IKEA KALLAX shelf insert: Easily divide the cube with these hacks

kallax shelf divider

Foolproof method to add a shelf insert and door to the KALLAX cube.

Here at IKEAhackers, we love the IKEA KALLAX storage unit for its unmatched hackability. And even when it was in its former incarnation — the EXPEDIT — it was an all-time fave. 

The only peeve: more options to section the cubes.

Storage bins occupying entire cubes were good for larger toys. But when it comes to more organised storage, they fail miserably. 

Of course, there are genius IKEA hacks to address this — such as these fantastic half shelves for the EXPEDIT. Unfortunately, the 2-cube insert needed to make it is no longer available. 

IKEA KALLAX shelf insert hacks and ideas

Nevertheless, IKEA heard us and has, over the years, delivered many styles and options for the 13″x13″ (33cmx33cm) cube. You can now add on doors, drawers, inserts for bottles, even a fancy X-insert.

What’s most useful in our books are these half cube dividers, which can be inserted horizontally or vertically.

KALLAX shelf insert in two versions - half shelf and 4 shelves
Photo: IKEA.com

But that leads to another issue: You can’t fit a door AND a shelf insert in the same cube. Which is a bummer if you have a preference for closed shelving to hide the clutter. This IKEA hack will solve this problem easily.

1. Use a VARIERA shelf with door insert

Zlatko stumbled upon this smart and affordable solution to add a shelf within the KALLAX door insert. It’s a simple KALLAX hack and such a fantastic idea.

The 3-step instructions:

You’ll need the KALLAX shelving units and KALLAX door inserts (optional). As many VARIERA shelf inserts as needed.

Step 1. Remove door

If you already installed the door inserts on your KALLAX, just remove the door and place the assembled VARIERA shelf within the space.

Step 2. Place shelf inside

The VARIERA shelf insert fits right in.

At 12 5/8 inches wide, the VARIERA shelf insert has just enough clearance for the side panels of the KALLAX door insert.

Two small (5 1/8″ deep) or one large (11″ deep) VARIERA insert fits the depth of the KALLAX unit. 

Step 3. Re-install door

Once placed, return the door back to its previous position. Easy peasy.

If you’re using the VARIERA shelf insert without the KALLAX door, spray paint the VARIERA to match your IKEA KALLAX shelf unit. And you’re done.

2. DIY your own KALLAX shelf dividers

ikea kallax shelf insert hack
Top Shelf DIY | Leap of Faith Crafting

Erin of TopShelfDIY has a tutorial on making divider slots that fit the IKEA KALLAX cubes. Perfect for keeping paper samples in the craft room or files for your home office. You’ll need 1/4″ plywood and some scrap wood for the slots. It’s similar to the shelf insert with 4 shelves but with this IKEA hack, you’ll can adjust the number and width of the slots according to your needs.

Amy of Leap of Faith Crafting made it even simpler with shelf pins and a few holes on the sides of the KALLAX (pictured above, right). You’ll just need to place a few plywood boards on top of the pins and you’re done! (Get the shelves cut to size at your local hardware store.) As the KALLAX frame is hollow in some parts, be careful with the dowel hole placement. I, however, would not recommend it for heavier materials due to the KALLAX’s hollow structure.

shelves for Kallax cube
Anika’s DIY Life

Anika has a hack similar to Erin’s but you can choose to orientate the dividers horizontally or vertically. The construction is sturdy. This is the one you’ll want to DIY if you have some heavy files and books to store and organize in the KALLAX. Close up the KALLAX back panel to avoid smaller items falling over.

3. Get readymade KALLAX shelf inserts

There are a variety of readymade KALLAX shelf insert and dividers you can get off Etsy sellers. These adjustable shelf inserts from SmugNStuff caught my eye because they are quite brilliant in its construction. You don’t need any tools to build them — not even a Hex key! The shelf clicks into the slots on the vertical brackets and is kept sturdy when inserted into the KALLAX cube. There are options for up to 5 shelves and also an acrylic version for “invisible” shelves.

Kallax readymade shelf inserts at etsy

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FAQ on IKEA KALLAX inserts

What size are KALLAX inserts?

13″ x 13″ or 33 cm x 33 xm

What type of inserts are available for the IKEA KALLAX?

IKEA has a variety of inserts for the IKEA KALLAX.
• Insert with one shelf
• Insert with 4 shelves
• Insert with door
• Insert with 2 drawers
• Insert for bottles
• X shaped insert