Introduction: IKEA Hack: How to Upgrade Your IKEA Shelving Unit for $40

About: My love of making things started young, with a mom who was always coming up with projects and a dad whose tool collection still gives me envy. I got my love of bright colors from mom and my love of working wi…

Ten years after I first discovered IKEA (and two apartments and two houses later), there are a few key pieces that I’ve held onto, mostly because they would be expensive to replace. Though I’m still not willing to fork over money to replace my Ikea Kallax media center in particular, those nine purple-ish plastic drawers I originally purchased needed a major facelift.

Replacing the drawers with higher-end options from Ikea would be either around $120 on the low end for plain white plastic drawers, identical in everything but color to what I have now, all the way up to $225 for the matching inserts with doors. Both options were beyond what I wanted to spend, so I hacked my way to a higher-end look.

To transform this piece, I opted to front the drawers with grey-stained wood and add drawer pulls to them. The total cost of this project turned out to be just $40, and that’s because I had to buy everything from the wood to stain and glue. If you have these around the house, you can do it for even less!

For more on the specific materials I used, visit my blog, Just Might DIY.


Wood (something thin, and enough to cover the number of drawers you have)

Sandpaper (120 grit should do)

Wood Stain


Drill with bits

Drawer pulls

Washers (large)

13” x 13” paper for guide

Glue that bonds plastic to wood (check labels)



Step 1: Cut Wood Into 13” X 13” Squares

If you don’t have a table saw (I don’t), you can get Home Depot to cut them for you. Sometimes they charge after a certain number of cuts, but they’ve never once charged me for multiple cuts.

Step 2: Create a Paper Guide to Mark the Middle of Each Square

Outline one wood square on paper or poster board (I used a paper grocery bag). Use scissors to cut out guide.

Fold paper in half, and then in half again.

Cut small piece of the inner corner to make a hole in the middle.

Step 3: Mark the Center of Each Wood Square

Place guide on each square and mark the middle with a pencil.

Step 4: Drill Hole for Drawer Pulls

With the right size drill bit for your drawer pulls, drill a single hole on each marking for all boards.

Step 5: Sand Wood

Sand the fronts, backs, sides and freshly drilled holes, if needed. Be sure to wipe off any excess saw dust.

Step 6: Apply Stain

Follow the directions on your particular stain. I used a brush to apply stain and a rag to wipe off any excess.

Let dry.

Step 7: Glue Wood Fronts to Drawers

Apply glue liberally to the front side of the IKEA drawers and place the wood piece on top, following setting and dry times for the glue you use. (I put heavy objects on top of mine to help with adhesion.)

Step 8: Insert Drawer Pulls

Use large washers on the inside of the drawer to make up for the large square holes in the Ikea drawers

Step 9: Enjoy!

For more great DIY inspiration, visit my blog, Just Might DIY.

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