Want to turn a simple store-bought wardrobe into a custom built-in? “Hacking” something already built is much easier than building something from scratch, and it shows really customary eventually. Internal storage is universally helpful (especially in smaller homes – but really, anywhere), and things like that floor-to-ceiling wardrobes in our bedroom, the table & bookcase we added into our son’s room, and the wall-to-wall media cabinet comes in our family room has made such a difference. But one built-in we’ve barely mentioned since we added and upgraded it is the Ikea Bestas that flank our fireplace:
The good news is that it only takes a few fairly easy steps to make them look more custom made than they looked on the showroom floor at Ikea. So let’s get into the details.
Why We Choose Ikea Bestas?
The photo you see above is the view directly across from our bed. You may remember it from inspiring photos like the one below, which were taken right after we moved in and are still in the process of being demolished. Like, literally THE THICK.
Once we fully unpacked it became clear that this area begged for suitable storage on either side of the fireplace. We know some sort of dresser will nicely flank a fireplace, sit right under that matching window, and won’t take up much floor space while adding more hidden storage. Because let’s face it, what we have isn’t going to cut it long term:
Luckily for us, Ikea’s Besta system was sold 47″ wide cabinet which barely fits in the 50″ space on the left side (we added some filler pieces for a wall-to-wall view – but more on that in a moment). Paired with some basic legs, the Besta height also fits perfectly under any window. So basically it can’t hurt to start with that and then add custom details to it for the default view. We actually bought it way back in Fall 2020, which is why you might notice it in the background our holiday decorations post that year. Here is a photo from then, without the actual holiday decorations:
At this point, they’re not really “plugged in” – they’re just sitting there. But we’re so thankful we got more hidden storage so we’re not rushing into another makeover. But I’m glad we have these photos because they show how much more upgraded the same base cabinets can be with a little extra work.
Over the next year, we’re making them look even more appropriate. And now we can’t even imagine they look like the two photos above.
It’s worth noting that the exact reason it didn’t end up being a wall is because we haven’t added a wall there yet – but someday we plan to do a bathroom right at the end of that built-in, so it will end up being a wall and look very balanced from the bedroom .
How We Customize Our Bestas
There are many ways you can “hack” an Ikea masterpiece to make it your own – painting, adding trim, installing hardware, wallpapering, etc. But for this, we’re really just doing three simple things to make it look more built-in :
- Added plinth
- Added filler trim on the sides
- Added meat block counter
Added Filler Trim & Baseboards
We’ve covered how to add filler and baseboard trim to Ikea pieces several times for other built-in projects. So check our son’s built-in nursery or our Ikea walk-in closets for more specific step by step about that process (I fully walk you through the whole process – I promise you can do it).
The main thing to remember – which I labeled below when doing it our last cupboard – is you may need to take into account TWO LAYER trim fillers. The underlay will be secured to the box side of the cabinet, while the top layer will rest on top of it, looking flush with your door.
That way when the door is closed it will look something like this – with the filler piece flush with the front of our door.
To add baseboards, we simply used the baseboards and quarter-turn trim we had around the rest of the room and actually nailed them to the square feet of base that came with the Bestas. Easy as that!
Once the filler and baseboard pieces were in place, we caulked all the seams and nail holes and then painted everything to match. We had decent luck matching the “Ikea white” paint color (although Ikea doesn’t use the same white in every piece). For this we realized that our wall color (SW Pure White) was quite suitable, so we just used it.
Added Meat Block Counter
You have now seen us use this butcher block table materials for 2 other projects – our utility closet makeover and our DIY wooden nightstands – but these Bestas are actually where we first used them! We love how chunky it is and how the color works so well with our floors, so we thought this would be a great way to make these cabinets look a little more custom made.
We use ours saw to cut it to size and then cover it with lining cutting board oil, both to protect it and to accentuate the color a bit. It dries a lot lighter than it looks below, so don’t panic.
To install it, we simply screwed the Besta top directly to the wood (be sure to use screws that aren’t long enough to penetrate the top!). Sherry sits on top of it and I screw up from underneath (yes, I know how that line sounds and I’m waiting for Michael Scott himself to utter his famous Office catchphrase). It’s heavy enough that it stays in place by itself, but the screws ensure it won’t shift over time.
Another thing we did was drill holes for various wires so things like our table lamp could go through the top and plug in below. Both Bestas have power outlets behind them (we’ll show you how we maneuvered them to open behind the cabinet in a moment), but adding this access point for a plug in the desk is a really nice upgrade. We have to buy 2″ special drill bit to make a hole (takes some patience to get through the butcher block AND the top of the Besta). When we’re done, we close it with this brass table grommets to look neat and professional. They entered with the light tap of a rubber mallet.
The cord just snaked into the Besta and just sat on one of the shelves. You can also see how we punched a hole in the back of the Besta to access the power outlet. It’s not very pretty, but who cares? It’s hidden in a cabinet and you have to crouch about 10″ off the floor to see it even when the door is open.
Speaking of the inside of our wardrobe…
What We Store In Our Customized Bestas
Adding these cabinets was a game changer for our storage in this room. It turns the dead space on either side of our fireplace into a very functional place to hide lots of stuff that would otherwise look a lot messier. Sherry actually filmed a short video to give you a closer look at how everything looked upgraded in our space & to show you what was inside (including more on how we installed the lights):
Note: You can too watch this video on YouTube.
For those who can’t watch the video, here’s a quick photo tour. The cabinet on the right holds lots of other items such as spare paint (as you can see above in the outlet photo), camera equipment & podcasts, and some journals and random items. There’s even quite a bit of extra space that we can expand when and if we need it (watch the video to see what we mean about that).
The cabinet on the left side is a bit louder. It contains lots of overflow books, gift bags & tissue paper, plus some overflow candles, vases and other knick-knacks that Sherry likes to turn in and out of. We’ve definitely reduced our excess “decor items” since moving, but it’s nice to have a place for smaller groupings of items that we store and still use occasionally.
And I can tell from the photos that it looks really hard to access this cabinet, especially with the table and chairs in front of it. But don’t worry, it should be fully accessible in real life. The table is heavy, so I definitely don’t want to move it every time we need to wrap gifts! You can see Sherry easily getting in there and opening the cupboard to show you what’s in the video in this post.
And here’s a shot of Sherry taking the candle from there (but definitely watch the video for a more realistic POV).
Overall, we were very pleased with the results, especially considering how simple our “hack” was to make it feel like a default.
Another Ikea Hacking Project
Want to see some more Ikea hacks? Here are some of our other favorite Ikea furniture customizations:
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through a link on our site at no additional cost to you.