Easy Ikea Kallax Shelf Hack – DIY Organizer

Learn how to make your own home-office, back to school, or homeschool organizer with this easy DIY Ikea Kallax Shelf hack. The DIY built-in inserts are perfect for organizing paper and folders.

Ikea Kallax painted in colors and organized for back school

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The school year is going to look a lot different this year.

In preparation for lots of school at home, I decided we needed a central place to store all the supplies, paper, and folders.

We have had this Ikea Kallax Expedit Shelf unit for a long time. In fact, when I think about it, it is the oldest piece of furniture we own. Its been through us for 13 years and 6 moves. and it is still as strong as ever.

Ikea Kallax before in brown-black

We used to use it for mostly decorative purposes, but slowly over the year, it started accumulating a lot of school supplies and papers.

It was time to turn it into something that was a little more cheerful and organized!

*** This post is sponsored by Handy Products. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible to bring you new projects***

Material needed for Ikea Kallax Organizer

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Ikea Kallax makeover

Below is a step by step video of the project. The full written tutorial follows below.

This Ikea Kallax shelf makeover is divided into three main parts – prep, building the dividers, and then painting.

Step 1 – Prep

lightly sanding the Ikea Kallax shelf to prepare it for painting

The scuffing creates a rough surface for the primer to grip on to.

The shellac-based primer is extremely critical to this process as nothing else really sticks to laminate.

If you were starting with a white Ikea Kallax and only wanted to paint certain cubbies, you should follow the above procedure for only those cubbies.

I didn’t want to buy a new shelf when I had a perfectly functioning strong shelf. But I hope this process shows you that it is possible to completely transform the shelf to any color you like!

Woman applying primer on the Ikea Kallax shelf

For medium-sized areas like these where I need to use a small foam roller, I love using the Handy Craft Tray which has a roller grid and the ergonomic thumb hole. It holds just the right amount of paint and is so comfortable to use.

Step 2 – Build Ikea Kallax Dividers

This is the only part that requires you to pull out your tools!

  • Rip up the ½” plywood into supports for the dividers.

I wanted to make 4 compartments each. The dividers are ¼” thick and the cubbies are 13¼” square. Hence, I needed 8 supports of 3 ⅛” width for each cubby.

The cubbies are 15¼” deep – I used that size for the lengths.

  • Rip the 1/4″ plywood down to 13″x 15″ squares to make the dividers.
DIY Dividers to make inserts in the Ikea Kallax
  • Attach the dividers onto the cubbies using a strong adhesive and hold in place with clamps while it dries.
  • Use the ¼” plywood dividers to ensure spacing between supports is as needed.
Attaching dividers in Ikea Kallax

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I started out using Liquid Nails but ran out in between so I simply switched to super glue which worked well too.

  • Once the supports are in place, be sure to prime them so they are ready for paint. Apply primer to both sides of the dividers too.

Step 3 – Paint

  • Paint the final colors. Apply at least 2 coats.
paint colors for Ikea Kallax hack in cups

I wanted it to be fun and bright so I picked these 3 fun colors and painted the cubies diagonally across from each other.

Painting the Ikea Kallax shelfin blue

The Handy Craft Cup is perfect for this – holds the perfect amount of paint for small projects that need to be painted using a paintbrush. Plus the ergonomic thumb hold is so comfortable!

To add a little unexpected twist, I wrapped the color around to the sides and added a little “mural”.

Painting the sides of Ikea Kallax with swirls

That’s it!

We filled it up with all the school supplies.

Ikea Kallax shelf hack for using as a school organizer

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We are not sure what this new school year will bring but at least we have pretty organization that will cheer us up when needed!

Close up of DIY dividers in Ikea Kallax

And before you go, if you haven’t tried out the magic of Handy Products, I would totally recommend you check them out! They have an amazing line of products that make painting so much easier! You can get them at all major retailers.

If you make this, I would love to see it! Feel free to email photos to me at anika@anikasdiylife.com or tag me on Instagram @anikasdiylife for a chance to be featured on social media! I can’t wait to see what you build!

Projects shown in above pictures –

More Kids Ikea Hack Ideas –

Learn how to make your own home-office, back to school, or homeschool organizer with this easy DIY Ikea Kallax Shelf hack. The DIY built-in inserts are perfect for organizing paper and folders.

Easy Ikea Kallax Shelf Hack - DIY Organizer

Yield: DIY storage shelf

How to make your own home office or homeschool organizer. Build inserts with dividers using this easy DIY IKea Kallax Shelf hack.

Materials

Instructions

    1. Scuff the entire surface with a fine-grit sanding sponge. Then clean the dust off with a tack cloth.
    2. Apply shellac-based primer.
    3. Rip up the ½" plywood into supports for the dividers.
    4. Rip the 1/4" plywood down to 13"x 15" squares to make the dividers.
    5. Attach the dividers onto the cubbies using a strong adhesive and hold in place with clamps while it dries.
    6. Use the ¼" plywood dividers to ensure spacing between supports is as needed.
    7. Prime the supports and dividers and let dry before applying the paint color of your choice. Apply at least 2 coats of paint.

Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"

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2 Comments

  1. Julie Bennett says:

    In Australia, we have a paint product called “PSU” or Primer-Sealer-Undercoat. It is water-based and very opaque undercoat, and covers extremely well over laminated furniture both indoors and outdoors. I have been using it for many years to cover dark laminate. I am sure someone in the USA must make this product. As water-based paints are both user-friendly and better for the environment than oil-based paints, please consider replacing “shellac primer” and oil-based paints.

  2. Jan Bosley says:

    Love it… I am going to do this and put it in my bedroom walk in closet!!

Comments are closed.