Ah, Ikea. Not only is that MALM dresser a pain to put together—it’s also an IKEA “classic,” meaning you’ll see it in at least four out of every five clients’ homes. It’s so generic it fits with anything.

Thinking of tossing it for something more exciting? Think again. IKEA furniture might tend towards the minimalist, but that’s not always a bad thing. That BILLY bookcase or MELLTORP dining table is the perfect canvas for creating something beautiful and unique—and saving your clients some money while you’re at it.

Looking for ideas? These 7 IKEA hacks are essentials for any interior decorator’s toolkit.

1. BEKVAM Step Stool

This might not be the first IKEA hack that springs to mind, but for any client with kids it’s a fabulous DIY. Blogger (and mom) Rosandra Ferri of Mommo Design turned her BEKVAM step stool into a play stove for her kids.

A play stove encourages kids to get involved in the kitchen

How? Simple. Some black paint on the top of each step, elements drawn on the top (or crafted with wire for an old-fashioned coil), and some colorful knobs turn the stool into a perfect cooktop. Adding a wire basket underneath the top step creates the “oven” for your clients’ kids to practice their baking.

2. BILLY Bookcase

BILLY might just be IKEA’s most hack-able piece of furniture. Apartment Therapy has a whole post dedicated to profiling ten different ways to work with BILLYs. It also has another post to highlight what it calls the best BILLY built-ins “of all time.” And another post showcasing some BILLYs with beautiful sliding doors.

Basically, when it comes to BILLY, the possibilities are endless. Our top pick? Well, let’s face it: custom built-ins are expensive. A few BILLYs adjusted to fit your client’s space provide the look—without the price tag.

3. RAST Dresser

In store, the unfinished RAST dresser might scream “student apartment!” or “kitschy cottage!” but don’t let that turn you off. The unfinished wood is perfect for a few coats of paint, a layer of patterned wallpaper, or some creative drawer knobs.

Its compact size makes it perfect for a statement nightstand—try removing the top drawer and adding in an extra piece of wood to create a shelf. Then paper the inside with a colorful pattern that’s a little too bold for your walls. Or stick a RAST or two under a big slab of wood for a desk that boasts stylish, spacious storage.

Update your RAST dresser with a few coats of paint and some new hardware

4. Superfront and Semihandmade

Don’t let an anti-DIY client turn you off IKEA improvements. For those who aren’t so handy—or for the overly ambitious—Superfront and Semihandmade are two companies you need to know. Both the Stockholm-based Superfront and the U.S.-based Semihandmade specialize in creating pieces that fit your IKEA items. Semihandmade creates gorgeous custom doors sized specifically for IKEA dressers and shelves. Superfront sells doors, hardware, and more, all designed to work with your clients’ most versatile IKEA picks.

5. KALLAX Bookshelf

This KALLAX bookshelf hack might be another niche DIY project, but it’s too good to leave out. For clients who love to entertain in style, Sugar and Cloth’s KALLAX-to-bar-cart DIY is a must-make project. This blogger keeps hers a clean white, but just like the RAST, there’s plenty of room to get creative.

A coat of paint or wallpaper can transform this simple bookshelf into a bar cart worthy of any home. Keep it minimal like Sugar and Cloth or, for the true cocktail aficionado, make good use of the space by stocking it up on essentials.

A stylish bar cart is the perfect IKEA hack for summer entertaining

6. BEKVAM Kitchen Cart

Another BEKVAM hack, this one is undoubtedly the more stylish of the two. We love what blogger Meaghan Gizuk of Oliver and Rust did with her own sturdy kitchen cart. While this IKEA favorite is durable and perfect for adding counter space, we can all admit that it’s pretty plain. With a few coats of grey paint, a marble top, and a handy tea towel bar, your clients can turn their boring old BEKVAM into a tiny, wheeled kitchen island as stylish (and practical) as Meaghan’s.

Interested in a different look? Replace the marble with a sturdy slab of reclaimed wood for a look that’s rustic yet still elegant.

7. LACK Coffee Table

A coffee table is a practical necessity in most living rooms, but it’s also the perfect piece for showing off some subtle style. A LACK coffee table is an inexpensive option that’s ideal for small apartments, but it definitely doesn’t make a statement on its own.

IKEA hacks can create stylish, original pieces for your home

Luckily, the simple design of this staple piece makes it another versatile IKEA hack. A cushion and some upholstery turns into a cozy ottoman. Along with the simple wallpaper-or-paint hacks, a few stained boards laid on top of the table give it a weathered, classic look. Or, safe the top and replace the legs for a subtle statement like this mid-century coffee table.

When you’re an interior decorator, innovation and creativity are part of the job description! Share your own favorite IKEA hacks in the comments.

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