DIYdiy projects

diy project: nicole’s modern bunny hutch

by Grace Bonney

[this clever diy project comes to us from nicole of design curiosities. thanks to nicole for sharing and sending such a great write-up!]

my boyfriend and I fell in love with the idea of getting a holland lop the moment we laid eyes on one. we didn’t, however, fall in love with the cages that were available at the local shops. so, we made a decision then and there – before we could get the cuteness, we had to make him a suitable home. it had to be something we could proudly display in our future home – something that would look good sitting next to all the furniture we plan on purchasing when we get married. so we decided that instead of starting from scratch, it would be easier to modify a piece of furniture. we headed to ikea (of course!) for an inexpensive solution. it was a labor of love; looking at our little eames sleeping in his hutch makes it worth all the trouble. –n

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions!


– besta shelf unit (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60134049)
– besta vara door in walnut (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10137205)
– besta legs (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80143217)
– balsa wood, can be found at hobby lobby
– non-toxic wood filler
– non-toxic, environmentally friendly paint in white & gray
– two wire grids – small, white (http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?searchId=21229178&itemIndex=4&CATID=74107&PRODID=60329)
– four 5/8″ dowel rods
– non-toxic wood glue
– tile
– liquid nail
– spacers
– charcoal colored grout
– sealant


– circular saw
– jigsaw
– hand saw
– sand paper with a variety of grit size
– clamps
– heavy duty wire cutters
– grout float
– drill
– screwdrivers, flat and philips


part one, putting together the shell

1. before you start to put together the besta shelf, some work needs to be done on the center piece
2. decide how large you want the hole in the middle to be – not too large, make sure it doesn’t interfere with the stability of the bookcase
3. mark the hole with a pencil (we used a 10 inch plate), and use a circular saw to cut an initial hole in the middle of the piece
4. using a jigsaw and a steady hand, complete cutting the hole
5. smooth the edges with sandpaper


6. because the inside of this piece is made of cardboard filler, it will need to be sealed off. start by filling the hole up to the edges with wood filler, and let dry according to the instructions on the packaging. once dry, remove excess filler and sand as needed
7. cut the balsa wood to the proper width (width of center piece), and soak in warm water until flexible
8. bend into a circle and tie with string to hold it in place. let the piece dry completely
9. cut the balsa wood to the appropriate length and glue into place
10. fill in any other holes left by gaps in balsa wood (may not be perfect initially), and sand as needed
11. paint white, to match the hutch
12. put together the shell of the bookcase (instructions in booklet), but stop prior to putting the final piece on
13. cut wire grid to the length/width of one of the sides (I believe it is about 22″ wide, but measure to be certain), and use the groove that is already there for the back wood panel to slide the grid in. it isn’t going to be easy, it took some finagling – patience is key! you might need to sand the groove a little to make it wider.


14. finish assembling the hutch
15. you wont need the horizontal shelves you get with the bookcase, so recycle them (or better yet use them to create something else!)

part two, tiling the hutch

1. we decided to use 2″ glass tiles, they actually fit perfectly with an 1/8th of an inch between them (154 tiles total)
2. place tiles in hutch with spacers (starting from the back) and without glue/grout
3. with all the tiles in place, pick up each one individually and use the liquid nail on the bottom. put back into place with spacers in between
4. give the liquid nail a day or two to dry. read instructions and check the tiles – they should not wiggle
5. mix grout according to the instructions – you’ll only need a small bag


6. remove all the spacers and grout – clean as you go, it is a messy process
7. let the grout dry, and then seal grout lines accordingly

part three, the doors

1. we purchased the door on the right from ikea, it was simple to install. the grate on the left, however, was made from scratch with the help of my boyfriend’s grandfather, who is a metal/wood worker
2. we used dowel rods as a frame, so measure and cut according to the length and width of the opening (corners are 45 degrees)
3. cut grid to the proper size
4. I stripped the rubber coating off of this piece of grid because we wanted to paint it. it was a huge pain to do, but it had a better end result
5. line up the wire grid how you want it to fit within the dowel rod frame and mark where each prong will hit
6. drill holes, not too deep – and try to do it at the same depth each time
7. glue the frame together (with the grate in place), and hammer a nail into each corner for stability
8. paint gray, and let it dry completely
9. now for the internal hinges – place the framed gate in the hutch. secure with clamps and about 3 inches down from the top, drill a hole through the bunny hutch itself and the gate
10. we used a piece of copper tubing for the internal hinges (these will stay in place forever), just cut to the proper length and slide in place. make sure whatever you use, it’s a tight fit
11. drill another two holes 2 inches from the bottom, for pins. my boyfriend’s grandfather created the pins for us. these are used to secure the door (so he/she can’t push it open), and can be removed when you want to get to open that side of the cage


part four, finishing touches

1. put legs on the hutch according to instructions
2. eventually, we are going to have to come up with a locking mechanism for the right door (when he gets bigger he’ll probably be able to push it open), but we’ll worry about it when we get there
3. it is important to let the hutch air out for a while, even though you are using all bun safe materials – it is always good to be cautious – the longer you can wait the better
4. purchase a water bottle, food dish, a couple of blankets for him/her to lay on (tile is hard on a bun’s bum sometimes!), and a potty with a grate so he/she doesn’t sit in his/her urine/poop (you can find a great potty with a grate at petsmart)
5. don’t leave him in the hutch all day! buns need a lot of love, attention and exercise! use the hutch more as a potty/night-time place. let him hop around your bun proof home (make sure wires and tempting chewable items are not laying around)

for more photos of the hutch + eames, you can visit my blog, and if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at designcuriosities@gmail.com


Suggested For You


  • That is ten shades of awesome. I kept Hilary Swank’s hutch in my clipping file (http://tinyurl.com/n44tlg) but I like yours a lot better, and it looks more practical. Plus, little Eames is just so stinkin’ cute. : )

  • Oooo! What a gorgeous idea – and bunny! I’ve been looking into getting a rabbit recently, but keep talking myself out of it.. I’m definitely taking the timing of this post as a sign!!

  • cute project (and bunny!). hate to be obnoxious…but you used *balsa* wood, right? not bossa wood?

  • My bun Harpo is going to be jealous of this (though she rarely hangs out in her redwood hutch, prefering the kitching floor or the back of the couch for lounging). Great job! I feel inspired to do this when we move into a new place

  • What a clever idea! I’ve never had a desire to have a pet bunny but I’ll definitely keep this in mind for my future children. I could see how the same concepts could apply for a guinea pig or even modified for a box turtle or something like that.

  • This is really, really cute, as is the bunny! I wonder though, if the bunny needs more ventilation. Most rabbit hutches have screen all the way around. I think it might be more comforatbale for eames if one more side was open for air flow.

  • Love the hutch and the bunny. I also love these owners for being so great and responsible before getting a pet. This is one lucky bunny!

  • This is a lovely idea + tutorial!

    Was wondering what brand of paint did you use (non-toxic?) Being a bun, with teeth forever growing, Eames will chew on the interior of this condo—even tho you provide him with all sorts of wooden chew toys and cardboard. And many buns will chew on the bars of a pen or cage to say “Hey, I want out!” (Even though they’ve been out all afternoon!)

    Rabbits are adorable, funny, mischievous, clever and affectionate, and can also be bossy! ( We are their devoted slaves : ) Cheers to you and Eames!

  • The hutch is killer–so, so brilliant. And the closed back and sides are actually nice for the bunny–he’ll feel more secure.

    I love that Jody S. mentioned Hillary Swank’s hutch–its been my ambition ever since seeing that to come up with as cool a solution as her. Who would have thought that other people out there pay attention to that sort of thing!

    In the meantime, I just bought a white ikea lack coffee table–which happens to be just larger than my bunny’s cage–put it together without the middle shelf, put it on casters, and rolled it above the cage. A simple, clean camouflage.

  • Wow, such a stylish homebase so Eames can live up to his name! Well done! And I’m glad to hear it’s not a full-time spot for him and that he gets to run around and be his wonderful bunny self around the house! One additional idea: Maybe you could design a no-slip ramp or set of steps so Eames can access his food and potty at will? Just a thought.

  • What a great idea, I too have had bunnies in the past and the cages are hideous. Did you put a tray down in the bottom for his waste? I would love to make one of these for mine!

  • so adorable! Anyone know of any clever kittybox camoflauge techniques while we’re on the pet subject?

  • that is one cute bunny. my only thought is…we have a bunny in an outdoor hutch and MAN is bunny pee and poo smelly!! you must have to clean this thing all the time.

  • oh my goodness! if only everyone took their pets living quarters so seriously. this is fantastic!

    i also love that your bunny’s name is eames… brilliant!

  • Eh, not really liking the tile. Can’t imagine that’s too comfortable on the bunny paws.

  • how flippin cute is that?! I loved that she *tiled* the hutch. and the bun’s name is eames! its perfect :)

  • I just want to say thanks! I love bunnies as pets – they’ve got such personality…but I live in a small space and the cages available just don’t cut it so kudos to you for coming up with such a great solution – your little bunishka should be proud of that home! :)

  • @enhabiten — I have 2 buns who share one litterbox, filled with an inch of Yesterday’s News litter, and unlimited timothy hay. The soiled-in box is changed out with a fresh box every morning, and there’s never a smell : )
    *Hoppy HInt: white vinegar makes a great, non-toxic cleaner.

  • I hate to be the lone downer on the thread, but I’ve actually bred and raised Holland Lops (long before they were the fad pet).

    Here’s what I’m worried about: 1) Rabbits chew on wood. Voraciously. Eames WILL eat that hutch, no matter how many other stimulating toys he has, and he’ll be eating MDF, which means he’ll be consuming the resins and other non-wood materials used to make MDF. Not so great for a VERY sensitive digestion and immune system, which is what rabbits have. 2) Rabbits’ feet CANNOT GET WET (and stay wet or even damp). They are acutely prone to infections of the feet and they need to be able to get up and off the bottom of whatever they live in. That’s why wire is used so often on the bottom of rabbit cages. Glass tile, since it is not absorbent, will keep any spilled or waste liquids on his feet.

    If you flipped this build – if you put the glass tile on the sides and top of the box and the partition (so he could not chew the MDF) and had the rabbit elevated on wire, a piece of solid, unfinished wood, or daily-changed bedding – this would totally work as a good rabbit house. As it is, I’m pretty worried about him consuming the MDF.

  • If you want to drill a bunch of holes to a uniform depth, measure the depth on your drill bit and wrap a piece of bright colored tape around the drill bit at the right measure. Drill just to the tape and stop. Makes drilling any number of uniform holes super easy! Note, try electrical tape if you have it. Great project!!

  • its to small for a rabbit, also for a small rabbit. why did you invest money and a lot of time but didnt think about the size??? thats cruelty to animals! do you want to life in two single rooms for your entire lifetime?

  • Brilliant, absolutely, Just one very major question. Maybe I missed something, but how do you clean it? A vacuum cleaner? do you put wood chips in there?

  • Very cute, but having rabbits and having made a cage like this myself, your rabbit is totally going to eat that cute circle divider.

  • Eeek! I have a bunny that looks exactly like that! His name is Messi (after my boyfriend’s fave soccer player) and we adopted him four years ago. I hated dealing with the ugly hutch, but Messi is now mature enough that he roams free. He has a litter box hidden behind a mini screen I picked up at thrift store.

  • I had the SAME problem when looking for cages for my rabbit sammie. we have a little backyard space and was thinking of doing something a more heavy duty to withstand the weather… (any material ideas on that one?) but this is a lovely idea for the inside. now it seems i have TWO projects on my to do list :) Thanks!

    Oh! and Chelsea – Sammie used to be a roam-free rabbit as well (they are surprisingly easy to litter train) but started biting our baseboards! any suggestions on how to keep her from that?

  • While I love the look of your hutch, I also think it’s probably going to be toxic to Eames; cut Ikea furniture exacerbates the risks of particle board, which Eames will definitely consume.

    I also must agree with Joanna that glass tiles won’t be good for rabbit feet. While I abhor wire, rabbits would probably be more comfortable with a slate tile or wood.


    Hope I’m not overstepping, but would really recommend talking to the House Rabbit Society or another rabbit expert on this hutch. Either way, I’m glad that you’re lavishing attention and care on your rabbit.

  • So cute! But I was going to say… my buns would make short work of that! They would chew right through and hop out onto the floor! (They’ve busted through a drywall wall, to be honest). I know people say you have to be careful about what they eat… and you do. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are like little sharks and will chew through anything! House Rabbit Society does rock! They’ve helped me out a lot. But I still haven’t found an effective way to prevent baseboard chewing. Cayenne is just seasoning to them!

  • I second Gina’s suggestion to contact someone in the House Rabbit Society or a rabbit rescue organization in your area. They’re very helpful. Your hutch is lovely, but it doesn’t seem like the best fit for a rabbit. That said, I’m a relatively new rabbit mama; I adopted a 2 year old silver fox rabbit in February.

  • As a rabbit owner for over 10 years, I will say that it looks great, but I’m afraid I have to agree with some of the other commenters that it’s inappropriate for a rabbit and potentially harmful.

    -even if the paint is non-toxic, it’s still not healthy for the rabbit to consume it
    -the waxes and resins used in MDF are definitely unhealthy for an animal with a very delicate digestive system
    -unless your bunny has perfect litterbox habits a non-draining surface risks wet tail and sores on the feet and legs
    -poor air circulation

    Commercial rabbit cages are not attractive, it’s true, but there’s a reason why they’re built the way they are. Sorry to be a downer, but the health of one’s pet should come before aesthetics.

  • this is… beautiful. but i agree, a little dangerous for bunny. one of my little guys ate through my BOX SPRING and would make short work of this hutch. also, it’s actually not a good idea to use a litter box with a metal grate on top – bunnies can get “sore hocks” from the wire. a nice normal litter box with carefresh litter and lots of timothy hay will do the trick!

    our buns’ “home base” (only closed while we sleep so that terror bun mentioned above won’t eat our couch without our knowledge) is actually a big black puppy crate with a second level built out of bunny-safe wood. not the most stylish but we think better than traditional hutches/crates and you can store lots of stuff on top!

  • I’m a woodworker and I built my rabbit a cage, and she loved it because it was like a dark little cave for her but she eventually chewed through it, I made bars out of dowels. I think something like this could be done with modifications.. @Joanna.. wire floors are no good, they make for sore hocks

  • Why are people so concerned about what a pet’s home looks like? From some of these comments it seems that someone needs to start designing some lovely and pet-safe crates and beds.

    I had a lop as a child and my father made a lovely cage out of wire screens and plex with a deep galvanized steel tray underneath (after she chewed through a wooden hutch he made). He intended it to be indestructible and easy to clean, but it was quite modern and sleek looking. We were actually glad to get rid of the wooden hutch because the wood soaked up a lot of bunny waste smells, while the plex and metal could be easily washed and didn’t soak up odors.

  • I love it! However I think tile might not have been the best for the floor. It’s not that comfy for a bun. I have a bun and the bottom of her cage is astro turf and she seem to love it. It a bit more comfy. Also that might not be a big enough space when bun grows up. I have a 2 year old Dutch and I want to do this project but I would need a bigger bookcase. I think that may be a bit small for an adult bun. Great for a baby like yours.

  • Disclaimer: I have never had a pet rabbit, and I know nothing about their specific care. I have, however, rescued and kept pet rats and ferrets for many years, and I do know that all three types of animals have many of the same housing requirements, and am aware of the various risks mentioned in many of the comments above.

    I offer this link solely as a suggestion to those who may be looking for a well-designed pre-made enclosure for their rabbit:

    I own a two-level Bunny Abode that I used for ferrets for years. It is exceptionally well-made, and very attractive. The unfinished top can easily be covered with fabric, wallpaper, etc. It’s very easy to keep clean, and the manufacturer sells individual replacement parts (and optional chew guards!) should anything be damaged or worn over time.

    Nicole’s project is beautiful, to be sure, but because of the potential problems its construction poses, I thought it would be worthwhile to mention Bunny Abodes as a well-designed, safe and modern alternative to what’s available in pet stores.

  • Sorry, but I think water bottles with the metal spouts sold by pet stores for bunnies are downright CRUEL. I have had pet house bunnies for many years and they love drinking out of a water bowel. If they have enough space they will not knock it over, but are very neat and tidy. If space is tight, a water bowl can be affixed to the walls of the habitat.

    I also think it’s cruel to deprive a bunny of a litter box; bunnies are fastidious about using their litter and they also love hanging out in a clean litter box, the litter probably reminds them of the earth that indoor rabbits are deprived. The House Rabbit Handbook recommends keeping a handful of hay in the litter box for them to nibble on.

    Bunnies are the most adorable and wonderful pets on the face of this earth but they need lost of TLC and not to be mauled by children!!!

  • (( MAN is bunny pee and poo smelly!! ))

    Bunny pellets are virtually odorless and their urine is not even 1/2 as smelly as cat’s urine. Of course, like any caged pet the cage has to be kept clean to keep the odor down. I have found that once a week is plenty for an overall habitat cleaning, the litter box every day, just like a cat.

  • Come on guys, cut her some slack! This bunny house is a serious labor of love. We all make “mistakes” the first time on something new – that’s how we learn. We can’t know all the regulations for bunny safety our first time. I think the project is fantastic – beautiful really. I bet my cats would love hanging out in it.

    On the subject of CATS…
    What I want to know is – who’s going to take on the project of hiding my cats’ kitty litter box? eh? any takers?

  • We had a French Lop, Phoebe. Like any animal, you have to clean up after them. We cleaned her cage, which had a metal bottom, and put fresh bedding down EVERY day. Phoebe ran free in the house when we were there, but camped out in her cage when we were at work or elsewhere. The metal cage with a removable metal bottom and a section covered with replaceable wood so that her feet weren’t on metal and she could chew to her heart’s content were necessities. As is daily cleaning of her space. Cleaning up after your pet and making them comfortable is part of the deal.

  • hello there design sponge!

    i’m not sure if you remember me or not but my friend lindsey adelman connected us a while back.

    i have three rabbits and they are all free range. i anxiously await the post about you bunny proofing your house!!!! hint hint.

    i also so look forward to people not even considering putting a bunny in a cage….when you are ready to bunny proof your house if you need any help at all feel free to call on me. i think one of the dangers of making a ‘great’ cage is that the owners end up feeling like it’s also a great place for the bunny to be.

    i hope you still have my email. if not it’s posted on my blog http://www.potentiallynervous.blogspot.com


    patricia aka ‘alice’

  • Hi everyone! I just wanted to thank you all for the lovely comments (and concerns). I’ve addressed quite a few of the questions on my blog; here is the direct link to the post ( http://www.designcuriosities.com/2009/08/bunny-hutch-q.html ). We are currently making some modifications to the hutch, and I will let y’all know when they are complete.

    Grace, I will e-mail you the modification instructions once they are complete, so that if you want, you can update them on this post. Thanks!


  • I had to comment on your hutch! It is sooo cute. I had a Holland for 8-years, Paige, before he passed on. He actually had his own room and never lived in a cage, but I would be proud to have this one in my home.

  • Thank you so much for offering this design to rabbit owners who love modern style! This “cage” is a great canvas, as you can add in some wonderful rugs & fun bunny toys. You can even choose your own flooring and find a local artist to paint (non toxic) images in the inside.

    I like how the litter box/hay (messy area) can be hidden. Unfortunately I just bought new rabbit cages a few months ago, but I hope to use this design within the next year, so my 2 caged bunnies can each have one. I wish my 2 free range bunnies could have one, too, but they wouldn’t need it….I bet they will be jealous!

  • What a beautiful rabbit hutch! I wish I had something so lovely when I had a bunny of my own!

  • Sorry, I don’t mean to be awkward, but wire is even worse than tile! If the tile is covered in sawdust or something similar to soak up wetness then it will be fine, but wire will hurt your poor bunny’s feet and they will have to go to the vet..

  • I love this hutch! I am definitely going to copy this. I
    have free-roaming bunnis, but they still need a place of their own
    with their litterbox, food and water and what an excellent way to
    hide all this mess! I love it! I wish you would update with more
    fancy pictures of Eames’ crib :)

  • I think it looks like a labor of love. I have to agree I worry about the materials being harmful. I like to try to fit myself into my pets life, giving them the run where ever possible. As their keepers we have to weigh a lot of factors, Safety, appearance, space allotment, I commend you for your efforts.

  • WOW..amazing..

    if i can figure out how, can i add this to my environments page on my web-site?
    It is awesome!

  • Ugggh! The designers should have done some rabbit research before they went to all this trouble. This cage looks okay, but I wouldn’t put my rabbit in it…painted wire mesh and particle board, which rabbits like to chew on. also sounds as if there’s quite a bit of hardware going on inside (hinges and such) that they can get cut on or try to chew. Sorry, you should scrap this cabinet and go buy a safe cage.

  • Great hutch! Have you noticed that on the last picture, the white part looks like a bunny? ^^

  • Beautiful and brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for :) Greetings from Finland!

  • Its an awesome bun house but i was wondering if it could survive outside. I wonder if you could like alter it to make it hardier?

  • I’m in the process of making a similar Besta hutch after reading your blog I was wondering where you got the tile? I liked the ones you used and the only ones I’ve found similar were SUPER expensive

  • Hey Madeline, we purchased the tile from an outlet called Floor and Decor. It was back in 2009, so most likely they don’t have it anymore.

    JL, I wouldn’t recommend Ikea furniture for outside unless it’s specifically made for it.