Using (& Hacking) IKEA For Your DIY Video Studio

When I first started building my own studio, I could hardly afford a few tin heat lamps to light my closet, let alone buy some furniture. Still, as time went on, and I had a little bit of extra cash, I found IKEA to be a treasure trove of lighting, furniture, and decor for my DIY home video studio.

If you haven’t been to IKEA, the place is a maze of perfectly designed interior rooms full of their modern and affordably priced furniture. It’s a bit of a journey you have to take through the store to get out, but it’s a fun one. After fudging it for the first few videos I made for my vlog, I was glad that I was able to find a few items for under $150 to take my studio to the next level.

Below are a few ideas of how to put IKEA furniture and other items to use for your DIY video studio:

Note: This post is not endorsed or sponsored by IKEA, nor do any of the links give me a commission. I’m simply attempting to share my thoughts and experiences on how to use IKEA’s goods to improve your DIY video studio.

Hacking IKEA Lights for Studio Lights

Lighting is by far the most important function of a studio and IKEA’s home and office lighting options are vast. So, while none of IKEA’s lights are designed for video production, many of them can work as DIY video studio lights just fine.

Below are a few options to get some ideas flowing, though there really is no limit to how you can mix and match these lights to suit your needs.

Ceiling Lights

Ceiling lights range from tracking lighting, pendants, lamps, and spotlights. All of which can be used to light your studio. Let’s see how each one can be used for your studio.

  • Track Lighting: Track Lighting can work great for your studio by providing you with multiple lights that you can point to fill in dark areas or highlight more important elements of your subjects or backdrop.
  • Pendants Lights: These lights can be used to bring a general light source from overhead. IKEA has a massive array of fancy styles for pendants lights to choose from making them the best option for decor (which we will get to later on in this post). Make sure you can choose a pendant light that makes it easy to wrap gels or a cheap Walmart shower cap around to better diffuse the lighting.
  • Spot Lights: These work like the track lights, but typically offer only one larger light that you can direct where you please. Depending on the rest of your lights, you will need to choose whether you want one large lights or an array of smaller lights to direct.

Floor Lamps

Again, there are so many options for floor lights from IKEA, some will work better for your video studio than others.

For floor lamps, you will want to select one with multiple cans that can pivot where you need the light to go. Currently, the Hektar Floor Lamp is the best model IKEA carries. The lamp even looks like it belongs in a video studio. You will want to stay away from torch lights since they can only direct light in one direction.

Desk Lamps

Desk Lamps are similar to floor lamps but shorter for your desk. These lights are great to place on existing furniture around your studio and cost less than a floor lamp. Again, choose one that is flexible in where you can direct the light and has some kind of enclosure so you can modify the light if you want to later. Choose a desk lamp over a floor lamp if you have enough surface space to place these lights on if you want to maximize your budget.

Light Bulbs

IKEA also carries a wide array of light bulbs, which are critical for your studio. They actually have some of the best prices on bright bulbs that are 1600 lumens (lumens are the measure of brightness). Nearly all of their bulbs are LEDs as well, so they won’t run hot, making them safe to put inexpensive gels and diffusers on later.

Using IKEA Lights With Gels & Diffusers

So, I mentioned gels and diffusers multiple times and here is what they are. Gels are opaque plastic sheets of color you can cover your lights with to add color to your subject or backdrop. While the photo of me below was shot in a professional studio (and is overly dramatic), you can see the red and blue gels in action.

While gels are optional, you will absolutely want to use a diffuser of some kind. There are many ways to do this, but I found using cheap white shower caps from Walmart are an easy win. The point of a diffuser is to spread the light out more evenly so that it is “softer” and doesn’t create harsh shadows. You can see an example of this in my home studio below.

Wrapping a cheap shower cap over a light is a great way to soften any DIY lights.

Regardless of which lighting categories you choose, I would recommend selecting one with some kind of metal lamp that surrounds the bulb. That will make it easy to modify the light by fastening gels or diffusers to them.

IKEA Studio Furniture

Unless you want to stand for every video in a blank room or shoot against an empty black/white background, you are likely going to need furniture of some kind. I started off just using some of the leftover furniture in my apartment for my vlog and just recently upgraded with two pieces from IKEA.

Desks and Tables

For future vlogs and educational videos, I wanted to be able to cut to a screen recording while recording myself with a camera. This made it necessary for either a desk or a table. For a studio, tables or simple desks work just fine for this and IKEA has a large variety for both.

I ended up using a simple white $24 table that you can see in the photo below. Since I frame the photos and videos so that you don’t see what is underneath, picking a lower cost table didn’t matter much. The unexpected benefit I found with a white table (wood was my other consideration) was that it acts as a reflector and bounces more light up into my eyes. It’s best to avoid having shadows in your eyes so that look devious, so the white was a bonus.

A white table can double as a reflect to bounce more light into your eyes.

Chairs

Unless you picked a standing desk, the next item on your shopping list will be the chair. It’s an item that will rarely be noticed in your videos but will stand out if it doesn’t match the overall decor. Can you remember any of the chairs you’ve seen on YouTube? Luckily, IKEA’s style is simple and clean, so you can pick a suitable office chair and move on.

I choose to go with a small adjustable stool so that the chair was out of the shot altogether (I bet you didn’t even notice the missing chair in the photo above). Oddly, the Nilserik stool was the most expensive item I purchased from IKEA at $60. It is comfortable though and stays out of the way, which is important for the tiny space I have to shoot in.

You can also take a fancy chair and make it part of the set in a more dramatic way like in the photo below. That way you create a more intimate look without a desk or table in front of you.

This Strandmon wingback chair can provide the perfect setting for your videos all by itself.

Couches

A couch is also a common choice for videos and, like the chair example mentioned above, make for a more personal and intimate look. It gives the feeling that you are in somebodies living room and are hanging out more than having a meeting at a desk.

All of Philip Defranco’s shows are shot in a living room (gaming room?) style with a couch in the background.

All of IKEA’s couches are minimalistic which make them easy to dress up however you would like later. They also come in a variety of sizes to fit the size of the room you are shooting in.

Coffee Tables

If you do choose a couch or a fancy chair, you may want to consider adding a coffee table or side table to the setup. It would allow you to add props, objects, or a laptop to your videos without having to put them on the floor or out of frame. Here again, IKEA offers small minimalistic choices that won’t distract from your main subjects or products you are demonstrating.

IKEA Backdrops & Decor

Every video needs a backdrop and it helps if it’s not simply solid black or white. If you skipped everything else, this is where you should consider finding some modern decor to dress up your studio space from IKEA.

Since IKEA sells office and home furnishings, you should be able to find the look you need whether it is homey or more corporate. Here are some decor ideas to consider for your studio.

Curtains

IKEA Curtains can have multiple uses in your video:

  • Dress up windows (the obvious one)
  • Control window lighting (whether the window is in the shot or not)
  • Dress up a boring wall
  • Completely cover a wall as a backdrop itself
  • Create the appearance of a wall (if you want to block out what is behind your set)

Also, consider how you can use curtains to add color or contrast in your background that makes the backdrop more attractive.

Book Shelves

Bookshelves are a popular choice for video backdrops because they give you so many options. You can fill them full of books if you want to appear more studious, or you can use them as a way to display interesting objects or a combination of both.

Youtuber Amy Landino uses a white bookshelf as her backdrop with carefully arranged books and other items.

As a bonus, busy bookshelves also do a great job of diffusing sound in case the acoustics in your studio aren’t the best.

Art & Decorations

IKEA has most of the typical wall art you and decor you could think of. Most of the art is popular and a bit cliche, but that might work well for your background. It really depends on the focus of your content.

All of the artwork are prints, but they are prints of drastically different mediums like:

  • Photography
  • Paintings
  • Found objects
  • Illustrations
  • Maps
  • Typography
  • Patterns
  • And woodblock prints

Each category of which can range drastically, so there are certainly options. Think about how a piece of art might subtly reflect the theme, mood, or type of content you are discussing in your videos. Little touches like art and decor can go a long way in making your videos stand out.

Decorative Lights

The lighting section is one of my favorite parts of the IKEA store. Not only are lights useful but they are also perfect for you video backdrop. You can see in the photos below that I used to inexpensive hanging pendant lights to add some visual interest to the black wall I use for my background. While the black background would be ok, the lights go a long way to add a little more variety.

You can go with simple lighting solutions (even just lightbulbs) or more extravagant ones by bringing in a decorative torch light next to your armchair.

IKEA for Sound Dampening

Lastly, you can use a few things from IKEA to help with the acoustics in your studio. After lighting, having good sound is important to make your videos more professional.

What is sound dampening and how is it different from soundproofing? To dampen sound is to absorb sound so that it does not reflect back to your ears or microphone off of hard surfaces in such a way as to create unnatural sounding frequencies and wavelengths. You often hear noises like this in empty rooms and parking garages. Soundproofing, on the other hand, is to stop sound from entering or leaving a space altogether.

With that in mind, here are a few items you can pick up to dampen the noise in your studio.

Rugs

If you have cement, tile, wood, or some other hard floor surface a large area rug can help reduce some of the reverb or echo you are hearing in a room. Hard floor surfaces look great, but they often amplify the echo you hear in the room. Ikea offers a variety of huge rugs that can absorb some of that sound and provide cleaner audio for your videos.

Just remember, the thicker the rug, the better since it will absorb more sound.

Desk Screens

IKEA sells desk screens that are padded and can absorb sound. Now, this would be better for podcasting or voice overs since you will likely not be facing a desk with a wall while recording, but it’s worth mentioning here anyway.

It may be something you want to consider if you need to improve the sound where you edit your videos as well.

Hacking IKEA Furniture To Build Custom Sound Panels

Over time multiple people have hacked IKEA furniture to build their own sound dampening devices. Some use whole bookshelves while others have used smaller picture frames. In most cases, people have been creative in purchasing special materials for sound dampening and using IKEA’s frames and general aesthetics to make nice looking pieces.

Here are a few examples of what I have found on YouTube:

Related Topics

Can I use items from Walmart to create my DIY video studio? Absolutely! The same principles mentioned in this post apply to Walmart, Target, or any general store that sells similar products. A lot of people like to use IKEA because of the price and wide array of modern designs, but you can hack any light set right? I even put together a great guide on how I used common Walmart items to make my own studio lights.

Will I void my IKEA warranty if I manipulate their products? Most likely. If you are modifying how it works and not just using the item in an unconventional way (like in the two videos above), you will likely void your warranty with IKEA.

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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