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5 Hot Ikea hacks

No one likes to admit they go to Ikea for their furniture, even though we all do. Now, savvy shoppers are pimping their Ikea pieces to create bespoke designs at bargain prices

There’s no need to be embarrassed about buying furnishing your flat from Ikea – no one need ever know with these clever Ikea hacks that will transform the identikit items into unique, hand-crafted furniture. There are even entire websites and companies dedicated to transforming Ikea basics into brilliant bespoke furniture for a fraction of the cost. In fact, even the Swedish giant is now encouraging shoppers to customise their kit with specialist wood paints, fabric, paper and new handles. Try these hacks out for size..


Personalise with a fine pine canvas
Ikea is famous for its wooden furniture, especially solid pine, which is easy to paint, stain, collage and customise. The Tarva range of untreated pine drawers have been deliberately designed to be a blank canvas.
“Both the simple design and the untreated wood are typical for the Scandinavian furniture tradition,” say designers Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg. “And because you can stain or paint TARVA without further treatment, the design becomes a collaboration between us and the person who decorates it”.
Here the Tarva six drawer chest, £125, has been painted with Ikea’s own Behandla glazing paint, 375ml, £4.20, which comes in a range of colours.


Updated door handles

This Malm chest of drawers (£49) is an Ikea staple, but add some handles and it takes on a fresh new look.

Take a selection of stones – the ones here are flint and chalk (which already had natural holes in it – that are between five and 10 centimetres in size. Glue around the middle of the stone with a glue gun, wrap twine or rattan cord twice around the glue and leave a good length of twine at either end to attach them to the drawers. Thread twine through the holes in the chalk stones.


Decide where you want to put your handles and drill two holes for each handle, 2cm apart.

Then thread the ends of each cord from your handles through the holes and tie them together on the inside of the drawer.


Relax in a reading nook

Take three Ikea Lack side tables (£25 each) and put them together to create a bench, then measure the top to work out what size your seating pad should be – leave some space at the end if you want a surface to put down a cup of tea or books.

Cut a piece of foam to fit the bench, then choose your covering fabric and cut it out with and extra 5cm in length and width than you need. Fold the fabric in half, right side in, and sew the length and one of the short sides, leaving 1cm seam allowance. Turn the cover the right side out and cover the foam, then fold the corners of the open end and stitch it closed. Then place it on the bench and accessorize it with books, cushions, and a tray. See how to do it at www.hestershandmadehome.com

IKEA belt shelf 1

A hanging book shelf

This on-trend leather and wood shelf looks reassuringly expensive, but blogger Ronja Lotte made it for just a couple of pounds. Using and Ivar (£4) shelf board (which she cut down to her desired size) and an old leather belt, the whole thing cost less than the price of a book.

First saw the shelf down to the size you want (cutting off the ends to create a neat edge), then paint the shelf. If you have two identical belts to hang at either end you’ll get the best finish, but you can also cut one wide belt in half. Cut or drill a hole at each end of the belt, about 4cm from the end, then hang it from the wall. Find her project and others on www.ikeahackers.net


Create a four-poster bed

Serial hacker, Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Furniture Hacks (£14.99, Cico Books) features this striking contemporary four-poster bed with an integrated shelf and storage, which looks as though it could have cost ten times the £165 price tag of the original Malm double bed that it is made from.

It’s a bit more of a DIY project as you’ll need to build the four upright posts and top beams, but it only costs a few pounds for the wood and paint (it’s worth painting the existing bed and the new posts so that it all matches) and a bit of elbow grease.

For the full lowdown visit Hester’s blog.

3 Instant Ikea Hacks

Don’t like DIY? Then get a professional to do it for you…


Swedish design experts who take Ikea kitchens and cabinets and customise the colour, doors, tops, legs and handles, to create spectacular furniture that is still cheaper than buying bespoke. www.superfront.com

Pretty Pegs

It’s amazing what a difference small details can make. These replaceable wooden furniture legs add instant personality and panache to your regular Ikea sofa, bed, table or sideboard. www.prettypegs.com


These graphic and photographic patterns stick onto Ikea furniture to create a completely different look, that’s easy to create and to change when you get bored. www.thisismykea.com


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Don’t just recycle, Upcycle

Don’t let boring furniture bring you down – with a bit of imagination and some elbow grease you can upcycle it into something amazing in no time. Try these design projects out…

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.50.16

A Paul Klee-inspired dotty chest

Chalk paint creator Annie Sloan was inspired to create this chest of drawers after seeing avant garde artist Paul Klee’s watercolour, Polyphony (1932).

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.50.35

  1. Find a fairly modern chest of drawers to upcycle and paint the entire chest with Chalk Paint Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan in Paris Grey (from £5.95 a pot, www.anniesloan.com) to provide a good neutral background.
  2. Rip off large flaps from cardboard boxes and paint onto them. Then press the cardboard squares onto the cabinet to give a slightly uneven effect.
  3. When the entire area is covered, roughly apply the same colours onto some bubble wrap and press the ‘tips’ of the bubble wrap onto the surface of the chest of drawers to create the dot effects.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.48.25

Skateboard shelves

Upcycle That (www.upcyclethat.com) collaborated with Bacardi to turn these skateboard into a suspended shelves drinks cabinet, but we’d like them in our own home, too. Best of all, it’s dead easy to do.

  1. Take three old skateboard decks and stack them in the order that you want to hang them; add new grip tape if you want to freshen up the look of the decks.
  2. Working from the bottom of your lowest deck, thread one length of 1/8” aircraft cable (at least 4 feet long) through the pair of outer holes, where the wheels were once screwed in. Pull the cable taut to make a tight loop at the bottom of the cable and each side of the wire is even. Repeat on the other end of the deck.
  3. Unscrew the bolts of four 1/8” wire rope clamps and tighten them snugly around the cables above the skateboard.
  4. Measure 14 inches up the cable and mark the point with a marker pen on all four cables. Secure wire clamps to the spots, then thread the cables through the bottom of the next deck.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to secure the final two boards in place. Then measure 14 inches up again (or as long a length as you want your shelves to hang down from the ceiling), add four 1/8” wire rope clips (to form a loop) and secure with clamps.
  6. Drill four hooks into the ceiling and hang your shelves (http://www.upcyclethat.com/crafted-cabinets).

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.42.04

Crate storage

Old crates are a mine of creativity, Stack them on their sides to create a quirky shelving unit, like this one from Great British design brand Loaf, add wheels the bottom to make drawers, screw four of them together, each facing outwards to create a coffee table with shelving for magazines underneath.

You can pick up old crates in junk shops or buy these pretty, vintage-looking ones (from £12.50, www.pastellane.co.uk).

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.45.33

Create an interesting wall display with old fruit crates by first sanding down any splinters; then paint the inside back of the crate with two coats of Curpinol Garden Shades Forest Mushroom and Warm Flax. Lastly screw them together and fix them to the wall using shelf brackets and screws if you choose, in any configuration that you like.




Half-painted furniture

Brown wooden furniture looks old-fashioned, but completely painted wooden furniture can look a bit “Changing Rooms”. For a modern update, try “dipping” the legs of a chair or table in bright colours – use masking tape to get a clean finish and then sand and paint the lower half of the legs. Mix and match your chairs for a really contemporary look.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.57.23 Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.57.35

Or paint the top half of the chair – the seat and back of this retro British cult design Ercol chair have been sanded and then painted in Farrow and Ball’s St Giles Blue (£38, www.farrow-ball.com).


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Jam jar mugs

If you haven’t heard of Sugru (£12.99, www.sugru.com), you soon will. The mouldable, play-dough like glue sticks to virtually anything and is great for repairs and for modifying and upcycling everyday items.

  1. Take an old jam jar, remove the label and glue and thoroughly clean and dry it.
  2. Bend a fork into a handle shape.
  3. Mould a ball of Sugru about the size of a ten pence piece into as round a sphere as you can. Mould a second one the size of five pence piece.
  4. Stick the larger ball of sugru onto the jar where you want the top of your handle to be then press the jar against a flat surface to flatten the ball; stick the small ball onto the base end of the fork handle.
  5. Press the fork handle onto the Sugru and leave it to set for 24 hours before using it – because Sugru doesn’t conduct heat you can use your mug for tea and coffee without the handle getting hot.



My favourite upcyclers

Like the look but lack the DIY gene? Then buy a unique piece of furniture from one of these talented upcyclers, instead.


Ursh Stevens – whose fans include Theo Paphitis and Jacqueline Gold – upcycles pre-loved furniture and scrapyard finds into quirky pieces of art and practical-but-cool everyday items – shop mannequin standard lamp anyone? www.refunked.com

Florrie + Bill

British designer Amy Cawson takes vintage furniture – think mid-century Danish armchairs and Sixties’ G-Plan – restores it, and then breathes new life into it with modern fabric. www.florrieandbill.com

Trong Upcycling

Find Jez’ fab snowboard benches, golf club coat hooks and petrol can mini bars at www.remadeinbritain.com


This article appeared in Metro on 26 May

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The shape of spring to come: interiors trends 2015

Want to know what all the best-dressed homes will look like this year? Here’s a taste of what’s in store for 2015 – ten easy interiors trends that are on the up

Burnished metals and rose coppers are having a moment, adorning everything from lighting to vases, even cutlery. “What better way to add a touch of luxe and glamour to your room?” says interior design stylist Sarah Slimm, who works with the likes of Hammonds Furniture. “Set to make an impact in the coming seasons these metallic finishes will dominate the lighting and accessories market with surfaces ranging from smooth and shiny to a worn and riveted.”

habitat copper

Go dark and moody, as seen at Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk) and Heals (www.heals.co.uk), or pale and feminine, a look espoused by M&S (www.marksandspencer.com) for spring 2015.


It’s no coincidence that Dulux’s (www.dulux.co.uk) colour of the year for 2015 is Copper Blush. “The powder pink and rosy metal story shows no sign of waning as the interior design world heads into spring,” confirms Alicia Kaper from Joss and Main. “The secret to making this interiors trend look feel sophisticated is to choose rosy homeware that sits of the duskier side of pink, allowing burnished copper to gleam against it.”


Botanic gardens

Take your cue from Kew Gardens this year and let fauna and flora into your living room and home design – and we’re not just talking about living plants. Leaf, floral and insect prints adorn everything from sofas and cushions to rugs and prints this season.


M&S SS15
M&S SS15


Look for papers and fabrics from nature-inspired Scottish designers Timorous Beasties (www.timorousbeasties.com), bold hothouse palms that unfurl at House of Hackney (www.houseofhackney.com), or for moss-green velvet sofas, fern prints, and cushions buzzing with bees and moths – make a beeline for M&S, whose Botanical collection has to be one of their strongest statements for years. “The vibrant greens and beautiful insect prints will rejuvenate your room for the spring – it’s my favourite interiors trend this season,” explains Amy Horlacher, Living Buyer for M&S.

House of Hackney’s Palmeral print

At Liberty (www.liberty.co.uk), The Secret Garden collection of fabric and wallpapers launches in early 2015, taking its inspiration from the classic 1911 novel. “The book is filled with wonderful textile, colour and design references and amazing narration of the natural world. A diverse series of flora, foliage and texture will reflect the hues of the changing seasons,” comments Emma Mawston, Head of Design at Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors.

liberty secret garden

For a lighter take on the trend, try Laura Ashley’s (www.lauraashley.com) whimsical Palm House range in apple green and topaz – think palm leaf-print wallpaper, hummingbirds and exotic flowers.


Grey bedrooms
Scandi-inspired, grey furniture adds a softness and calm feel to bedrooms. Yorkshire-based Time4Sleep’s (www.time4sleep.co.uk) new Camden bedroom collection comes in pebble, a muted stone shade; Loaf’s latest Clementine and Lourdes wooden furniture has a distressed, grey wash; and The French Bedroom Company’s (www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk) grey painted rattan bed (£1295).




Salvage, reclaim and up-cycling
Thanks to the BBC’s Great Interior Design Challenge series people are painting up old cupboards, revamping furniture with new handles and patterns, and finding new uses for old things (suitcases as coffee tables or even shelves; baskets and lobster pots as light shades).

Junk shops and reclaim yards will be happy in 2015, as we breathe new life into pre-loved items to create unique pieces that add character to a home. Get some easy DIY home design ideas from Farrow and Ball’s website, or buy into the look at Loaf.com, whose rustic kitchen range has a very salvage feel about it – chicken wire lampshades and crate-style shelving, reclaimed from old buildings anyone?  loaf crate shelf loaf indiana lamp


Moody blues
Midnight hues, chalky Vermeer shades and bright cobalts – blue is the next “grey” for walls and interiors.

The new Abigail Ahern range for Sofa.com draws on the Victorian era for inspiration
The new Abigail Ahern range for Sofa.com draws on the Victorian era for inspiration

“Autumn’s key colour story evolves as we head into 2015, with inky blues transforming into bold, glossy cobalts and vibrant turquoises as the interiors world hankers for lighter, brighter shades,” notes Alicia Kaper, Joss & Main’s resident style expert. “Rich and uplifting, bright blues layer beautifully together and work best with natural tones. Pair your picks with relaxed fabrics such as muted linens and cottons which allow your bold blues to really pop.”

Artistic Blue -  low res
Think Artistic Blue from Ecos Organic Paints (www.ecospaints.com) as a darker, subtler backdrop, then add a statement piece of furniture, such as Abigail Ahern for Sofa.com’s Abigail sofa in Prussian blue, or Habitat’s new Elder storage unit in a faded aqua blue (£395).

habitat blue shelf


The Grand Canyon
Take inspiration from the arid tones of the desert: yellow ochre, burnt orange, sandy tans and rich earth tones of sepia, sienna and baked clay, to create a natural and strong colour palette in your home, with décor to match. Dulux has an entire colour range – Big Nature, Small Me – designed to capture the sun-scorched feel of the Arizona desert; vast and intimidating yet strikingly beautiful.

dulux big nature dulux bug nature

Both Tesco (www.tesco.com) and George Home (www.asda.com) have looked to the Wild West for ideas, too, to create trends that embrace the raw, organic nature. At George, things have gone a bit Navajo, with bold tribal prints, dreamcatchers and cactus plants juxtaposed against copper and faded greys. Tesco has gone a more Western with its New West trend, that features cushions that could be straight out of the Joshua Tree National Park, chunky leather furniture and patchwork prints that wouldn’t look out of place on a poncho in Santa Fe.

tesco ww


Industrial revolution
There’s no need to turn your home into a warehouse or office – but a few pieces of industrial-influenced accessories or furniture will let any guests know that you’re ahead of the curve in the British style stakes. Anything with skinny metal legs, or old museum or library-style filing or display cabinets would bring your home instantly up to date; as would an old-fashioned Edison-style filament light bulb in an industrial exposed wire shade (try BHS’s Billie Bulb light, £25, www.bhs.co.uk).

BHS Billie light
BHS Billie chandelier

Head to Heals, where a new Industrial Chic collection has just landed; find apothecary-style drawers at Asda; very industrial style tables and metal chairs at Tesco or shop the new Salvage Retro collection from Dunelm (www.dunelm.com), which features old-fashioned wooden filing cabinets as storage units (£299.99) and wheeled coffee-tables (£149.99).

Heals Industrial Chic range


tesco industrial
Tesco SS15


George at Asda


Paint Effects
You might have thought that the era of “paint effects” – rag rolling, sponging, faux wood effects – had died along with TV’s Changing Rooms, but this year, you might just be reaching for your rollers again.

At Dulux, they’re trying to encourage us to mix paints and create ombré effect walls, as well as to contrast window recesses in different colours and to paint each wall of a room in complementary-yet-contrasting tonal shades. Repeat after me “this is definitely NOT a feature wall”. Their website, www.dulux.co.uk is full of home design tips and style ideas to help you get creative with a paint brush or roller.

dulux ombre wall

dulux ombre paint

dulux paint effectdulux paint effect 2

Farrow and Ball (www.farrow-ball.com) has created a guide to painting and adding paint patterns to furniture and walls. And Laura Ashley’s new decorative paint rollers (£30, www.lauraashley.com) are a quick and easy way to get creative with your walls or furniture – you simply dip the roller in paint, which in turn covers the print cylinder as you roll it onto a surface.

FB dresser FB bureau


“Simplicity is key for this graphic trend,” says Emma Mann, Head of Home Design at Sainsbury’s, of a look that is grounded with a pared-back palette of black, off-whites and greys. Striking patterns on textiles and ceramics give the trend an eclectic, almost tribal feel for 2015. Sainsbury’s (www.sainsburys.co.uk) Monochrome Ceramic vase £10 and Furniture Village’s (www.furniturevillage.co.uk) boho-eclectic Harlequin corner sofa have a relaxed, modern vibe that doesn’t feel as harsh as some monochrome schemes, while M&S has gone Oriental.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 15.51.05

by Sainsburys Monochrome Ceramic Vase, £10


On the tiles
Move over laminate flooring, tiling is taking over. And the bolder and brighter the better. Patterns and geometric tiles are proving equally popular, with the likes of Bert and May, British Ceramic Tiles, Fired Earth and Original Style all paving the way. “Tight, small patterned tiles in monochromatic hues alongside bold large geometric tiles in a kaleidoscopic palette dominated this year’s London Design week,” confirms interior stylist Sarah Slimm. “This is a versatile trend applicable to all areas of the house from bathroom, kitchen and hallway floors and walls to a beautiful piece of showcase art in the living room. It’s a key trend that will definitely be picking up pace over the coming season.”



This article appeared in the Daily Mail on 2 January 2015.