Ikea is cheap, fashionable, and fun, but it isn’t terribly reliable furniture, especially its cheaper fare. And sometimes it makes you feel a wee bit like a lemming to see your home’s exact same rug/lamp/pillows/etc. allover. My current rug, for example, also lays on two other friends’ floors and in one’s apartment complex lobby. While thankfully most of the Ikea I’d collected throughout my twenties has been retired (though I still have an immense affinity for their cheap rugs and lamps), a few bits of Ikea swag that I’ve hung on to I’ve modified out of necessity, to refurbish rather than trash an item, or to upgrade style-wise. I do love mega makeovers, like earlier this fall when I spray-painted a pair of second-hand Ikea wicker chairs I got for a huge bargain on Craigslist and outfitted them with coordinating cushions. But that was a chance bargain, ordinarily those chairs aren’t nearly as dirt cheap as I scored them for, and though it was only small investment, under $20, I didn’t have the primer-included glossy midnight spray paint on hand.
Speaking of cushions, one of my hacks gone awry– I had the right idea with the wrong execution– was to fill in some of the design [pattern featured to the left of Zooey and JoGo, pictured above in 500 Days of Summer] on my black and white Ikea couch pillows, adorning the circles with a pop of orange art markers. But the marker ran and glowed yellow outside of the lines when I tried to treat the area I’d adapted with waterproofing spray to set it. Oops.
But two great ones I’ve pulled off are my modified coffee table-tray and my chevron lamp. They’re stupidly easy, earn me a ton of compliments, and were both ways to salvage busted bits of Ikea instead of sacrificing them to the dumpster gods.
For the coffee table, I happened to have an ordinary, long, black fabric ottoman (which is in itself a salvage from the curb, but that’s a story for another time). I love having a way to stretch out our legs when we’re lounging on the couch but it does suck having no surface to set drinks and things on directly in front of us and it drove my boyfriend nuts. In a furniture moving frenzy one day, I remembered that I’d socked away the top of a Lack Side Table from Ikea [which retails for$9.99] after the flimsy legs had finally snapped off. Setting the square table top on the soft ottoman makes an instant makeshift tray that’s durable and heavy enough to set beverages and snacks on without tipping it. That’s it. It’s just a really good, cheap, tray and it’s way sturdier without those crappy screw-in legs. [pictured left, adorned with a jaunty felt pumpkin for fall]
The Ikea Grono Table Lamp no longer seems to be offered at the store, but they’re relatively easy to come by and lots of us have one (or a few) to spare. Ask around your group of friends if you don’t have a frosted Grono lamp yourself. Again, once you see the actual modification, it’s obviously so simple. I inherited this Grono lamp which promptly split in two from a hidden crack. I used Gorilla Glue to seal the crack and wrapped a rubber band around it while it dried, but the crack was still evident. I had Scotch tape to map out a simple chevron freehand, and painted the lamp with acrylic craft paint I had in my art supply drawer. For added effect since it was fall, I added a green neon light bulb to cast an eerie Halloween , but for day-to-day a yellow bulb will give a nice, warm hue.
What are your favorite Ikea hacks? — Casandra Armour