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11 hacks to make your IKEA finds look luxe


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Photo: Getty Images/Oscar Wong

Your home is your sanctuary—it should make you feel safe, secure and, at least in certain spots, unobserved—which means it’s worthy of investment. Still, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on home decor can trigger your financial demons, which can, in turn, transform your safe space into a serious source of anxiety. After all, you definitely don’t want your new cozy bed to remind you of credit card debt. (Hello, insomnia!)

You don’t have to spend big in order to build the home of your dreams, however, and shopping in the budget category doesn’t have to mean your place looks like it did freshman year in college, either. A little creativity is all you need to take your favorite budget finds—from IKEA, of course—from meh to yay! Below, find 11 killer hacks that will turn the IKEA pieces you’ve been trying to bury beneath smudge sticks and Trader Joe’s bouquets into something to show off.

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1. Swap out sofa legs

When it comes to IKEA furniture, the bargain is often in the details… as in, this is where they cheap out. So, swapping out the small things can make a huge difference in aesthetics. Case in point: You can replace the legs that come with IKEA couches, e.g. the Karlstad sofa, with ones that have more of an upscale feel or just better fit your home’s vibe. I found solid options on Etsy.

2. Go crazy with the gold (or copper) spray paint.

*Literally* everything at IKEA looks 10x more expensive once you’ve taken a cheap bottle of spray paint to its details. To immediately elevate the look of plain shelving, for example, coat these Ekby Bjarnum shelf brackets in the metallic hue of your choice. The inside of a pendant lamp is a good place for a similarly subtle paint job, too. Or, make the base of an office swivel chair, like this new blush-colored piece, pop with some paint. Options here are virtually endless, and this hack costs under $10 and usually takes less than 10 minutes to execute.

3. Disguise your cheap cabinets with this cheap trick

You know those little holes found on the inside of IKEA cabinets and bookcases, the ones which allow you to raise or remove the shelves? They’re basically an advertisement for the price of the piece, meaning they give away that it’s an out-of-the-box, mass-produced, budget-friendly item. Because they’ve thought of everything, however, IKEA wants to help you hide them—the Swedish retailer actually sells hole fillers (that might not be an actual noun, but whatever) for $2 per 100 pieces.

4. Add some jazz hands to basic drawers by replacing the hardware

The knobs, pulls, and handles on IKEA drawers are boring AF, and you can easily add interest to dressers, nightstands, etcetera by replacing them. Anthropologie and Etsy are good places to start shopping for hardware with flair, though you may want to rifle through flea market stalls, too.

5. Turn your Billy bookcase into built-ins

This is a popular one online, perhaps because the Billy bookcase is IKEA’s best-selling piece. It’s not exactly as easy as adding removable wallpaper or screwing in new drawer pulls, but it will save you tons of money. *All* you have to do is add crown molding, baseboard trim, and trim between the cases. Easy…adjacent.

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6. Give tired tables a temporary facelift

Before you throw out the generic white IKEA table you’ve been hoarding since college, consider this super simple and affordable hack for making it new again: temporary wallpaper. This quick-and-easy design trick also works for dresser drawer fronts, open cabinet shelves, bookshelves, bar cart tiers, and just about any flat surface.

7. Bench the boring

Need more seating? Try adding a tufted pillow top to this plain jane Vittso nesting table or throwing a leather cushion atop this simple Stockholm bench.

8. Add a cobbled-together mirrored wall to your at-home gym

I’ve been hoarding these little IKEA mirrors since college for reasons I can’t explain. If you likewise have a few lying around, this is sort of an ingenious use for them, as well as an easy way of saving big on a mirror large enough to cover a full wall.

9. Store your yoga mat stylishly

The Ekby Lerberg bracket (and the shelving it’s meant to support) may also belong in your gym—here, it’s used to display a yoga mat or two.

10. Source your light fixtures from the tabletop section

This incredible DIY utilizes a crazy-cheap mixing bowl to create a lighting dupe which reads as infinitely more expensive than the actual sum of its parts. (Yes, you read that right: this fixture is made from a >$10 bowl.)

Turn a nondescript storage unit into a midcentury statement piece

This is hands down my favorite IKEA hack, even if it is one of the more complex DIYs on this list. The boasting rights this will earn you are similar to those you’re entitled to whenever a Forever21 or thrift store find receives a compliment, only in this case you’ll have not only put imagination but also hard work into this cheap-to-chic transformation.

If you’re not just looking to upgrade your IKEA finds, but also to revitalize your home more generally, here are 10 tiny tweaks that can totally transform a room. Plus, here’s how to throw thrift store finds into the mix

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