Before and after: This minimalist IKEA KALLAX is now a bespoke kitchen bench

This is your cue to take your KALLAX to the kitchen – and make a chic statement in the process

IKEA KALLAX bench seating
(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

The iconic KALLAX – perhaps IKEA’s most recognized piece – is a recurring staple amongst our favorite IKEA hacks. However, we may have just discovered a KALLAX hack like no other. 

Enter Yves Verelst, who transformed his conventional KALLAX into an elegant bench that stands as the focal point of his kitchen. While this room is not the most orthodox location for the Scandi-cool unit, Yves has inspired us to redesign the staple and create a functional – but no less functional furnishing in the most social room of your home. 

IKEA KALLAX kitchen bench

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

From upcoming cocktail parties to a Sunday morning coffee retreat, this is the KALLAX makeover you never knew your kitchen needed. But how did Yves turn the beloved unit into a stylish seat? Here, he shares the design process behind the statement.

IKEA KALLAX: Before the hack 

Yves explains that the idea for the bench came from his desire to create space – and add an element of coziness in his kitchen. He also wanted to include power plugs into furnishing, following the requirement to work from home. So, he set out to the decor powerhouse to pick up a KALLAX shelf. 

IKEA KALLAX unit before makeover

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

After purchasing, Yves assembled the unit and then some additional side boxes that he also used to store power. ‘In my case, this build needed to fit in between two other cabinets, so I added side boxes that are approximately about 30cm wide,’ Yves explains in his blog

He adds that if you do not have any space constraints, then you can make the bench as wide as desired.

IKEA KALLAX: During the hack


(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

The next step involved cutting the seating area, which Yves did with a circular saw from a large piece of plywood. For the depth of the bench – where you would sit – he recommends finding a comfortable seat in another part of your home and measuring the depth of the seating – as this acts as the basis of your design. 

IKEA KALLAX during hack

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

‘I laid all the strips out on the table, they were cut to the same with 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.

Then, once the seat was complete, Yves decorated the back of the bench by adding oak and pine strips to the plywood. 

IKEA KALLAX: After the hack 

IKEA KALLAX is not a bench

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

Once the structure was complete, Yves decorated the bench with rustic task lights, IKEA's BRANÄS storage boxes, and soft furnishings – to emphasize the ‘cozy’ look he so craved. The result is the modern kitchen idea we’re rushing to recreate. 

‘After squeezing the bench in between two cabinets, it was time to take some pictures, fill the boxes, and beg my wife to make a cushion for the bench,’ Yves says. 

IKEA KALLAX after hack

(Image credit: Yves Verelst)

If you need us, we’ll be in the IKEA warehouse this weekend. 

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.