Versatile Vittsjo (More IKEA Hack Ideas!)

By Kate Riley July 18, 2012

Thanks so much everyone for the kind comments on yesterday’s IKEA hack of the Vittsjo shelving unit!  We’re loving the sleek modern look of the new shelves along the wall in the study.  I did some research online and found a few ideas for even more alternatives to this versatile piece, with product suggestions for transforming them yourself, here ya go!  

Spray paint a set for a bright bold statement to add a punch of color to a plain wall.  I can see them in all the colors: cherry red, Kelly green, peacock blue, so fun!

colorful vittsjo shelvingshelving image via Better Homes & Gardens


Industrial chic is all the rage, and the nesting tables can transform with some gray primer and stained wood planks.  For a look less painted and more like metal, check out Freckled Laundry’s faux zinc tutorial.

rustic industrial vittsjo

table image sources from Ballard Designs


You can use the very same products to get a look similar to this railroad tie shelf from Viva Terra  (minus the X along the back) with the taller unit. 

viva terra bookshelf

image source: Viva Terra


I’m crazy about the new West Elm white + whitewashed shelving unit – get a similar look with the Vittsjo with white spray paint and wood planks treated with white wash pickling stain (or follow this simple whitewash technique with paint!)

whitewash wood vittsjo

shelving image via West Elm


Perhaps a glam version of the nesting tables?  Keep the tempered glass top or change it out for mirror from a local glass shop.  Spray paint the base shiny chrome or silver leaf the frame for a sophisticated take made to look like Horchow’s coffee tables.


glam vittsjo

 Coffee table image via Horchow


Or do what Ana Antunes did to her VITTSJÖ and spray paint them gold to look like a more expensive brass étagère. 

vittsjo shelving painted gold


Our own hack was a white + dark stained plywood shelf version, see this post for the full story! 

vittsjo ikea hack centsational girl


I love a clever IKEA hack, their furniture is so versatile!  From Billys to Malms to Expedits to Hemnes, they’re all a fabulous blank canvas to work up a creative alternative and make them your own.  See the entire VITTSJÖ collection here (round coffee table, TV stand, and console table too!)

There are plenty of great ideas over at IkeaHackers, have you visited?  What’s your favorite IKEA hack you’ve seen lately (or transformed yourself!) ?




  1. Wow, I love those rustic/industrial types. I’m so glad you mentioned them as possible hacks! I’m a huge fan of the Ikea Hackers website, but I haven’t personally endeavored into the world of hacking… yet!

  2. I love what you did to the shelves. I have been wanting to get the Ballard Shelves but haven’t yet…now I think I will get the ikea ones & add wood planks. Thanks for the great idea & saving me $$!

  3. Every one of these pieces would work perfectly in my small home. Light and airy “work dogs” so to speak. I was ooohhhing and aaahhhing thoughout your post. That’s really nothing new, I’m always drooling while reading your posts…lol. Aside from Ikea fitting well into small homes, it also fits into small budgets. Thank you for all of various ways to “upgrade” the basic look. I’m heading right over to Ikea hack to take advantage of all of your creative and innovative ideas. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

  4. The round coffee table is exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do! I have a piece of oak plywood leftover from another project that would work perfectly for the top, maybe with a limed finish. But first, I have to figure out what to do with the coffee table I already have! Thanks for this post!

  5. My jaw is dropping! Must. Go. To. Ikea. This. Weekend! I have two spaces that have been crying for shelving/storage and a couple of Vittsjo hacks will suit them perfectly. Thank you for the ideas!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! The white and gold is my absolute favorite both colors are so striking :) Great round ups kate!

  7. LOVE the gold painted and the yellow!!! Going to get one for my bedroom!!!

  8. Thank you so much for mentioning my faux zinc tutorial, Kate!!! I’m usually a silver girl but I really love the look of Ana’s gold shelves. I wish the nearest IKEA wasn’t 6 hours away.

  9. wow I’ve never even seen/thought about hacking these from ikea. I love the rustic industrial version. May have to try that out and post up some afters. I’ll post a link here if I do.

  10. Brought it home on a complete whim this weekend and I love it! I’m using it non-hacked for now as a modern “china cabinet” of sorts in my dining room. It’s such a nice look It fills the space with utility and style, without too much visual weight.

  11. I came across your great blog and then found a reference to my Ikea work and the link to my blog. Wow! Nice! Just wanted to thank you for it! Cheers, AnaAntunes

  12. Can someone help me understand where to find the larger middle shelf in the first photo of shelving units that’s colored yellow? The photo show is different that what I’m able to find on the ikea website. There a rod down the middle of the shelves, but in the photo with the yellow shelf there’s no center rod. I do not want the center rod. Can someone help me?

  13. These are fabulous, I really love your options! Ikea 2013 has finally arrived in Australia and I’m really inspired now to a DIY Hack of my own! Thank you!

  14. For the gold Vittsjo, would you recommend Rustoleum’s metallic spray paint in brass or gold? Thanks!!

  15. hi – do u know if it would be possible (i.e., will it look ok and not fall apart) if i remove the second-to-top shelf and the middle bar (at least in the front) on the larger vittsjo – so i can fit a 37″ flat-screen tv on it? i think it would be just what i need for my living room, but i’m not sure it will look work… thnx!

  16. Hi there! Do you know if its possible to hack this so that it is only 2 shelves high? Thinking of making it a nightstand.


    • I believe you need to use all the shelves for structural purposes Carrie.

  17. Hi,
    I found this post when looking for a way to “industrialize” my Vittsjo desk – thank heavens I did :)
    I love all the various possibilities na it’s opened my eyes to the multiple possibilities of DIYing Ikea stuff…
    I going to try to use a Galvanized Zinc Spray paint on my desk and replace the glass top with weathered wood.
    Do you have any experience with Galvanized Zinc Spray paint? I’ve been looking for examples online but everyone seems to layer various tones of paint….

  18. Hi,
    I am thinking of getting the shelving unit after seeing all of these great ideas. I am new to hacking things and would like to replace the glass shelves with wood. I know the stores will cut things, but with the dimensions of the shelves being what they are: What type of wood material do you use? How is it sold (or how can I identify it) so that when I go to the hardware store, I’m prepared.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  19. We are spray painting our shelves this weekend, but I wanted to ask if you think we should put a protective sealer after? We are going for the gold (had to) and I’m nervous about chipping? Thanks!

    • Hi Nicole, most spray paints are oil based and have a hard finish, I’ve never found the need to seal them.

  20. Amazing ideas! I’m in the process of writing a blog post full of my inspiration and this post is one of them! I’m linking directly back to you as unfortunately I can only dream of such beauty! Keep up the good work :)

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