DIY an affordable IKEA bar table with storage using the popular KALLAX shelving unit.
Some of the hacks use the old discontinued EXPEDIT, which you can easily switch out for the KALLAX. They are essentially similar.
On its own the KALLAX storage unit isn’t quite tall enough as a bar counter. Here are 5 ways to add height to the IKEA KALLAX and have a custom IKEA bar table with storage at home.
1. DIY Bar and High Dining Table with KALLAX shelves
IKEA surprisingly has very limited option for high dining tables or high bar tables. I have a living room with high ceilings and wanted to have a loft atmosphere in the room.
But the available bar counters and high dining table are usually expensive. Furthermore, it was hard to find the right height and measurements. And they had limited storage, which I needed in my small apartment. I wanted a bar table height at around 108 cm (42.5 inches). The usual IKEA bar counter height was around 105 cm (41 inches).
By combining the mighty KALLAX shelving unit with drawers, cheap LACK shelves and a TORNLIDEN table top, I got a stylish high table with a spacious bar table top for a steal. And killed many birds with one stone.
(optional: 2 x KALLAX insert with 2 drawers + 2 x LEKMAN boxes)
Step by step instructions for a KALLAX bar table:
1. Assemble your KALLAX shelving unit.
(To get an idea of where you are going, place your LACK shelves vertically on top your KALLAX. They are not exactly square so you can basically choose between two height options to raise your tabletop. You may also choose a different placement of the shelves to support your tabletop. I opted for a cross design basically looking like |-|-| but I guess you could also have something like -|-|- or other but just make sure the formation can be stable.)
2. Paint (or not) the sides of your LACK shelves per your favourite style.
3. Draw the shape of your LACK shelves onto the back of your table top. (pic, left)
4. Scrap the sides of your LACK shelves and the back of table top (between the lines you have drawn) for better penetration of the EPOXY glue and stronger adhesion. (pic, right)
5. Glue your 5 LACK shelves to the back of your tabletop — wait until it is firmly cured. Glue worked well for me but if you need further stability, fix a few L brackets between the table top, LACK shelves and KALLAX shelving unit to keep them all in place. However the KALLAX is particleboard, so try to place the brackets where there is more solid wood for the screws to bite into.
6. Glue the other side of your LACK shelves and install on top of your KALLAX shelf. (For this step, it’s preferably a 2-person job to ensure proper alignment.)
7. Insert the KALLAX drawer inserts and LEKMAN boxes for storage of napkins and utensils. Enjoy your custom KALLAX bar table.
As you will notice, I have also hacked 2 DALFRED stool by just spray painting some of their parts in the same bright red, but you will already be familiar with this hack.
I wanted a home bar / small dining room table in my living room. Since I’ve been using a lot of EXPEDIT (or KALLAX) and LINNMON stuff in the rest of my apartment I decided to keep on using those.
EXPEDIT 2×4 LINNMON 120 cm x 60 cm CAPITA legs 8 cm (2 pack, 8 legs total) Screws Glue (needs to be able to glue metal and plastic together) (Optional items: metal pipe made for hanging metal rod in wardrobe)
KALLAX EXPEDIT bar table hack instructions
1. Put the EXPEDIT together and place it on the floor (the “backside” facing up”) make sure the shelf is square. Attach the legs on the bottom of the EXPEDIT. (I only used 4, one in each corner. Maybe it’s good to attach another pair in the middle if the shelf is going to contain a lot of heavy stuff.) Get someone to help you lift the EXPEDIT shelf up and place it on its feet. (Since you have to lift it up so you don’t break the legs.)
2. Measure where the tabletop is going to be placed. Since the LINNMON is 60cm wide and the EXPEDIT is 39cm wide I wanted it to be centered. Equal amount of overhang on the front and back with a longer side.
3. Screw legs on the bottom of tabletop. One of the CAPITA legs need to be secured to the shelf. So take out the black plastic part at the bottom of the leg, glue and screw to the shelf then add glue and press together with the legs attached to the tabletop (the other 3 legs I only used double sided tape to secure)
I found metal pipes used to hang clothes rails in the top of a wardrobe at my local hardware store. I used these to create a footrest for when we’re sitting down at the bar counter.
3. IKEA bar table hack that seats 10
I needed a very narrow table that would accommodate up to 10 people. Shopping my home, I had an EXPEDIT 2 by 4 shelving unit which I thought could work. (Replace the discontinued EXPEDIT with a KALLAX shelving unit) Then, I bought a white table top off Craigslist for $10.00 and short CAPITA legs from IKEA.
Materials for IKEA bar table hack:
EXPEDIT 2×4 VIKA AMON table top Short CAPITA legs from IKEA
How I made an IKEA bar table
I turned the EXPEDIT/ KALLAX on the long side and drilled holes for screws in the top of shelf and screwed the top onto the legs and then screwed that onto the bookshelf. The table easily accommodates 10 people. (To seat more, get the table top that is longer than EXPEDIT bookshelf.)
I now have enough storage space for my snacks and all the extra small appliances in my kitchen.
I push the bar table against the wall for everyday use like a breakfast bar and sideboard. When I have guests, I pull it out to the middle of the dining space. Add FIXA floor protectors to the bottom of the shelving unit for easier movement. Or you can add lockable caster wheels, which I may in the future.
It’s at the right bar height to be used with the IKEA STIG bar stools.
This took me less than an hour to make by myself.
How to take care of the IKEA bar table
The IKEA VIKA AMON table’s surface is not the best as it is made of fibreboard and can easily bubble up if liquids are left on the table for too long. Food stains may also be hard to get rid of if not attended to immediately. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth (not dripping wet) with mild cleaner to keep it clean. With some care the high gloss finish looks good and may provide years of daily use. Fingers crossed.
~ Lily, Washington Kirkland
4. EXPEDIT bar table and kitchen island
This is my 1st IKEA hack after I figured to get a bar table and also a kitchen table. I merged both of them into a mobile bar table with enough space to put in some kitchen appliances.
EKBY JARPEN shelf (discontinued, replace with BERGSHULT shelf) EXPEDIT shelving unit (discontinued, replace with KALLAX shelf) LEKMAN boxes Angled CAPITA legs (available on Amazon) Caster wheels
Easy bar table kitchen island hack:
Step 1: After assembling EXPEDIT 2×2 shelving unit, attach both casters based on IKEA instruction manual.
Step 2: Mark 12 cm away from edge of the top shelf. Drill 2 holes using 6mm then 10mm drill bit. (This might need patience to drill slowly as the hollow EXPEDIT board holes tends to tear apart if drilled in haste.)
Step 3: Put both CAPITA legs on EXPEDIT shelf and mark the bottom of EKBY board based on CAPITA holes. (after adjust to the right angle of course)
Step 4: Screw all screws on EKBY board and put on top of the EXPEDIT holes, fasten the nut. (This is the drawback portion as EXPEDIT top board is thicker than CAPITA threaded rod, I only managed to screw tight one of them without washers.)
Step 5: Put in the assembled LEKMAN boxes.
Well, there is a slight problem on the nut fastening but so far it holds quite well, just keep in mind not to lean on the EKBY board too hard as hollow EXPEDIT board won’t hold. Credit to the fellow IKEA hackers who gave me this idea.
~ by Yong Lee Ming, Malaysia
5. IKEA cube storage bar counter
Since our baby started to walk we needed a table which is “safe”. I built a bar table from an EXPEDIT shelf (4 x 2 cubes) and a LACK coffee table (the big one).
We like how streamlined it looks and does not require any additional “legs” or hardware to prop up the countertop.
LACK table EXPEDIT shelf Metal angle brackets Screws
I cut the EXPEDIT shelf in the middle of the third row of cubes, approximately at the height of 90 cm from the floor. Adjust accordingly if you want a taller bar table. Just use a regular buzz saw for that.
Then you put the table top of the LACK coffee table on the floor, face down. You have to find the center and position the EXPEDIT over the table top.
Now, fix the base with some metal angle brackets on both sides. Better use short screws because the LACK plate is hollow on the inside.
After fixing it completely you just have to turn around the whole thing… et voilà. Here we go. Your IKEA bar table with storage is ready. GLENN or STIG bar stools has to right seat height to fit perfectly.
Jules Yap started IKEAHackers.net in 2006 as a personal blog to showcase the most impressive IKEA hacks from all over the world. Since then, she has learned a lot more about power tools and DIY. Her site has helped thousands modify IKEA furniture with step-by-step tutorials, craft projects and home styling.