Introduction: Modern Dog Kennel (Ikea Malm Hack)

About: I'm a nerdy dad who just loves to geek out on D.I.Y. Projects. In the immortal words of Ron Swanson "People who buy things are suckers".

Dog Kennels look terrible! Cheap, utilitarian, expensive, and they take up valuable real estate. This is a simple build modifying existing, cheap furniture to get a very modern, functional, and eye-pleasing kennel your pup will love. Grab your tools, it's time to upgrade!


This project doesn't require many expensive tools but does need some basics to get that clean, high end look. Don't be deterred! If you don't have them I'm willing to bet someone in your maker circle does. It's worth noting I'm a woodworker and had every tool needed for this project in my shop (a.k.a. my condo living room).

Hand Tools

Tape measure or Combo Square

Mini Hacksaw


Rubber Mallet



Rubber Bar Clamps

Power Tools

Table Saw

Plywood Blade (Not needed but helpful)

Power Drill
Drill Bit set

Countersink set if you've got it (not needed)

Kreg Pockethole System


1 "sample size" of the below paint for touch ups for the "black/brown" color I chose.

200 - 400 grit sandpaper

assorted paint brushes

Masking tape (at least 1/2" wide)


I chose the 6 drawer chest but IKEA makes several variations of this product. All should work similarly to suit your needs.

Five (5) Zinc 1/4" x 36" dowel rods

1 pair of 90 degree hidden surface mount hinges

Nineteen (19) 1 1/2" Kreg screws (for softwoods)

Four (4) 1 1/4" flathead #8 screws

Two (2) 4" brushed nickel surface bolts

Step 1: Time to Start Building the Best Looking Kennel They've Ever Seen!

Thanks for your interest, let's build it!

Since the "Malm" is a flat pack piece from Ikea there are plenty of directions on how to put it together. This Instructable will focus on when you need to deviate from the plans for a proper built-in Kennel. Unpack everything and sort out the various pieces. Start assembling per their instructions and follow along. Before step #1 remove the bottom two (2) drawer slides from each of the main side pieces.

Step 2: Modify the Rear "Rail"

The Malm uses a rear "rail" as support for the back of the cabinet. We just need to spin this 90 degrees to make a little more room for our pup. To do this please skip the install of the lowest 2 screws (part #118331) in step #1. Insert the wooden dowel rod and spin the rail 90 degrees towards the top of the unit. Scribe the outline with your pencil and remove the rail exposing your side piece. Now you're ready to measure the first spot to drill. You'll want to mark the center of the outline 1 1/4" from the center of the dowel rod hole. The goal is to match the distance between the old, existing hole and where your new hole will be. Grab your 3/16" bit and tape it to a depth of 1/2". Drill the new hole and install part #118331 in it's place (on both side pieces). Now install the rail per the instructions.

Step 3: Relocate the Bottom Support Rail From Step #3

Do not install the bottom most rail (#4 from the top) per the instructions. We need to relocate it for support later in the project. Start by marking it's outline when it's snugged up and flush to #3 (from the top). You need to drill 2 new holes (on each side piece) to accommodate the new support rail. The goal being to match the holes from the other rails above it. Grab the same 3/16" bit and tape for a 1/4" depth. You need to drill that hole centered from the outline and 1/2" down from the top mark. The second hole should be drilled with a 1/4" bit and 1 1/8" down from the top mark. Now add the hardware (wooden dowel and screw) originally intended for the rail below your new holes. Reminder this needs to be done on both sides of the project. Once you've finished adding the hardware continue assembling the main cabinet per the instructions from IKEA. Do not install the back of the cabinet (Steps 22-25 from IKEA) until after we finish the remaining steps here.

Step 4: Assemble the Drawers

Now it's starting to come together! Assemble the top 4 drawers (2 small and 2 large if you bought the same unit that I did) per the IKEA instructions. We want the front of the cage to honor the same gaps found between the drawers above it (1"). I took a measurement from the top of the bottom rail to the bottom of the drawer and subtracted 1" for the gap (total height = 18" - 1" gap = 17"). Now we've got our height measurement. Width will remain the same as it comes from the factory (31 3/8").

Step 5: Cut the Discarded Drawer Fronts for the Rails and Stiles.

Time to bust out the table saw and re-purpose the left over drawer fronts to create stiles and rails for the cage. They all will be cut to 2 1/2" boards. Set your fence to that width and rip the boards. Pro tip: if you use masking tape and place the visible side down you will get a cleaner cut for the final look. I added tape every 2 1/2" before I started cutting.

Now that they've been ripped you need to cross cut them with a miter to the appropriate lengths.

You'll need 8 pieces total...

Four (4) boards cut to 12" length for the stiles.

Use the angled piece for the top rail and one with the veneer for the bottom rail.

Two (2) boards cut to 18" length (the leftover wood from these cuts will equal the other 2 pieces you need for the door = 13 1/4")

Step 6: Add Pocket Holes With Your Kreg Jig

You're working on 7/8" thick wood so set your Kreg jig and drill bit to the right setting before you get started. Grab your clamp and a solid work surface and drill 2 holes on each side of the 4 stiles. You'll also need to add 3 more pocket holes for the bottom "fixed" rail that will attach to the main cabinet. Pay attention and make sure you're only drilling on the BACK of the rail and stiles.

Step 7: Mark and Drill for the Zinc Rods

This took me some time to do the math and find a nice, evenly spaced look for the 6 rods. You'll want to find the center line (7/16") on the INSIDE of the rails (the ones with pocket holes) and then mark your holes to drill. These were spaced...

From the top of the rail...1st hole is 1 13/16" down.

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th holes are down 1 11/16" from the hole above it.

I used a 1/4" bit to drill the holes to receive the rod and taped it to 3/4" depth. Take your time and try to drill these holes on your marks and as straight down as possible.

Step 8: Sand, Clean and Cut Your Rods to Length

The zinc rods look pretty dirty and unpolished before you give them some tender, loving, care. I used a 320 and 400 grit sandpaper to sand them smooth. Then I cleaned them and polished with a cloth. You can get a mirror finish if you polish with metal compound but I'm after the brushed nickel look. Once clean you can cut them to length. You'll need...

6 rods cut to 14" wide

6 rods cut to 9 1/4" wide

I marked with a sharpie and cut with a mini hacksaw. Piece of pie.

This is your first chance to pre-assemble the doors with rods and see how it's going to look!

Step 9: Paint Those Rough Edges!

OK so things are looking good but now we have exposed wood. Grab that paint sample and paint all the exposed edges. I took the time to paint the pocket holes on the back and the exposed spots/holes that would've been covered if we used the wood for it's originally intended purpose. I also painted the inside of the main cabinet so those holes didn't stand out. That support rail that we spun in the first steps? I painted that too! Lastly I marked a line across the back piece and painted that so it's nice and dark on the inside once completely assembled.

Step 10: Final Door Assembly

You'll want a nice, flat, square surface to clamp your rails and stiles to when you assemble them. It's important to square them up when clamping them together. You want the finished side down so you can access the pocket holes. Grab your Kreg bit, and drive those screws with care to snug it all up. Don't forget to add your rods in the process and voila...beautiful, finished doors.

Step 11: Install the Fixed Door

I clamped the fixed door flush to the bottom rail and side of the unit. Take your time on this and get it as square as possible. Then I added 3 pocket hole screws to the pocket holes we drilled earlier. Afterwards, I pre-drilled 4 pilot holes using a 3/32" bit tape to a depth of 1 1/4". I then used the 1 1/4" screws to attach the top to that bottom support rail we added in the first steps.

Step 12: Mock Up, Mark, and Install Door Hinges

OK this was the hardest part of the project for me. The hinges can be installed in 3 different ways, make sure to read the directions 3 times so you select the right one and install it correctly. Start with your door and find where you'd like them. Then measure 5/8" in (the width of the side cabinet piece) from the side of the door that will live on the outside of the unit. Mark the holes with the template per the instructions. Once added, mock up the door and mark the inside of the cabinet to receive the hinges. Take your time and pay special attention to keeping things flush and square. There will be a gap in between the 2 doors (which is good) that came from the saw blade cut. We want that to accommodate the door swing and lock.

Step 13: Add the Locks of Your Choosing

I chose a sliding bolt for my locks. There are plenty of choices but I thought this matched well with the sleek look I was after. I measured the midway point (1 1/4" down from top and up from bottom) on the door. The I pre-drilled per the instructions and added screws to secure the bolts to the door (Make sure to keep them level). I then mocked up the receiving piece and pre-drilled and screwed it to the inside of the fixed door piece. Super easy, super beautiful.

Step 14: Install the Back and Final Piece

Flip the cabinet down to it's front and install the back piece with the hammer and nails. The painted portion should be front facing so it blends when assembled. That's it, you're done with the build!!!

Step 15: Re-Arrange Your Furniture and Be Proud of What You've Accomplished!

Great job, it looks amazing. I added her super soft bedding for the final touch. The cool thing about Malm furniture is different pieces from the same collection blend seamlessly. I've placed it next to this similar unit but the combinations are endless. Thanks for taking the time to build a gorgeous, unique dog kennel for your pup to love and for you to not hate. P.S. Zoe absolutely loves her new home!!!

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