Ikea Hacks – Kallax Unit

Part of my goal to grow my design studio is to continue learning, improving my skills, and growing my portfolio so I can continue providing amazing design solutions for my clients.

I am currently undertaking an Open University Degree, and currently in my second year of design and it’s been fun and challenging. I just submitted my 4th assignment and this one was a lot of fun to not only design thinking, but design creating.

The assignment called for me to “hack” a piece of Ikea furniture. It could be any piece, but I had to think of at least 4 to 5 solutions to make the piece different. I chose the Ikea Kallax unit, a unit that I have in my design studio, but one that I’ve personally had to “hack” because although it’s a wonderful design its not perfect.

My design thinking was around 2 parts the sustainable build of the Kallax unit, and the lack of layout solutions that the Kallax unit had. Its perfectly square cubicles are fantastic to fit 12×12 items, but what happens if you want to fit a printer for example, you will have to move a shelf, which then reduces the weight capacity of the shelf above.

More Layout Solutions

In my designs using Sketchup Pro 2021, I designed the 4 Kallax solutions with additional predrilled holes that would allow the user to use the existing pieces that come with the Kallax unit, to make their own layout solutions, but still leaving space for already exiting after market solutions. (Ikeas could potentially make accessories or sell additional shelfs which increases Ikea’s revenue).

To ensure the shelfs kept their strength, I proposed using a plug drill bit so when the holes were predrilled, the material could be given in the kit to fill holes that was not used, this would put back some of the loss of material, albeit a little bit, and help the Kallax unit remain sleek and modern.

My solution also included adding custom fitting peg board, a perfect solution for creative. 

Ikea Hacks Number 1 - Alternative Layouts
Ikea Hacks Number 2 - Alternative Layouts
Ikea Hacks Number 3 - Alternative Layouts
Ikea Hacks Number 4 - Sustainable Kallax Unit


Ikea are working hard on the sustainability of there products, but they could do more. The Kallax unit is famed because of its modern looks, but my research into the building of the unit showed that there was still a small room for making the Kallax more eco-friendly. I found that the dowels used to fit the inner shelfs protruded into the carcass by only 1.2 CM and the actual carcass is 3.8 cm, so in my Sketch Up drawing I proposed a slimmer version, removing just 0.8cm around the unit, reducing the wood and material which helps with sustainability, cost, and transportation costs. And if you rolled the corners, it would be negligible enough to trick the eye into thinking the carcass was thicker than it was.

The Orthographic Images

The final part of the assignment was to create orthographic drawings of your Ikeas Hack. The pictures below show both the wire frame and the built carcass.


This was a fun assignment, and spending time design thinking you can see where Ikea is missing out on the potential solutions to making the Kallax better, it may not appeal to everyone reducing the thickness, but the added pre-drilled holes would be a better solution to ensure the Kallax unit could be repurposed.