IKEA DIY built in hack using IKEA cabinets and shelves

Inside: How we created a large IKEA DIY built in on a budget using IKEA kitchen cabinets and shelving.

If you’ve ever felt like decorating your home is just too damn hard, I’m about to take you on a little walk down memory lane today in hopes that you’ll realize that creating the home of your dreams takes time, even for those of us who are literally obsessed with it –-this girl right here.

I’m also answering one of the most common questions I get which is,

how did you create the built in in your family room?”

I’ll admit it’s taken me forever to get around to answering, but I had to really dig through old photos for this one. As in dig out old computers that are currently sitting in the old computer cemetery in the garage kind of digging. –oh wait, the computer cemetery doesn’t exist now that we’ve completely decluttered and organized our garage!

Worth the wait, I promise. Not to mention super fun to see where we started, and how far we’ve come since moving into our home.

The family room before our DIY built in

We got the keys to our home when our first born was just  a few weeks old. In fact the hubs did the walk through the day after she was born, while I was soaking up baby snuggles in the hospital . It was a short sale which took twice as long as planned to close and we had absolutely no control over the timing, but were so excited to have our patience finally pay off.

This is what it looked like when we got the keys, minus the baby seat, the paint samples, and the mayo and mustard?- no clue why those are there.

It was builder white, on builder white, on off white, on cream, on more off white with off white berber carpet. Not cool, but a clean slate!

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves (2)

Before we moved in we painted all the main living spaces a perfect shade of greige. Our family and friends helped us put in new baseboards and install some beautiful, dark wide plank laminate flooring.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Then we moved our furniture in and slowly started accumulating more kids’ stuff than we could ever have imagined and used what we had to organize it.

It made perfect sense to make this long wall the media area in our family room so we used the modular shelves that we had in our previous home to hold our TV and all the components until we could figure out a more permanent solution.

We knew we wanted to make this wall a focal point and have a built in, but when we heard how much custom built ins cost we knew we had to come up with our own solution.

Not to mention, I wasn’t a fan of sweeping up dog hair from behind this make-shift media center, nor was I a fan of no where to put the kids toys –and I knew there would be more to come.

Wait is that a cardboard box we’re using to organize the toys? Oh, no it just happened to be our baby girl’s favorite toy…go figure.

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

So a built in with closed cabinets for hidden storage for toys, TV components, and movies, was a must, but we had to come up with a budget friendly option.

How we created an IKEA DIY built in using IKEA kitchen cabinets and shelves

We decided that closed storage down below with open shelves up top would be a nice look and give us hidden storage and a place to display things. Plus, since we don’t have a fireplace, I wanted this space to act as my sorta “mantel” that I can change out with the seasons in the fall and for Christmas.

Up top, I wanted open shelves to display decor and provide some tricky hidden storage for things too.

We found that IKEA kitchen base cabinets were perfect for the lower cabinets and installed them all the way across with a white laminate kitchen counter top (also from IKEA) on top.

We used five 30 inch base kitchen cabinets (24 inches deep) across the bottom with solid doors on the sides and glass doors in the middle so we’d be able to put the TV components in there and still be able to use the remotes. And since I know you’re wondering if the remotes work through the glass, yes they do!

For the counter top we used two IKEA laminate counters. There is a seam right in the middle but honestly you can barely see it. This is because we put the uncut edge of each counter top together at the seam and cut on the sides against the wall knowing that no cut is perfect.

You will want to take precautions when cutting the laminate though so it doesn’t chip. We use the same method we use to cut wood without splintering that you can see here.

Since we wanted to run our 5″ baseboards along the front to give it less of a kitchen look and more of a built in look we adjusted the height of the cabinets accordingly. Then instead of installing the toekick, we placed a piece of wood the length of the cabinets and attached our baseboard to it for a seamless look with the wall baseboards.

We used this same method on the built ins we did in our front room and documented the process with photos in this post so you can see what I mean.

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Then we painted the back wall a deep blue and secured LACK open shelves on each side. –These are no longer available, but there are similar ones at IKEA that would work the same.

We cut off the bottom shelf on each LACK unit so that the counter top was the bottom shelf, plus it made it so that they fit height wise.

Finally we installed a long LACK floating shelf across the middle to frame the TV and give me my mantel.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

When it came time to place our flat screen TV  we found this easy to install kit that got rid of those ugly dangling cords.

Having all of this open shelving space has really allowed me to let my color palette and my decor in general evolve over time.

We recently refreshed this room, you can see what our family room looked like before right here.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

And I love to play around with the styling on my shelves and switch the art out for a fresh look.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Absolutely crazy that what once looked like this…

family room built in before

Now looks like this! Say whaaaaat!

I hadn’t looked at those photos in so long and can’t believe how much we’ve been able to transform our home into a space that is a perfect backdrop for our lives.

This is the room we hang out in the most and it absolutely nails it when it comes to how we want our home to feel!
IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Thanks for coming along this journey with me today!

Since discovering the file with all of the original photos of our home, I’m excited to share more then and now stories with you! And I’d love to share this video tour of my family room and show you how we use the cabinet storage!

Video Tour Of Our Family Room (with a focus on function)

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves


Update: We transformed our cluttered builder grade closet pantry using builtins too! Read more if you want to achieve pantry perfection!

Thanks for stopping by!

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IKEA DIY built in hack using IKEA cabinets and shelves

About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

60 thoughts on “IKEA DIY built in hack using IKEA cabinets and shelves

  1. Emily Forehand says:

    What depth did you use and do you feel it accomodates well for storage using baskets and bins? We are looking at the Axstad cabinets and the depth is 15″.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Ours are 24 inches deep Emily, but yes I think 15 inches would be great storage and there are a lot of bins and baskets you can find that would fit.

  2. Laura says:

    One more question: how did you install the countertop? Did it fit evenly on the cabinets, how did you secure it?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Laura, It’s an IKEA countertop. Yes it fit evenly, we had to cut it to fit and it’s secured from inside the cabinet. You drill up into it through these metal frames that come with the cabinets.

  3. Laura says:

    Hi, love what you did here. What are the dimensions of your space?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Laura, Our room (the wall with the built-in) is nearly 14 feet but you can adjust the shelving sizes to fit your own space.

  4. Kobi says:

    Hi, I know this post is old and I’m hoping that you will see this and respond – I’m curious as to the dimensions of your family room? I love the look of your built-in and am thinking of recreating something similar, but I’m not sure that I have enough space?! Thank you!!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Kobi! Our room (the wall with the built-in) is nearly 14 feet. If your wall isn’t as long, you could still do this with shelving units on either side that are more narrow and a smaller TV. Best wishes!

  5. Jenny says:

    Love the set up looking for something like this myself. What shelving did you use? I found everything else but could not find the shelves.

    Thank you

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Jenny! We used LACK open shelves on each side. –These are no longer available, but there are similar ones at IKEA that would work the same.

  6. Laurel says:

    When you order the cabinet base do the doors come with it or do you order those separately? Are doors hard to put on?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      The doors are extremely easy to put on, Laurel. 🙂 The hinge literally clicks in and then you click it to the cabinet. You’ll see the option to select the doors you want when you choose a cabinet (on the IKEA website.) You can also buy the cabinet without the doors. They do charge for each item, but they’re bundled to make it easy on the customer.

  7. Angela says:

    I am thinking about doing something similar in my new home. My question is how do you plug everything in? Did you cut a hole that I’m not seeing? Do you have to pull everything out every time you want to move cables?


    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Angela, We actually fed the cords through the wall using a kit like this one

  8. Kelli smith says:

    Hello! What molding did you,use to close out the space from Wall to cabinet

    1. Corey Willis says:

      We actually didn’t use molding Kelli. You can see a little bit of a gap which I didn’t mind for a really long time. Then when I built the built ins in my front room I pushed myself and put those types of finishing touches on them and now I plan to go back to this project and fill in those gaps with molding and redo the high middle shelf completely to make it deeper. So, the short answer is that this project is a bit of a work in progress. For now it is fine, but I will improve it in the near future.

  9. Silvia says:

    Hi. I love what you did and I want to do the same thing for my family room. I went to Ikea and figured out the cabinets but I did not see any bookcases similar to what you used. The Lack ones they have now are either 11 in wide or 43 in wide (big difference – nothing in between). Having a hard time finding bookcases like the ones you used. Any ideas ? Not sure I like floating shelves (I can’t really picture them in my mind). Any suggestions are appreciated.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Sylvia, the Lack shelves we used are no longer available. I suggest contacting IKEA customer service and asking what they carry now that would be similar. Or you can browse their bookcase and shelving units sections for ideas. Best wishes!

  10. Ernest says:

    Hi again Corey,
    I noticed in your initial setup of the cabinets that there’s a small gap on the far left side. How did you achieve the end result where the shelves look like a perfect fit in the space?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Ernest! You’re very observant! We added a strip of molding on both ends of the cabinets to take them all the way to the wall. We were going to add it to the top shelves too but never did, and it looks fine with the small gap.

  11. Deborah says:

    Hi! I just came across your post while searching for some Ikea built-in inspiration since I’m planning a similar project. Your built-in is beautiful – definitely one of the best I’ve come across in my search! Well done!

    I have a couple questions that I’m hoping you can help me with:
    1) How did you handle the wires from the TV/media consoles and access to the electrical outlet? Did you just cut a hole in the back of one of the cabinets?
    2) Are you able to use a remote with the glass cabinet door? Or do you need to open the door when using the TV?
    3) Did you use the Ikea suspension rail to secure the cabinets to the wall or something else?

    Thank you for your help!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey there Deborah!

      Great questions!
      1. We actually fed the cords through the wall using a kit like this one
      2. Yes we can use the remotes through the glass. This was an absolute must!
      3. Yes we used the IKEA rail and the legs. Instead of the toekick we put a 2×4 in front and attached our baseboard.

      We created other built ins that show how we did the baseboard along the front in this post. That post also shows another way to feed cords to an outlet in case you need another method.

  12. Andy Shepard says:

    Any suggestions as to what cabinet base to use if you need file storage? I’m trying to design an office/craft area and office credenzas are pretty pricy.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Andy, check the Ikea file cabinet selections here for possible ideas. Hope this helps!

  13. Rosy says:


    Very neat job. How much did you spend for the project ?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Rosy, I think it cost us about $1,000 but a lot of depends on the cabinets you choose. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Nikki says:

    This post has been amazing we’re now going to recreate it in our home in the U.K.!
    The only thing I can’t seem to find are the glass doors!
    Love your living room looks gorgeous

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I’m so excited you’re going to recreate this, Nikki! You might be able to find the glass doors here Good luck and be sure to send me pics when you’re done!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! This looks awesome! I was wondering did you use multiple of the lilltrask countertops or did you get a custom length? I’m curious how visible a seam would be but I can’t see one in any of your pictures. Thanks!

  16. Shanna says:

    Can u tell me what depth you chose for the cabinets? I love what you did!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks a million, Shanna. The depth is 24 inches!

  17. Vanessa says:

    I love this! Do you have the item number for the cabinets that you used?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks Vanessa! Here is a link to the cabinets. They come in different dimensions depending on what you need.

  18. Robin says:

    How could one deal with the colour differences from the top and bottom sections? Or is that just the famed angle playing tricks? Also, is there a space between the wall and the top shelves? Are they not as wide as the bottom cabinets?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Robin, thanks for asking. The very slight color difference from top and bottom isn’t noticeable at all because the countertop we used (also from IKEA) matches the bookcases.
      Regarding the space, it was a dimension issue and originally we thought we would add molding there to hide it, but it hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t bother us at all so it has stayed like that.

  19. Caitlin says:

    Hi there, I’m trying to recreate this this weekend and I found the SKETION GRIMSLOV off-white cabinets that you appear to have used but I’m wondering if the “off-white” of the cabinet doors matched the “white” Billy shelves I found to go with it on top…did you run into that problem? How “off” white are they compared to other whites at IKEA?


    1. Sara says:

      What was the total cost of the built in?

    2. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Caitlin, They aren’t a perfect match, but it isn’t noticeable at all because the countertop we used (also from IKEA) matches the bookcases. I’ve never noticed it and details like that would normally drive me nuts 🙂

  20. Pleasant B says:

    Hi, Corey. I would love to know what you guys used for the base (white piece across the bottom front – and how it was installed. Lovely set up! Inspired! 🙂

    1. Corey Willis says:

      So happy you find it inspiring, Pleasant! We used the same base board as the baseboards in our home (5 inches tall.) The ikea cabinets come with a toekick that snaps onto the legs. We attached the baseboard to the toekick and then put it in place. Because the baseboards are 5 inches tall it was important to put the cabinets at exactly that height for a seamless finished look. Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

  21. Blanaid says:

    What colour is back of shelves

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Blanaid, it is Distance by Sherwin Williams. For my info on my house colors, check out this post

  22. Karin says:

    do you have the model numbers from ikea for the counter, doors and cabinets?

  23. Pamela says:

    Where did you get the doors from? IKEA too?
    Looks awesome!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks so much, Pamela. I did indeed get the doors from Ikea!

  24. Jodie says:

    where is that little chair from so cute?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I love that chair, too, Jodie! It was originally my grandmother’s and covered with white faux fur hahahaha! I had it reupholstered. Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Elyse says:

    How did you secure the lack shelving to the countertop?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Elyse, great question! We used L brackets secured to the wall in inconspicuous spots.

  26. Heather says:

    Thanks for sharing! What a great hack! You did a great job! Just wondering where you purchased your rug as I especially love it!

    1. Hey Heather! The rug is from Rugs USA. You can find all of the sources for this room in this post.

  27. Andrea says:

    I like it! But, why did you leave the 1″ (?) space on each side of the upper shelves? Why didn’t you just go all the way to the wall with them? I’m thinking from a cleaning aspect, here. Doesn’t it get dusty in there? And spider webs? Ew. 🙂

    1. Hey Andrea. It was a dimension issue and originally we thought we would add molding there to hide it, but it hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t bother us at all so it has stayed like that.

  28. Gina Gearhart says:

    Love it!!!

  29. Kyra says:

    It’s so beautiful! You have really worked hard on creating a beautiful and comfortable home.

    1. Thank you Kyra! It has definitely been worth the effort 🙂

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Love this!! Turned out awesome! I love that blue!! Will you please share the color and brand? Thank you!

  31. Great transformation! You are truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing and glad you found the photos!

    1. Thanks Kathryn!

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