I have about a dozen personal sewing projects to share with you but the damn lighting and never-ending winter is not cooperating enough for me to take pictures. Until then, I thought I’d share this furniture DIY with you. It’s not sewing related but who doesn’t love a good Ikea hack?
I’ve spent a lot of time this year fussing with my apartment. I hadn’t made any changes to the decor since I moved in a few years ago, and now that I’m home pretty much 24/7, all of my junky thrift store furniture was starting to drive me crazy. One big change I made was in my living room. I rearranged all the furniture and got totally fixated on building a credenza (or fauxdenza, as the design blogs like to call them). I wanted something clean and minimal to hide my stereo and Nintendo, but unfortunately a mid-century teak beauty was not exactly in the budget. Enter Ikea & Home Depot.
As a side note, I found it super challenging to take pretty interior photos in a dark room. I have a newfound appreciation for interior design bloggers (speaking of, if you love interior design you should totally check out Emily Henderson. She has idiosyncratically awesome taste and is one of the funniest writers out there).
After consulting instagram, I decided on something long and low-slung. Classic white cabinets topped with a slab of wood and hairpin legs is a simple, elegant solution for what to do with all my electronic clutter. Best of all, it’s easy to assemble and shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars. My fauxdenza is 6′ long, but if you want something shorter you could just use one 48″ long cabinet.
- 1 x long Besta cabinet with door (48″ x 15 3/4″ x 15″)
- 1 x short Besta cabinet with door (24″ x 15 3/4″ x 15″)
- 1 pine panel board (3/4″ x 16″ x 6′)
- 4 x 10″ high hairpin legs
- Small can of Minwax walnut stain
- Tung oil
- Rags to apply stain
- Applicator for tung oil
- Scrap of plywood
- 1″ and 1 1/4″ screws and anchors
- Drill with attachment for making holes
- Screw driver
- Pencil and ruler
- 180 grit sandpaper
- Palm sander (optional)
First up, assemble the Besta cabinets but don’t install the doors just yet. Before we stick everything together, you’ll want to figure out where your various equipment will go, and then drill holes in the back of the cabinet big enough to feed the plugs through. You won’t see these holes in the end so I didn’t worry about making them look spectacular.
The Besta cabinets have holes along the insides for the shelf brackets and hinges. Once your units are assembled, stack them on top of each other so they line up evenly and attach them together with 4-6 screws through the pre-drilled holes. Just make sure you’re not screwing them in the holes you’ll need for your hinges!
You also need to strengthen base of this unit since a few screws along the side is not sturdy enough to support all that weight. I used a scrap piece of plywood and screwed it into the bottom. I should have applied wood glue or construction adhesive here to make sure it was really secure but I wanted to be able to disassemble this if necessary so I skipped that step. Set the plywood back a little so you won’t see it from the front.
The Besta units come with flat feet which you can certainly use, but I wanted my unit to be a little higher and lighter. I love hairpin legs and wanted that mid-century vibe, so I ordered some from a supplier on Etsy who makes them by hand (he is also from my hometown which pretty much sealed the deal). The biggest problem with using an Ikea cabinet is that the base is essentially hollow; a thin masonite board is glued to cardboard filler. If I could go back in time, I would have glued a long piece of plywood to the entire bottom and then screwed the legs into that, but I settled for the next best thing: anchors.
Using a ruler and a pencil, I drew in the location of the leg bases, marked the holes, and then drilled holes through the base big enough to accommodate my anchors. They were a little too long to go all the way in, so I trimmed off the ends with an exacto knife. Once all the anchors were in, I screwed in the legs. This is not the most secure method since the base is hollow, but as long as I lift it when it needs to be moved rather than sliding it around on the floor, I think it’s sufficient for my purposes.
Once the legs are attached, you can flip the unit right side up and attach the doors. If the doors are uneven, there is a screw inside the hinge assembly that lets you adjust the angle. It takes a little careful fiddling to find the right settings so all the doors are more or less even.
You can make a fauxdenza without a top, but I wanted something in walnut stained wood to cut down on the Ikea factor. If you have the budget, you can use solid hardwood but I was not feeling that fancy so I just used a pine panel from Home Depot. It came in almost the precise size I needed, although it was probably 1/2″ too narrow once the doors were on. Oh well. After I had the units assembled and knew the final length, I had the guys at Home Depot trim the board exactly.
I gave it a quick sand with 180 grit paper and stained it twice. Pine does not suck up stain equally so the co lour is not super even, but for $30 I’m not complaining. After letting the stain dry overnight, I applied a couple of coats of tung oil. This is great stuff. It protects and moisturizes the wood, and gets a little glossier with each application.
Again, because I wasn’t sure if this unit would need to be disassembled at some point, I didn’t secure the wood top down, though this could easily be done with a few screws or some construction adhesive. I find that the weight of the TV is enough to keep it secure.
I hate looking at wires so I wall-mounted a power bar behind the unit and made sure the lengths of cables were all concealed behind or within the credenza.
I’m so happy with this piece. I have a lot of old, weird stuff in a weird, old apartment and I feel like it gives my home a slightly more modern, less girly edge. Like my cutting table DIY, this is something you can make over the weekend without a bunch of woodworking equipment.
Anyone else experimented with Ikea hacking?