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Thursday, 23 August, 2012 Ikea Hack

This is my first-ever Ikea “hack” – accomplished with only basic hand tools and a lot of trial and error.

It isn’t the most impressive or complicated project, but I’m hoping it will be useful to someone out there for brainstorming or ideas. I didn’t plan this hack out; it sort of evolved and I made a few errors of judgment that ended up costing me – mostly in the money department, but also in terms of time.


I moved about a year ago from a one-bedroom apartment to a shared house. And while I dearly love my new bedroom, it presented some substantial challenges in terms of furnishing and storage.  There is not one clear wall in the whole room – it has 3 doors and two windows and a radiator.

Once I’d figured out the placement for my bed & bookshelves (the main pieces of furniture for the room),  I still wanted: a headboard,  more storage, and a charging station. I had this ancient Billy (?) Ikea bookcase, I’d inherited from my sister a few years ago.

Here’s the famous bookcase “before” – I used it as a bedside table/dresser in my old apartment.

Even though I was satisfied with the general placement of my bed and bookshelves in my new bedroom, the spot I chose for the bed had a downside: the radiator forced a gap of about a foot between the wall and the head of the bed. I wanted a headboard or something to fill the gap and to lean against while reading etc, in bed.  Also, I had an overflow of books and some other homeless items that I wanted to store. Initially, I solved both problems by elevating my old Ikea bookcase and putting it behind my bed. I bought Vika Amon legs for the purpose, but couldn’t screw them into the particle board underside of the shelf without a drill, so instead I attached them to an Ekby Tryggve wall shelf and placed the bookshelf on that. (Lifting the bookcase onto the shelf was a two-person job. The result was a little wobbly as well.) Unfortunately I have no pictures of this stage.

In the end, I didn’t like how the bookcase fit in the space between the window and the corner and I didn’t really care for the visual of “there’s a bookcase behind my bed,” either, and the result wasn’t really stable enough to lean against.

So, I decided to turn the bookshelf on its side, buy some smaller shelves and use them to form “cubbies” (that would look a little less uniform and less like a conventional bookcase) and cover up the bottom shelf with something I could lean against.

Not having any power tools, I decided to support the “cubby” shelves using the existing shelves and improvised rails. I measured precisely the spaces between the shelves as the were, and then bought shelves in those exact lengths – one small white Billy extra shelf, and two 8″ shelves from Amazon*.

I bought a length of 1×2″ from Home Depot and they cut it in the store into the lengths I needed for rails. I spray painted (not the best decision, either) the rails white and nailed them into the frame of the bookcase at the heights I wanted.

The rails are not very attractive

The cardboard back of the bookcase was a bit warped and pulling away from the frame. I decided to take advantage of the damage to run power cords for my soon-to-be-charging station in to the bookcase through the gap.

Laptop cord (horizontal) and extension cord (diagonal) running in through the back panel and behind one of the original shelves/supports

Here’s the Billy bookcase on its side with cubbies (and ledges*) & power cords set up.

With legs and charging stations set up

Now I needed a way to attach the pillows to the bottom portion of my new headboard. I tried some makeshift arrangements using the pillow ties, but they were unsatisfactory. In the end I decided on using the same method I’d used to hang up an earring holding ribbon.

Ribbon attached to rail of (a different) bookcase with Command strips.

I put up Command picture hangers (the kind that are kind of like velcro) on each of the uprights and frame of the bookcase/headboard.

Command strips on the frame and supports

(Re)measured the distances between supports and attached Command strips to a length of wide gross grain ribbon at appropriate distances.

Test hanging of the ribbon to make sure the strips lined up

Then I basted the pillows to the ribbon.

Pillows on ribbon. The ties show that I dyed the pillows – but they can be tucked neatly away behind the ribbon

Basting up close

And attached the ribbon with the pillows on it to the headboard.

Pillows attached


It’s not a perfect setup – I think I may have to replace/reinstall Command strips, but it hides the clutter and gives me a spot to lean against.

And done!

Side view: the gap is closed

Full length

(Clutter can be accessed by lifting the pillows.)

Lastly a completely gratuitous beauty shot of my room. (If you look closely, you can see it was taken before I came up with the ribbon solution.)


*This would be where the trial and error really kicked in. I took me several tries to get the  smaller, 8″, shelves – first I bought some really overpriced picture ledges from Amazon, that turned out to be too shallow to be useful as shelves. Then when I went to buy more shelves at Ikea, I meant to buy a glass insert shelf just under 8″ wide (that Ikea apparently doesn’t sell anymore), but accidentally (because the stack was sitting over the label of the shelves I wanted to buy, and I stupidly didn’t check labels) bought the same shelf in just under 7″ wide.  So I gave up and bought two expensive (but not as overpriced as the ones from Home Depot) 8″ shelves on Amazon.


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Tuesday, 15 November, 2011 Head Cold and Yoga Pants

I guess it is just as true for “private” blogs as for more public websites, that in order to be successful it is best to have a “bank” of posts pre-assembled before you began.  That way, hiccups in process of “going live” or say, two weeks of viruses won’t put the site “behind.”

Oh, well.  Too late now.

I have this medium-duty head cold – heavy enough that all I want to do is sleep, but not so heavy that sleep is all I can do – and in one of my early am awake and sneezing bouts,  I had this (fabulous) idea for a post.

Ode to My Yoga Pants

Two disclaimers: 1) I don’t do yoga and have no opinion on it, except the one time I tried it (10 mins of free PM Yoga), my elbows hurt for a week. 2) I haven’t and wouldn’t wear them outside of the confines of a house. They are indoor clothing.

Yoga pants are great: not as sloppy-looking as sweat pants and way more comfortable. (Especially because they lack that annoying ankle band that sweat pants have that keep the lowest 10% of my legs from staying warm.) I wish someone had told me about them years ago.

They are the softest, happiest thing  to wear after making a sweaty spectacle of your out of shape self in your own neighborhood running: instant reward for exercising.

Throw a hip-length tunic or shirt over them, and they answer the problem of what to wear when you invited someone over and it’s too late to call it off, but now you’re feeling miserable and at least want your clothing not to add to your misery.  Viola, graceful semi-ethnic outfit, not “I am so miserable, I am slumping around in pajamas/sweats.”

Or, if you are crashing overnight at someone’s house after a business meeting, and you don’t have room in your bag for a ton of clothes, but you don’t want to sit around their house in your uncomfortable formal work clothes and you need something extra warm to sleep in because your friends keep their house extra icy in an attempt to stop (readacted) Gas & Electric from sucking away more than a month’s wages every month: then behold! You can sit around appearing at least semi-presentable in your yoga pants (not pajamas!) and then said yoga pants will keep you nice and warm all night. *

This post has been brought to you by viruses, fever, and the hour 2 (am.)


*What, you’ve never found yourself in any of these scenarios??