills of a handyman to achieve – in fact, beyond constructing the cabinet according to the instructions, all you need do is fill it with plants. The hack? Simply that the glass acts as a greenhouse, giving house plants the boost they need, especially over the winter months. Do try it at home here.

MOPPE Mini Chest of Drawers

The Product: MOPPE Mini Chest of Drawers, £25

The Hack: As seen on @patirobins Via Living Etc

Take one simple and pared-back mini chest of drawers and add glue, wood, legs, pulls drawers, wax or stain and, crucially, a vision. Et voila, you have vintage style apothecary drawers that add instant retro cool to any room. Simple, wonderful and absolutely achievable. Do try it at home here.

By Nancy Alsop
October 2022

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.