Since the very first day we moved into our new house, I have been making tweaks to the living room. It’s right in the hub of our home, it’s where our family spends a lot of time together (especially during these Pennsylvania winters when it is too cold to be outside!), and from day one, it has always felt like the emptiest room in the entire house.
our living room on the day we moved in
It’s easy to see why it felt empty. Along with being completely white (the builders paint the whole house this same color and then it’s up to you to change it), it was about three times the size of the seating area in our old living room, and we just didn’t have enough “stuff” to fill it up.
By the end of the first week in the house, I sent Donnie to IKEA to get the EKTORP love seat to match our couch and chair, and that helped a little bit. And when it got cold outside I brought in the chairs from our porch and put them in the living room, and that helped fill up the space as well. But it still felt empty to me. I knew it was probably because our “TV stand” at the moment consisted of a little LACK side table.
We were also in great need of storage. I had added a bin and a few baskets to hold things like our favorite DVDs and the boys’ gaming accessories, but much of our movie collection was sitting in the basement in a laundry basket because I had nowhere else to store it. And yet my room felt empty. Clearly that wall needed a little something.
So I began searching high and low for an entertainment unit that would fit perfectly in our space and matched the look I was going for. But everything I found either wasn’t the right style or was too small to fit around our TV or wouldn’t fit the wall in the exact way we were hoping.
But then I ran across this post from my friend Lauren over at Bless’er House. She and her husband used IKEA’s BILLY bookcase system to create DIY built-ins for their playroom, and they looked awesome! “Of course!” I thought to myself, “I should have known that IKEA would have the answer!”
Transforming Our Living Room with IKEA BESTA Built-Ins
So Donnie headed off to IKEA to check out the BILLY system to see if it would work for us. He went prepared with our wall dimensions, TV dimensions, and every other possible dimension he would need. He found the BILLYs and spent about a half an hour with a notebook and tape measure in IKEA sketching out possible Billy shelf arrangements for our built-ins, but none of them ended up being exactly what we were going for.
As he continued to look around IKEA, though, he happened to stumble into the BESTA section, and it seemed like the absolute perfect solution for us. Donnie was able to use IKEA’s BESTA Storage Planner to recreate the dimensions from our living room and design a 3D mockup of our custom built-ins! (He later admitted to me that he felt a little like Joanna Gaines using the 3D designing tool. 🙂 )
Between Donnie and I, we are pretty picky, so I loved that we were able to move things around and try all different configurations until we came up with the exact look that we wanted. (This was a perfect example of IKEA’s concept of Democratic Design at work–every product they make has to meet their high standards in 5 areas: form, function, price, quality, and sustainability. The flexibility of the BESTA system gives us the perfect mix of form and function, and it is incredibly sturdy and high quality and will last us for years to come!)
Once Donnie finalized the design, he purchased all of the pieces we needed and loaded them up to bring them home. The total for all the parts was $738, which included all of the shelf frames, cabinet doors, drawers, drawer slides, and mounting rails. That is a significant investment, but compared to the entertainment units that I was looking at before we discovered BESTA (most of which were much smaller than our final design), it is an absolute steal.
Here is a list of the pieces we ended up using:
- Bottom Center Frame
- 2 Deep Drawer Frames
- 2 Shallow Drawer Frames
- 3 Deep Shelves
- 4 Sets Soft-Closing Drawer Runners
- 3 Sets of Door Hinges
- 6 Shallow Frames to Create Side Units
- 6 Narrow Shelves
- 3 Deep Frames to Create Top Center Piece
Sadly, IKEA ended up discontinuing the style of door we used for this project, but you can see their current door options here, and here are the measurements of the doors/drawer fronts we used:
- 2 23 5/8″ x 25 1/4″ Doors
- 3 23 5/8″ x 15″ Door/Drawer Fronts
- 2 23 5/8″ x 10 1/4″ Drawer Fronts
We got the pieces home and started assembling the drawer and cabinet units. After using IKEA cabinets for our entire kitchen renovation in the townhouse, we are cabinet assembly pros by now! 🙂 We shared a full tutorial on the installation process + some fun trim work we added to get more of a “built-in look” here, but for now, suffice it to say that they have totally transformed our living room!
And when we added all sorts of pretty accessories? Even better!!
I absolutely could not wait to get in there and fill up all of those beautiful shelves! I was surprised, though, that even though most of the shelves were fairly shallow, they held a ton of pretty accessories. I kept walking up to my office, grabbing a load of tchotchkes, filling up the shelves, and then going back for more. (As an extra bonus, my office is now a lot less cluttered than it used to be! 🙂 )
Even though it is only the beginning of February, spring and warm weather can not come early enough for me, so I made sure to add a lot of my favorite aqua hues, along with whites and some shimmery metallics.
I added in a lot of faux greenery as well (because that’s the only kind I can keep alive– hello, black thumb!) and it really helps to bring a fresh, springlike feeling to the space.
Many of our picture frames were still in storage bins from the move, and it was like a walk down memory lane pulling them back out again. I found this adorable photo of the Cs from a few years ago– I can’t believe how big they’ve gotten since then!
I am giddy over all of the extra storage space as well! We have three cabinets total– the two shallow ones on the sides, and then the very middle door under the cable box is actually a cabinet. We just gave it the same hardware as the drawers to make things look more cohesive.
Our movies have been rescued from the basement, and we had enough space to store the boys’ movies and games in one drawer and the grown up movies in another.
The lower drawers are super deep, and I even have some extra space to store even more items if I need to. (Maybe this means I need some new workout DVDs… 😉 Sidenote: Mini weights make excellent bookends.)
So that’s a wrap! I think the BESTA built-in unit makes such a huge impact on the space, and I’m definitely not feeling like everything is so empty anymore! We are well on our way to that cozy living room of my dreams, for sure. 🙂
Should we take a look at the before and after? My favorite part!
Get more ideas for customizing IKEA products in these posts:
Have you installed the IKEA BESTA system anywhere in your home? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!
Hope you’re having a wonderful week!