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DIY: Custom cabinet with tons of personality

DIY custom cabinet - Ikea Ivar hack
Finished custom cabinet ready for delivery!

Ikea is a great source to score inexpensive furniture that, with some love and elbow grease, can be transformed into very cool and unique pieces to help compliment your space. If you have some free time and want a unique furniture piece to hold your books, liquor, or just extra storage, this is a great affordable little DIY to help you create something special to your home or office. This little beauty was made for a client who wanted something pretty and fun to use as bookshelf for her new home office. We were inspired by our love of Blanche's bedroom from the classic Golden Girls sit-com. Yaaaaasss.



  • Ikea Ivar cabinet: in 32"Wx12"Dx33"H (I used the 12"D but there is an option for 20" if you need more space)

  • Ikea Billsbro cabinet pulls: 27"L

  • Ikea Nannarp legs: 4 legs @ 3-7/8"H

  • Wallpaper: NuWallpaper - peel and stick

  • Primer:1 Quart of Zinnser stain blocker

  • Paint: 1 quart of Behr enamel paint in retro pink satin finish

  • Spray Paint - 1 can of Golden girls, I mean Gilded brass


  • Impact drill

  • VERY sharp utility knife

  • squeegee to smooth out wallpper. Get the whole kit here!

  • Foam Roller set with tray

  • Sanding sponge fine and extra fine (180 & 220 grit)

  • Thread inserts for installing the legs. I recommend always using thread inserts over typical screw-in method for any DIY furniture because it allows you to remove the legs many times if needed and won't reduce the strength of the legs.

  • Coordinating flat head bolts: 3/8 x 1inch


wallpaper prep

I laid the back panel on a drop sheet I got from the dollar store. There is a crease in the back panel, so it will naturally bend in the middle, thus I used the crease as my seam for the wallpaper. It served as my guide to match the pattern and keep it straight. Leaving 1 inch over hang along the outside perimeter of the backboard, I cut it to fit the left side of the board. I pasted first half, smoothed it out making sure the inside edge aligned with crease. Then flipped it over, face down, and used the utility knife to cut as close to the edge of the backboard as possible. No biggie is it's not perfect, I simply folded the paper over.

Next, I lined up the wallpaper, matching up the repeat pattern and followed the same step as with the first sheet. To make sure the wallpaper doesn't rip when sliding the back panel into the cabinet, I took some clear packing tape and wrapped the outside edges, half the tape on the wallpaper side and folded over to the backside.


To give it the golden girls glamour, I spray painted the legs and pulls in Gilded Brass from Rustoleum. I used 3 coats. Quick tip, the cardboard box from the Ivar cabinet makes a great shallow box to spray paint the legs and pulls!


Time to build the Ivar cabinet! As far Ikea furniture, this puppy was quick and easy to put together. I left the cabinet doors off for now to make it easy to paint the main box. Take extra care when sliding the wallpapered back panel into place. This part is a lot easier with two people, but can be done alone with some vigilance and commitment, and perhaps a margarita or two. Once I got this beauty built, I flipped her upside down to pre-drill the thread inserts for attaching the legs. I placed the legs where I wanted them and marked the drill hole. This is the fun part....I used 5/8 drill bit, said a little prayer and started drillin'.

Check out this link for a short tutorial to install thread inserts! Instead of the 'depth stopper' shown in the video, I wrapped painters tape around the drill bit to control the depth of drill holes for the thread inserts.. Once all four thread inserts were in I dry fit the legs to ensure they will actually fasten. God I love thread inserts, life saver fa sho. This makes it a lot easier to attach the legs later, when it's ready for the reveal


I quickly sanded the entire cabinet with medium grit paper, then fine grit. The cabinet is made from pine and is quite knotty! Pun is completely fitting because if these knots are not tamed with strong primer, over time, they will bleed through the paint and ruin all that hard work! So I gots me a quart of Zinsser stain blocking primer to paint over the knots. I only painted the knots with 2 coats, sanding after each coat. I also picked up a quart of Behr enamel paint in a satin finish which gives it a smooth finish with a light sheen. I recommend satin finish for furniture, but depending on how much sheen you like, you can get a gloss finish if prefer more glam jam.

I decided on Behr's Retro Pink. It's a pretty muted pink that shows off the interior wallpaper perfectly. I like the pale pine wood interior so I left it and painted the outside of the cabinet. Same goes for the cabinet doors. Basically anything that can be seen from the outside when the cabinet is closed was painted Retro Pink.

SO, 3 coats of retro pink in total with some good sanding (fine grit) between coats. I say this from my many trial and errorssss, sanding is tres importante to help create a smooth finish.


Once all is dry and smoooooth, I attached the feet and doors. The door handles I got are a bit tricky to install. I love the way they look but I would choose door hardware that is easier to attach, and lord knows there are a million awesome options out there! These are a finger pull style and the drill holes to attach are from the inside out, however the screws are longer than the thickness of the doors sooooo that was a no go. Instead I reached for some good ol' super glue. I know, it's not the right way to do it, but I did it, and so far so good. But, I don't recommend going this route!


Here is the final reveal!

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1 Comment

Feb 24, 2022

How did you attach the handles?? The screws that come with the billsbro handles are too long and go clean through the wood. I tried putting spacers behind the handle but then the cabinet doesn’t close… any ideas would be appreciated!

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