diy project: nicole’s modern bunny hutch

3693740767_1a0fd64d80_o
[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!

materials

– 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

tools

– 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

instructions

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

bunnyhutch_centerpiece

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.

cutting-grate

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!)

tiling
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

mixgrout

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

left-door

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

bunnyhutch_eamesthree

  1. Lauren Silagy says:

    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

  2. Amy says:

    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.

  3. Shayne says:

    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.

  4. Anna @ D16 says:

    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:
    http://www.leithpetwerks.com/

    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.

  5. Bunny Lover says:

    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!!!

  6. Bunny Lover says:

    (( 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.

  7. Breana says:

    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?

  8. EBrown says:

    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.

  9. 'alice' says:

    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

    smiles,

    patricia aka ‘alice’

  10. n says:

    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!

    -n

  11. 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.

  12. Amy says:

    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!

  13. Fionna says:

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

  14. Lucy says:

    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..

  15. Urs says:

    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 :)

  16. Carol says:

    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.

  17. vicki says:

    WOW..amazing..

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

  18. Lauren says:

    I was absolutely amazed/inspired when I saw this… It’s gorgeous! I needed a new media center anyway, so I adapted my own version from Nicole’s design… See how it turned out on my blog =)

    http://www.laurenmechelle.com/2011/04/a-besta-bunny-hutch-for-jack/

  19. Linda says:

    how is the cage set up now? have you found that it works well?

  20. Rocco says:

    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.

  21. Steph says:

    What a beautiful thing to do :-)

  22. Maria says:

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

  23. Hanna H. says:

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

  24. Jl says:

    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?

  25. Madeline says:

    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

  26. Nicole says:

    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.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.