2008 diy winners: 4th place

by Grace Bonney

i’m thrilled to announce our first diy contest winner of the day. fourth place, and a hearty congratulations, goes to angie johnson and her george nelson inspired jewelry case! angie was inspired by this classic george nelson piece and created an affordable diy version that was a crowd favorite from the beginning. i’m so honored to have her project on the site and to share the full instructions below.

julie will be receiving a $100 prize to put towards future diy projects (or anything else she wants) so please join me in congratulating angie on her hard work. thank you to angie for entering and for sharing this fantastic project. click here to view the full instructions for angie’s project or click “read more below”.

Angie’s George Nelson Inspired Jewelry Case

“Fira” chests from IKEA – 3 sets
“Fornbro” side table from IKEA
Sanding sponge – fine grit
Cotton rags
Rubber gloves
Stain in your choice of colour
Spray varnish – 6 cans
Handle for spray can (to make spraying easier, although this is not necessary)
Wrapping paper (although wallpaper scraps could be used as well)
White craft glue
“No More Nails” or similar adhesive
Small wood screws

1) Assemble the Fira chests, as per the included IKEA instructions (try to actually read them, I know it’s tempting with IKEA stuff to just go for the gusto and figure it out, but really, read them)

2) Lightly sand the chests, taking care to smooth off the edges. This is not the best quality wood, so these early prep stages are important to do properly. It can make the difference between a nice smooth finish, or a dull unprofessional look

3) Stain the chest (2 coats of stain) using a rag instead of a brush. Wipe on the varnish with one rag, then wipe off the excess with a clean rag. I suggest you have a lot of rags handy, and I HIGHLY suggest you wear rubber gloves, unless you think you would enjoy people staring at your hands for the next week or so.

4) After staining, give the chests a light sanding, and wipe away dust with a large dry paintbrush or clean dry cloth.

5) Now for the varnishing. I used a spray varnish to get a nice even coat. Slow and steady wins the race with this project. I also got a plastic handle that attaches to the spray can which makes spraying easier and gives your finger a break too. Make sure to do this in a well ventilated area, and wear a mask if possible. In total I gave this project about 8 coats of varnish with some light sanding after the second and sixth coats. I found I was getting a little obsessive about the smoothness of the finish and probably could have done about 4 more coats, but in the end I got tired of continually going to the hardware store for more varnish and decided to stop at 8.

6) After everything was dry and ready to go I lined the inside of the drawers in vintage wrapping paper. I measured and cut the paper to size, then glued it in with some watered down white craft glue and an old paintbrush. I also used the end of the paintbrush to smooth out the paper as I went. These methods helps avoid bubbles and lumps.

7) I then covered the inside bottom of the drawers with cream coloured felt. I didn’t glue it down in case I wanted to change the colour some day. As long as it fits snugly, it isn’t going anywhere.

8) I needed some way to keep all the earrings and necklaces untangled, so the tiny metal tins with glass lids from Lee Valley Tools were perfect. They come in many different sizes and are surprisingly affordable. The added benefit is that you can easily see all your jewelry through the glass lids. And the tins are really cute.

9) I attached the “Fornbro” table base to one of the chests with simple screws (making sure they are only the depth of the thickness of the wood) as well as some “No More Nails” glue for extra security.

10) Lastly I attached the 3 drawer sections to each other with a zig zag of heavy duty glue in the centers of the sections to be glued together. I used “No More Nails” but I think a lot of other types of thick glue would work.

The one revision I may make to this piece is to take the unused tabletop of the “Fornbro” table and attach it to the bottom of the legs. Essentially I will be using the side table upside down at this point. I find the chest is pretty stable right now (ie. it won’t fall over on its own), but this would make it even more stable when I’m late in the morning and am crazily pulling out drawers looking for something. If this is the case, I will paint the entire base white, since the table top is currently black.

I think that’s it, let me know if I’ve left out any details or if you need more info. I attached a couple pics my friend Mike (from Furni) took of my while I was doing the spray varnishing. Kind of funny, but people need to wear a mask and work in a ventilated area!

Project by Angie Johnson

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  • I hadn’t seen the inspiration piece until just now – and you know what? I think Angie’s looks SO MUCH BETTER! I wouldn’t want the original in my house, but I’d take Angie’s any day! I’d say she took a design idea and REALLY improved it! Congrats on the winnings Angie!

  • Oh, I loved this one! I enjoyed all of the projects but this is the one I most wanted to try to do myself.

  • This was my pick. I plan on attempting this project this summer when I have some free time. Way to go Angie!

  • Congratulations! I love the way you’ve transformed ordinary IKEA furniture into something of your own. I’m going to IKEA this weekend and making this!

  • this one was my pick too! i loved it right away, and yay for representin’ for canada angie ;) i’m making myself one of these asap.

  • Kelly: Oh, I just thought of this RE the necklace. It was from a swedish chain store, not an independent designer, so I think if you put in an Alchemy request on Etsy, some wonderful Etsian could probably make something similar for you. I fully give you permission to use my photo ;)

    Also, I want to thank Grace so much for listing my Etsy store at the bottom of my instructions. The store is pretty new, and it means so much to me that she took the time to add it!

  • My mum just passed me quite a number of pieces of beautiful costume jewellery and I’ve been wondering how to store them… this looks perfect! are the are round display tins from ikea too? Congratulations… you have inspired me…. all the way in singapore! (lucky we have ikea too!)

  • oops… i just read that it comes from your local store! bummer… I’ll have to find a self-made substitute… any suggestions?

  • Andrea – No, I don’t know where you read that! The tins don’t come from my store, they come from Lee Valley Tools. They are amazing! They come in quite a few different sizes too, and come in these amazing little blue patterned cardboard boxes. I believe they have a website, you should be able to find it with a google search.

  • Thanks Sara and Angie, I might try contacting them. They look lovely. Wonderful job Angie!

  • Congratulations! This was my pick too. :) I have a collection of costume jewelry that is scattered about everywhere while I search for the perfect (large) jewelry box. I’m thrilled to have found such a unique and simple design that I can do myself.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  • I have been considering getting either more of these drawer sets for makeup or buying one of the IKEA tallboys – the tallboy is £70 but matches the rest of the bedroom furniture and has legs

    I was veering towards the drawer units but wanted to give them legs somehow and wasn;t sure how to make them match the rest of the furniture.

    This project has given me exactly the inspiration I needed – thanks so much!!

  • This is such a great idea. I feel compelled to say though, that one should never keep pearls in wood, it sucks the moisture out of them and dulls them. Also silver shouldn’t be kept in wood either, plastic containers are best.

  • I love this idea! i’d be afraid of my 7 month old knocking it over though because it looks top heavy to me. but it turned out gorgeous and i would definitely make one if I didn’t have a crawling baby in the house.

  • Very good job and I find it amusing to see a woodnecklace in the drawer, which I own myself. And I live and bought in in Sweden. Small world :)