Jul 17, 2012

This is the Story ... of a Lovely Ikea Shelf

This lovely Ikea shelf has traveled the world. Ok, maybe not the world, but across North America for sure. We bought it in Canada just after Ben's 30th birthday. I had gotten him a record player, which led to buying a receiver and speakers, and then naturally, we needed a place to store all that equipment. A trip to Ikea yielded this shelf, which made the cut to travel all the way back to Nashville last summer. Problem was, the color and style seemed all wrong in our new, more traditional space. And the cords ... don't get me started on how terrible those cords looked!


After doing a bit of reading (www.ikeahackers.net is AWESOME for ideas!) on whether I could successfully paint over Ikea veneer, I decided that remaking this shelf was doable and worth the effort. Especially since it's probably the most functional storage space ever - Max loves the toy boxes that he can easily slide out, and the easy access to his growing library! So here's what I did:

{1} I disassembled the whole thing and roughed it up a little. This is possibly the most important step! I went over both sides of each piece with a medium grit sandpaper, wiped with a wet rag, then repeated once more, making sure everything was clean and dry.

{2} Prime Time! I used a Kilz heavy duty, oil-based spray primer for most pieces, and a cheaper one once I ran out of the Kilz. The Kilz had great coverage and only took one coat, whereas the cheaper spray took two coats to get the same coverage. I tried to spray thin, even coats, but didn't worry too much about it since I knew I would sand out any imperfections in the next step.

{3} I let these dry for 24 hours, then sanded them with a really fine sandpaper (320 grit, I think). I found that sanding between coats is the real key to getting a smooth looking and durable final product.

{4} Now it was time to paint! I got a quart of Olympic's zero VOC paint in a glossy white and applied it with a small roller. Can I just say, the small paint roller rocks! It gave  great, smooth coverage and I don't know why I haven't been using this for all of my projects. I used two coats of paint, sanding lightly between coats.

{5} I went to Home Depot with my shelf's measurements in hand (scratch that - I forgot my measurements and called Ben for help), and the friendly lumber guys trimmed a piece of tempered hard board to size for me. It's shelved next to the plywood, but is more lightweight. This piece also got a layer of primer, a light sanding and cleaning, and then a top coat of my favorite paint color of the moment, Martha Stewart's Sea Glass (thanks for the tip, Amy!). 

In a very non-technical fashion, I reassembled my shelf and propped up the board behind it so that I could mark where to cut a hole for our electronics. I started small since we decided to move our stereo system downstairs (and away from curious toddler hands!) for now. To cut out a rectangle, I first etched out my shape with an exacto knife, and Ben actually busted out his electric saw to finish off the job.

{6} Next, it was just a matter of nailing the backboard into my finished shelf!

And I ended up with this!

Here's Max giving the "new" shelf a whirl. It's been living in our den (where it takes plenty of abuse!) for a few months now, and so far my paint is holding up really well. For a total cost of about $40, I'm pretty thrilled with the improvement!

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