5 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your IKEA Furniture in Under an Hour

5 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your IKEA Furniture in Under an Hour

By Kate Reggev
Give your IKEA furniture a quick facelift with these DIY tips.

There are many ways to upgrade IKEA furniture without launching into a full IKEA hack. Read on for five ways to transform your basic pieces into custom, eye-catching furniture in under an hour, tops!

1. Swap In New Hardware

A dresser in a guest bedroom.

They say that design is in the details, and when it comes to the hardware on drawers, cabinets, and other storage millwork, we’d have to agree—there are few things that give a piece of furniture a fresh new look more quickly or easily than swapping out the knobs on an old cabinet. 

Leather drawer pulls by Walnut Studio.

The kitchen area, which has IKEA cabinets with custom doors and pulls by Doug Mockett, is also recessed, with a lofted area above it.

Although you can use just about any new knobs, handles, and pulls so long as you take into account the size and spacing of existing holes, some companies have begun making drawer pulls specifically for IKEA furniture, like Walnut Studio

2. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

Painted wooden IKEA stools perk up an entire wall.

It's hard to overestimate the power of a small can of paint or spray paint, because a new color, whether it's solid, patterned, or even just on a portion of the item, can bring personality and life to a piece that had grown old, scratched, or simply too basic. If it's a wood piece rather than a veneer, you might also consider a wood stain rather than paint, which would allow for the grain to still show through.

3. Install New Legs

An IKEA coffee table with new legs.

Some of IKEA's most common items include their simple line of side tables and coffee tables, which have simple, square legs that are screwed into the underside of the table top. Fortunately, the screws are a nearly universal size, so you can replace those blocky legs with just about any new ones you find—midcentury modern, contemporary, Victorian, or whatever your heart desires.

4. Decorate With Porcelain Pens

Plain bowls are made livelier with some hand-painted patterns drawn on with porcelain pens.

Okay, so tableware might not be considered furniture, but it certainly is one of many great buys from IKEA that are ripe for an upgrade. By using some pens specifically made for porcelain, you can infuse your own creative hand into what would otherwise be bland tableware—but be careful, the drawings and doodles should only go on areas of the dishware that will not come into contact with food.

5. Reach For the Contact Paper

A geometric pattern created with black contact paper enlivens this IKEA cabinet.

As any IKEA customer knows, a lot of their furniture can be hard to paint because it has a plastic-based veneer applied which comes in a range of some basic colors, usually including white. While this works well for neutral palettes, it's hard to spruce up these items with paint, because it doesn't adhere well to the smooth surface. 

Some black spray paint and marble contact paper easily transform this table.

Enter: contact paper, which is available in a huge range of colors, patterns, and finishes. The options are nearly endless—you can make a shelf look like marble, a tabletop like wood, or a bar like red lacquer. The only trick is in the slow and steady application process, and making sure that you smooth out air bubbles as you apply.


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