Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IKEA Hacking

It's just been one of those weeks. Between the twitchy car air conditioner, the twitchy computer cable (which finally bit the dust on Friday), the Great Flea Wars of 2010, and the stomach bug I caught over the weekend, I'm starting to feel like it's time to take a Nyquil and call it a night.

Or, you know. Call it a few days. That Nyquil is good stuff.

Despite all of the pitfalls of my weekend, I did manage to get a few things taken care of on Friday morning, namely, finishing my IKEA hack. Or, at least, coming REALLY close to finishing.

Remember back when I started this blog? I was doing things like building furniture, rearranging my apartment, and buying wood pieces that were too big to fit into my Volkswagen. It was glorious. And, way back then, I promised I'd post pictures if I ever finished renovating?

I should have known better. I don't even let maintenance into my apartment, because I never deem it "clean" enough for them. And I'm missing a part in my dishwasher. And I have a door that won't shut. And I can't figure out how to reprogram my thermostat.

And then there's the fact that renovation for me is always an ongoing process. Honestly, I'm quite proud of what I've done with this little apartment thus far, but I'm a long way from being done. I still need to paint my kitchen, hang crown molding, and get the place re-carpeted. Raising a Labrador puppy is hell on carpet.

Anyway, this past Friday, I managed to make some headway on one of the larger projects I undertook - i.e. an IKEA hack. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, IKEA hacking is simply taking IKEA furniture and turning it into DIFFERENT furniture. In fact, it was this site http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com/ that first got me thinking about redoing my apartment. And one of the main problems I had with my apartment is that I wasn't happy with my piano stand.

See, it didn't accommodate my amp. My baby. My big, beautiful Roland amp, on casters. And that just wasn't working for me.

Since I had decided to build a new entertainment unit - one that would fit in the corner and maximize space, I found myself with two extra LACK shelving units - they had previously been my entertainment unit. I also happened to have two spare LACK end tables. Inspired by IKEA Hacker, I decided to see what I could make out of these pieces.

Here are the pieces of furniture I started with. What I needed was a stand that would be wide and tall enough to house a large amp in the middle. That way, I wouldn't lose space by having a bulky amp sitting out to the side of my keyboard. I also needed storage for all of the music books that I've accumulated over the years. Most importantly, I needed the stand to be substantial enough to hold the keyboard. After all, that was really the whole point.

First, I examined the shelving unit. I took out the middle shelf, and, using a Sawzall, carefully cut the bottom of the unit so that it was only two boxes with a long shelf across the top. (Actually Dad made those cuts for me. I'm not particularly good at Sawzall precision.) I added a few screws to the bottom, along with some wood glue, to make sure the unit remained sturdy. To cover the raw ends where I made the cuts, I bought a piece of balsa wood from Michaels. Balsa wood is thin enough to be cut by scissors, thus, it was the perfect size for filling the holes without looking out of place. A word of caution though - because Balsa wood is so thin, it splits easily. Take care when nailing it.

Once I had the main unit done, I set out to raise it to the required height. I looked at several different options for legs, until I realized that I already HAD eight, white legs - in the exact style of the cabinet. Since I didn't really need the white tables, I unscrewed the legs from them. They were a bit too long, so I measured, and cut them off with a hacksaw.

Hacksawing eight table legs is a lot of work, even when they're IKEA and not solid all the way through. I would recommend using a nice, circular table saw. Unfortunately, the apartment complex frowns upon extensive use of power tools. So, hacksawing it was.

Fourteen hours later...

Just kidding. It didn't take that long, but it felt like it did. Once I got the legs sawed off, al that was left was to drill holes into the bottom of the shelving unit, and screw the legs in. As they had come out of the table, they already had double sided screws in them.

Of course, this left me with two table tops.

I wondered whether or not they would work as art. But, do I really strike you as the kind of person to have plain, white squares on my wall as art?

With my affinity for collages?

I think not.

The hardest part was deciding what to put on the table tops. I finally decided upon post cards. During the time that we traveled across the country, as well as on my trip to Australia, I amassed a LARGE number of post cards. They've been sitting in highly organized file boxes - for all the good that was doing. I bought a couple of pieces of white poster board, collaged on top of them (postcards and some extra map pieces), and tacked them to the top of the tables. Two nails in the back of each top, with some picture hanging wire between them, and voila! I had art!

The finished result?

Exactly what I had been hoping for.

I can change up the art at-will, just by changing the poster board. I do still want to get some plexiglass to cover the pieces - collages tend to be highly affected by gravity.

I may also get some kind of decorative pieces to go on either side of the piano. Candle sticks, or something to that effect. I'm not sure yet. I do like the uncluttered look, but I tend to be a space filler.

The dining room table typically goes right in front of the piano bench - usually, I have the bench in place of the fourth chair, and end up using the fourth chair as a place to house the computer for recording and sheet music.

Ultimately, this IKEA hack was more successful than I could have hoped for. The amp can roll out for sound purposes when I really want to jam, but it's tucked neatly away during the day. The music books have a stylish place to rest, and I managed to get a perfect piece of furniture, as well as two large pieces of wall art, for less than $100.00.

Those shelving units really are versatile. I have to of them serving as a storage platform for my bed, and two of them in my closet.

And the tables? I love them. At $7.99 apiece, they're perfect for end tables, coffee tables, step stools, benches, and general hacking.

Just think. It only took me two months to get this far. Some day, I may even finish the entertainment unit enough to post pictures of it.

Not tonight, though. Tonight, I take nyquil, and sleep like ... well ... like only someone on Nyquil can sleep. See you next month. Or, you know, tomorrow.


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