Ikea Floating Shelf Built Ins: Living Room Update

For Christmas this year, my husband helped me put together these Ikea floating shelves and cabinets to make our own wannabe built ins surrounding the fireplace and TV. I have dreamed of having some kind of shelving like this since our California home and we finally did it!

What prompted us to make it happen for this home was for a couple of reasons. First, our home is pretty dark most of the year due to the Seattle weather and surrounding trees on our property. We LOVE our property but coming from two previous sunny states, we were taken a back at how truly dark it can be here, especially in the winter. And second, this is the smallest of our three homes that we have lived in and so we have been short on storage space while continuing to accumulate more children in our family! I really wanted enclosed storage for toys, crafts, and office supplies.

This also was our first real project that we took on in this home and it has been a huge change to making this house feel more like our own. It adds so much brightness and I love that I have designated space to simply decorate! 

And I am quite proud to add that the only things I bought to fill the space was a new ginger jar (on the top left) and one more white 8x10 frame. I pulled white serving pieces out of our kitchen and put out all my photo books and some coffee table books on display. Now they are within easy reach to actually look at and quickly filled up the shelves without having to spend much additional money.

I have been sprinkling in seasonal decor every month or so and these shelves continue to feel just right for our living room space. 

Here are the listing photos of our living room before we moved in:

And here it is now!



For the cabinets we used the Ikea KALLAX Shelf Unit which comes as open square storage. We then used the KALLAX insert with door to enclose the cubes. Then we hung the LACK Floating Wall Shelves above each cabinet unit. 

We measured where to hang the shelves based off of placement of the fireplace as well as a switch plate. Plus spacing it out dependent on ceiling height. I also wanted the the space between the top of the cabinet and the first shelf to be able to hold an 8x10 picture frame. It all just depends on your personal space!

Our Ikea was short on a few items but luckily my parents were able to snag the rest of the pieces we needed from their local Ikea and bring it up with them on their next visit! It seems like inventory is hit or miss so it definitely helps to look it up ahead of time to see that items are in stock before doing a larger project like this.

This project was an investment. But when we priced out just cabinet units of this size, this entire project was still substantially less expensive. Plus we felt like it was a huge upgrade to our living space. It has the feel of custom built ins without the heaviness (since our space is not huge) and without the custom made price. Plus we lucked out and the cabinets perfectly fit between the wall and our fireplace!  

We have had this for about three months now and the cabinets on the left are used for toy storage (see photos below). Which means they get open and closed constantly by our kids. One door came out so far and my husband was able to fix it. We are trying our best to teach the kids to close the doors when they are done and not hang on them! Hard to do with a four and two year old! But for the most part they are holding up. 

But as with any Ikea furniture, it has to be said that it is not the highest of quality so being prepared that things may break or need to be fixed is a reality. The doors are held in by screws and I have heard wood glue will also help keep them in. We haven't had to go that route yet but it was worth mentioning for those interested in doing this project.

Now for more photos!

I don't collect a lot of things these days but I do have plenty of white serving dishes and vases. Plus blue bowls and plates. These seem to come in handy for sprinkling around the house as decor. They can work anywhere, are both beautiful and functional, and are somewhat easy to store. I have one designated cabinet in our kitchen that holds these extra items that I can easily grab when I need a cute little bowl somewhere. And if I want to dress up our dining table for a meal, they are also right there to use.

I left a few frames empty to hold new photos when our baby boy arrives!

In the bowls I like to put out essential oils near a diffuser that are easy to grab and use. I also like to put out polaroid photos in a bowl to look through (I love this mobile printer that prints photos off your phone onto a polaroid!).

And one of my empty bowls was perfect for nesting some eggs in for Easter decoration.

I am finding that I love having this white pitcher of flowers right by the TV. Just an excuse to encourage my husband to keep it filled with flowers for me! It adds a pop of color and decor to balance out the TV. The fireplace is also becoming a regular place to hang seasonal decor. It seems to help fill the gap between each cabinet unit.

I am on the fence about painting the brick of the fireplace white. I think it would look great either way but the black stove aspect is keeping me from doing it. I am not sure if it will be worth the work. But who knows, maybe one of these days I will just go for it!

We still need to hide our TV cords from hanging off the edge of the mantel. But I am trying to hide it with an intentional white picture frame! Because of the fireplace, it is a little harder to run wires behind the wall. But my husband promises one of these days he will figure it out for me! Until then, I do my best to hide them!

Here is how we use the left side to store toys. I luckily am a basket hoarder and had all these baskets already! I tried my best to keep like toys together so they are easier to find for the kids. The kids have a few bins of toys in their room and the rest gets stored away under their beds. I periodically switch out these baskets based off their current interests.

The two baskets in front of the fireplace hold duplos/legos and Cabbage Patch dolls and clothes (from my childhood!). With things like legos, I have a designated space for them and I don't allow us to collect more than what will fit in the basket. So we are maxed out on legos right now but I would say there is room for maybe one or two more sets if we found something that we couldn't live without!

On the right side I store the "mommy only" stuff - which means my kids aren't allowed to get into it without my help. We store DVDs, messy craft supplies for the kids, and my random craft and sewing supplies. Since it is so close to the couch I keep my everyday office supplies by the computer and the less used items here. 

When we first put these in our Christmas tree was in front of these cabinets which helped our youngest get used to only using the side with the toys. I think that helped immensely in getting her used to this area being hands off. We considered baby proofing them but luckily have not had to. We will see when the next little one arrives!

I love having our photobooks out on display. It has encouraged me to reach out and look through them. Plus it has helped motivate me to work on printing new books as I am quite behind! But I now try to design the book spines based off the colors I like to see on the shelves. Which right now is beige, blues, black, and grey. But how wonderful to get our memories out in print that can also serve as decoration! No more random coffee table books. Just books I absolutely love.