DIY Storage Bench with IKEA Shelf


I’m on a mission to turn our small, dark basement into an inviting kid-friendly playroom.  Oh, how I wish I had a before picture of this basement when we first moved into the house.  It had an unfinished concrete floor, no doors leading into the cavernous storage rooms, and a collapsing shelving unit in the middle of the room.  Just try to imagine it.  If you don’t like what you see, you are picturing it correctly.

Within the first year of moving in, we installed a ceramic tile floor, painted the walls, and repaired the shelving unit.  Since then, I’ve continued to do small projects here and there to make it a live-able space.

This project takes an IKEA shelving unit and transforms it into a bench for seating, with tons of toy storage.

I used an EXPEDIT shelf for the base of the bench, but after looking back to IKEA’s website, it looks like they don’t carry it anymore.  I found the KALLAX unit which looks similar, but it has only four cube holes instead of five.

I used two pieces of 1/4″ plywood cut down to the size of the bench.  I didn’t want to hassle with a massive piece of plywood, so that’s why the two pieces lay next to each other.  I cut a piece of 1″ foam to fit the length of the entire bench.  I placed a layer of batting and then stretched the fabric across the piece.  A few staples around the perimeter and the bench was ready!

I put a strip of carpet tape to help keep the cushion in place without it sliding around on the shelf.

For the cubbies, IKEA sells quite a few varieties of cube baskets that fit into their shelving units.  I had these in my cart, but at the last minute, decided against them because I noticed one was fraying a bit.  I needed something tough and sturdy to withstand lots of kid use.  I found these milk crates at the Land of Nod outlet (they sell them on their website as well for $9.95 each).  They fit perfectly, are super durable, and have an easy access handle – perfect for little hands to grab and pull out.

I bet you’ll also enjoy these classroom/playroom related projects:

DIY Nightstand Play Kitchen
DIY Nightstand Play Kitchen
Book Pages Door Decoration
Book Pages Door Decoration

Like what you see? I’d love for you to follow along!

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16 thoughts on “DIY Storage Bench with IKEA Shelf

  1. I love this idea and it turned out great! Where did you get the tall storage bins and shelves on either side of the bench from?

      1. Do you know the name or what these are called? Ikea’s website is overwhelming with so many shelving options. So far I can’t find these, and I love them!

        1. Hi Colleen! These were EXPEDIT shelves, but last time I looked they didn’t make them anymore. I think the KALLAX is the same and would work well for a bench like this.

    1. Hi Karen! Yes, in my opinion, I really think they would be strong enough. I used EXPEDIT shelving (which I know they don’t carry anymore, but I know that KALLAX is comparable). There’s been 3-4 adults sitting on ours at once many different times, and we’ve had no issues. I hope this helps!

  2. I would love to see some more pictures of your finished playroom/basement. I am doing the same thing to my house right now and would love some more ideas.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kate! I linked to the chalkboard, sensory tree, and media center play kitchen, but that’s about all that’s in the small space! I thought I would decorate it, but I never really got around to it, and now it’s a kid-loved mess. 😉

  3. Thanks I’ve been thinking about placing a bench at the end of my bed but haven’t found any at all fair price with decent storage. Can’t wait to try this

  4. This is a super cute idea! I have started making this for my classroom. However, I would love to have the two pieces on each end. I saw in another post that you purchased them at IKEA. I could not find them on the website. Can you give more information on those? Thank you!

  5. Can you please let me know what time of material you used to cover the board for the bench? Is it durable, and can it be wiped clean? I am looking for suggestions on that type of material. I am hoping to do this in my classroom for first grade.

    1. Hi Mary. I used upholstery fabric for mine, which can be wiped clean, but if you wanted it to be very durable, I would use outdoor fabric. I teach 6th graders, and although their hands aren’t the same type of dirty as 1st graders, they are still dirty, and outdoor fabric cleans up the best. 🙂

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