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How We Gave Our Shoe Cabinet a Major Upgrade with a Few Small Changes!

Our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet is installed in our entryway! It received a makeover in 3 steps with the help of Handy Products | via Yellow Brick Home

I couldn’t be more excited to share with you our upgraded shoe cabinet! File this under big impact, low stress makeovers – the best kind, in our opinion. Our previous shoe storage was always too small, and when we found this IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet in the scratch and dent section, we knew we couldn’t pass it up. Was it made for that wall, or was it made for that wall?

This post is in partnership with Handy Products, a brand we love and use for every painting project we tackle! They believe in creating USA-made products that will withstand the test of time – and our decade old paint cup proves it. Handy Products is a small team that makes a big impact by doing good beyond the paint pail; see more about the organizations they support right here.

You can keep reading for the photo tutorial, and you can also check out this video that shares the process in a tidy, 2-minute package:

You can also view, like, share and save the video on YouTube right here!

Before I dive into our step-by-step, let’s take a look at where we started. The shoe cabinet was nice as-is (and much more roomy than what we were currently using), but with a few small tweaks, we knew we could make it the perfect fit for our home. Here’s what it looked like the day we hauled it home from IKEA:

I’d be remiss not to mention the biggest perk. We’d no longer be tripping over countless tiny Lucy shoes! Below, I’m sharing the 3 steps we followed to elevate the look of one of IKEA’s most versatile pieces of storage. Let’s go, let’s go!

1| We Swapped Out the Hardware

Hands down, this is always the easiest way to kick things up a few notches. I’d been wanting to try recessed hardware, which is more involved that removing the old hardware screw and installing new, but I think the results were worth the extra few steps. This is the hardware we picked out:

A close-up of the recessed hardware we used in our IKEA shoe cabinet hack | via Yellow Brick Home
3″ recessed pull

After removing the old hardware, we measured and leveled thrice and mapped out where we wanted the recessed pulls to go. Scott traced the outline of the recessed portion of the hardware and used a forstner bit to carefully drill it out. Using a forstner bit allowed us to get a more precise depth without going through the other side.

A close-up of installing recessed hardware | via Yellow Brick Home

Once the rough cut was complete, he went back in with a chisel to tidy up the edges. You can see below that we scuffed the wood on the left side of this recess, but not to worry! That’s where wood putty and sandpaper will come into play, forgiving all sins.

A close-up of installing recessed hardware | via Yellow Brick Home

We used 6 pulls on the 3 cubbies of the cabinet. We tested the hardware on each recess, and then filled the old holes, any dents, and slip-ups with wood putty. After sanding everything down, we could move on to the most transformative part – paint!

A close-up of installing recessed hardware | via Yellow Brick Home

2| We Gave It a Fresh Coat of Paint

There is nothing more time consuming than working on a project and using less than stellar tools. Quality tools give you the confidence to properly execute a project from the start while giving you the best results possible. And that is exactly why we’ve been using Handy Products with all of our paint projects for years! For this makeover, these are the Handy Products we used to get the job done right:

  • Handy Paint Pail + liner | Our companion when we need a reliable pail for cutting in and touching up. The magnetic brush holder gives your paintbrush a place to rest when you need to set the pail down.
  • Handy Pro Pail + liner | This will be your best friend when you need a roller and a brush! The wide mouth is roomy enough for a mini roller, and the magnetic brush holder is a safe place to keep your brush until you need it.
Our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet received a makeover in 3 steps with the help of Handy Products | via Yellow Brick Home featuring the Handy Pro Pail

I used the Handy Pro Pail + liner with a mini roller to cover the large flat surfaces, while Scott used the Paint Pail to handle all the the cutting in. As someone who uses a mini roller all the time for various DIY projects, I can easily say that the Pro Pail is my best friend!

Handy Pro Pail + liner

We laid all the doors on our dining room table with a drop cloth. Everything received one thin coat of primer and two coats of paint. It’s normal to see areas you’ve missed with wood putty and sandpaper after the first coat of primer, and this is also the best time to apply more putty and sand again. Once we were happy with the smoothness of all the panels, I rolled on the same taupe paint that we color matched to our bedroom dresser.

When it was time to switch between primer and paint, we simply swapped out the liners, which protect our Handy Products and allow for quicker color changes and clean-up. In-between coats of paint, we used these paint covers to keep our brushes, roller and paint from drying out!

Our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet received a makeover in 3 steps with the help of Handy Products | via Yellow Brick Home featuring the Handy Paint Pail
Handy Paint Pail + liner

3| We Replaced the Top with Oak

For the final part of the transformation, we nixed the top that came with the IKEA HEMNES and opted instead for a beautiful piece of oak. Not only does oak complement the wood tones throughout our home, but it adds warmth and freshens up the overall look. This was also our opportunity to shorten the overall width of the top, which was personal preference. Scott drilled out the hole pattern from the HEMNES top onto our oak board, so that we were able to use all original IKEA fasteners! That smarty.

Attaching the oak top to our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet hack | via Yellow Brick Home

The Transformation!

We. Love. It! I mentioned in Instagram Stories that we had to create longer legs so that it would clear our 6″ baseboards, but I assume not everyone will have that issue. If you do find yourself in that pickle, we just fabricated an additional 2″ from scrap wood, glued them on, puttied and sanded it all smooth. You’d never know!

Our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet is installed in our entryway! It received a makeover in 3 steps with the help of Handy Products | via Yellow Brick Home

There’s enough grip on the hardware to easily open the cubbies, and we dig the vintage look of the hardware paired with the taupe paint color and oak. The top cubby is a pull out drawer where we’ve been stashing keys, sunglasses and our mini outdoor speaker…

IKEA HEMNES top drawer close-up | via Yellow Brick Home
IKEA HEMNES top drawer close-up | via Yellow Brick Home

… and the bottom two cubbies are for all the shoes! The amount of storage in this is four times what we had before. Is this what adulting feels like? I’ve been sitting on the steps and admiring our work for days.

IKEA HEMNES shoe storage close-up | via Yellow Brick Home
A view into our entry, showcasing our IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet makeover | via Yellow Brick Home

Thank you for cheering us on throughout the process as we shared it in real-time! This is a high impact, low stress upgrade for DIY-ers of any skill level. I truly believe that. Remember, wood putty and sandpaper is your best friend, and quality tools make all the difference.

Tag us @yellowbrickhome and #YBHDIY if you take this project on! We’d love to see, share and spread the love.

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  • Stacy4.6.21 - 7:19 AM

    This looks SO good! I especially love the more modern profile that the new, slightly smaller oak top provides. It seems like such a small change but the impact of it is huge!
    P.S. I love your nail color here! You are the second of my “internet friends” that I have complimented on this today. I am a weirdo on the hunt for spring nails, I guess.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 7:58 AM

      Haha, thanks! I’m obsessed with all things spring right now as well — and that includes nails!ReplyCancel

  • lak4.6.21 - 7:49 AM

    OKAY…you continue to amaze me, this looks great, would I have ever thought of it?  Absolutely not, that is why I continue to follow you guys!  While I don’t see myself revamping an entire house, these are the projects I can see myself doing, and I do think I could pull this off.  Thank you again for sharing your ideas, talents, and finished projects!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 7:58 AM

      It’s the little things! Thank you❤️ReplyCancel

  • Lori4.6.21 - 9:26 AM

    It looks so good and I am completely in love with the hardware you chose! The detailing on the inside is *chef’s kiss*!ReplyCancel

  • Ruby Castanon4.6.21 - 10:21 AM

    This is so nice! How did you replace the top with a solid wood piece? ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 10:53 AM

      Scott drilled out the same holes as the IKEA piece! You can see more in the video. :)ReplyCancel

  • Liz M4.6.21 - 12:09 PM

    We have this (in white) in our mudroom. Now I want to change out the top! Our room is small-ish and as much as its functional the top does overhang a lot. I worry the kids will hit their heads on it allll the time. Great solution for a small space.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 12:39 PM

      The extra wide top was an interesting design choice, huh?ReplyCancel

    • Lia4.8.21 - 5:30 PM

      How wide and deep  is it without the top? I assume the measurements on Ikea include that overhang.ReplyCancel

  • Emme4.6.21 - 12:29 PM

    After many paint projects in my own home I can confidently say that I don’t like painting. However, since I can’t afford to always have someone else do it, there’s no way I would tackle any project without a paint pail AND liner. Might as well make the project as easy on myself as possible.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 12:40 PM

      The right tools for the job are EVERYTHING!ReplyCancel

  • Julie4.6.21 - 12:38 PM

    Same color as the peg rail too, right? It’s amazing what you can do with a little ikea hack, just like the shoe cabinet you featured before. It’s a great little entry way you have and I am still so in love with your floor tile – classic!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 1:20 PM

      Yup, the dresser, peg rail, and now this! The paint color that keeps on giving.ReplyCancel

  • carswell4.6.21 - 2:07 PM

    Nice job on the modifications. 
    I have an older Hemnes bench with a lid and drawers and it has always irked me because the overhang on the top causes it not to fit neatly into the corner and makes it encroach on the space I need for my curtains to pull back from my window. I’m thinking that cutting the lid down is just the answer. I can’t believe I never thought of it. LOL. ReplyCancel

  • Jacqueline4.6.21 - 3:26 PM

    Love this! What is the depth of the shoe holders? I have been looking at purchasing one of these but am not sure if my husband’s size 14/15 shoes will fit.ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.6.21 - 5:33 PM

      Hi Jacqueline! You can fit shoes that are upwards of 13″ and still easily open and close the cubbies.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole4.11.21 - 5:53 PM

    Hi! What color are the walls?ReplyCancel

  • Meryl4.13.21 - 8:59 AM

    This is AMAZING!! This looks like such a high end piece of furniture. I am RUNNING to Ikea to do this for our short-on-storage Brooklyn apartment! Would you mind sharing the depth of the piece without the overhanging top? Want to make sure it can squeeze behind our front door :)ReplyCancel

    • Scott4.13.21 - 9:34 AM

      Thanks Meryl! The depth is 11 1/8″ front to back without top overhang. IKEA has offered various sizes and shapes of similar cabinets along the way, so they might have a different size that suits your needs even betterh. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • Emily4.26.21 - 2:08 PM

    This inspired me to makeover my Ikea dresser! How do you keep the paint from chipping in such a high-traffic area? I’m only on day two and already have two dings/scratches that need a paint touch up. ReplyCancel

    • Scott4.26.21 - 2:16 PM

      We apply two coats of polycrylic to almost every furniture piece that we paint. It helps protect finishes a TON. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • Katie4.30.21 - 12:23 PM

    This looks amazing!! Definitely going to try a version of this for my little entryway. What kind of primer do you prefer for Ikea items? I’ve never painted one and have heard that they can be a beast to paint!ReplyCancel

    • Scott4.30.21 - 2:19 PM

      Any high bond primer like Kilz or Zinsser Bullseye should work great!ReplyCancel

  • […] I use, so I wanted a place for our shoes that looks nice, too! I was inspired by the Ikea hack that Yellow Brick Home did on a shoe cabinet a few weeks ago, and I scored one for us on FB Marketplace! I’ll be […]ReplyCancel

  • Shelly Fox7.25.21 - 12:18 PM

    I love your hardware. Everything looks great! We just finished our hemnes shoe cabinet hack where we put 3 together and raised them higher to accommodate baseboard after planning it for like 5 years. I’m super disappointed because all our shoes fall into a messy pile inside the cabinet every time we open and close it! How are you preventing this? Granted I have a lot of dress flats, but husbands large heavy dress shoes are doing it as well. Really not functional and we spent so much money and time doing this and it’s not functional at all. Actually worried my more expensive shoes are getting dirty and damaged and reorganizing them every single time is not time I was hoping to spend. I can’t seem to find anyone else complaining about this, it can’t just be my shoes. I’m size 8 and husband size 11.5, so I don’t have tiny feet. ReplyCancel

    • Anna Vogel11.10.23 - 7:00 PM

      I am having the same issue and it drives me crazy!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi12.21.21 - 10:40 AM

    Hands down the best IKEA transformation I’ve ever seen. The pulls are genius! ReplyCancel

  • Ela Finch1.16.22 - 8:32 PM

    Hi!  I love this!  I noticed that the top of your cabinet doesn’t have the same overhang with the Oak.  What is the width of the cabinet without the overhang?ReplyCancel

  • Nadia4.4.22 - 11:10 AM

    What a great idea to change the top of the cabinet – makes it look so sleek! How long is the top without the overhang? I just realized that this cabinet might actually fit in my space without the overhang. Thank you and great work!ReplyCancel

    • Scott4.5.22 - 10:13 AM

      Thanks! The top is about 11 1/8″ x 32 3/4″. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Holscher12.18.22 - 5:24 PM

    What is the brand and name of paint color? Also the recessed hardware is just gorgeous! I want to buy the same ones. Do you list these details somewhere else on your site? ReplyCancel

    • Scott12.19.22 - 11:46 AM

      Hi! Everything is linked in the text of the blog post. Color info here and hardware here! Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

Join us as we renovate and nurture vintage homes across Chicago + SW Michigan!

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