IKEA Kallax Cushion Hack: Turn Your Shelf into a Bench with an Easy DIY No-Sew Cushion

February 3, 2017

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We’ve had an IKEA Kallax shelving unit for a few years now. (Doesn’t everyone have an IKEA Kallax? I love these things.)

It first held toy bins in our main level playroom (we have these and these, which I LOVE because they fit seamlessly into the rest of our decor), and then we moved it to the basement where it now plays a similar role. I recently decided to turn it on its side, and then figured I’d make it into a bench to add some extra seating for the kids or adults, which is especially useful when we have play dates with multiple kids.

Well, I consulted my dear friend Google in an attempt to find a sturdy, Kallax-sized cushion, and guess what?

Oh yes, there are some available on Etsy…..and most of them cost anywhere between $150 to $200.

I’m sorry. What?!

That seemed outrageous to me. I decided there had to be an easy way for me to make one for a fraction of the cost.

And I’m excited to tell you that I did make my own cushion with this DIY Ikea Kallax hack, and it was so, so simple. My version cost me about $50, a trip to the fabric and hardware stores, and about 30 minutes of time.

Much better than the alternative, right?! The best part is that there was no sewing required!

I can barely sew a button on a shirt, you guys, so this was excellent news. So if you’re sitting there going, “Wellllllll, I can’t sew and am kinda nervous about this project…..” I’m going to tell you right now that you need to quiet that voice inside your head, get yourself to your local hardware store (or shop everything you need using the links below!), and make one awesome cushion.

Here are the super easy instructions to make your own bench cushion for the IKEA Kallax. One quick note about the IKEA Kallax: They’re sold on Amazon! How awesome is that if you’re like me and don’t live all that close to an IKEA?

Yes, the IKEA items offered on Amazon are a bit more expensive than they would be if you drove to the store, but frankly sometimes the convenience factor gets me and I’m happy to pay a little extra so that I don’t have to fight traffic and crowds during a weekend trip to IKEA.

And more good news: Even if you don’t have an IKEA Kallax, you can still complete this project with any similar shelving unit. For example, Better Homes and Gardens makes a great line of similar-looking shelving, as does Target (check out some options here).

Make sure to check out these other related posts I think you’ll enjoy:

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need for this Ikea Kallax hack project. For your convenience, I’ve linked to most of the materials that I used so that you don’t have to go hunt them down yourself.

You could go to your local hardware store and buy all this stuff, but I am all about avoiding extra errands whenever possible and prefer to do nearly all my shopping online!

DIY Kallax cushion shopping list:


The simple instructions for this Kallax cusion…..

  1. Before heading to the hardware store, measure your Kallax. This will ensure that you select the right size MDF board for this project.
  2. Once you’re home, cut your MDF board to size. My husband did this for me, but I highly recommend you ask the lovely folks at your local hardware store to do this for you. Sadly, the cutting machine at my local Home Depot wasn’t working the day I purchased my MDF board, so we took care of this at home.
  3. Place your foam on the floor, and put your cut MDF board over it, lining up the corners of the foam and MDF board.
  4. Cut your foam to size using a serrated kitchen knife. (Yes, it works quite well!) Don’t worry if you have some jagged edges. You won’t be able to see those after you cover the foam and MDF board with fabric.
  5. Place your fabric face down on the floor. Then set your foam on top of that, and place the MDF board on top of the foam. If you’re using a patterned fabric, make sure your fabric is placed accordingly. You’ll be folding the fabric over the edges of the foam and MDF board, so go ahead and trim any excess fabric if needed.
  6. Pull your fabric and begin stapling it to the MDF board. (Hint: If you have a partner or friend nearby, have them help you with this step. It’s nice to have a second set of hands as you’re pulling and stretching your fabric!) You want to make sure you pull the fabric tightly so that the foam nor the MDF board shift underneath.
  7. Pull your fabric over one of the two longer sides of your cushion, and staple that to the MDF board. Do the same on the other side. Then staple the ends, leaving space around your corners. (You’ll tackle those last.)
  8. For the corners, I recommend watching the first 30 seconds of this video so that you can see exactly how to tuck and then staple the fabric in each corner. It’s much easier to understand the technique used by watching this video versus trying to read a laundry list of directions.

That’s it — you’re done! Easy, right?

Our finished Kallax bench cushion:

ikea kallax cushion

ikea kallax cushion

ikea kallax cushion

If you’re wondering how I attached the cushion to the shelving unit, I used large 3M Command Strips to attach my bench cushion to the Kallax. (I love Command Strips and use them for just about everything. Seriously, aren’t those things totally genius?!)

There you go! I love DIY projects that don’t require any sewing, are quick to complete, and are inexpensive — and this Ikea Kallax hack definitely checks all those boxes.

P.S. Like something you see above and wanna snag it for your own playroom? Check out my handy shopping guide below!
shop this modern and colorful play space


Neon monogram pillow (multiple letters available) // Striped play teepee // Rainbow felt garland // Cactus pillow

Cactus stacking toy // Wall pennants (similar to what I purchased) // Lightbox // Wooden tool bench

Acrylic wall shelves, set of two // Melissa & Doug wire puzzle rack // “Wild + free” wall art // Melissa & Doug bead maze

I love a good IKEA hack, and this no-sew bench cushion for the Kallax shelf is awesome!

This IKEA Kallax hack is SUCH a great idea for a kids' room!

About Kate

Hey! I’m Kate — I love decorating with color and pattern. I also love finding decorating “easy” buttons: quick DIYs, simple organization hacks and amazing steals at Target.

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  1. Great idea just love the other colors love the pillows too

    • Thanks, Annmarie! It’s definitely nice to have some extra seating in our basement play area.

      • Thank you! When I looked up the rocky bluffs color swatch it looks sooo much more gray than this color?? This color in the pics above looks like it has more tan/brown and much warmer – just the lighting?? Priming my basement right now!!

  2. I love this project. I want to know how sturdy is the bench. Can two petite ppl sit on it? i want to make it for my dining table.

    • Hi Garima! Thanks for the kind words. The bench is fairly sturdy but it’s also on top of an IKEA Kallax shelf, which isn’t designed to be moved. So not sure that this would work in a dining area…

  3. Do you know how much weight this can hold? Looking to do a bench at the end of my bed. However, my husband and I are plus size. i want to make sure sitting on it wouldn’t break it. It wouldn’t be sat on for long periods of time.

    • Hi Michelle! I am not sure of the weight limits associated with IKEA furniture. The bench certainly feels sturdy (and my husband is just under 200 pounds for what it’s worth, and he sits on it) but I’d probably go over to the IKEA website and check out the details for the Kallax. Good luck!

  4. I finally made the bench this weekend. I followed your instructions and it came out great!! It’s my first time doing a home decor diy project like this. Thank you again!

    • I am SO thrilled that your project turned out so well and that the tutorial was useful! Thank you for taking the time to leave that feedback. I really appreciate it!

  5. Kate do you think with a thick memory foam cushion [6″](so you could sleep on it) that this would be too high to get to sit on comfortably?

    • Hi Cherith! It might be a little too high to sit on comfortably…unless you have rather tall family members. 🙂

  6. I am confused on the part where you say to glue and to duck tape but I don’t see that in the steps?

    • Hi Sarah — If you buy a piece of MDF board that’s larger than the surface of the Kallax, then you shouldn’t have to glue or duct tape anything. Unfortunately my local hardware store didn’t have an MDF board that was long enough, so we retrofitted our own (which is why you see the duct tape).

  7. Really lovely. What are you using in the photo to decorate the house shape above the seat area?

    • Thanks, Charlotte! That’s a strand of multicolored pom pom garland that I hung on the wall.

      • Love love this idea!! Definitely going to. try it for 2 benches we have. My only concern is the staples…. do you not feel the staples when you sign on the bench? A staple gun just shoots them straight through, it doesn’t bend the ends of the staple like on paper. I imagine the MDF isn’t thicker than the staples, since they make them pretty long to hold. Can you not feel them or do you buy super shallow ones to avoid this?

      • So glad you’re going to take this project for a spin! Remember that there is a foam cushion on top of the MDF board — the one I used was 3″ thick. So the staples go through the MDF and into the cushion, but the foam is so thick that no one sitting on the bench ever feels any staples. Hope that helps. Good luck!

  8. Love this!! Thank you so much for sharing. Do you have a link or name for this specific fabric?

    • Hi Lydia, I’m so glad you liked the project! I can’t recall the name of this particular fabric but I bought it at the JOANN store near me (although this was 3 years ago). Sorry that I don’t have more info for you!

  9. I can’t find the 3” cushion… where did you get it from? How much did you pay for it?

    • Hi Emily! I found it at Home Depot. I don’t recall the price of it.

  10. Hi! I’m doing this project and wondering how much fabric I should leave for the corners? Thank you!

    • Hi Maria, I left about a foot of fabric on each side, and then I trimmed the excess after stapling the fabric to the particleboard. hope that helps.



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