Box shelves: Make them really quick and easily

I hacked the IVAR shelving system, because I wanted to have stackable box shelves which are more flexible and easier to moving around. They also save space.

The hack wasn’t very hard to do and it took me just half a day, approximately 4 hours.

NOTE: Obviously, this hack is not suitable for homes with small children who may attempt to climb the shelves. The shelves will certainly fall as the individual units are not fastened to each other or to the wall.

IKEA items used:
  • 2 IKEA IVAR side units (the tall one)
  • 10 IVAR shelves

IKEA IVAR system

Other materials and tools:

Hack instructions for DIY box shelves

The general idea is to built independent ‘stackable box shelves’ you can later pile up anyhow you want.

The first thing to do is to saw the IVAR side units. Measure the lengths you want your box shelves to be. Make a mark on the side unit with a pencil and then, saw it.

You’ll need 2 sawn side units of the same length to make one box shelf. After sawing the side units set them aside for now.

I chose to paint the side units on one side. Feel free to paint to suit your home decor.

box shelves IKEA IVAR hack

Now, you can work on the shelves. Drill a hole at all 4 corners of each IVAR shelf. The hole should align to the top of the sawn side units.

After that, place the shelf panel on top of the sawn side unit and screw the shelf in. Repeat on the bottom to complete the box shelf.

(You may want to drill pilot holes on the tops of the sawn side unit, which will make it easier to screw in the shelves.)

And tadah!

You now have five stackable box shelves you can put on top of each other as you wish.

As the units are not fastened to each other or the wall, be careful how you stack the units and the items you place on them to maintain balance.

Recommended to place heavier items at the bottom unit.

box shelves IKEA IVAR hack

What I really like about the hack is the whole system of stackable box shelves stays flexible. I can easily disassemble and reconstruct it.

If I don’t like the look anymore, it’s possible to change the configuration of the box shelves. It also fits really well with my high walls.

~ by Kolja

You may also like these IVAR storage hacks

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I would like to share my hack of IKEA IVAR shelving system into a built-in bookcase. It all started with the wish to have a bookcase that could store all the books we still had in the moving boxes. Read more on the IVAR built-in bookcase.

#2 IVAR goes chinoiserie

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I recently made an IVAR cabinet go chinoiserie. What I used was the 20″ deep IVAR cabinet, two 20″x49″ IVAR side units, and an extra 20″ deep shelf (in addition to the two that come in the cabinet.) Read more about the IVAR chinoiserie cabinet.

#3 Massive IVAR workstation and storage

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I was searching for the right height standing workstation for months until I came across the IVAR system from IKEA. It’s completely modular so you can set the desk height and cabinet configuration however you’d like. Read more about the massive IVAR workstation and storage.


Jules Yap