This IKEA Shoe Rack Is the Secret to My Living Room Transformation

published Jun 28, 2024
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Over the last three years, I’ve been slowly redesigning my home with my husband. Our living room was one of the first rooms we decided to tackle and somehow one of the hardest to decorate — four walls, 190 square feet, but inexplicably complicated for me to wrap my head around. With three large windows on the wall facing the sofa, we ultimately opted for a TV-less room to make the space feel joyful, inspiring, and cozy, like when you walk into your favorite bookstore that you never want to leave.

After picking a color palette, choosing the major furniture pieces, and thrifting a beautiful vintage painting, there was still one lingering problem: the big blank wall to the left of the sofa. I’m always quick to come up with solutions for others when they’re stumped in their space but in my own home? That’s a whole other story. Luckily, I remembered my friend Cristina Cleveland, a fellow interior designer, has a foolproof solution for maximizing large empty wall space: floor-to-ceiling shelving using IKEA’s ELVARLI shoe rack.

Credit: Daniela Araya

“They’re perfect for anyone who’s working on developing their personal style because you can restyle them over and over as your style evolves — without making more permanent changes like holes or paint on the walls,” says Cleveland of the ELVARLI. She credits this IKEA hack to her friend Hanah, a graphic designer originally looking to display her collection of typeface and design books. 

I wanted to achieve that lived-in bookstore/museum gift shop look in my home without spending thousands of dollars on the shelves themselves. (I’d rather save my money for bookshelf wealth treasures.) So I used IKEA’s ELVARLI planner to customize my configuration, and, between measurements and layout, it took me less than 20 minutes to decide on the whole thing. You can choose whether you want angled or flat shelves, and fine-tune their placement for a totally bespoke piece, but IKEA also sells ready-made ELVARLI systems in standard sizes/configurations. 

In terms of the installation process, on a scale of 1 to rip-my-hair-out-level-10 frustration, I’d rate this a 4 for mild headache. You do need another person to help you align the side posts, but once you figure out the spacing and where those go, adding the shelves and racks is fairly simple. The whole process took about three hours. 

A few other things really stood out to me about the ELVARLI setup: For one, you don’t need to make any holes in your walls like you would with normal shelves. The posts screw into the ceiling for extra support. I also adored the ELVARLI’s versatility. It moonlights as a room divider, bookshelf, wardrobe, you name it! My friend even used hers to carve out a dining room in her open-concept layout.

Credit: Daniela Araya

As for me, I couldn’t be any happier with the transformation. I had been racking (no pun intended!) my brain to find potential solutions, and nothing came close to this price point. For under $500, I was able to transform my blank living room wall from bland to beautiful with a customized shelving module. 

The white ELVARLI system also provided me with the blank canvas I needed to add my favorite books and tchotchkes, and I can’t wait to keep playing around with the styling. Plus, as someone whose home has lower ceilings, the floor-to-ceiling look really does help make the space feel more grand.

If you had told me that my new favorite living room investment would be a set of IKEA shoe racks, I would have laughed, but don’t knock it until you try it!

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: This IKEA Shoe Rack Is the Secret to My Living Room Transformation