before and afterfurniture

before & after: iris’s credenza + michael’s dresser

by Kate Pruitt

i know a lot of people out there hate ikea and all it stands for. however, i think it would be unwise to discount the amazing role ikea has played in the diy design universe. in fact i think ikea should be hip to the trend and start selling products that support the hacking of their furniture: a line of paint colors and power tools, perhaps? better yet, they should hold a contest for diy-ers and offer to manufacture the winning furniture hack. i would certainly nominate iris and her modern credenza for mass production. i love the olive green and burnt orange colors; the unexpected combination feels equally perfect for fall as it does for spring. according to iris, the trick to achieving a nice finish on this type of piece is to give it a couple good coats of high adhesion primer, then follow with a high quality oil based enamel. the results are amazing. great work, iris! –kate

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

i just finished reading julia child’s my life in france– i’m late to the party on that one, i know. apart from being utterly charmed and inspired, i now desperately desire a rustic, well-stocked kitchen, preferably accompanied by the scent of freshly baked french loaves. this cabinet makeover from michael fuels my craving even more. he snagged this piece for £4 ($6!). with a quick and inexpensive coat of paint, he transformed it to better suit his tastes. i love the decision to leave natural wood on the shelf and the knobs; the warm wood provides a perfect contrast to the icy blue hue. the result is a lovely example of modern country style. great work, michael!

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  • Brilliant suggestions for Ikea!! I’ve hacked a couple of their products recently, and wow, look at that cabinet. From quite ugly, really, to absolutely charming…

  • that credenza looks amazing and no longer ikea-y! (although, honestly there’s nothing wrong with ikea-y, they have some great pieces, and as long as you mix them in with something else, or make them your own in another way, it can still look unique)

  • I can understand some hatred of Ikea, but to defend them, their products and the company its self are more eco-friendly and sustainable than the majority of high end furniture available.

  • I think Ikea is a wonderful store, as long as you don’t buy something you have to put together, which is most of their inventory. I love to see Ikea hacked items, it truly is amazing that these people can take the long required hours to actually put them together and then re-invent them to a new inspiring piece. Hats off to Iris for this one.

  • People hate IKEA and all it stands for? What? Really? They hate that someone is making inexpensive furniture with good lines available to everyone who can get to their stores? Sheeesh.

  • I did a senior project on IKEA and a lot of my partner and my suggestions were about how they could encourage the DIY subculture that loves them so much!

  • I totally agree, the weakness of Ikea is that they are in so many households (apparently one bed out of three in Europe is an ikea one…), that some people hate it for that.
    I would love them to develop a range of products easier to customise ( like unpainted kitchen doors !)

  • LOVE LOVE Iris’ piece! The color combo is awesome. Do you know how she acheieved those cabinent doors? They aren’t the original doors, right?

  • cheryl: Agreed, but most people buy IKEA furniture and then throw it away 2 years later when it falls apart. So I’m not sure how eco-friendly it really is, compared to something that will last forever and can always be sold and resold.

    Zina: Some of us don’t like the particular style that IKEA sells– it’s quite limiting. And there’s the fact that you can walk into almost any 20-something-year-old’s apartment and see the same IKEA stuff arranged in the same uncreative way.

    Of course, I’m not talking about those who spruce up IKEA pieces with some DIY work– I think that’s very cool! Though I do question putting so much work into a piece whose underlying structure is not that durable.

  • Thanks for the nice comments on the credenza! I very much appreciate them. This particular ikea credenza I’ve had for over 10 years. I got it in college when I got my first new place. It’s held up remarkably well through 4 or 5 moves. Functionally, it’s great. Style wise, not so much. I have been looking for a vintage piece to replace it for a long time, but haven’t found the right thing in my budget. So, I got inspired to repurpose what I had.

    Sarah-You are right, not the original doors. I went to my local lumber yard, and had them precut 4 pieces of plywood to size. Then using the original doors as a guide, drilled holes in the new doors and added back the original hardware.

  • @Caroline: yes, but I don’t like “midcentury” — well, bored as all get out with it, is really more like it, and that doesn’t mean I despise people who make it or sell it or decorate with it or what have you. And I don’t see that people not having any creative impulses with IKEA furniture is IKEA’s fault.

    It’s creatively lazy to blame non-creative decorating on IKEA, is what I’m saying.

    IKEA is great for exactly what it is. The design philosophy may not be for everyone, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But it’s a strong, classic design philosophy, and I think a creative person can do a lot with IKEA furniture even without hacking it whatsoever. (Okay, changing out knobs and stuff doesn’t count.)

    I am sitting in my dining room/library, and am looking at an IKEA bookcase (Expedit). It looks fabulous in my Georgian flat. It’ll look even more fabulous after I’ve gotten the rest of my stuff out of storage and can really “do” the bookcase.

    Setting limits on where you can buy things are for the uncreative. :)

    Personally, I’d love to see more peeks at places that have little to no midcentury pieces in them, just to see if design*sponge can do it!

  • Great Ikea hack!
    Just an FYI – Ikea usually has a weekly super cheap special – in Canada, or at least Ontario its called Wacky Wednesdays. Each store features some items at an amazing discount – I’ve seen stuff listed for 90% off if they are trying to get rid of stock.
    Worth checking out if you are interested in experimenting.
    There is also the AS IS section – I picked up $25 cushion covers for $2, and they were in perfect condition.
    Good times!

  • I’d be curious to know the paint and color used on the kitchen cabinet. It’s a perfect shade of icy blue.

  • I don’t understand all of the negativity for Ikea. It is really bad that Ikea had a somewhat poor start (at least in Scandinavia) many years ago with poor quality furniture, missing bits and stuff. The quality of kitchens, sofas and other furniture has improved a lot. Furniture from ikea does not fall apart after a few years anymore. Personally, I think it is great that ikea is making modern, inexpensive furniture available for all.

  • Best “before&after” I’ve seen in here.
    I mean… Furthermore that it’s beautiful, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for furniture you would think they’re only good for trash after it stops matching your living room. (Very different from real wood pieces).
    Great job! And thank you for showing us how to make a long lasting piece out of a Ikeas furniture.

  • Golly. I didn’t think anything could save that hideous brown cabinet, but it looks good in the blue! And the natural wood portions keep it from being too sweet. Really nice makeover!

  • Just a thought here….sometimes cheap(er) furniture IS the way to go, then, when you get tired of it, you have no qualms about replacing it. I have a “good” sofa that is 19 years old and it shows NO signs of wear. I could recover it or make slip covers, but changing the shape of the back & arms is a bigger project than I would tackle.

  • I’m loving that wooden products seem to be making a comeback, but with a modern edge. You’re totally right about Ikea, they have products that can make a great starting point for a unique piece of furniture, if you’re prepared to invest a little time.

  • This is just the type of shelf I want to find some day and cover in yummy paint. The transformation from ugly to cool is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Love the Ikea hack! And Ikea furniture doesn’t have to be throw-away furniture. Just like with most things, if you take care of it, it’ll last a long time. Iris above did say that she’s had the piece for over ten years and I also own Ikea furniture that I’ve had for over 5 years, to say the least.

  • Some years ago IKEA actually had a few spreads in their catalouge on how to transform some of their pieces to use in a new ways. Maybe not revolutionary, more like painting a stool and making it into a toy horse, but still…
    A very popular swedish TV show on antiques had a part when they brought 18th century furniture into the IKEA store just to show that THE MIX and what happens when two styles meet is what makes it interesting…

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