IKEA kitchen Hacks — 14 Ways to Design This Important Space on a Budget

These IKEA kitchen hacks will help you design a beautiful, functional, and timeless space, without breaking the bank

an ikea kitchen with a checkerboard floor
(Image credit: Rachael Cooney)

If you're planning a kitchen reno, these IKEA kitchen hacks will come in very handy. After all, not only are these budget-friendly but also look extremely aesthetically pleasing.

'IKEA kitchens are not only relatively inexpensive, they've got a pretty good reputation for quality too — you'd be surprised how many architects and designers use them in their projects,' says Hugh Metcalf, editor, Livingetc.com. 'While IKEA kitchens can have as many bells and whistles as you want within reason, there are also some clever ways to hack them to make them feel even more elevated. Whether it's using an affordable IKEA carcass and buying the doors from a specialist retailer that offers even more design-forward cabinet fronts that fit standard IKEA ranges, or incorporating your own clever design features, there's a hack for everyone.'

If you're ready to give these IKEA hacks a go in your kitchen, then these top examples will help.

1. Turn the IKEA METOD flatpack into a chic kitchen

IKEA METOD kitchen hack

(Image credit: Fronteriors)

This project shows the inclusion of wonderful cabinet components from design house Fronteriors. The Dubai-based interior company creates components that are specifically designed to complement IKEA’s METOD kitchens. Homeowners Ashely and Tsian Koussa sought the help of Fronteriors to upgrade their modern kitchen so that it was more open plan with their living areas. 

The couple worked with Fronteriors co-founders Kathryn Hawkes and Linda Dekkers to transform their kitchen by using IKEA storage hacks. ‘Once we made our decision, we ordered our IKEA and Fronteriors. The whole process took 3-4 weeks,’ say Ashley and Tsian. ‘Our speedy kitchen renovation with new cabinets feels inviting, homey yet minimal and as if it was custom made without the price tag; I love the way it turned out.’

2. Hide the trash can using this genius IKEA hack

an ikea kitchen with a checkerboard floor

(Image credit: Rachael Cooney)

Instagram blogger, Rachael Cooney wanted to hide the bin in her newly renovated kitchen as it would add more neatness to the room's aesthetic. However, in the small and narrow space, it was difficult to have a conventional pull-out bin. So instead she used a shallow 40cm IKEA cabinet and modified their Plykea cupboard. The perfect IKEA small home hack.

The result is a super efficient hidden bin that is wonderfully hidden and doesn't hamper the flow of the space 'It's great having the bin hidden away and the design has proved very functional,' Rachael says. 'It’s so easy to lift the bin in and out, unlike a lot of stand-alone bins.'

3. Utilize IKEA KALLAX to create a kitchen bench

IKEA KALLAX bench seating

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

Blogger Yves Verelst utilized the versatility and protentional of the IKEA KALLAX hack, and used it to create an elegant bench in his kitchen. He purchased the KALLAX shelf, assembled it, and ‘since this build needed to fit in between two other cabinets, I added side boxes that are approximately about 30cm wide,’ Yves explains.

He then cut a seating area with a saw. ‘I laid all the strips out on the table, as they were cut to the same width as the bench seat, then added all ton of wood glue and laid the plywood on top,’ he explains. Yves finished the seating area by adding hardwood edges that give the piece a truly bespoke aesthetic. He then decorated it with a task light, IKEA's BRANÄS storage boxes, and soft furnishings for that perfectly cozy look. 

4. Design a freestanding fridge with IKEA METOD

A pink kitchen with a black fridge with a built in surround

(Image credit: Hannah Otto (@theottohouse))

Home renovator Hannah Otto of the Otto House used some fluted baseboards, a sheet of MDF and a lick of paint to turn two tall METOD cabinets into a custom, built-in fridge panel in her country kitchen. A perfectly executed ikea wardrobe hack.

The fridge panels are made of two IKEA METOD units, placed on either side, which extend around a foot above the top of the appliance. She also integrated a shelf into the design to store her recipe books above the fridge. To create a unified look in the entire room, she used METOD cabinets to match the flat slab doors on her other units. 

'All units all have matching handles, paint color and baseboards so that the IKEA hack ties in well with the rest of the kitchen,' she says. 

For the baseboards, she used moldings from Orac Decor, 'which match the ones I made for the units opposite,' says Hannah. She painted these in a brighter shade of pink called Red Sand by Dulux. The result is a calming, pink kitchen idea that always looks welcoming.


5. Create a beautiful bespoke country kitchen from IKEA cabinets

best Ikea kitchen hacks

(Image credit: @mytinyestate)

Couple Dean Poulton and Borja De Maqua used IKEA kitchen base units before turning it into a splendid retreat, and it now looks like one of the most successful designer IKEA hacks we've seen.

'We got all the carcasses ready and we then cut 18mm thick MDF to create the doors,' says Dean. 'We created a very simple design for the doors as we wanted to add panelling to make it look more in keeping with the age of the property.' 

'Once the doors were cut to the right sizes, we bought an attachment online so we could make the holes for the IKEA hinges and, after some painting and many evenings working, Voila! We made ourselves a kitchen that no one would know is an IKEA kitchen until they open the cupboards. Inside the cupboard we have shelves and drawers from IKEA too (you can’t beat their storage solutions).'

'We invested in a quartz worktop and the taps and handles, in fact the kitchen tap (from deVOL) cost us more than all the kitchen cupboards put together!'

The beautiful green hue is Jade from Fenwick and Tillbrook and the brass handles are from Yester Home.

6. Make a sleek, tall cupboard with a clever IKEA Ivar hack

best Ikea kitchen hacks

(Image credit: @mrs_macs_home)

Ruth of @mrs_macs_home is a whizz at IKEA storage, and we love her light and bright pantry, which looks far more expensive than it actually was.

'We used 2 of the larger IVAR pine cabinets to make a worktop pantry for our budget kitchen makeover,' she says. 'Once built, we put one on top of the other and screwed them together to secure and then anchored to the wall. We then glued on 6mm thick & 90mm wide MDF strips around the front and sides coving to the top and new Shaker-style handles. I used Zinsser ALLCOAT color matched to F&B Cornforth White to paint and match the rest of the kitchen.'

7. Get a Shaker-style kitchen pantry with a cool IKEA Ivar hack

Make doing the laundry a much more pleasant experience with a very cool IKEA Ivar hack from the queen of hacks, Ruth of @mrs_macs_home

'We made a kitchen pantry (above) with two cabinets and bought another two to turn into wall cupboards for our utility makeover,' she says. 'Once assembled we attached to the wall with heavy duty hollow wall anchors. These cabinets are heavy so, if mounted, you need to make sure they’re well secured.'

'Then we added 6mm thick x 90mm wide MDF panels to create Shaker-style doors. The MDF also hides all the screws and the gap in the door. I then painted in Zinsser ALLCOAT and added the same handles we used in our kitchen makeover from @morehandles.'

8. Fashion a beautiful kitchen island from IKEA base units

IKEA kitchen hacks kitchen island

(Image credit: apieceofrainbow.com)

Blogger Ananda created the most beautiful IKEA kitchen island hack with IKEA base cabinets. 

She used IKEA Grimslov doors and spray-painted it in Sherwin Williams Emerald latex paint. She added four wooden legs onto each corner with castor wheels to make it portable. 

She then added gold hardware, a gold towel rail and brushed gold S hooks to hang pots and pans. Oh-so-pretty. See exactly how she did it in detail at apieceofrainbow.com.

9. Breathe life into a tired kitchen with a stylish Ikea cabinetry hack

designer ikea hacks

(Image credit: Melinda Kelson O'Connor Design)

Mindy O'Connorof Melinda Kelson O'Connor Design, used the IKEA Abstrakt Gray Gloss to give an old kitchen new life.

'We inherited a kitchen that had been constructed pretty recently prior to our renovation,' Mindy explains. 'We did not want to waste the existing kitchen cabinets, but needed both a new look and new layout. We reused as many of the Ikea boxes/frames as we could from the kitchen to be positioned under the island and the long run of lower perimeter cabinetry. 

'We added new glossy grey IKEA face panels to them, incorporating them into a totally updated design. It saved money and resources, and we then could put more funds into the fully custom ceiling panels, custom wood cabinetry on the ends of the room to house the appliances, and the mitred marble countertop. It is an elegant modern custom kitchen with about half the cabinets reused from IKEA.' 

10. Mix and match, with an IKEA EKBAKEN worktop 

Want to work a hack that’s discrete and a little bit ‘design trickery’? Take notes, now. Medina Grillo is the designer and Instagram influencer behind @grillodesigns — a feed which is jam-packed with amazing decor tricks and tips for modern living.

A lot of the ideas and advice is ‘budget friendly’, but don’t for a second think that this then compromises the style factor. Medina makes sure that it doesn’t. Her wonderful work on this recent kitchen install proves that by weaving in a subtle Ikea hack you can bring a kitchen project in on budget, and looking every bit high-end chic. There’s nothing immediately Ikea about this kitchen which is maybe why it’s such a swarve hack. It’s the kitchen countertop, by the way. Medina has opted for the Ikea EKBACKEN marble-effect worktop which is laminated.

You get the marble look and style, but without the hassle of trying to avoid (or clean up) those pesky red wine spills. The hint of marble really elevates the feel of this space and blends beautifully with the rich cabinetry and classic black and white tiled floor. A genius kitchen hack. Sssshhh, just don’t tell anyone. They’ll never know! 

11. Create a dreamy kitchen pantry, with an IKEA VINTAGE wardrobe

The Sarah Challenge ikea kitchen hacks

(Image credit: The Sarah Challenge)

Normally a design piece reserved for those with a healthy bespoke kitchen budget, we’re somewhat astounded by the intelligent repurposing of this freestanding Ikea VINTAGE wardrobe. Really though, would you have ever known? Sarah of The Sarah Challenge, is the mastermind behind this hack. 

‘I immediately knew I would have to be creative instead of hunting for the perfect cabinet.' Sarah says. 'With the move, money was too tight to fork out a piece of furniture as we were in need of new appliances. On the list of priorities, a washing machine and dishwasher handily outranked a cabinet, no matter how beautiful. I even searched for second hand kitchen storage cupboards, but found the ones I liked were still out of our price range,’ says Sarah. ‘With a limited budget, my mind immediately went to an old pine IKEA cupboard my husband received second hand many years ago – it’s so old I couldn’t even find what the product name was.’ 

‘We had flat packed it into the attic at our old house once we had a built-in closet installed – so it hadn’t been used for quite a bit but I knew it would do the job,' Sarah adds. 'It wasn’t quite Shaker like the ones I liked, but I could: easily picture putting a few shelves in the IKEA cabinet, hanging shelves on the doors for spices, and using the drawer for tablecloths, napkins, and dishcloths. Most importantly, the price was right. Once we made the move, I measured everything – my soon-to-be DIY kitchen pantry would fit in the reception room, the doors would hide the pantry contents, and best of all – our Lakeland bread maker and Kitchen Aid stand mixer fit width wise.’ 

Taking an old IKEA wardrobe that her husband had inherited secondhand many years ago, Sarah reworked the layout and put shelves in, and gave the old pine aesthetic a lick of pale grey paint. It looks a little like it belongs in one of the fancy kitchen showrooms, and bearing in mind that this has been converted and constructed for next to no money, we think it’s an amazing idea! Try similar, current IKEA wardrobe designs like TYSSEDALE or RAKKESTAD designs. 

12. Create a bespoke floating kitchen sideboard unit, with the IKEA IVAR

It’s a case of look, and look again. This extraordinarily contemporary and chic looking floating kitchen sideboard unit is, underneath the guise, the IKEA IVAR cabinets. We kid you not. 

Artfully put together by sticking craft wooden dowels onto the front, the standard IVAR pine facades are hidden in plain sight. More suited — we would suggest — to keeping crockery and glassware in. We can’t imagine that this design would withstand heavy family use. However, from a decorative perspective and for sheer imagination alone, top marks! Discover more angles of this beautiful minimalist kitchen via @hurmaavaharmaa

13. Add hand-crafted leather pull tabs to IKEA kitchen cabinetry 

We’ve shown you how to upgrade your Ikea kitchen cabinetry handles for a brassier style, but how about considering some crafted leather pull tabs? Not as difficult a hack to recreate as you might think, seen as the likes of Etsy and John Lewis even have a selection of these leather tabs to choose from. 

We love what @_designtales_ has managed to create with this Ikea kitchen carcass. ‘As we do have a lot of rough and industrial elements in our other kitchens, we wanted this one to be fresh, clean and modern, but also cozy at the same time,' say Laura and Nora, the stylist and photographer couple behind the enviable @_designtales_ account. 'If you follow our interior account on Instagram, you might have recognized already, that we are quite minimal, when it comes to furnish our places, so it’s no surprise, that also our kitchen is quite minimalistic. We do create a lot of mess and chaos in our job during shootings, so for us it’s very refreshing to live in a contrast to that and have enough room for thoughts and creativity. I know, some people need a “creative chaos” for that, but for us, it’s the other way around.’ 

The leather  tab handles, not to mention the chic and stylish kitchen pendant lighting, really help vamp the Ikea products into a higher realm of interior aesthetic. 

14. Turn IKEA cabinet boxes into banquette kitchen seating 

This stunning kitchen just immediately conjures up the presence and aura of a high end design, doesn’t it? The built in cabinetry and banquette seating is everything you’d expect from working with a bespoke kitchen manufacturer. However, Andi Wheelband & Renée Frostick, the co-founders of Two Birds Design, have actually curated this beautiful kitchen table seating using some Ikea cabinet boxes as the base (we think it might be the KALLAX design). Andi and Renee say, ‘Can you believe this began with Ikea cabinet boxes?! Thanks to @swedishdoorco and @burlykitchenco for bringing this banquette dream to life!’ What a beautiful room. 

3 products to use for IKEA Hacks

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.

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