How a designer transformed two IKEA Besta units into a dreamy banquette

How a designer transformed two IKEA Besta units into a dreamy banquette

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navy kitchen nook

We’ve seen hundreds of IKEA Besta hacks, and as creative as some DIYers have gotten by swapping out the fronts with cane inserts or topping it with a marble slab, most stick to using it as a traditional media cabinet. Kendra Joseph, the Bay Area-based designer and founder of Rise Up Home, had other plans for her two base units. Instead of a credenza, she turned them into a banquette.

Wanting to comfortably host friends and extended family from the East, Joseph and her husband decided to convert their approximately 400-square-foot detached two-car garage into a guest house complete with bathroom, bedroom and kitchenette. Finding ways to incorporate storage without soaking up precious real estate was key. “The bench was ideal for allowing us to do that,” she shares. With a depth of just under 16 inches, the pieces proved to be a perfect fit for guests while hiding rugs, board games and serving platters.

sketch of guest house

Courtesy of Kendra Joseph of Rise Up Home

In total, they spent about $250 to $300 on the whole thing (the couple saved money by using some materials they had on hand like lumber and screws, in addition to the tools). “The biggest costs were the IKEA materials and the wood for the waterfall,” notes Joseph. Here’s how they made the basic white cabinets look a little less Besta-y and a little more bench-like.

The supplies

ikea white cabinets assembled

  • 2 Besta drawer base with soft-closing drawers
  • Impact drilling
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Wood screws
  • Pressure treated or redwood 2 x 4 lumber
  • Laser level
  • Torpedo level
  • Measuring tape
  • Table saw and clamps
  • Paint
  • Paint sprayer
  • Wood glue

Step 1: We have Liftoff

After purchasing the Besta units from IKEA, Joseph and her husband assembled the products according to the retailer’s instructions. So with a hammer drill, they constructed a rectangular frame to fit perfectly under the boxes, and added cross beams for support, out of redwood 2-by-4s they salvaged during the garage demo process. In between checking the evenness of the frames with a traditional torpedo laser, the pair also used a laser level to ensure the seat height on both sides was the same.

Step 2: Safe and sound

blue cabinet under wooden bench

After connecting the two bottom frames to each other with wood screws, they screwed the entire structure to the wall with base plates. Filling the corner where the two benches meet with a support box (also constructed from 2-by-4s) allows guests to sit comfortably in the nook. Next: They spray painted the whole thing in Benjamin Moore’s Midnight to match the kitchen cabinets.

Step 3: Bench warmer

small dinner banquet

Joseph and her husband sourced the maple boards for the top and sides of the banquette from their local lumberyard, Aura Hardwoods, and cut them to the dimensions of the existing structure. The key to the perfect waterfall is a seamless miter-edge joint, which comes down to preparation: The couple measured the planks several times before making cuts with the table saw. “We watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube,” notes Joseph. “Timber can be expensive, so it’s best to take your time to make sure there are no mistakes, or you can hire a carpenter if you don’t feel comfortable.” After applying wood glue to the undersides, they pushed the boards into place with a hammer, making them as tight as possible. Once dry, it was entertainingly ready.

metal chair and white dining table

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