How can I make a KALLAX unit look more expensive? 6 simple tricks to get this IKEA favorite to feel more luxurious

These easy alterations will turn your IKEA KALLAX from listless to luxe, even if you're a DIY novice

Ikea Kallax hack sideboard with logs and wood burning fire
(Image credit: @our_bears_home)

If you're ever in need of a quick-fix piece of furniture, IKEA has you covered. From floor-to-ceiling bookcases to built-in storage solutions, their flat-pack equipment has limitless possibilities, one iconic item being the KALLAX shelving unit.

The modular system is loved for its irrefutable versatility, but its standard design is - well - a bit bland. While plain and simple is what the Swedish powerhouse brand does best, not all of us want a pared-back minimalist home. That said, the unadorned design does open up infinite possibilities for personal customization, or what we like to call an IKEA hack

Here's the thing: IKEA furniture is first and foremost budget friendly - that's why we love it. While it can certainly look high-end, it takes a bit of know-how to elevate a piece of flat-pack furniture, but that's what we're on hand to help with. Here, we share the crucial steps involved in making the KALLAX look more expensive so you can have statement storage that suits your space. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A personal fan of the Scandi-inspired interior, her job entails keeping up with everything there is to know about the Swedish powerhouse IKEA. Here she looks at how you can use an IKEA hack to make the iconic KALLAX look more expensive 

1. Add doors for a more put together look 

IKEA Kallax hack fluted media unit

(Image credit: @familyrenov8)

Look at any IKEA KALLAX hack and you'll notice one thing - the most expensive-looking designs typically have doors. Screw in some hinges and attach stylish fronts and you instantly wave goodbye to the KALLAX's recognizable cube shape while also hiding your clutter too. 

An example that I haven't stopped thinking about since I first saw it is this beautiful KALLAX TV stand by home renovator, Jenny (@familyrenov8 (opens in new tab)). The DIY-minded among you will probably be aware that IKEA offer their own door inserts specifically designed for the KALLAX (opens in new tab) to make this one step easier, and that's exactly what Jenny did with her project.

'We purchased the IKEA KALLAX, IKEA KALLAX insert door, and IKEA Rodeny wood panels,' she explains. 'We cut the Rodeny wood panels to fit each door insert's face and once applied with glue, we let it dry. The entire project was all achieved under $150!'

You can also buy KALLAX door dupes with the specific measurements online too. Once fitted, all you need to do is add your own twist to jazz them up.

2. Introduce custom panel overlays

IKEA kallax hack white sideboard with patterned doors

(Image credit: @fenloninteriors)

Sometimes a lick of paint is all that's needed, but if you want to rock the boat your might want to experiment with molding detail on your KALLAX. Be it a simple trim around the edges or all-over fluting, you can buy your own materials, measure the wood and design the look yourself. 

That said, for an even easier way to elevate your flat-pack furniture, you could try panel overlays. That's exactly what interiors blogger Ellie (@fenloninteriors (opens in new tab)) did for her IKEA KALLAX which she uses for hallway storage

'I knew the door fronts needed a glow-up, and a simple yet effective way I found was ordering these fab panels from Lux Hax (opens in new tab) who offer stylish panels for literally any IKEA item that give a luxurious feel,' she explains. 'It was an easy stick-on design that goes straight onto the doors.'

To add a pop of color to your KALLAX, you could even paint your panels before applying them to your doors. 

IKEA KALLAX overlay, Etsy (opens in new tab)
Get the look

IKEA KALLAX overlay, Etsy (opens in new tab) 

Glam up your KALLAX with these overlay panels from Etsy. Available in a range of designs and colors, they simply peel and stick in place. We love the clean lines of this art-deco inspired pattern. 

3. For a tool-free uplift, use baskets instead of doors

Ikea Kallax hack green corner unit

(Image credit: @shiftabrick)

If you're the sort of person who avoids using tools at all costs, then try using baskets instead of doors. The KALLAX's iconic cube shape makes it super simple to fit a pull-out basket inside to help keep your shelving tidy and immediately make it look more expensive, too. 

IKEA offers a whole range of baskets to fit the KALLAX, from the colored canvas DRÖNA box (opens in new tab) to the rustic rattan BRANÄS basket (opens in new tab). The choice is up to you. You could always use a round seagrass basket if you're a fan of modern rustic decor. The best part of using baskets is, even if you decide to flip your KALLAX on its side (which is totally safe to do, by the way) you can still adapt your baskets by simply turning them 90 degrees. No need to go hunting for pesky screwdrivers. 

4. Lift your furniture with some legs

IKEA kalllax hack bedroom dresser

(Image credit: @aubreyhearty)

We take the idea of elevating furniture seriously, so why not literally lift your KALLAX with some custom legs? A simple yet elegant mid-century modern style is a popular choice for the KALLAX when used as a sideboard, but the power is entirely in your hands. 

The natural wood tones of the legs on this dresser have been expertly chosen to echo other elements of this neutral bedroom. 'I purchased some mid-century furniture replacement legs on Amazon, which easily and cheaply turned an ordinary cube unit into a beautiful and functional pseudo-dresser,' explains Aubrey, of @aubreyhearty (opens in new tab). The decision to lift the shelving off the ground instantly makes it more nuanced and expensive (and convenient, too).

Furniture legs, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Get the look

Furniture legs, Amazon (opens in new tab)

These slanted walnut toned furniture legs from Amazon are perfect for if you're after an elegant mid-century look for your KALLAX. This pack comes with all the hardware you need to fix them to the bottom, as well as felt pads to prevent scuffs.

5. Add drawer inserts for extra storage

IKEA KALLAX home bar with statue and art books

(Image credit: Jennifer Osias / @jennosias)

Improve visual appeal while also improving the practicality of your KALLAX by adding drawer inserts as well doors. We love this 1920s-inspired design by Jennifer Osias (opens in new tab) that transforms the KALLAX into a sophisticated home bar idea.

'I like the functionality of the KALLAX but wanted to give it a more elevated and modern look,' she says. She used the KALLAX double drawer inserts from IKEA (opens in new tab), pairing style and functionality with her bespoke fluted design. 

What really makes Jennifer's KALLAX look expensive however is her eye for styling. 'I added a stem hanger to hold my glasses and I created the large textured art piece to mimic the fluted detail on the Kallax and paired it with a black torso sculpture to help anchor the entire area,' she explains. 'I then used my plant and the bowl of fruit to add a pop of color to the otherwise neutral look.' 

6. Finally, add custom hardware to complete the look

Ikea Kallax hack sideboard with logs and wood burning fire

(Image credit: @our_bears_home)

No IKEA hack would be complete without some custom hardware. When it comes to making furniture look more expensive, the power of a brass knob or a matt black handle really shouldn't be underestimated. We love the simple half-moon-shaped handles on this mid-century modern-style sideboard shown here.

The KALLAX door inserts from IKEA come with a simple round metal knob, but you can easily add some character and charm to your storage system with pulls or handles that gel with your personal style. From intricately patterned ceramic knobs to slim and simple black handles, there is a myriad of options out there on the internet. Never has the phrase 'something for everyone' rang more true. 

Gold half-moon handles, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Get the look

Gold half-moon handles, Amazon (opens in new tab)

These elegant half-moon handles are perfect for a timelessly classic credenza. We think the gold effect is ideal if you're looking for an expensive look on a budget, and they're super easy to install too. 

Lilith Hudson
Junior writer

Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.