Guess what's even more fun than going shopping at home furnishing stores like IKEA? Why, hacking the flat pack furniture finds you bring home, of course. Make them over to suit your family's individual needs and style ... and have a lot of crafty fun with them along the way as well. Especially if you score big in the "as-is" section, the cost is so affordable that you can feel free to let your creativity flow. Follow our simple how to's below to make the most of your IKEA hacks.
Plan Your Shopping Trip
Start out by inventorying your home. See what furnishings you need. See what you have, as well, in terms of odds and ends of leftover paint, and assorted accessories like cabinet hardware. Measure the space you have available if you're thinking of purchasing a large piece of furniture like a dining table.
Look at IKEA's online catalogs for inspiration. Save the details of particularly promising hackables. Consult home improvement sites like Hometalk, too, to get a feeling for some spectacularly successful hacks.
If you can, schedule your trip to the brick-and-mortar store for the middle of the week rather than a hectic Saturday or Sunday. That way you'll feel less crowded and rushed.
Plan to make your first in-store stop IKEA's famous as-is section -- usually located next to the warehouse area -- for fantastic finds (but try not to be sidetracked into buying something that is not even remotely on your list). Remember that the company's return policy usually does not cover these discounted items.
Once you're back home again, double-check the contents of your flat pack boxes against the enclosed instruction booklets. Do you have all the screws, pegs, or whatnots you need for each project? If anything is missing, better find out right now rather than after you invest hours struggling to put it together.
Before getting down to work on your planned hack, fully assemble the piece according to the instructions. This will give you a clearer picture of what you have to work with. The mechanically challenged might want to hire a handyman for the actual assembly.
Start small if you are new to DIY. Applying a coat of paint and upgrading the hardware on an end table or chest of drawers is enough to dramatically change its appearance and make it more "yours. "
Try These Inspiring Ideas
When you feel confident enough to go bolder with IKEA hacks, there are all kinds of fun ways to embellish your furniture instead of, or in addition to, simply painting it. Try a sizzling stencil design, add oversized stickers or baseboard trim ... or cover it with bright fabric, rustic wood, or gleaming metal craft squares. Pieces made of real wood can be treated with cider vinegar in which steel wool has been dissolved; this gives an aged patina. (Test it on an inconspicuous spot first.)
Then you can move on and go even bolder. Why not remove a drawer or two to create today's stylish open shelving effect or cut down the legs of a coffee table to get just the right height for your room?
Larger IKEA items such as their popular Billy bookcase lend themselves naturally to creating the look of custom built-ins. These are attractive and oh so practical in almost any room, from formal salon to mudroom.
The ultimate in IKEA hack-dom comes when you can think past the pieces' intended use and create the furnishings you want. For instance, a small Lack side table could become a pretty and practical ottoman. Or transform a cabinet into a delightful craft center (which can be hidden away behind doors when not in use).
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.