Sunday, June 29, 2014

A DIY Ikea Upgrade


When I moved into my apartment 14 months ago, my parents gave me some second-hand furniture from the depths of their house.  We raided the attic and pillaged the basement to find pieces that they weren't using to tide me over until I could afford things of my own; I assumed it wouldn't take long before I returned or donated everything I'd been given.

Then reality hit and I realized I had to make peace with stretching the definition of "temporary" when it comes to furnishing my apartment.  Any acquisitions I've made since April 2013 have been thanks to Craigslist, curb finds, and yard sales (like the console and side table I picked up from my parents' neighbor for $30) and I've been coming up with creative ways to make cheap and/or old pieces feel like they have a real place in the apartment.

Amongst the hand-me-downs my parents generously passed on to me were a pair of Ikea nightstands from the 80s.  One is a cupboard and the other has four drawers, and they both featured bright red plastic handles.  They are totally functional, but 30 year old white laminate looks yucky even when clean and the handles were absolutely not my style so, when I realized that I wouldn't  be replacing the nightstands for quite some time, I started thinking about making them into my next project.

Over a couple of spring weekends, I took the nightstands out to the courtyard, placing them on sheets of plastic on the grass in the sun.  I unscrewed the handles and filled in the holes with spackle.  (The holes were 6" apart, and I couldn't find handles of the same width that I liked so I knew I'd need to drill new holes for smaller handles.)  As recommended by every Ikea hack/DIY website, I started by sanding the laminate.  I then used Zinsser BIN primer to spray paint the nightstands white, using a foam brush to smooth out any drips.  Once the nightstands were dry, I put them back on either side of the bed, covered them with plastic sheeting to make sure the new paint didn't get damaged, and started plotting out the next steps.

I really wanted to stencil something pretty on the front of the nightstands.  Jon has a different aesthetic than I do so I knew I couldn't pick a design that was too floral or feminine; I emailed him a few options - this one and this one were my favorites - but he really wasn't a fan of anything he saw.  In the end, I just stuck frog tape to the front of each nightstand to create borders and then used metallic gray acryllic craft paint, leftover from the wedding signs I made last summer, to fill in the rectangles and squares.

When I texted him photos of the finished nightstands, Jon loved how angular the borders were.  I, on the other hand, thought it looked a bit too harsh.  So, on my next trip to JoAnn, I picked up a packet of Martha Stewart stencils and a little bottle of white pearl acrylic paint and went to town on my nightstand.  The finished product looks fab and it clearly partners the nightstand on Jon's side of the bed even though it has a more gentle feel.

Because of that, I got two different types of handles for our nightstands: a white one with rounded feet from Home Depot for the cabinet door on mine and four gray metal ones with all right angles from Ikea for the drawers on Jon's.  They do look like they belong together even though they're not identical and, although the borders and stencils aren't perfect, I'm so proud of my work!




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21 comments:

  1. Very nice work! :) We are having to furnish a new place, having previously lived only in furnished flats in London, and it is so expensive, and nothing is ever quite what you want. I wish I had the patience and dedication to (a) DIY and (b) hunt through yard sales and Gumtree.

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  2. We also have hand me down bedroom furniture which was great three years ago but I am so ready for something new! You did a great job and I love how they coordinate but are not identical.

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  3. I actually love browsing yard sales without a real agenda - they're usually small enough that it's not overwhelming - but I MUST have a specific thing in mind if I search online! it's too daunting if you're just scrolling through millions of listings. it helps to put it specific search terms!

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  4. thank you! they're still not quite right for the space, size-wize, but they make me happier now :)

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  5. Those are super-cute, and a clever Ikea hack. I had similar wonders about a (recently purchased, in fact) Ikea wardrobe and discovered you can actually now get decal kits and inlays to hack Ikea products, which is cool; and it also tells you just how many of us are editing Ikea's products once we get them home!

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  6. yay thanks! I had SO much fun looking through all of the pre-made decals and inlays but since this nightstand isn't made anymore I would have had to do math and measurements and I was too lazy for all of that :P

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  7. You are so talented! Want to swing by our place and freshen up our boring laminate/particle board bookcases? ;)

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  8. Not to hijack this thread- but sign up to trashnothing/freecycle in London. I've gotten some lovely free furniture that way! x

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  9. Nice work! I think you might appreciate this Apartment Therapy post from yesterday. :)

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/when-its-the-pieces-with-a-history-that-make-your-house-a-home-comment-of-the-day-205321?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+apartmenttherapy%2Fmain+%28AT+Channel%3A+Main%29

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  10. I love how you made them look like they're partnered but not matchy-matchy! The little floral details are absolutely perfect.


    We're going through the same thing picking out vanities, tiles, and fixtures for the bathroom upstairs. We want them to go together, but we don't want to have exactly the same thing in the his and hers sides {it's a weird set-up - a half-bath connected to a full bath - so we turned it into his and hers}. That also frees us up from having to track down or buy a set - we can trust in Craig's List or canvas the salvage stores we like.

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  11. I had the same realization when it came to "temporary" finds. Looking around my room today, almost everything is a hand-me-down or a free find, with the exception of one $110 nightstand (a very not-me purchase that I somehow made and love!) You did a wonderful job keeping these simple but attractive and unique to you. I've got a very optimistic list of DIY projects I hope to do to give my home a bit more personal style and this success is a great inspiration.

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  12. I'm so proud OF you! They look great. Mad props to you. Now when can you come over and help me out with my apartment furniture?

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  13. haha only if you do the sanding first - that was the annoying bit!

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  14. that means SO much coming from you! thank you :)

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  15. why thank you! how's... next weekend? hehe :)

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  16. I feel like all DIY has to be optimistic. what's the point otherwise, you know? can't wait to see what you choose to do!

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  17. oh I love this - thank you for sharing! I so often find myself apologizing for my Ikea but, in all honesty, my 5x5 Expedit and my bar cabinet (each $40 from CL) are the most productive pieces I have in my whole apartment.

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