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.
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.
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
- Ikea Kallax
- Handy Craft Tray
- Handy Craft Cup
- Fine grit sanding sponge
- Tack cloth
- Shellac-based Primer
- Paint in color of your choice
- 1/2″ plywood
- 1/4″ plywood
- Table saw or circular saw
- Liquid nails
- Foam roller
- Good quality paint brush
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
The scuffing creates a rough surface for the primer to grip on to.
- Apply shellac-based primer.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
I wanted it to be fun and bright so I picked these 3 fun colors and painted the cubies diagonally across from each other.
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”.
We filled it up with all the school supplies.
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!
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 email@example.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 –
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!"