This IKEA hack transforms BESTA cabinets into built-in sideboard storage to fill awkward alcoves

The decorative molding on these IKEA cabinets gives the built-in sideboards a timelessly elegant paneled effect

a ikea hack sideboard
(Image credit: Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary))

Even if you've never heard of the IKEA BESTA, chances are you have seen one. The simple design of this sideboard staple makes it a popular addition to many a living room, bedroom, and entryway - and this custom built-in project shows its limitless potential as a bespoke furniture piece, too. 

With the help of some MDF, a bit of molding detail and brand-new custom hardware, this IKEA hack adds a touch of traditional character and charm to this living room, as well as a clever storage solution. This project is the handy work of home renovator Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary) who shares her ongoing DIY home improvements over on Instagram. Here, she shares how she carried out the elegant makeover of her BESTA storage. 

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. Paired with her insight into the latest home renovation projects, she regularly shares IKEA hacks with readers to inspire their own DIY projects in home design.

Fiona of @ourstaffordshiresanctuary was always dedicated to transform her home into the ultimate sanctuary for her and her family - and with a young daughter, that also meant clever storage solutions. 

'Our living room never felt very "put-together",' she explains. 'I'm a big fan of white walls but for some reason I couldn't tie this room together. It was also home to an ever-growing array of brightly colored kids' toys which we needed better storage for.' 

A TV stand in the process of being renovated

(Image credit: Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary))

Noticing the potential of the alcoves on either side of the fireplace, Fi decided to maximize space with some bespoke fitted furniture as her storage idea.

'I wanted both alcoves to have the same built-ins to give the room some symmetry, but as they were relatively wide the cost for a joiner or other alternative was going to work out quite high,' she explains. 'We already owned one of the BESTA units and so decided to give it a go ourselves with an IKEA hack.'

How to turn a BESTA unit into a built-in

A TV stand in the process of adding molding detail

(Image credit: Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary))

Before she could begin, Fi needed to buy another double-fronted BESTA unit (opens in new tab) to go in the other alcove. She chose white for a neutral canvas, but they come in a whole host of colors and combinations.

After some careful planning and meticulous measuring, she was ready to start ordering supplies. 'We built a base for the unit at the same height as our skirting,' Fiona explains. 'Then we ordered a thick piece of MDF cut to size to make the tabletop.'

A TV stand in the process of adding molding detail

(Image credit: Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary))

It was then a case of cutting more MDF to fit the gaps that weren't covered either side of the unit. To keep her living room DIY project simple, Fi decided against making these bookends into accessible storage. 'We could have made better use of the space and had extra storage but with relatively limited DIY skills at this point, we decided it was best to keep it simple,' she says. 

What really makes this sideboard blend into Fiona's home so seamlessly is the trim. The decorative molding on the front of the cabinets and baseboards gives the storage a classic paneled effect that's timelessly elegant. 'After adding molding and skirting, we caulked all the gaps and then primed and painted using the same color as the walls.' 

Glidden Antique White paint, Walmart (opens in new tab)
Get the look

Glidden Antique White paint, Walmart (opens in new tab)

For a traditional looking off white, try the shade Antique White by Glidden, available at Walmart. The quick cover latex formula means get the job done fast and reduces drying time, but remember to use a primer first. 

A close up of a cream TV stand with molding detail

(Image credit: Fiona White (@ourstaffordshiresanctuary))
Small black knobs, Amazon (opens in new tab)
Get the look

Small black knobs, Amazon (opens in new tab)

These matt black drawer knobs from Amazon are a simple yet elegant addition when customizing your own furniture. Perfect for drawers or cabinets, this pack of 30 also means all of your furniture throughout the home can match.

Black brassware for the cabinet handles makes the perfect finishing touch for this understated look. It's the perfect spot to house books, lamps, photos and other decorative items, but we love how one of Fiona's sideboards doubles up as a TV stand

Not only did she find this IKEA built-in hack the most budget-friendly alternative to professional bespoke furnishings, but it helped Fi realize her creative potential as well. 'This DIY project gave us more confidence and skills than before, and we've actually just ordered some wardrobes for our next IKEA hack,' she explains. Stay tuned and we might just feature that one, 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.