IKEA Kitchen Cart Makeover: How to Repurpose an IKEA Kitchen Cart

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I love finding old stuff at the thrift store and painting it or replacing it, like this IKEA kitchen cart. It was only $20 and I knew it could be really pretty!

When I found this IKEA cart, it was actually bare wood and I thought I wanted it gray. I painted a coat, stuck it in a corner, and it got really dirty and ugly. It was totally uninspiring. But with a little bit of paint and a few power tools, I turned this IKEA kitchen cart into a file cabinet “command center” in my basement office!

(If you love this makeover, be sure to check out the “before” and “after” of my $10 thrifted vanity makeover, including my thrifted china cabinet makeover).

BEFORE – IKEA Kitchen Cart

An ugly IKEA Bekvam kitchen cart gets upcycled into something cool for a home office!

AFTER – IKEA Kitchen Cart!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - AFTER - Pretty pink!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Great for a command center for files - Pretty pink!

Materials to Repurpose an IKEA Kitchen Cart into a Command Center

(I participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites).

For this furniture makeover, I used the following materials:

  • IKEA Kitchen Cart – Bekvam cart
  • Custom mixed chalk paint (Annie Sloan chalk paint red and white mixed)
  • Scrap wood
  • Router
  • Circular saw or a jigsaw
  • Nailer
  • Wood glue
  • Clear wax to protect the chalk paint

The top of the IKEA kitchen cart had gotten very worn and was basically a dumping ground for discarded stuff. I wanted this cart to be a place for filing tax forms, receipts, and other business paperwork. I wanted it to serve as a command center for any of my filing, mailing, business needs.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - BEFORE - This cart had been painted a boring gray and was scuffed up.


My colors for this blog is a pretty deep pink, orange, and white. This IKEA kitchen cart turned command center was going in my colorful basement office, so it seemed fitting to paint it print to match everything else.

I custom-mixed this shade of pink with chalked paint (red and white), gave it two coats, and painted the edge white to make it POP!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Custom mixed deep pink paint.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Custom mixed deep pink chalk paint for furniture.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Adding white to the edges of furniture adds something fresh to the furniture.


This is what I love about furniture makeovers and DIY projects: when you’re in the middle of a project and inspiration strikes!

As I was painting the shelf slats of this IKEA kitchen cart, suddenly the idea hit me to remove the slates on the top row and to create a place for hanging file folders!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Remove the shelf slats to repurpose them into storage for hanging files.


If I had foreseen this creativity, I would have created a place for hanging file folders before I painted the kitchen cart (insert face slap here).

As a result, I was left with stripes…..and…..GASP!!….I was all out of custom paint mix!


But now that I had a bunch of wooden slats, I was about to repurpose them into something cool!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - The center shelf slats were removed to make room for hanging file folders.


After pulling out the nails, I glued two of wooden slats together for the left side, and two of them together for the right side…


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Slats were glued together to make sides for the hanging file folders.


…and then once they dried, I glued and nailed them on top of the striped ledge of the kitchen cart, to build “walls.”


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Slats were glued together to make sides for the hanging file folders and then nailed and glued into place.


I also ran one of the scrap wood slats over my router table to create a 1/4″ groove for the hanging folders to glide.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - A router table is used to create a 1/4" groove in one of the repurposed kitchen cart slats.


Now that I had built “walls” with my leftover wooden slats, I was ready to attach the routed piece of wood to the top of the “wall” so that the hanging file folders could hang and slide. I used wood glue, clamps, and a nailer to attach them. This was the challenging part because I had no idea if it would work!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Glue the routed piece of wood to the side in order for hanging folders to stay in place.


I needed a way to make sure the hanging file folders wouldn’t fall out the front or back, so I cut pieces of wood for the front and back and joined them with pocket joints.

Now do you see where I’m going with this? 🙂 I was surprised it worked!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Scrap wood added to the front and back to prevent file folders from falling off.


Because I was out of custom-mixed paint, I had to mix a new batch (yikes!) to get everything to match! Sadly, I didn’t match it exactly so I ended up having to repaint the IKEA kitchen cart for a third coat and it ended up being more reddish than pinkish. HA! (Lesson learned: when custom-mixing paint, always mix more than you think you’ll need!).


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Painting the kitchen cart a uniform color.

I also glued one of the other leftover wooden slats to the side and created onboard storage for envelopes and stickies (although the glue left a small gap–oops!).


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Adding labels


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - A new command center for files!


Adding Stencils!

I love adding stencils to projects! So I decided to cut a stencil with my personal cutting machine for the front that says “Files”!

After everything was painted and stenciled, I added a coat of clear wax to protect the paint.

TIP: Check out my post How to Use Stencils: A Complete Guide to learn the magic of stencils!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Stenciling "files" onto the front of the command center.



Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Use a label maker to get organized.


To organize the new command center in my office, I created some labels with my DYMO LabelWriter 450.

I plan to use these labeled folders to store all of my receipts and bank statements each month.

With everything easily labeled and each month you’re adding to the folders, it will make taxes a breeze!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - label your files with months of the year for easy sorting of documents and receipts.


Because this LabelWriter 450 Value Pack comes with four rolls of labels, I am storing them in a cute basket underneath the table.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Store extra labels in a cute basket.


Everything will be within reach to make taxes and labeling easier!

I found that little organizer/mini dresser at the thrift store a couple years ago. I painted the drawers and used my LabelWriter to label them for stamps, mini stickies, and more!


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Organize the top of the new command center.


Let’s have another look at this thrifted IKEA kitchen cart “BEFORE,” shall we?


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Ugly kitchen cart BEFORE.




Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - Ugly kitchen cart is now a pretty and organized place to store files!

Tips on Creating Your OWN Command Center

Here are some tips on creating your very own tax command center to stay organized!

  • Buy a label machine to organize things.
  • Create folders for each month of the year, including a folder for W-2s, bank statements, etc.
  • Use a small table that is designated as the “go-to” spot for your filing.
  • Create a command center in a place that you walk by daily, as a visual reminder. Store receipts daily or weekly.
  • Keep a reminder board with a few monthly “To Dos” that you can easily see and check off.


Repurposed IKEA Kitchen Cart makeover - This pretty painted kitchen cart is now an organized command center for storing files, staples, stamps, and more.


Do you love this project? Click here to save it on Pinterest!

IKEA Kitchen Cart Upcycle - BEFORE and AFTER of a thrifted kitchen cart.

So what do you think of this IKEA kitchen cart makeover?!

Leave a comment below and lets chat about it!


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  1. The cart makeover looks fabulous. I love the color you chose. What a great way to spruce up the bland cart. Pinned. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday.

  2. Lori Marcum says:

    What a great idea!!! LOVE it! I tried my first DIY with an EXPENSIVE armoire someone was selling for $160! What a deal! I added shelves, took out shelves, stained to match and touched up the entire piece. Then I added wine glass holders, added lights (hubby did) and voila…..a gorgeous bar! The padded and lined drawers hold all the wine stoppers, bottle openers, straws, recipe books, etc. Absolutely gorgeous! I’ll definitely check back! If we keep posting these cool things it will be hard to find deals one day! Until then, I’m still looking!

  3. I really like your cart! How do I prepare for tax season? Pretend it doesn’t exist until that doesn’t work anymore!!!

    1. LOL, Melony! I usually wait until the last minute, too. Each year I swear I’m going to come up with an easier way to manage it all, and then I forget I promised myself to do that! šŸ™‚

  4. Patricia B says:

    Hey Serena, thank you for letting me know you painted another layer, I thought my eyes were going goofy!! lol I love how it turned out, fantastic project! Thanks for sharing your oops and your triumphs!! Love ya’

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