$40 KALLAX Shelf becomes upscale kitchen bench seating

I wanted some built-in bench seating to save space and to add cosiness around our kitchen during breakfast and dinner times.

And I wanted powerplugs in whatever piece of furniture was going to live here.

This shows how to hack the IKEA KALLAX shelf and turn it into bench seating.

This is before.
And after!
kallax built in bench seating

For us this became a breakfast nook.

As a bonus this seat has 2 powerplugs in it so you can easily plug in your laptop/tablet when working at the dining room table, since that is where I do most of my computer work anyway.

Because even a home office feels like an office, so I like to work in my kitchen, where the coffee is at 🙂

IKEA items used: 
Other materials and tools: 
  • 2 full sheets of plywood  250 x 120cm (everything gets painted white, so it can be cheapo plywood)
  • 2 wall mountable power outlets and about 3m worth of power cord
  • 10 strips of oak 4 mm thick, 30mm wide and about 3m long
  • 10 strips of pine, 4mm thick, 11mm wide and about 3m long
  • some 3cm x 3cm thick hardwood, it can be anything really since  it will be painted, you need about 3 meters of this as well
  • about 50 wooden dowels, 8mm diameter
  • a big jar of wood glue since you´ll be using a lot of it.
  • about 15 wood screws of about 4 cm each to attach all the parts together after glueing.
  • White primer (about 1 liter)
  • White paint (about 1 liter)
  • Circular saw (with a guide of you have it) to break down the plywood into strips
  • Table saw if you have it, to rip strips of the hardwood for the back. If not you can buy most of these strips ready made at the store
  • Hammer
  • Corded drill and pocket hole jig to add lots of hidden holes within the piece, so no visible fasteners are used
  • Pencil and tape measure, for accuracy
  • Long clamps or some ratchet straps to clamp down some of the longer pieces when glueing them up.
  • A handplane or simply an electrical sander to sand all the edges before painting

KALLAX kitchen bench seating hack: 

Start by making the 2 side boxes, cut the first sheet of plywood down until you have 8 sides for 2 boxes that are as high and wide as the sides of the KALLAX shelf.

making boxes

In my case this build needed to fit in between two other cabinets, so I added side boxes of about 30 cm wide.

power plugs

Powerplugs for the boxes if that’s your thing

You can find the other exact sizes of the KALLAX shelf on the IKEA website as well.

Glue and screw them together using pocket holes, so you don’t see the screws in the final design.

large plywood
cutting plywood

Then, cut out a large piece of plywood for the seating area and use whatever wood you have lying around. Or use more small strips cut from the same sheet of plywood to add visual thickness to the seat. This is to make it go from 18mm to about 30mm thick.

cutting oak
Making the seat

For the depth of the bench, the part your butt sits on, check around your house and find a comfortable seat. Then measure how deep the seating part is on that seat and copy the design for your bench.

bench seating

If you also want to add hardwood edges to this design then try and get a hold of some strips of hardwood in that thickness.

If you happen to have a table saw then you can buy bigger pieces of hardwood and cut the strips out yourself. But for the non regular crafter/DIYer these can be both in the right dimensions at a hardware store.

Lay the sheet of plywood down and gather a lot of heavy things, that can be used as clamps when glueing all these small wooden strips on. Then proceed with glueing about 40 strips of wood on the back plywood panel.

heightened seating
adding thickness

If you go with just plywood, when it is time to finish the design, then you can simply sand the edges down so they are smooth. Or you can buy glue-on edge banding that goes on just by going over it with a clothing iron.

Attach the seat to the bottom boxes using the same pocket hole technique to hide your screws.

kallax built in bench seating

Then the back in similar fashion. (In my case i made about 6 degree angle to the back for comfortable seating.)

And then we’re done!

kallax built in bench seating
kallax built in bench seating
kallax built in bench seating
How long and how much did it cost?

It took me about 5 days working a few hours a day in my spare time, so quite a long build on this one. Cost about 230 euros including the KALLAX, not including the price for the pillow and cover. So the cost will be around 300 euros in the end.

What do you like most about the hack?

This is the first thing I built that might actually live for many years, since I added lots of hardwood to the parts that get the most wear and tear. And if we keep changing out the pillow, this thing might outlast me. 🙂

What was the hardest part about this hack?

Making a custom piece of furniture that has to hold up 3 adults if needed without creaking or breaking. And I had to make the kitchen bench seating to fit exactly in between 2 pieces of existing furniture.

~ by Yves from ProjectsandThings