42. Before and After: IKEA Expedit Hack

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of The Home Depot, and this post contains affiliate links to homedepot.com.  I am not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. If I claim or appear to be an expert on a certain topic or product or service area, I will only endorse products or services that I believe, based on my expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Hey, remember back in September when I showed you a sneak peek of the IKEA Expedit shelving system makeover?  It’s FINALLY finished!

To refresh your memory, this is what I started with:

ikea expedit
Now, I am happy to present you with the final product!

Boom goes the dynamite:

ikea expedit hack
I cannot tell you how excited I am that it’s finally done.  Well, I guess I did just tell you…I’m excited that it’s finally done!

If you want to accomplish something similar, you’re in luck; I’m going to tell you how to do it.

IKEA Expedit Makeover


Assembled IKEA Expedit shelving system
Plastic dropcloth
Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer
BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Paint in Dark Pewter
Paint brush
Foam roller
Small paint tray
Fine/Medium sanding block
1/4″ sanded pine plywood, cut into 13″ squares (8 total)
Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
Minwax Wood Finish in “Early American”
Clean rags (old t-shirts work well)
Rubber gloves
16 hinges (two per door)
8 cabinet pulls
Gorilla glue
Drill and drill bits
Phillips head screwdriver

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Step 1: First, make sure to lay down a drop cloth to protect the floor in your work area.  Wipe down the cabinet with a mild cleaner.  You don’t want any dust or dirt or your finished paint job will look (and feel) gritty!

Step 2: Add a thin coat of primer to the entire cabinet.  Allow to dry for at least an hour. (I used this Zinnser primer because it sticks to ANYTHING, even veneers, without having to sand the surface first.  Sounds good to me!)

ikea expedit hack
Step 3: Lightly sand the first coat and wipe down with an old rag.  Again, make sure you get rid of all the dust.

Step 4: Add a second coat of primer.  Trust me, you want two coats if you’d like the top coats of paint to stay put!  Allow the second coat to dry for a full 24 hours.


Step 5: Lightly sand the cabinet and wipe it down.  You’ll start to notice a pattern here…

Step 6: Add 2 coats of the Behr paint, making sure to sand after the first coat.  I used the foam roller for these coats, just to make sure everything was nice and smooth.

ikea expedit hack
Step 7: Sand all the edges of the 8 cabinet doors.  They don’t need to be perfectly smooth, but you don’t want to give yourself a splinter every time you open one of the doors.

Step 8: Choose which side will be the front of each door, and apply a coat of pre-stain using a clean rag.  The pre-stain is optional, but it really helps with an even coat of stain and prevents blotches.  Allow to set for about 5 min, and wipe off excess stain with another clean rag.

Step 9: Apply the stain and allow to set until the desired color is achieved; I had mine on for about 10 minutes.  Wipe off excess stain with a clean rag, and allow doors to dry for several hours.

raw wood stained wood

Step 10: Measure and mark for a hole to mount the cabinet pull.  I placed my pulls at the center (6.5″), 1.5″ in from the edge.  Drill a hole using the suggested drill bit (it should say on the package).  Attach the cabinet pulls.


If you like the pulls I used, you can get the same ones

Step 11: Measure for placement of the hinges.  I placed mine 1.5″ from the edge (on each side).  To attach the hinges, I ended up using gorilla glue; I couldn’t find screws short enough for the 1/4″ plywood (the screws need to grab the wood without going completely through).  If you decided to go this route, make sure to either clamp down the hinges while they dry or stack some heavy books on top.  I used a bunch of old textbooks and it worked like a charm.  Allow the glue to dry for several hours.

Important: You will need to purchase inset hinges for this project.  I used a set similar to

Step 12: Pre-drill holes for the hinges, and attach the cabinet doors.  Make sure to leave a small amount of room for the doors to swing in and out (I used a straight-edge to set the doors a tiny bit above the shelves so there wouldn’t be any friction).

cabinet details

That’s it!  I had the cabinet painted and sitting in my living room for the longest time, but I’ve been so busy the rest of the materials just sat around for the past two months.  With Thanksgiving coming up (which we are hosting), I decided it was about time to finish up this project once and for all…especially since it provides us a with a bunch of hiding places for all our junk.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Here’s a “before and after” to really convey the transformation:

ikea expedit hack before and after

I hope this project has inspired you to breath new life into your favorite piece of furniture.  Here’s to a great start to the week!


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14. Made from Scratch: DIY Rustic Dining Table

IMPORTANT: I have updated these building plans!  To see the new and improved version of this post, click here.



Jason and I…er, I wanted a rustic looking dining table for our apartment now that we actually live somewhere with a dining room.  We originally narrowed it down to the Garner Extension Dining Table, $599 at World Market.

We planned to wait for the annual furniture sale for 25% off the price, but $450 is still a big chunk of money to drop on a table (even if it is real wood).  Obviously, this lead me to scour the internet for some DIY goodness.  I found quite a few options, but ultimately came up with my own design.  Jason thankfully helped me to execute the table; it was our first project together, and I think it came out pretty darn good!


(The chairs are super awesome, too…I won’t talk much about them here, I’ll leave that for a future post!)

Here’s what you’ll need if you want to build a table identical to ours (finished measurements: approximately 38″ wide x 72″ long x 30″ high).

2 – 2x10x12 boards (make sure these babies are STRAIGHT! no warping allowed)
1 – 1x4x8 board
4 hairpin legs, standard height (28″)
2″ wood screws
circular saw (if you plan on doing your own cutting…but most hardware stores will do the cutting for you!)
sawhorse legs (or a long workbench if you have one!)
large clamps
medium and fine grit sandpaper
wood glue
wood filler
several old rags/t-shirts
stain and/or Danish oil
sealant (we used wax paste, but you can also use polyurethane)

First, cut the 2x10x12 boards exactly in half; this will give you four boards that are each 72″ (6 ft) long.  Take some time laying the boards out to figure out which boards should go next to each other, and also decide which side of the board will face up for the top of the table.


Some of the wood may have small stamp marks, but don’t worry too much about trying to hide these…those marks will come off with the great deal of sanding you’ll be doing later!

Next, flip all of the boards over LENGTHWISE to ensure that the boards will remain in the correct order.  At this point, you will want to transfer the boards to the sawhorse foundation, or to a workbench if you have a large enough space.  Run a strip of wood glue down each edge of the boards (where they will be touching in the finished project).  Secure the boards together with clamps.

While the glue is drying, cut the 1x4x8 board into three pieces, each 30″ long.  Apply wood glue to one side of each board, and position the boards across the existing boards: one at the center, and one at each end, about 12″ from the edge of the table.  Predrill holes for the screws across the board, spacing the holes about 3-4″ apart.  MAKE SURE TO PREDRILL THE HOLES!  If you don’t, your wood may split later on, and all your work will be for naught!  Secure these supports to the table top using 2″ wood screws (we did ours in a zigzag pattern across each support, about 12 screws per support).  At this point, your table should look like this:


Allow the wood glue to dry completely.  After the glue has dried, flip the table top over.  Using your fingers and some wood filler, fill the gaps between the boards (this process is pretty similar to caulking a tub).  We also filled in the gaps along the short ends of the table to keep everything looking uniform and polished.  Make sure to also fill in any splitting knots; they might look cool, but they can split further and ruin your handiwork.

After the wood filler is set and dry (which shouldn’t take too long), it’s time for the “fun” part…the sanding!  This is honestly the part of the construction that takes the most time, and rightly so.  You want the finished project to be smooth and splinter free!  We did two rounds of sanding: one with medium grit sandpaper, and one with fine grit sand paper.  We also used two different types of sanders.  A belt sander is great for smoothing out the length of the boards, while an orbital sander works like a boss to finish off the edges.  If you are looking for a more rustic finish, make sure to pay extra attention to the edges and corners of the table; really round those babies off to give the appearance of age.


When you’ve finished the exhausting amount of sanding required to get a nice, smooth surface, wipe off all that dust with some old rags.

Now it’s time to add the finish of your choice!  To get our desired color (a dark brown with gray undertones), we used two different types of finish.  We did two coats of Minwax Wood Finish in “Classic Gray” followed by two coats of Watco Danish Oil in “Dark Walnut”.  Make sure to follow the directions on the container and allow each coat to dry for the suggested amount of time before wiping off the excess and applying the next coat.  We used rags to apply/wipe off both products; I think rags lend themselves to a better application and more coverage than a paintbrush.

Here is what the table looked like after both stains had been applied and allowed to set overnight:


At this point, we were unsure what we wanted to use for the topcoat: wax or polyurethane.  We decided to think on it a bit, and attached the legs in the meantime.  I ordered our legs from hairpinlegs.com.  They are 28″ standard height 3-rod hairpin legs in raw steel (they are listed in the “Sale Items” section for $20 a piece).  Aren’t they pretty?

We attached the legs according to the directions on the website, adding a 6″x6″ piece of scrap wood between the leg and the table (to prevent splitting…notice a pattern here?).  The legs are inset a few inches from each side (i.e. we didn’t attach them at the very edge of each corner).

Finally, it came time to add the protective topcoat.  I really loathe “shiny” wood, so we opted for a wax finish.  It will have to be reapplied every year, but it has a more natural finish and still protects the table from water stains.




I’m so in love with this table!  Even my husband likes the way it turned out, and I can’t begin to tell you how many compliments we’ve received.


I was incredibly apprehensive about starting this project, mostly due to the fact that neither my husband or I had ever built anything!  This project ended up being a lot easier than I thought, especially since Home Depot did all the cutting for us.  If we can build it, you can, too!  The best part: this table only cost us about $150 to build (including the cost of all materials).

If you do decide to build a table using our plans, please share them!  I’d love to see how it turns out. 🙂


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8. DIY Wedding: Monogram Cake Topper

I really wanted a simple yet elegant cake topper for our wedding, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on something we would use only once.  I was browsing the DIY forum on theknot.com and came across an email address that every bride should have: craftyeddy@gmail.com.  This guy is AWESOME.  He will cut anything out of wood that you could possibly imagine.  Send him an email describing what you are looking for, and he will give you a clear price list and a link to his portfolio.  I sent him a letter K in the same font that matched our invites and other stationary, and he sent me a beautiful cake topper.  Unfinished of course.  I had to paint and decorate that letter into blinged-out goodness, and here’s how I did it.



– wooden cake topper (you can also use wooden letters from Michael’s…just glue a few small dowel rods to the back to insert the topper into the cake)
– acrylic paint in the color of your choice
– small paint brush
– rhinestones in the color of your choice (I purchased mine from an eBay vendor)
– E6000 glue (this is an all-purpose glue sent to earth by the crafting gods)
– small paper plate
– toothpicks
– small tweezers


1. Paint your letter with acrylic paint.  It’s a good idea to paint the top portion of the stems that will be going into the cake (you want to make sure the wood doesn’t show).  You may have to do a few coats to get even coverage, depending on your paint and the type of wood.  Allow to dry completely.  (Hint: Wax paper is your friend; it doesn’t stick to your letter like newspaper.)
2. Squeeze out a SMALL amount of E6000 onto the paper plate.  Fight the urge to use a ton!  This stuff dries pretty quickly, and a little goes a long way.
3. Using a toothpick, spread a small amount of the glue over a SMALL area of the front of your letter.  AGAIN, THIS GLUE DRIES QUICKLY AND IT’S BEST TO WORK IN SMALL SECTIONS.
4. Using the tweezers, pick up the rhinestones and set them in the glue.  Try to adjust them quickly, but don’t worry about the glue bulging up…it dries clear. 😉
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have covered your topper in enough bling to signal Batman.
6. Allow glue to completely dry before using the topper.  (You can spray your topper with an acrylic sealant if you wish, but it’s not necessary.)

I seriously LOVE how our topper turned out, and it looks so pretty in our wedding photos.


Yes, our cake was red velvet layered with cream cheese frosting.  Delishhhhhh.

Happy Friday!  Next week I’ll show you our initialed peacock feather wreaths!



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Edit (9/5/13): I made up a nice picture for pinning purposes, and thought I would share. 🙂


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