‘Swig’ Mini Bar from CB2 ($399) vs. BESTÅ Cabinet from IKEA ($120)

I’ve pined after CB2‘s gorgeous white ‘Swig’ mini bar for at least three years. The stunning minimalist design combined with the functionality of much-needed storage space made it a real winner. Unfortunately for me, this dreamy piece of furniture is priced at nearly $400.

The size and color of the ‘Swig’ mini bar fit perfectly with our decor and would help fill an awkward empty space between the living and dining rooms that I’ve always wanted to fill with a small bar unit. I was so smitten that at first I felt like we could just save up to buy the mini bar, regardless of the significant expense (especially in relation to our other furniture costs).


White ‘Swig’ Mini Bar. Photo: CB2.

Ultimately, after realizing I could use the mini bar funds to help pay for our guest room (AKA what we laughably call “the cat room,” which needs a lot of furniture), I decided I needed to find an alternative.

At first I settled on transforming IKEA‘s KALLAX shelving unit (or EXPEDIT, depending on the model you have) into a bar console by turning it sideways and adding the 4 3/8″ CAPITA legs, just like blogger Alaina Kaczmarzki of Live Creating Yourself. The only materials you need to buy for this project are the bookshelf ($65) and the legs ($12), as long as you already have a hand drill (you can also find an affordable, functional FIXA drill at IKEA for only $50).


KALLAX shelving unit turned bar console. Photo: Live Creating Yourself

As much as I loved this hack (which I absolutely do), it was too large, looked a bit too reminiscent of the original KALLAX form and it felt too obvious where the piece was from (who doesn’t have one of those bookcases?).

After hours of searching IKEA and DIY boards for a potential pieces to use or modify, I stumbled upon the BESTÅ storage combination with doors and drawers in Tofta high gloss white from IKEA. The piece was too large ― and a bit pricey at $250 ― for what I needed, but it gave me an idea (and has me wanting to save up for one for our dining room.)

BESTÅ Storage combination w doors/drawers IKEA
BESTÅ storage combination with doors and drawers in Tofta high-gloss white. Photo: IKEA.

After a bit more research, I realized that by combining IKEA’s BESTÅ shelf unit with door in high gloss white (23 5/8″ x 15 3/4″ x 25 1/4″) and the BESTÅ underframe (23 5/8″ x 15 3/4″ x 3 7/8″) you can create a mini bar unit that is 23 5/8″ wide, 15 3/4″ deep and 29 1/8″ high. IKEA doesn’t market this specific combination so you simply have to buy the separate pieces for yourself.

WHAT YOU NEED

― BESTÅ shelf unit with door in Tofta high-gloss white from IKEA ($85)
BESTÅ underframe from IKEA ($35)

STEP 1

Given that the piece is from IKEA, the instructions are extremely clear. Use these instructions for attaching the underframe to the base of the cabinet first.

STEP 2

Use these instructions for building the cabinet and these for attaching the door. It only took me around 30 minutes to build the entire piece.

I did have a bit of trouble making the top of the door flush with the top of the shelf once attached, but found that if you adjust the front screw on the top door-attaching piece (No. 117878) you can easily make the door even with the top surface.

STEP 3

To include wine storage ― as in the Swig Mini Bar ― simply use the HUTTEN 9-bottle wine rack ($9.99). You can easily use spray paint to color them white and they will fit perfectly as long as your shelf is placed at least 14 inches from the top or bottom. (I did not choose to add the wine rack to mine.)

 photo IMG_6961_zps2cf48fa9.jpg
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Improvised BESTÅ mini bar cabinet. Photos: Amateur at Work

Although it was a bit narrower than I ideally wanted, I really couldn’t believe that the shelf unit and underframe only cost a total of $120.

If you’ve never built an IKEA piece before and are turned off by the idea of building your own furniture, just realize that the directions are very easy to understand and the value gained by building it yourself is truly incredible (both in terms of financial value and personal value ― I absolutely love the feeling I have after building something like this).

In comparison to the ‘Swig’ mini bar (which is reportedly hard to construct), I was paying 60% less and saving $280 for a piece of furniture that looked nice and performed the same function. (The extra money is going towards this incredibly designed BRIMNES daybed for use in our second bedroom).

I absolutely love our new bar cabinet and can’t believe it isn’t an official combination. Although it isn’t the most typical DIY project (more like FIOFY ― “figure-it-out-for-yourself”) and it doesn’t hold a ton of stuff, if you’re low on space but want a cute little bar and some extra storage space, an improvised BESTÅ cabinet from IKEA is an amazing option, especially for only $120.

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