I wanted to have shelving and storage in my home office. It would be highly visible in my video conference calls so I wanted it to look “built in”. The IKEA KALLAX unit fit perfectly into this space but I did not want it to look like a standard IKEA because so many people have KALLAX units in their home office. I stacked two KALLAX units with a space in between to form a counter space. The combination reaches the top of the 9.5’ high room.

IKEA items used:

  • KALLAX Shelf unit, white, 30 3/8×57 7/8 (2 x 4) – qty 1
  • KALLAX Shelf unit, white 57 7/8×57 7/8 (4 x 4) – qty 1
  • KALLAX Insert with 2 drawers, white, 13×13 ” (33×33 cm) – qty 4

Other materials and tools:

  • 2×6 pine wood for bottom frame
  • 2×3 pine wood – for middle frame
  • 2.5” molding – middle and side trim
  • 4” molding – top trim
  • 7” molding – bottom trim
  • 1/4” MDF board – for counter sides and top
  • Construction screws – for framing
  • Construction adhesive (PL3000) – for gluing paneling
  • Satin or Semi-gloss paint, small roller and brush
  • Latex Caulking – to fill in gaps for finished look
  • Power Driver, Adjustable clamps, Circular Saw

How We Hacked our built in KALLAX

Build a 2×6 rectangular wood frame that the smaller 2×4 KALLAX unit will sit on top of. The intent is to position the unit so the molding at the bottom could run continuously from the adjacent walls. This also raised the top of the KALLAX unit to be at counter height as well. Centered the frame in the space and screwed it to the wall. Do not need to screw the frame to the floor.

Place the assembled 2×4 KALLAX unit on top of the bottom frame and screw the unit to the wall. Do not need to screw the unit to the frame.

Built two 2×3 rectangular wood frames (16” high) for the upper KALLAX unit to sit on. Screw these frames to the side walls.

Place the assembled 4×4 KALLAX unit on top of the side frames and screw the unit to the back wall. Do not need to screw the unit to the frames.

Finishing touches on the KALLAX for a built-in look

Cut the 1/4” MDF board to fully cover the side frames. We also used a 1/4” MDF board to cover the top of the lower KALLAX unit to act as a more durable countertop (optional). Pre-paint the panels before attaching the panels to the side frames and top of the KALLAX unit with construction glue.

Cut the moldings to cover the gaps between the KALLAX units and the walls, ceiling and floor. Also cut molding pieces to cover the exposed KALLAX edges above and below the counter area. Pre-paint the moldings before attaching them with construction glue directly to the KALLAX units and wood frames. Don’t use glue to attach the moldings to the walls.

Use latex caulk to fill all the seams between the molding and the KALLAX units as well as between the molding and the walls. 

Kallax built in unit

For me, this was an “easy hack” because the KALLAX units fit so well into the space we had. There was minimal carpentry required. I left out every other vertical divider in the upper shelf unit to help disguise that it was a KALLAX unit (if you do this, need to be cautious on loading it up). Caulking and touching up paint to fill in the gaps helps a lot. You can also wait a few weeks before doing the finish caulking to allow the assembly to settle and avoid having the caulking crack later.

See my tall entryway cabinet hack.

~ by S. Chong

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