Get the Look Ikea Hack: Mid-Century Modern Console

Customize store-bought 'RTA' furniture to look like high-end pieces with this brilliant Ikea hack.

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Introduction

With this Ikea Kallax hack, mimic a mid-century modern classic by turning a simple shelving unit on its side, wrapping it with plywood inside and out, and attaching legs. All told, our materials cost was about $250.

Tools Required

  1. Cordless drill
  2. Hammer
  3. Iron
  4. Table saw

Materials Required

  1. 4' x 8' x 3/4" birch plywood
  2. Angle top plate for legs
  3. Birch IKEA Kallax Shelving Unit (No. 902.758.44)
  4. Birch iron-on edge banding - 25'
  5. No. 12 x 2" flat-head sheet metal screws - 24
  6. Polyurethane
  7. Table legs
  8. Wood stain

Overview

The mid-century modern movement in furniture has exploded in recent memory. Many furniture companies, like West Elm and Herman Miller, have brought back some of the long-forgotten but much-loved styles of the Charles & Ray Eames and Marcel Breuer and repurposed them into the trendiest commodities. Unfortunately, because of the increased popularity, the prices have also increased. You will have trouble finding furniture options from these designers for under $1000.

Luckily, you can get the same look for a fraction of the cost with a few tools and an IKEA Kallax shelf unit. Follow the instructions below and you will have yourself a fresh mid-century modern console table in a matter of hours.

For another mid-century modern classic, click here for directions on George Nelson’s slatted platform bench.

Basic Kallax Unit

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

This particular series of Ikea furniture was designed by Tord Björklund and is all based on squared storage. You can get it in a vertical arrangement like the one we are using here or in a lower, square version with the same amount of cubby holes. There are plenty of accessories that are optional extras offer more space, if desired. One of these Kallax units will run you $47, which is a pretty good start for a mid-century modern table.

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Remove end panels

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Notice that the end panels of the original assembled Kallax shelving unit protrude beyond the sides. Remove both panels.

Step 2

Trim end panels

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Trim off the protruding edges. Plus: 12 more incredible Ikea hacks coming at you right here.

Step 3

Attach end panels

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Reattach both panels flush with the sides.

Step 4

Attach plywood panels

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Cut hardwood plywood panels to wrap around the unit. Make the top and bottom panels long enough to cover the side panels, and cut the side panels to fit tightly between the top and bottom pieces. Cut all the panels wide enough to create a 3/16-in. lip around the front of the shelving unit. Adhere iron-on edge banding to these pieces.
Fasten the panels with flat-head sheet metal screws after drilling countersink pilot holes through the unit. The unit's frames are hollow, so be careful not to punch through their thin faces when drilling the countersinks. Make sure the screw heads seat flush.

Step 5

Install plywood inserts

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Cut plywood to cover the bottom and sides inside the unit. Don't fasten these pieces with screws; instead, go for a friction fit. Apply iron-on edge banding to the exposed edges.

Step 6

Attach legs

ikea modern console tableFamily Handyman

Seen in this project are four 8' McCobb legs (soft maple) and four matching angle top plates for the legs, from tablelegs.com. There are a variety of furniture legs that would be ideal for IKEA Kallax legs for this project. Find ones you like best!

Next, check out another hack using the Ikea Kallax.