IKEA Kallax Cabinet Hack 

When I decided to begin my office makeover, I knew I wanted to try to reuse as many pieces of furniture and decor that I already owned as I could to keep the costs of this renovation down. Here’s my IKEA Kallax hack! Learn how I took a plain IKEA Kallax shelf unit and turned it into a gorgeous credenza!

This post may contain paid ads and affiliate links from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure here.

You can purchase a Kallax shelf directly from IKEA for around $90, or try looking on your local reselling sites such as Offerup or Kijiji, or even Facebook Marketplace to find a used one cheaper. 

IKEA Kallax Hack
Cube Shelf Hack
Materials you will need for this iKEA kallax cabinet hack

Step By Step Instructions For This IKEA Kallax Cabinet Hack

This sounds like a lot but don’t get too intimidated. It’s super easy, and if I can do it, so can you. So let’s get into it!

How to sand and prep IKEA furniture for paint

The whole shelf needs to be sanded before any primer or paint will stick to it. I used my orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper.

Another option is to use liquid sandpaper. I used this method on my first IKEA Kallax Shelf Hack and it turned out great! Liquid sandpaper is a chemical that basically strips the top shiny layer off of the furniture and creates a “texture” similar to what sandpaper does, and this gives the primer something to stick to.

Liquid Sandpaper is a chemical so if you go this route make sure to use proper precautions as stated on the bottle.

IKEA Kallax Hack

I used KILZ 2 All Purpose Primer for this makeover. I recommend using that, or this Zinsser Primer. Both work great on IKEA furniture, but KILZ is the more cost friendly option.

I applied it with a paintbrush and foam roller, for a smoother finish than a regular roller.

Primer is also a very strong chemical and you need to make sure you use gloves and a face mask when doing this step. I will say, the KILZ primer was also not as strong smelling as the Zinsser primer.

I did two coats of primer to be safe and to make sure my paint sticks to the shelf.

IKEA Kallax Hack


Guys, I know these first steps can be tedious, but if you’re painting IKEA furniture do NOT skip sanding and priming, ok? It’s absolutely necessary for a final paint coat that will last. 

IKEA Kallax Hack

On this Makeover I also removed one of my divider shelves to get a longer shelf and filled it with backer rod and wood filler (see photo above).

Make Your Cuts

The next step was to cut the wood for the two doors in front.

To build these doors I used 1×4 select pine boards and utility plywood. I recommend using 1/4″ Plywood for the centers instead, the utility plywood is very thin and bends easily which made it very difficult to get in the center of my boards, but I was using what I had leftover on hand. 1/4″ plywood will also be a much sturdier door.

The IKEA Kallax shelf is open from the front and back, so to close in the back as well you can also use utility plywood like I did on my first IKEA Kallax hack. Utility plywood is very very thin (so, it’s cheap and light in weight), and it’s perfect for backing.

IKEA Kallax Hack

Build the doors

To build my shaker style doors I cut my 1×4 select pine boards to size, and used my table saw to cut a track in the center of each board.

These doors can be built without making these cuts if you use the thicker plywood like I recommended. Because I was using the super thin wood, it needed something to hold it in.

If you choose not to do these cuts you can simply place your plywood in the center and glue it to the side boards.

I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes and attached the select pine boards to each other.

Then I slid my plywood in the center and used wood glue for a better hold, and attached my last select pine board to finish the door.

IKEA Kallax Hack

More Prep

Then I turned my focus back to the Kallax shelving unit itself. I wanted the whole thing to be smooth and finished when I was done, so I had to get rid of the lovely large bolts on the sides that are the signature look of every single piece of IKEA furniture!

I tightened them in as far as I could until they were inset, and then I used my wood filler again to cover up the bolts and fill in the holes. Once I sanded it down, I couldn’t even tell where the bolts were!

Cube Shelf Hack

It’s time to paint!

I used the color “Blue Skies” from Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines in a satin finish. You can use any brand of paint and any color you would like, but make sure it is a paint that should be used for furniture.

Instead of the roller and paintbrush I used for the primer, I decided to spray the paint on to get this done faster and finished quicker. If you don’t have a paint sprayer you can always apply the paint the same way as the primer, with a brush and foam roller. To do this, you might need to lightly sand in between each coat of paint.

If you are looking for a paint sprayer here are some good options:

Option 1: Budget friendly but only recommended for furniture projects, not walls

Option 2: Can be used for any project, but pretty bulky.

Option 3: Best sprayer, compact, for any project, but more expensive.

Putting it all together

Once everything was dry, it was time to put it all together! I put the legs on first with the unit upside down, then flipped the unit on it’s back to install the doors.

To install the hinges, I used this drill bit attachment. That attachment comes with a little plastic piece that makes measuring and lining up the holes for the hinges super easy. I put four hinges on each door. You can also put your handles on at this stage. 


I had to use a European-style hinge that folds down on itself instead of at a 90 degree angle because the sides of the shelf are too thick to accommodate a regular hinge.

Door Design

The last thing I did was add the design to the front of the door.

For this I just used wooden dowels and spray painted them gold! Then I attached them to the front of my doors with glue.

IKEA Kallax Hack

And that’s it! It’s done! I am in love with how this turned out, and I learned so much that will help me for the next project too. Tag me at @designingparkside with your cube shelf DIYs, and IKEA hacks and leave any questions for me in the comments! 

Save for later!
IKEA Kallax Hack

Similar Posts