Hackers Help: Help me makeover my tiny home

tiny home makeover

240 sq ft + 2 Humans + 1 canine + 2 felines + 1 psittacine = No space to live!

Hey guys, I hope to get some how-to steps and makeover ideas for my tiny home. The goal is to make my 240 sq. ft home cosy for 2 humans and my 4 furry friends.

Ikea items used: (currently in use)
  • 2 white BILLY bookcases, 35 1/2 X 11 X 41 3/4 (not current on website)
  • 1 white BILLY bookcase, 29 1/2 X 12 X  41 1/2 (not current on website)
  • BALKARP sleeper sofa
  • 1 KODAL wardrobe, stacked on
  • 1 KODAL shelf unit
  • Random nightstands
  • A horrible bed frame that is rather rickety and moves. A lot.
  • Wall mounted shelving I am not allowed to remove
  • Some cat trees, but no real place for them to “relax”
  • Dog bed, which my dog doesn’t use but is necessary for the times my parents dog visits
  • Bird cage. No description necessary
  • Fridge

Here are a few BEFORE photos of my space. (Click to enlarge)

And my question is:

Please help me figure out a few things …

1. The biggest and top priority:

How to hack some dual purpose nightstand/ desks out of a KALLAX system (or similar) to provide storage for books as well as a place to do my work.

I run my business from home, and my husband spends time on his laptop as well.

As you can see we have some shabby little tables providing our current work spaces, and frankly, it’s not conducive to research or actually getting work done.

I’d like to achieve a sort of “built in” or “complete unit” look, like the pretty reference photos below.

Image: CoastalLiving.com

2. Cat chill out zone:

How to use some LACK or PERSBY shelves to create places for my cats to perch on, higher up. This would be a great use of the existing shelves, as well as the wall space, to allow the cats more room to explore.

Image: IKEA.com

3. Catio:

To create a “catio” from a HEJNE shelf, and some chicken wire for outdoor play time for the cats.

Image: Trisha Sprouse

4. Space for parrot

To maximize the space my parrot can access, by providing some play areas or climbing places. Maybe even a whole new cage.

5. Secondary storage

Lastly, to store our “stuff” efficiently but also elegantly (paperwork in a TOSTERUP handle, mounted to the wall; herbs in a side mounted VARIERA plastic bag dispenser, etc).

I’m already seeing awesome hacks for space saving as I peruse the website, so this is low priority, but … if you saw something that you thought “Omg, this is how I fixed this,” and haven’t posted it, now’s the time!

Other information:

We have a dog, two cats, and a parrot who share our space.


Tara, lost in space


Hi Tara

It looks like you’ve got a pretty good game plan in place. And I look forward to seeing how you’ll transform the space. Having a place that works with you will positively free you to focus on your business and life. So, let’s do this!

(I’m not going to go into the Marie Kondo bit of purging and keeping only what’s good for your sanity. But that step is a necessary one.)

Here are my ideas for your tiny home makeover

#1 The rickety bed + nightstands

For me, the bed would be the first to go, if it’s beyond repair. The nightstands, I’m not sure, but perhaps they can be painted and repurposed into a coffee table? (Food for thought.)

I would suggest getting a bed with storage, like the MALM bed below. Use it to store occasional use material like the dog bed, seasonal wear, pillows and duvets (use vacuum storage bags to keep them squished) for guests, papers that you’ve archived (in boxes and labelled) but still need to keep (eg. for taxes).

Malm bed frame with storage

And now for the storage around the bed. There are many ways to do this and it will depend a lot on what you intend to store.

Bed bridge bookcase

Here’s a bed bridge bookcase hack that looks very close to your reference photo. Chris used 2 tall BRIMNES bookcases with drawers on the left and right. The bridge is a narrow BILLY on its side.

PAX flanking the bed

Another idea is to use PAX wardrobes to flank the bed and kitchen wall cabinets for the bridge. Looks pretty good too, right? Here’s the link to it.

Add an IKEA picture ledge to the side of the PAX wardrobe frame to hold your bedtime essentials like a glass of water or alarm clock.

This is a better option, IMHO, if you have lots of “stuff” you rather not see. You seem to have very little need for clothes storage, so you can also consider setting up one of the PAX wardrobe frames as an office.

Below, is another version, using cabinets for bedsides. You can achieve a somewhat similar arrangement with PLATSA, BESTÅ or SEKTION/ METOD cabinets.

Use IKEA’s tools to plan your tiny home makeover

Do try the free IKEA Planning tools on their website. They are very, very useful in helping you visualise your space and how everything fits. They have planners for PAX, BESTÅ (plus other storage systems) and the kitchen range. The tools take a bit of figuring out, but once you do, it’s easy.

#2 Tiny home makeover for cats

I would go all the way up to the ceiling to maximise play space for your cats. Like this cat loft. The LACK side table is wider than regular shelves and I can imagine your cats loving the few extra inches to spread out and rule the world.

Then, make some cat steps to lead them up to their “loft”. The longer and shorter LACK shelves are great for creating staggered steps (no hacking needed). Or any strong wall bracket with shelves cut to the length you require will also do. If you want something more artistic, this is my favorite cat steps of all time.

#3 Catio

Trisha’s catio is hacked from the HEJNE. Her tutorial is awesome and I think very easy to follow along. Shouldn’t be any issues there.

Here, we have a smaller version, which is mainly to keep the litter box outside the house. Just replace the GORM with HEJNE.

If you can score an old IKEA PS 2014 wardrobe, here’s a pretty good outdoor catio too.

#4 Bird cage

Olga had a similar idea to use a wardrobe as a base to build the cage for her parrots. She added some aluminium and 3×3 wood pieces to extend the wardrobe to reach the ceiling of the room. You can do the same to the HEMNES open wardrobe, if you so wish.

Or if you want to follow the design in your reference photo, you’ll need to get wood boards cut according to the size of the open sides and back of the HEMNES (with a little margin added in for screws). Screw the boards in place. Make two door frames with wire netting and add hinges to them. Fix them in place.

Alternatively, why not reuse the KODAL wardrobe for this? Add crate fencing to the front and back, using some C brackets to hold them in place.

#5 Purpose driven storage

You’re right about putting this last. As your space clears up, you’ll be able to see where you need to add them. And I think it works different for everyone. (I store spices in my fridge because the weather just doesn’t let me lay them out in a pretty spice rack.)

For me, I’m a trays, baskets and boxes person. Corral is my middle name. Things that are similar or used together go into a tray or basket or box or an area. It just makes life so much easier.

That’s a lot for a post. Hope you got some useful ideas from here.

Do keep us updated on the of your tiny home makeover. Consider joining our IKEAhackers FaceBook Community too to continue picking our brains as you go along. Some folks in the group there are brilliant hackers.

Happy hacking,