Mar 3, 2012

Ikea Dressers + Shelves for office/sewing room

This room probably got the most "makeover" to date.  It's a big room alright, but fugly, unkempt, and the main storage cabinetry was odd.  We were going to use this as the master bedroom, but with the lack of a real closet, we decided that it would be more suitable for an office.  And I slipped in my sewing machine in there and it slowly morphed into more of a sewing room than an office.  (hee hee).

The biggest challenge is creating a storage suitable for an office and sewing room, i.e. places to store fabrics, sewing doodads, office junk, books, patterns, magazines, and so on.  Originally we had this built-in cabinetry as storage.
original condition
We removed it because I didn't like it.  Who knows what had been in there.  Plus it made the room feel smaller.

removed the cabinetry to install a proper, normal wall
The room was immediately painted Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee, as did the rest of the house.  I don't know what I was thinking... of all the whites that BM offers... Swiss Coffee?  Really? 

Thankfully about a year later I got sick of white and went on a repainting spree.  All the rooms got repainted, one at a time, mostly gray.  The office now received a pretty, light Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray (color-matched at Home Depot - cheaper and nobody's the wiser!  Well, except you folks that read this blog).

Pardon the dust, massive-desk project in progress.
I brainstormed for a while about what to do with this wall, because it has so much potential for storage. It spans just a little short of 9-feet (107 inch, to be exact), and the depth is 18-inch to be flush with the brick fireplace-back that you can see on the right side of the picture. 

Initially there was a 5x5 Expedit where the clothes rack is, but it left too much empty space because it could not fill up the whole width of the wall.  So it got relocated.  And miscellaneous junk moved in, as evident in the picture above.

Plan B was a floor-to-ceiling DIY shelving or bookcase.  Bookcase sounds like a lot of work.  Shelving... well, I didn't really want to attach brackets permanently to the wall right now, since we're planning to have an entryway in the middle of this wall for a future remodeling project.  Plus, the stud locations don't make for symmetrical placing of the brackets, which would really bother me.

Then I stumbled onto two things almost at the same time, that pretty much became the solution to my storage challenge:

1. Three Ikea Koppang dressers span to almost 107 inches, and its width would be approximately in line with the fireplace, and the height is about counter-height.  Perfect!  They would hide the piles of fabric nicely.  Plus they're white and cheap.
2. During an unusually productive internet-browsing session, I found this DIY shelving that doesn't require wall brackets.
OMG, eureka!  I finalized my plan, went to work, and came up with this:
Dressers + shelves
Three Ikea Koppang dressers serve as storage for fabrics.  On top of them, walnut-stained and polycrylic'ed pine boards as shelves.  The bottom shelves is 2 of 1x4's and 2 of 1x6's to make 18" depth.  The two other shelves are 1x12's.  Instead of wall-brackets, I use stacked 2x4 lumber (cut unprecisely at 8 to 9 inches, sanded, glued together, primed, painted) as stand-on brackets.  Right now I'm only using 3 tiers of shelves, so the weight born by the dressers is not too bad. 

Close up
Close up, from the other side
I still need to secure the whole assembly to the studs using L-brackets, and eventually add one or two more tiers of shelves.  For now I'm very happy the wall is being filled up and used to its potential!

Nov 27, 2011

Ikea Hack: Expedit cutting table

Let's continue to feed my Expedit addiction.

Up until now, my cutting table is a basic Sullivan folding hobby table.  It's perfectly functional, with a large surface (3ft by 5ft), which is very convenient for spreading your fabric and pattern pieces for cutting.  Way better than the floor, let me tell you.

The drawback of this little table is that there is no storage under the table top.  (Space is not an issue for me, so I usually keep the table fully open all the time).  I'd rather much have a slightly smaller surface, but with plenty of storage underneath.  So that's exactly what I made!

I now have a 3ft by 4ft cutting surface, with PLENTY of storage for fabrics, patterns, and sewing paraphernalia underneath it!

Here's how I made it:

  • Five 2-inch casters, 2 of which with brakes/locks.  Furniture feet are fine for stationary option
  • 5/8" plywood, cut to 31" x 46.5" and 36" x 48" (the lumber store cut 2 of 36x48, then I just cut one into 31x46.5 at home with a circular saw)
  • Three 2x2 Expedits
  • Wood stain and/or paint and/or lacquer for finishing the plywood 
  • Screws for attaching the casters to the plywood
  • Wood joiners for attaching the Expedits to each other
  • Small L-brackets for attaching the top to the Expedits
  • Optional: Super strong glue (Liquid Nails or construction adhesive) for attaching the Expedits to the plywood
  • Optional: 5 squares of scrap plywood for additional height at the each caster (I use roughly 4" x 4")
  1. Prep the plywood first, according to instructions because the drying time can be long.   I used stain + lacquer and it took 2-3 days total with drying time.  And I only did the parts that will be visible when assembled.
  2. Assemble the Expedits according to instructions.
  3. Attach the casters to the 31x46.5 plywood.  I used 5 casters: one at each corner and one in the middle.  My plywood bows a little, but the weight of the bookcases flattens it.  (OPTIONAL:  Glue/screw/nail the plywood squares at the caster locations.  This will raise the table by the thickness of the plywood (mine is 5/8").).  Now you have the base.
  4. Place the Expedits on to the base.  Two back-to-back, and one at the end.  Try to make everything fit as nicely as possible.  Mine didn't fit perfectly square (I blame it on Ikea engineering), but close enough that it doesn't bother me.  (OPTIONAL:  Glue down the Expedits to the base so they don't shift.  I skipped this part, because I thought they were heavy enough to resist shifting and I want to be able to disassemble the unit to get it of the room.  Just in case.  Otherwise, the only way out would be through the window, and that thing is heavy.)
  5. Use wood joiners to attach the Expedits to each other.  I used 6 total although more won't hurt.
  6. Attach the top plywood to the Expedits using L-brackets.  I used 6... 3 each at the long side.
And now... please excuse me while I start using my new cutting table and stuff the cubbies with reckless abandon

Nov 20, 2011

Ikea Hack: Expedit inserts for the closet

I'm an Expedit addict. There are 10 Expedit bookcases/shelves (in various conditions) in our house, not counting the desks and inserts.  I have inadvertently turned the house into an Ikea showroom, to my husband's dismay.

The Expedit by itself isn't much to talk about.  It's smartly designed and the clean lines cater toward the minimalists and classicists (which I am both, to some extent), but the fun is when you hack them.  Oh, pardon me.  The fun is when you hack all ikea products!

I digress.

For the master closet re-do, I was in need of some shelves for shoes and folded clothes (knits and jeans and whatnot).  Expedit is perfect, expect the big-ass square cubbies don't make the most of the vertical space.  If Ikea carried half-shelf inserts, that would solve the problem.  Except that they don't.  So it sucks.

Then I stumbled into this post on Ikea Hackers that shows how to assemble this insert into two half-shelf inserts, and it no longer sucks.

I happily purchased 4 inserts to make 8 half-shelves.  What I ended up are 4 nice, well-fitting half-shelves, and 4 stupid half-shelves with a freaking gap in the middle!

D'oh!  Life sucks again.

Then I thought, why not just cover it with something so the gap is not visible, you dummy!  (Yes, a lot of my problems are solved by having conversations with myself).  I cut some cork shelf liner for the top and front, and voila!

Gaps no longer visible, and closet magically filled with clothes and shoes!  Life no longer sucks!

Nov 13, 2011

Ikea Hack: Two-toned Rast dresser

Stained with Minwax Specialty Walnut stain, two coats of Polycrylic, and knobs from
It's in the master closet which I recently re-did (more on that later)


Sep 4, 2011

Jewelry display

I just discovered Pinterest, and have become addicted to it.  It has replaced Amazon as my favorite - and much more wallet-friendly, I might add - site to browse during those restless-mind-keeps-racing-but-too-tired-to-do-anything-physical episodes that I often have.

Anyway, during a particularly intensive Pinterest-browsing period, I stumbled into these nice DIY jewelry displays made out of repurposed materials... frames, windows, wooden suitcase, what have you.  The creativity!  Lacking that, of course, I took these inspirations and copied the hell out of them.

Here are some of the jewelry displays that I like (most found on Pinterest, however I try to link directly to the primary source whenever possible):
Painted wooden suitcase with dowels and cup hooks

Cutlery tray and cup hooks
Old window frames with cup hooks (notice a pattern here?) and window screen
Frame - not my style, but pretty nonetheless - with window screen
Done by the pros
And I made this garish-looking one:
I like to make my pics very big
Ugh.  How do you like 'em yellow.  I can't believe I dared to compare mine with the pretty ones above.  But I did.  And there's nothing anybody can do about it.  Well, they can say something, but I'll probably just laugh at them.  Just like they laugh at my creation.  

I digress.

  • Frame:  From Goodwill, part of a poster artwork.  Originally in black, I lazily sanded and sloppily primed the frame.  As a consequence, it took six (SIX!) coats of yellow paint to make it acceptably yellow.  (I could still make out the black in natural light, but thankfully it will be kept in the fluorescent-basked dungeon that is my closet, so I'm not too concerned).
  • Plywood:  The thinnest plywood I could find, cut to fit the frame.
  • Cup hooks:  Cheaper than knobs.  I use 54 of them. the shortest I could find.  They're not fully screwed in, so as to not poke behind the plywood backing.
  • Paint:  For the frame - Behr Instant Delight, or as I call it, Traffic-Sign Yellow.  But yes it does bring me instant delight.  For the plywood back - Behr Dark Granite.  For the wall: Benjamin Moore Silver Fox (Yes, I'm repainting the house).

Well now please excuse me while I go shop for more jewelry!

Linking to:
The DIY Show Off

Aug 28, 2011

Dresser + Table top = Kitchen island


I was extremely bored, so in a whim I made this kitchen island out of an old dresser.  Ha!  Just kidding.  This project took me a couple of months from idea inception to actual start of work (the work itself is only a couple of weekends, and that's only because of the paint-drying time).

We needed additional counter space and a place to eat in the kitchen, and I thought a kitchen island would be nice.  When we remodel the kitchen (eventually, maybe in 5-10 years time), an island is a must.  In the meantime, I didn't want to spend a lot of money for the current project.  So, I used one of my MIL's dressers that she allowed me to keep/sell/makeover.  This dresser I actually used for clothes before we moved to the new house, but since I no longer needed it and it's a 35" tall (just about counter height), it got sacrificed (though not in vain!).

Here is it before:
I had already started applying the paint stripper on the top of the dresser, before I realized that I didn't have any "before" picture.  Oops!

After priming:

Because the dresser was stripped down to the raw wood, I used tinted Zinsser High Hide Cover Stain oil-based primer, which was leftover from the front-door painting project.

After painting:
The paint is Benjamin Moore Metal/Wood Lacquer in Brilliant Red, also leftover from the front-door painting project. The dresser top I left unpainted, because the counter top was going to cover it anyway. 

Now, for installing the counter top, I marked and drilled a few (10) pilot holes on the dresser top for screwing the top:
You might make out the barely visible X pencil marks, which indicate the pilot hole locations.
The counter top is Ikea Vika Byske, which was the perfect size for the dresser with some 10" extension on three sides for bar stools (the dresser is 40"W x 20"D x 35"H).  At 1", it's not as thick as normal counter top, but it's made of solid wood and relatively cheap for $80 (solid wood counter tops of this size can run about $300-$400!)
I wasn't sure if the the bottom of the wood needed to be sealed, since it's not being exposed to anything other than fellow wood, but I sealed it anyway with Feed-N-Wax.

Then, T and I put the dresser up-side down on the bottom of the top (in this case, picture is definitely better than words), like so:
Because drilling downward is much easier than upward.  I gave T 100% credit for this idea.

For attaching, I used screws with washers:
The washers because moving the unit means grabbing it by the wood top, so I thought they would prevent the screw heads from being accidentally broken off from too much pressure.

Underside picture after attaching:
Oh, I didn't use glue at all, in case we need to detach the top for whatever reason.

And here's the finished product, gloriously sitting in the middle of the kitchen like it owns it:

And the front:

Bar stools are Ikea Franklin, purchased from craigslist for $10 (not each; for both!).  One of them has some water stain, but I'm planning to either stain or paint them later.  Those are Hawaiian papayas, my favorite fruit for the moment (I buy 8 at a time for the whole week), and the wine-bottle-lookalike is some acai berry juice that was given to me (I use it exactly as pictured: for decoration).

Cost breakdown:
- Dresser: $0
- Table top: $88 with tax + about $20 cargo van rental
- Bar stools: $10
- Primer & paint: $0
- Knobs: $18 with tax (had to buy 4 new ones because of some accident in which the paint stripper is at fault)
TOTAL: $136

Not too shabby.  Now T and I have a place to sit and watch the sink!

Linking to:
The DIY Show Off

Thirty Hand Made Days

Jul 19, 2011

Kitchen makeover, part 3: After!

Finally, after almost a year of on-and-off effort on fixing up, the kitchen is done*!

*excludes floor, countertop, backsplash, lighting, appliance replacement, dining setup, island, and everything else that basically makes up a good kitchen.  God, I'm so tired.

There are separate posts for when we started scraping everything and the hardware dilemma.  As a summary and for ease of viewing, here are the before pictures:

And the after!


Wow.  What an underwhelming reveal.  Although it does look different and considerably lighter.  It still has a long way to go, but I'm liking this kitchen a lot more. Especially knowing how much of our own sweat, tears, and blood we've put into this project. Okay, fine, I'm being overly dramatic here, but it was a lot of work and it was our first major project, so I'm very happy that it's done and with the result too!

A few notes regarding this makeover...
  • I can't stop staring at the fridge.  It is so big.  And white.  And protruding.   Kind of like my stomach nowadays, hehehe...
  • The bright light on the ceiling is unfortunately not a heavenly light shining down upon us, it's just a skylight.  
  • The little black strip above the drawers to the right of the stove is a slot for the cutting board (I'm not sure where it is), that we will probably cover up and paint.  
  • The hole next to the dishwasher will be plugged. 
  • A little GI Joe action figure at the window guards the kitchen from the kids next door.
  • The microwave is a little too big so the sliding doors cannot be used.  I use this little thrifted artwork (from Goodwill, $5!) as a semi-door to hide the toaster behind it:

Still to do for the kitchen:
  • Install lighting.
  • Add plants.
  • Organize the telephone area.
  • Makeover the dining table and chairs.
  • DIY a kitchen island.
  • Replace the stove to a white one.
  • Somehow remove or hide the black dishwasher, since we don't use it.
  • Ideally, update the countertop and backsplash.  At least regrout the tiles.
Ultimately, I'd like have hardwood floors in the kitchen, although at that point I'd probably want to demo everything and remodel with a different layout and install a french door leading to the backyard.  Maybe, in five or ten years.  For now, I rest.

Linking up to: