Millions of homeowners the world over have been given a great blessing in the form of flat-pack furniture, which ranges from tables and chairs to kitchen cabinets. It’s inexpensive, it can (normally) brought home on the day it is purchased, and it’s simple to assemble.
Okay, that last one is a white lie, but if you are handy with a screwdriver and an Allen key, welcome some painting and gluing, and want an item that is distinct and kind-of-handmade, then hacking your flat-pack furniture may be the right path for you.
The simplest transformation of them all is by adding colour. Many pieces of flat-pack furniture are available in bare wood, so paint or stain it to make the most of it. If you know how to use a staple gun, you could even envelop an item like a no-frills rectangular bedhead with fabric – it will get a padded look with some thin sheets of foam beneath.
And furniture that already has a finished surface can still be uniquely your own. With a stencil and some paint make it your own using custom colours. You don’t need to get tricky – all it takes are basic, graphic shapes. You can even paste cut-out images or posters. Use a coat of clear sealer to cover the decorated surface. This will prevent the changes you’ve made from rubbing or peeling off. The children will adore it.
It’s fine to turn that furniture over. Standing your credenza on its end may not be what you want, but turning a tall, narrow bookcase or CD tower on its side and bolting it to your wall to use it as a short, wide display shelf is a breeze. Thinking laterally, you can install a bedside lamp on the base of a storage unit or shelf on top of your bed for a accessible down light.
Do you need additional storage space, a computer stand or a place to park your pencil for your study? A simple solution is by gluing and screwing two furniture feet at each end of a long rectangular bit of wood to create a raised shelf on top of your desk. A set of wood CD or DVD shelves rolled on their side would also form a nice hatch. And to organise your disorderly computer cables, fasten or screw a set or two of wood-mounted hat hooks along the back border of the desk fronting outwards for winding coiling the cords around. At Ikea’s inspiration section on their website, you will find lots of ideas similar to these.
Do you have a blank wall space or require additional space? Bolt a combination of small wood shelves, storage boxes or even surplus drawers in contrasting heights on the wall in order to create an asymmetrical display space.
If you are a keen Lego builder, then you’ll like this: imagine your flat-pack furniture as a group of construction materials. You can transform the sides of a disassembled bookshelf into a desk top using a couple of saw horses. You can create a garden trellis by weather sealing a frame of an open-sided wood shelving unit. Attach a few shelves or draws back to back to make a coffee table, or use a set of doors to build a room divider.
Build a wall-mounted valet stand by cutting off the front of a timber chair so all that will remain are the back legs, backrest and roughly 100 mm of seat. Fasten the chair to the wall, with the back fronting forward.
Raising a bookcase 500 mm or so from the floor by fixing it to the wall produces an entire fresh look. Just ensure you bolt into the studs behind the gyprock, or you may see a hole in your wall the size of a bookcase.
Here you can allow your imagination to run wild – don’t be scared to experiment. Below are some great ideas:
Make decorative cut-outs on the face or sides of a wooden cabinet, draw or door.
Mix and match colours and finishes on wooden cabinet doors
Rather than using magnetic wall strips to store kitchen knives, turn to toy cars or spice jars with metal lids
Fix adhesive picture hooks to the front face of the backing board in big photo frame and hook it close to the door as key holder.
With furniture hacking is rising in popularity, more “pimping” resources are cropping up. Watch out for sites to purchase alternative drawers and doors, glass panels, furniture feet and similar items, but don’t allow it to delay your own home-grown DIY hacks. What is important is to see with fresh eyes your current pieces and the displays at your local flat-pack furniture. Just a warning – furniture hacking can be addicting!
Be inspired by some of the hacks on our Pintrest page.