See how one DIYer hacked a stylish IKEA Ladder Shelf

ikea ladder shelf hack

We wanted a modern-looking shelving for our study but the IKEA IVAR shelving looks too boring — like straight from the garage.

We came up with the idea of a ladder shelf to give the IKEA IVAR a smarter, Italian vibe.

before after: IKEA IVAR ladder shelf hack


  • IKEA IVAR shelving system (We used the narrow 11 3/4″/ 30cm sideposts to fit our space. This IKEA hack will also work with the wider side posts.)
  • Paint
  • Wood filler

How to build an IKEA Ladder Shelf

You only need IVAR components to make it. As it’s a modular solution, one IVAR side post gives you one ladder shelf. So you can create as many as you need.

We built units for both sides of the fireplace. What worked for us was 3 units of ladder shelves on one side and 2 units on the other as the wall recesses were not equal in width.

Step 1: Calculate the leaning angle of the ladder

cutting the IVAR side posts and shelves

You need to remember that the bottom shelf will be the deepest and the top one still need to be usable. So do not make it too narrow! Sketch out the horizontal shelf planks flush against the wall and then draw a diagonal line down to represent the leaning side post. From there you will be able to get your lean angle.

Step 2: Taper the legs

Cut the IVAR frames (side posts) to the required leaning angle. You can use a miter saw for this. If you’re unsure, cut a piece of spare wood to test the angles first.

Step 3: Cut the ladder shelves

Cut the depth of the shelves so they can go right through the main post of the frame. Each shelf will be a different length depending on the leaning angle. Do not throw offcuts away as you can use them as holding battens on the wall.

Step 4: Attach battens to the wall

Screw the battens on the wall and screw the shelves to them. Lay the end of each shelf on the wall batten and on the IVAR frame, bracing the shelf on the other end. You have to just screw them at the batten end for stability.

Step 5: Fill out the dowel holes

For a smooth look, fill the holes in the IVAR frame.

Step 6: Paint or stain the IKEA ladder shelf

filling and painting the ivar holes

Paint the shelving in whatever color you want. Alternatively, you can paint shelf components after cutting them and before fixing them to the wall. This might be easier. (A lesson for us for the next time.)

ikea ivar ladder shelves

It’s all ready! A beautiful ladder shelving unit that looks straight out of the MDF Italia catalog!

~ by Tonika, Liverpool UK

ikea ladder shelf hack