How do you make two of IKEA's most iconic flat-packs - the BESTA and the PAX - even more functional than they already are? You combine them, of course! If there's one thing we love more than a regular upcycle project, it's one that also incorporates a DIY built-in, and this genius wall storage idea does just that, offering the perfect solution to maximize space in this tiny loft apartment.
It's all down to the handy work of home renovator Lacey Moldow (@loft.flora) who loves to use her creative flair to conjure genius space-saving ideas for her small home which she shares over on her Instagram. With this clever IKEA hack, she combined two PAX units and a BESTA cabinet to create sleek, contemporary kitchen wall storage, adding wooden accents for an organic modern touch. Feeling inspired? Here, she explains the steps she took to make the storage unit, and it's actually more simple than you'd think!
Lacey lives in a converted loft space in Atlanta, GA that's just 950 sq ft, so she knows a thing or two about small-space living. 'Storage is scarce!' she says. 'I've lived here for 11 years and love the location, natural light, and soaring 30 ft ceilings, but the one thing that's always been lacking is storage, which is where the idea to add a wall of built-ins was born.'
To get underway with her project, Lacey started out as all good DIYers should with a vision board full of ideas to inspire. 'I knew I wanted some visual interest in the middle with artwork and some sconces, so I built my idea around that,' she explains. 'Then I started taking measurements of my space and figuring out which IKEA pieces would fit while maximizing storage.'
This method of reverse engineering - deciding on the priorities of a layout rather than deciding on the units first - is a great lesson to carry with you through your own future projects.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, though. Inevitably, Lacey encountered some challenges in the process of her IKEA built-in hack, one of which was finding IKEA units with precise measurements to fit her space while also maximizing storage. 'I also struggled to find IKEA collections that worked well with each other,' she says. 'Even once I'd decided on the units (I ended up using two PAX wardrobes and a BESTA unit in the middle) I then had to reconcile the differences in base height and depth to make them look like one cohesive built-in unit.'
Proving herself a dab hand at DIY, Lacey also adapted some of the flatpacks to achieve her desired look. 'The 29 inch PAX units that fit within my space only came with the option of one larger door and one tiny door,' she says. 'That just looked wonky to me and I wouldn't have it, so I ended up having to buy two of the larger doors and cutting them both down to size, then using some paintable iron-on edge banding to clean up the edges.'
Even once the flatpacks were assembled, Lacey then had to balance them in height for a truly seamless look. 'I enlisted the help of my dad to build a wooden platform from 1x3 boards so the middle BESTA unit could sit flush with the PAX units on either side,' she says. 'I then added thin trim pieces between each unit and the wall, along with a baseboard.'
Once she was happy with the bare bones of her storage unit, it was time to customize! 'I wanted the units to be painted the same color as the walls in that room, which is Warm Blush by Benjamin Moore, of course using Zinsser's B-I-N shellac primer first.' A lick of paint can make all the difference to IKEA furniture, and this subtle shade adds just the right amount of warmth to Lacey's kitchen.
A browse through Lacey's Instagram grid shows she's partial to a calming, organic-modern vibe, and this certainly shines through in her hardware choices for her storage. 'I'm loving wavy lines and organic shapes and materials right now, so I wanted to go with a wood cabinet pull rather than traditional metal,' she says. 'I found some super fun wavy oak pulls on Etsy and oak round ball pulls for the center cabinets.'
She also gave her kitchen storage project a real chance to shine with the addition of some sconces on the wall above her BESTA. 'The wavy arm brass sconces are from Lightology and meant to be hardwired, but I didn't want to mess with that, so I mounted them on the wall and used rechargeable puck lights instead.' (We also found a similar design at Mitzi.)
To complete the look, Lacey sourced some beautiful red oak boards from a local wood shop, and - proving once again that you're never too old for a helping hand from a parent - she enlisted her dad to help create the countertop for the middle section.
It was then just a matter of decorating to make the perfect focal point. 'I commissioned artwork to go in the center from local Atlanta artist, Crysta Luke, inspired by a more organic and textural take on the popular checkerboard trend,' Lacey says. 'I'm in love with it!'
All in all, Lacey's project proves that storage ideas for small spaces can be seriously stylish, and that a DIY bespoke approach is the way to go! 'I couldn't be happier with the way this project turned out,' she says. 'Not only does it solve the biggest dilemma of living in a small space, but I feel like it really elevates the look of this room!'
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Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith 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. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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