Transform IKEA cubbies into a Pottery Barn console

media center makeover

 Hey all,  Corey here from Sawdust 2 Stitches and I am back with an mind blowing idea….  you ready ?  I  am going to show you how to completely  TRANSFORM  a  very boxy, cheap, modular shelving unit, into a gorgeous, Pottery Barn-esque apothecary console.

Ikea makeover

 Let me preface  by saying this,  I do love Ikea.  I have nothing against it.  Truth be told I  have quite a few items from there including this :


     We purchased this “Media Shelf”  shortly  after we got married from the “scratch and dent” area of Ikea  for $45.00, and I was  super EXCITED about it… for a while.Then one very romantic Valentine’s Day,  Andrew bought  me a miter saw.  That is when my life changed, and subsequently so did all my furniture.

This was a very simple makeover that  did not require a lot of  know how.  It already  had a sturdy structure, all  I did was give it a little facelift.

This is how I turned an Ikea shelf into a Pottery Barn-esque apothecary console.

Tutorial: IKEA Cubbies into Apothecary Console

 Materials Used:

  •  Old Ikea shelf or something similar
  • 1×2’s
  • 1×4’s
  • 2×4’s
  • 2×8’s
  • Lattice Strips
  • Liquid Nails
  • Stain
  • Foam Brushes
  • Drawer Pulls
  • Magnetic Catches

 Tools Suggested :

  • Nail Gun
  • Compressor
  • Table Saw
  • Miter  Saw
  • Sander


The Console

I started  by beefing up the base.  I wanted it to sit higher off the floor, and also give it some variation in  widths. ( It was all soooo repetitive and boxy.) I used 2×4’s.

2x4's Media Center Remodelaholics

Once the 2×4’s were secured to the base with screws,  I flipped it right side up.   Using 1×4’s  I created a base that  would cover the 2×4’s and the base of the console.

media Center Remodelaholics

  I simply  tacked the 1×4’s straight to the 2×4’s!  Voila,  instant height.

Base media center remodelaholics

Same story for the top.  I wanted  to beef it up. Only this time I didn’t want it as thick as the base,  so I used 1×4’s instead of 2×4’s.  Again,  I  just  tacked it in place,  giving the top  some extra  visual weight.

Top media Center Remodelaholics

For the top  I  used 2×8’s and cut them so that there would be a little bit of hangover on the top.   Gives it a nice finished top, and looks so much more expensive than the cheapy laminate!

2x8s media center Remodelaholics

Once the top of the console was in place I  trimmed  out the top of the shelf. ( Basically  repeating the same steps  from the base.  Only this time I was covering the 1×4’s.)

media center remodelaholics apron

Media center Makeover Remodelaholics

I knew I was  working against gravity at this point,  so I  glued, and nailed the top trim pieces in place.

media ceter remodelaholics

Once the  base and top  were completed I moved on to the sides. Starting with the corners.

media center remodelaholics corner 1x3

I ended up doing miter corners,  using my  table saw.  ( You can always  just  use a 1×3″ and 1×2″ and and have them butt into each other.)

media center remodelaholics corner 2

Again,   I glued them in place and tacked them in place with a nail gun.

media center remodelaholics corner 2

Once the corners were completed, I had to tackle the far sides…

remodelaholics media center sides

I used a 1×2 to frame in the rest of the side,  leaving a large open ugly laminate area.

I  decided to use lattice,  because is has a much  smaller profile and would  create  depth.  That,  and I just love the look of it, and it’s cheap!

Using a sander I scuffed up the laminate,  because I was planning out using glue to help  hold the lattice in place, and everything sticks better to non-glossy  surfaces.

I simply measured, cut, glued, nailed, and then repeated on both sides of the console.

media center remodelaholics lattice

Just  keep  going until it looks a little something like this.

At this point you can easily  call it good enough and move on to painting and/or staining.   But not me.  I had to go all “Corey” on it.  I decided to hide any evidences of laminate. Including the  the shelf fronts.

media center remodelaholics dividers shelves

media center remodelaholics cut strips 2

media center remodelaholics strips Once  I had completely covered all traces of laminate,  I moved on the “drawer” front.

Drawer Fronts:

I am going to warn you, these are not all  functioning sliding drawers.  I was planning on hiding a lot of random stuff like…

Hide it   For items like printers,  computers, and routers,   the idea of a drawer wouldn’t work, and  because of the look I was trying to create  hinges were not an option either.  So, I will show you a  short cut that  I used.

I started by  making the drawer fronts.  I wanted variation, so some are planked , and others are solid wood.  Here is an example of a planked front:

Drawer front

1.)  I cut a piece of paneling  that was the dimensions of the  cubby  opening.  I also cut 1×4’s the same width.

2.)  Using liquid nails I adhered the planks on to the piece of paneling.

3.) After it   had completely dried I sanded  it.

4.) It’s now ready for stain and hardware.

Once  I had made all my drawer fronts,  using  1×2’s I cut two strips of wood  that were the same  width of  EACH cubby. (These will be used  to install the drawers front. )

Magnetic catch

The strips of wood that I cut out of 1×2’s  are  used  to  keep the drawer front in place.   The “drawer” panel will rest against the wood slats and the magnetic  catch will hold it in place.  This system works PERFECTLY  for appliances like  printers, comps, routers, etc!

PicMonkey Collage border

I  personally  did make a few drawers to hold the kids toys and diapers.  (I won’t be going into that today) But if you have your heart set on it,  it is totally  doable.

If the idea of making drawers sounds overwhelming,  maybe you should consider making some simple crates ?  Possibly  using decorative baskets ? Ikea  also makes a whole line of baskets meant to fit their shelves.  The possibilities are endless!

Finish Work:

Now that you have completed the wood working process,  fill-in any holes with wood  filler,  then follow up by sanding and give everything a nice smooth finish.

Once filled and sanded,  I  stained , and applied  polyurethane to it.

I used:

PicMonkey Collage polu

The icing on the cake is the pulls/handles/knobs.  I  actually  found these “label” pulls on ebay!? They were dang cheap and work perfectly  for this project.  They were originally BRIGHT  brass,   I muted them a bit  but dusting them lightly  with and  “Oil Rubbed Bronze” spray paint.

drawer front wpulls

That’s all there is to it folks!  Stuff as much crap as you want in  those cubbies,  because no one ever has to to see   that you have half your house hidden in the media center.

Clutter free

Just look at how much stuff this thing can hide!  It is functional,  beautiful, and  in the same  price range as an Ikea shelf!  Not too shabby folks!

side media center

better border ss

If you  loved this Ikea makeover you might like this Copper Ikea Shelf   makeover  too!
Thanks for stopping by, and take luck!


IKEA Cubbies To Pottery Barn Console Featured On


IKEA’s basic furniture makes a great base for a DIY project! Check out these other projects that have started from humble basic furniture beginnings:

Little Girls Upholstered Bed


Built-in Closet Hackbuilt-in wardrobe closet, Remodelaholic

Bunk Bed into Cottage Playhousesherwin williams national painting week (37 of 40)

Copper Pipe Geometric Pendant Lightgeometric icosahedron copper pipe pendant light, The Gathered Home on Remodelaholic

Website | + posts

Corey is the voice and grunt labor behind Sawdust 2 Stitches, she freely professes, that she has a problem... She CANNOT leave well enough alone.
She can typically be found hunched over a sewing machine and/or covered in sawdust. All in the effort to create a perfect balance of aesthetics and practicality in her home.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.
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    1. Thank you so much! I felt like a genius when the thought first occurred to me. Ha. Thank you so much for reading and for your comment!

    1. Thank you Beth, that is so sweet of you to say so! I’m a newbie, and having positive confirmation makes it all worth it! Thank you!

  1. WOW!
    This is an incredible makeover! We have so much Ikea furniture ourselves and this has definitely inspired me to personalise them somehow 🙂
    Karen x

    1. Karen, DO IT, it is easy and you really can’t screw it up! It was a big relief to know that no matter the outcome, at least it would still be sturdy and level. 🙂 Good luck, and thanks for reading!

  2. I love it!! I am SO glad I am not the only woman to have ever gotten a miter saw for valentines day, LOL!! That was my gift 3 years ago…. but I was completely on board with it!

    1. Jen, That is an EXCELLENT question, with a ironic response. Have you seen the Ikea floating shelves ? Apply the same concept as used on the media center…
      Ta-Da instant expensive looking shelf, for the price of Ikea.

  3. I love creative storage, and have done some built ins myself over the years. I love that we can share so easily online these days. I really enjoy looking at other peoples projects for ideas. Thanks for making them available to us.

  4. I am so amazed at what you created here! I am amazed, not just at your talent for doing it, but the creative mind that envisioned it! Wonderful! I have shared this with all kinds of friends (who are craftier than I)!

    1. Thank you so much Chloe, I am flattered! I am barely breaking into the blogging circuit and the positive affirmation makes it all worth it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I think your idea of turning the shelving unit into a storage unit with draws was a tremendous idea. I love doing little projects like this around the house. Taking great fines like scratch and dent or flea market finds are the best and can transform a room or a home into something you can be quite proud of. Great job and a great IDEA.:)

    1. I totally agree! As much as I love building from scratch, there is just something satisfying about renovating the diamond in the rough. Thanks so much for reading!

  6. I love it but can’t picture how you attach the drawer faces for the life of me! Are they just held in place by the magnets and come completely off when you need to access what is inside? Thank!

    1. Karen, You are exactly right. They are being held in place by the magnets on the top of the panel and the bottom is resting against the strip of wood that you install on the inside of the actual cubby. It works perfectly to maintain easy access to printers, modems etc… I did install a few drawers on mine just so my kids could easily access toys. Hopefully that clears it up.

  7. Thanks for the post! The shelf above the cubbies caught my eye – did you make that also? Do you have a post about how to do it? I’ve been looking for a DIY floating shelf that isn’t too tool-intensive 🙂

    1. Callie, I have gotten several questions about that shelf, what’s funny is that, that too, is an Ikea shelf makeover. Have you seen the floating shelves ? Apply the same principle as the media center to a shelf. Ta-Da. Pottery Barn for the cost of Ikea.
      P.S. I will put that tutorial on my to-do list!

  8. I have that same shelving unit and I use it in my kids toy room. I’m totally doing this. Thanks for such a great idea!

  9. This is one of the most amazing yet doable projects I’ve encountered! I’ve seen a few instances when to add heft to a simple RTA shelf unit, pieces were added to the front-side vertical and horizontal surfaces … but THIS tops that by a mile! I’m a newcomer to following DIY blogs and I am so impressed by what seems to be an incredible wealth of talented young women making a life for themselves and their family, doing something they love and are totally amazing at!!!

    Thanks for your sharing and creativity.

    1. Karen,
      That may be one of the best compliments I have ever received. I think I can speak on behalf of many of these great women, it is a lot of hard work, but man do I love it! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment.

  10. WOW! This is such an amazing, creative piece! I’ve never worked on furniture or own a table saw, but you have inspired me! 🙂 thanks for sharing, hopefully I will muster up the courage to try something like this.

    1. Pat, DO IT! This is one of the first techniques I ever tried when I started making furniture. It is a great starting point. There was a peace of mind knowing that at least it wouldn’t fall over when it was completed!
      Good luck!

  11. I love this idea it is absolutely beautiful…I’m a newbie but can’t wait to get started at restoring and renewing old things or just thinking of things and making them on my own so I just want to say thank you for your inspiration and your beautiful work!!! Your awesome!!!

    1. Kelly, We were all “newbies” once! I didn’t really get into woodworking until the last three years. It is a fun learning process and I think I can speak on behalf of most DIY bloggers, we are SO HAPPY we can help! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have that much patience to make all those drawers. They are just drawer fronts that are magnetically held in place.

  12. Regarding the dividers, I am not a fan of using a tbale saw & will avoid it at any opportunity. If any one else does not want to use a table saw to make those close cuts you can use scribe which comes in different sizes and different woods or you can use veneer trim tape that irons on. The tape also comes in many wood types and it also comes in several widths and lengths. They trim with razor cutters or a laminate trimmer.

    1. Stephani, definitely do what you are comfortable with. You can always just skip that step. I just was a little ocd and didn’t want to see the laminate. Thanks for reading!