Ikea has made having a stylish home simple, easy, and most importantly, affordable. The problem is, unfortunately everyone ends up owning the same stuff.
I've just moved house and had a load of old Ikea furniture on my hands, so I decided to try out some popular hacks I found online, hoping to transform it from cheap and generic, to cheap and chic.
Even though my dad was a builder for over 20 years, it's safe to say I have learned absolutely nothing from him.
The closest I've come to DIY is changing my shoelaces, and the closest I've come to hacking is using a shoe to open a bottle of wine. Basically, I'm good with shoes.
Naturally, then, I was nervous to try any sort of DIY hack, but when I learnt that I already owned four Ikea items that were, according to blogs, easy to hack, I decided it was worth giving a go. Would I succeed? Probably not. So on the night before, to prepare myself for a day of hard grafting and inevitable failure, I did what was necessary. I went to the pub and drank two bottles of wine.
Hack One: Dip a regular Bekväm stool and transform it into a stylish side table.
Cost: £10-15. If you've already got this stool, which has become a staple in many households, all you need is a bit of masking tape, and some paint and stain suitable for wood. (The stain is optional: If you're already happy with the colour of the wood, then all you need to do is paint the top half of the stool).
Level of difficulty: 6/10. All you have to do is tape off the sections you want stained (you don't need to stain the whole thing), apply the stain, and then once dry, tape off where the stain ends so you can paint the rest white.The whole job was actually quite relaxing; the only annoying thing was that you have to wait hours in between coats (I did one coat for the wood stain and two for the paint), so it is a bit time-consuming. This is one for a chilled Sunday when you can watch Jessica Jones while you wait for it to dry.
Was it worth it? It looked pretty bloody fantastic. I messed up the taping bit because my hands were shaking (my body expelling the poison in my body) so the dip wasn't neat, but unless you're holding the stool to your face, you won't really notice the painting imperfections. This is sure to be one of those pieces people will comment on when they come over and I literally cannot wait to tell them I did it myself. In my pants.
Learn from my hangover: Make sure you stain the wood with a conservative hand, otherwise there will be some visible clumps. Also when painting the legs, apply the coat thinly, as the paint can bleed through the masking tape (which is why I didn't have a completely clean line once I removed the tape).
Hack Two: Transform a wooden Klubbo table into an expensive-looking marble masterpiece.
Cost: £10. I already had the Klubbo nest table, so all I had to buy was the marble-effect adhesive paper. Since I'd already bought spray paint for another hack, I decided to spray the legs bronze too, but it isn't necessary for this hack.
Level of difficulty: 6/10. Spray painting the table legs was fine. Dealing with sticky, rebellious contact paper, not so much. Luckily, as my brother and his wife pointed out, you can remove the top of the table completely, and pretty much wrap it like a present. Still, fiddly AF.
Was it worth it? I have to say, even up close, this table looks legit expensive. Admittedly I had help from my sister-in-law who is incredibly precise with everything (she is an actuary) so she was able to help me stick the paper down neatly, avoiding any bubbling, and that is really the key here.
Learn from my hangover: Do not attempt to cut pieces to size and just stick it on – it will look like it was done by a 3-year-old, as my brother was quick to tell me. Instead, remove the top completely, and wrap it in the paper as tightly and neatly as possible, as if you were wrapping a Christmas present with an elf holding a gun to your head.
Hack Three: Change the legs on any Ikea sofa.
Cost: $30. My brother had already bought some legs online from Etsy, but new sofa legs, depending on style, can cost anywhere between £20 and £70.
Level of difficulty: 2/10. This was by far the quickest and easiest hack. The only effort involved is tipping the sofa to get to the legs. Otherwise, all you have to do is unscrew the current legs (using an Allen key) and screw the new ones on (using your hands and a bit of gusto). That's literally it.
Was it worth it? I didn't expect that changing sofa legs could make much of a difference but it really does. The new legs make our old Karlstad sofa look way more stylish and expensive. It takes 10 minutes, 20 quid, and a bit of arm action to save you from buying a completely new sofa. Win.
Learn from my hangover: Do not do this hungover. You will drop the sofa on your foot.
Hack Four: Nail leather pulls to a Malm dresser.
Cost: £12.50. All that was required since I had the dresser was some white leather from a fabric shop and some gold upholstery pins.
Level of difficulty: 4/10. Definitely one of the easier hacks, mainly because it doesn't involve any mess and takes less than 20 minutes in total. The only fiddly bit is all of the measuring needed to ensure that 1) the leather pulls were even and 2) that they were evenly placed on the dresser. Other than that, all that was needed to do was to fold the strips and hammer them into place with the pins.
Was it worth it? Even though the change isn't particularly massive, it really did help to make a boring, typical Malm dresser that literally half of the world must have by now into something a little bit more unique. The gold pins and leather add that touch of class, and even though it doesn't look life-changing from afar, up close it really does look ace. I know I will be smiling smugly to myself every time I pull open a drawer to grab a pair of knickers.
Learn from my hangover: Do not attempt to cut the strips of leather using a normal pair of scissors like I did at first – they will be wonky AF. If you've got fabric scissors, fine, but otherwise a utility knife (lay the leather on cardboard first) will do the job nicely.
Hack Five: Transform a Bygel utility cart into a stylish bar.
Cost: Around £40. I didn't already own the Bygel trolley, but I really, really wanted to do this hack BECAUSE IT'S A PORTABLE BAR! A BAR! Luckily the cart, at £18, isn't particularly expensive and the only other costs were the spray paint, sealer, and sander (all of which I ended up using for many other items including Hack Two).
Level of difficulty: 6/10. This was only tricky because I didn't have access to an outside space or basic common sense. Even though I taped dust sheets everywhere in the spare room (which is tiny by the way) I still had to be extra careful when spraying. This was a nightmare considering I had to spray all of the metal parts three times (two coats of bronze spray because I kept smudging and missing bits, and one coat of the sealant).
Was it worth it? This hack was messy and time-consuming and nowhere near as fun as I thought it would be BUT it's insane how just some bronze spray paint and a few fancy bits and bobs can completely transform what once looked like something that belonged in a dentist. It made all of the laborious spray painting completely worth it!
Learn from my hangover: If possible, please do any spray painting outside. Do not do it in a box room and keep the window closed and get high off the fumes, rendering you incapable of spray painting stuff properly. Also, the blog says to half-assemble the bar cart before spray painting, which I chose to ignore. Do not ignore this very sage piece of advice – it will make this a hell of a lot easier.
Surprisingly none of the hacks were impossible, or went horribly wrong. Having said that, had I been completely left to my own devices, what with being terribly hungover and all, I'm sure I would have made more mistakes, so if you can get a friend to help, do.
If I can do these hacks, someone who is clumsy AF and was probably down about 10,000 brain cells, anyone can do it and with probably even better results. Each hack looked amazing and, in the grand scheme of things, did not cost that much money or time. If you've got lots of old furniture knocking about in need of an upgrade, you can easily apply these changes, and it probably doesn't even need be from Ikea.
Just one more piece of advice: Don't go to the pub the night before.