IKEA Kallax Hack

Our living room has a long wall that was previously left blank, due to the awkward nature of it being right along the line of traffic from two doorways. Because we wanted to keep the path clear, we were looking for a long, narrow shelving option that could accommodate vinyl records, books, and magazines, and that would give us a tabletop for our record player, speakers, and accessories. It was also important that, no matter what route we went, we could find an affordable unit that wouldn't break the bank. 

We recently got an IKEA (!!) in Halifax, which has certainly helped with the budget-friendly side of things, but we also want to feel like our pieces are personal and unique, which is obviously a challenge when it comes to big-box stores. After a lot of digging online, we realized that the Kallax would be the perfect height and depth for what we were hoping to achieve, but wanted to make it our own. 

While planning to paint our walls in Farrow & Ball's Cinder Rose (a sort of murky, dusty pink), we wanted to carry the same colour through to the Kallax, making it feel more like a custom built-in. IKEA furniture is notoriously difficult to paint, so I was sure to do a bit of sleuthing beforehand. Here's a quick rundown of the steps I used to prep, paint, and assemble the unit while my husband was away on a guys trip to Vegas. 


The BIN shellac-base primer I used

The BIN shellac-base primer I used

  1. It's important to lightly sand all pieces that would be painted. The laminate units aren't porous and you need to start by creating a surface that will more easily allow the paint to stick.
  2. Sanding isn't enough! Invest in a small can of primer made for laminate surfaces to give you the foundation you need. I used Zinsser's BIN Shellac-Based Primer Sealer that you can get at any hardware store. I got mine at Home Depot - here's a picture of the can.  I applied using a mini-foam roller on all sides/edges. 
  3. Wait for the primer to dry, then, using a mini-foam roller, apply two coats of chosen paint to all exposed sides. A few other notes on this step:
    • After experimenting with both a brush and a roller, I found that a mini-roller worked much better to get a clean finish.
    • Select durable, hardwearing paint that can be used on wood, rather than a wall/ceiling paint. I used Farrow & Ball's Modern Eggshell finish. 
    • Be sure to wait the recommended drying time before flipping the pieces over or applying your second coat of paint. With the Farrow & Ball paint 
    • I also recommend making sure you're painting in a space free of dust and pet hair. If you have a dog that sheds fur like ours does, you'll want to ensure your workspace is extra clean!
  4. Assemble your furniture according to the directions and voila! 


I'm so happy with how ours turned out!

IKEA Kallax in Farrow & Ball Cinder Rose

We're planning to get a second, smaller unit to add beside this one and span the full width of the wall. And now that I have the IKEA hack bug, I'm looking forward to lots of painting in the future. 

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to share them!