It’s that time of year to dust off the paintbrushes and start to make our homes more beautiful – or practical as the case may be. I’m just about to start refinishing some furniture and I thought about last year’s project – my first IKEA hack – turning a small child’s dresser into some much needed shelving. It was quite an easy project so I thought I would share it with you; perhaps you like to recycle and upcycle like we do.
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Phil bought this small dresser for the kids not long after Kallista was born. For a while it sat in the kids’ bedroom, then they needed shelves for their books so we moved the dresser into a closet and it held their to-be-grown-into clothes and other things were stacked on top of it.
Over time the little plastic clips began to snap and then the drawers no longer wanted to open and close properly. It wasn’t big enough for both kids to use as a dresser, so it eventually went up into the attic when we cut down a wardrobe and put that into the closet to provide more shelving for storage without having to spend money and build our own.
A couple of years ago, as I was going through the attic and thinning through old clothes and toys for sale and donations, the neglected, broken dresser kept getting in my way. It was only taking up space and not serving a purpose.
I was looking at that dresser and wondering if something could be done with it. We couldn’t sell it or even give it away as it didn’t work…but perhaps I could make it work…
Yes, I thought it just might be possible to IKEA hack this dresser into a bookshelf after taking a few measurements!
We brought the Ikea dresser down and I dismantled it; taking the drawers all apart and removing the old clips from the sides of the frame.
Then I measured and asked Phil to cut one of the sides of a drawer into pieces to become side rails that would give my new shelves stability.
I’d already measured out where I wanted my shelves to be. Custom-fit for binders and zippered cases. If I was going to make my shelves, they may as well be bespoke!
I used the fronts of the drawers as the shelves as they were the longest pieces of wood and would sit just inside the frame nicely. They weren’t quite wide enough so we took one drawer-front and cut it down to size. These smaller bits sat at the back of each shelf and the bigger piece was placed at the front so it looked nicer.
Phil made all of the pilot holes for me, kind husband that he is.
Next up was waiting for a dry day to go outside and start sanding the pieces of wood. The drawers were unfinished, but a light sanding was needed to smooth them down and ensure all that ‘attic grime’ was gone.
This was a good opportunity for the kids to learn how to sand and have some fun, too!
After the sanding was done (first with a rougher grit sand paper, and then again with a finer grit) I wiped everything down with some white spirit.
I did the painting indoors. A few years ago when I painted all the doors, we took them outside but the wind just blew little pieces of leaves and dirt into the fresh paint along with curious flies and bugs. So I learned from experience to do all my painting indoors.
Newsprint went down on the floor and counters. Then I set to work with the paint. I was using the paint left over from a dresser I’d redone so I painted it to match. First I used the light green on everything as a base coat. The shelves themselves were going to be this green so I did about 3 coats in total to get a nice coverage on the raw wood.
Next I used masking tape to mark clean lines to separate the places I wanted to paint a cream colour to match our dresser and picture frames at the time.
Two quick coats of cream paint over the green and it was time to set the shelves into place. They weren’t quite a perfect fit as I was using what I had and not purchasing new wood. But as the shelves are now full you don’t know that.
I moved the new bookshelf into our room and started to add a few items to it. Over the past year more notebooks and novels have been added and it’s certainly being used well.
Simple bookshelves can be expensive to purchase new, and they’re difficult to find used in a good condition, but this Ikea hack bookshelf works perfect for me and didn’t cost me a penny as I had all of the supplies already in the house.
Do you upcycle any furniture or other items around your home? What are your summer projects this year?