Thursday, May 21, 2015

Build It - IKEA Besta Built-In Hack

 Yesterday I gave you an in depth view of the shelf styling of my built-ins with the promise that today I would go into more detail about how I made them using Ikea Besta units. First things first, a before and after of the space.

Formal Living Room After

Formal Living Room Before
That red wall that you see in the back is the wall where the built-ins are now. The red portion of the wall was a 7" recessed arched panel. Because this space had the recessed arch, my husband and I went back and forth thinking of ideas on how to fit built-ins there.  In my mind it was the perfect spot and you see them first thing when you walk in the front door, so no other place would do. Normally you would build them against a flat wall. Easy peasy. Our first thought was to tear out the arch way so the built-in units would fit nicely against the wall and not overlap the tray ceiling. But, after a few test holes in the drywall to see what was back there, we found out the entire arch was plywood. We realized it would be way more work to try to cut that out than just building a stud support system for the arch so that the Besta units had something to sit flush against and be secured to.

Unfortunately I don't have photos of the process since we constructed this before I started blogging again, but I will walk you through our process. We used two by fours to create two rectangular frames that fit in the recessed panel and came out far enough to be even with the pieces of wall on either side of the panel. We attached these frames to the studs in the wall so that the units would now have something to attach to in the back. Here is my pitiful drawing of what the space looked like with these new support pieces. The X's are where we attached the supports to the studs in the wall.

Next came the Besta units. After researching tons of Ikea built-in hacks using both Bestas and Billys, I decided to go with the Besta units because I liked the bottom door options better on those. But this meant two things. One, was that when the doors were added to the bottom of the Besta units, the doors were flush with the ground and there wouldn't be a place to add baseboard trim to make the units look built-in. To remedy this, we built a base out of two by fours for the Besta units to sit on. It was pretty much a rectangle the same width as all of our units with mid supports where the edges of each Besta would sit. This raised them off the ground enough that the doors could open easily and we could put trim along the bottom. The other issue with the Besta units is that the widest unit that they have is only about 24". That meant there wouldn't be room for our TV. An Ikea hack was needed!

To get the double wide Besta for the center of the built-ins, I purchased these two pieces from Ikea:

47 1/4x15 3/4x15 "  - $50
23 5/8x15 3/4x50 3/8 " - $70

I then used the top pieces from the double wide unit and the side pieces from the tall unit to create the large center piece. Now that I had the frame, I had to find a backing for the new large unit and some shelves since the backing and shelves that came with the two units were not large enough. This meant a trip to Lowes. The measurements of the new hacked unit were 47 1/4" by 50 3/8", so I needed a white back panel that would be large enough to fill that space. Luckily, Lowes has a white hardboard panel that was about 1/4" thick and 4' by 8'. I purchased that panel along with two pieces of aspen wood for the new shelves. At home I cut the shelves to size and routed out little spaces for the shelf brace pieces to fit. I then cut the hard board to my 47.25" and 50.675" dimensions using my Dremel Saw Max. The last step in this hack was to cut away a portion of the back groove in the Besta where the back panel went because my 1/4" panel was a little bit larger than the opening in the Besta. But once that was done, the panel slid in and the shelves got added and the hack portion was done. You can see this unit in the middle here. (I know this is a lot of confusing detail, but just look how pretty!).

Once all the other Besta units were assembled (there are three more of those short, wide units at the top, and four more of the tall but skinny units on the bottom). I set them in place on top of my 2 by 4 base that I created. The bottom units went first and were attached to the wall and new stud panel we created in the recessed arch with some L-brackets. Then the top units were added and attached to the wall with more L-brackets.

I cut a hole in the bottom portion of the hard board in the TV unit piece to access the outlet and cable line and the cords just come up between the shelf and the back hard board piece.

The final step was adding the doors, hardware, and trim. For the doors I went with the Hanviken door (looks like a plain shaker style door) and for the hardware, I splurged and got rectangular brass pulls by Lewis Dolin at the Hardware Hut for $14 each. I think they look good and add some unique character to a plain Ikea piece.

Now for the trim. I purchased crown molding to match my existing crown in this room, but it was impossible to find matching baseboard trim, so I just went with the closest I could find. I also purchased some primed MDF pieces in the correct size to go over the gaps where the units touched. I needed some 1" for the sides and some 1.5" pieces for the tops where the units touched each other and some 2.5" pieces to fill in the gaps between the units and the wall. Here you can see the units assembled and up on the 2 by 4 base. Notice the lines/gaps where the units touch and the space between the wall and the far sides of the unit.

I used a brad nail gun to attach the trim, the crown, and the baseboard to the unit. For the side pieces, I attached a small piece of 1 by 2 to the wall at the studs so that I had something to attach the mdf trim between the wall and the side of the built-in.

After all the trim was cut and nailed on, I used caulk to fill in the nail holes, gaps between the trim pieces, and the extra shelf holes. The final step is to paint the primed mdf trim to match the Besta paint, but I haven't done that step yet. I will let you know when I do and what method works the best.

Hopefully this post wasn't too confusing. It was a long process that took a couple of weeks for us, but I am so thrilled with the results! And I think once I add everything up, it cost less than $1000 for a super custom looking built-in wall. The short version: built frames to attach to the back, built a frame for them to sit on, put them all in place, secured them, put on molding and trim, put on handles, and caulked the gaps.

This was the first time we tried something this epic, so if you've got a similar project that you're kind of dreading, just make sure you take your time and measure everything out accurately.  Also, think the whole project through (how will this attach to this? where will this fit? what will cover up this gap?) before you get started.  We've had plenty of projects that we got knee-deep in only to realize we forgot/missed/measured badly and had to backtrack.  That's part of the process, but mapping it out as best you can beforehand can save you some potential headaches.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gallery Wall Wednesday - The Built-Ins

Last weeks Gallery Wall Wednesday post technically featured the last of my homes gallery walls with my husbands office. You can see the other gallery walls in my home here, here, here, and here. This week I am going to stray from the technical definition of gallery wall with a glimpse of my built-ins. If you have been reading along, you have seen these before in my post about my Morrocan table makeover, but today I wanted to give you some more close ups of the shelf styling.

This wall used to look much different when we first moved in as you can see here.

The built-in shelves predominately feature items in varying shades of blue, with some yellows/gold thrown in. I also made sure to space the shelves out enough so that the built-ins don't look cluttered. Then it was just a matter of adding books going in various directions, tall items, short items, pictures, and curios. Below are a few of the shelves of my built-ins along with a few source details.

This is one of my favorite shelves in my built-in. I love the eclectic brass look of it. The globe and suitcase were from Home Goods, the brass rhino was from Hobby Lobby, and the brass planter was from World Market. 

As you can see from the close ups of the different shelves, they each contain varying heights, textures, and fun objects. The best part is that these are always changing and evolving. I can't wait for the holidays when I can decorate the shelves with all my Christmas decor!

 The decor items on most of my shelves were either acquired from Home Goods, Target, Ross, Hobby Lobby, a local craft show, or a thrift store. If you are interested in where a specific piece came from, please let me know! Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed the peek at my "gallery wall" built-ins.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Make It - A Geometric Canvas Headboard

I have been working on decorating my guest bathroom lately which has also got me thinking about what I want to do with our guest room. Given it really isn't used much, but right now it is just a hodge podge of different items that didn't work well in the rest of the house and a bed. One easy thing that I did do for the guest room was make a geometric painted canvas headboard.

The bed frame that we have in the guest room is from Ikea and doesn't have a real headboard. there is a piece back there, it is just flush with the top of the mattress. That being the case, I decided to make a quick and inexpensive headboard of sorts to give the room a little something. I already had these canvases on hand, but you can easily get some at your local craft store. Just be sure to pick them up when they are on sale or use a coupon to save some money.

The two other items that you will need are some craft paint and some skinny floral tape. This is the tape that I used.

You can see that it isn't the standard floral tape that stretches and gets sticky. This tape was in the same area as that floral tape, but it is more like skinny duct tape. It is about 1/4" wide. 

Now you just tape off the canvas with strips on tape going in various directions. There is no rhyme or reason to the tape pattern, just do what you like and be sure to overlap the tape in some places to create an interesting pattern. Once your canvas is all taped to your liking, use your craft paint to paint the canvas. I wanted the two canvases to play off each other, so I painted some of the light blue from the top canvas into some of the spaces of the dark blue canvas. I also used some light gold in some of the spaces of the top canvas to give it more dimension. Once your paint is dry, remove the tape (this is my favorite part).

 Now is is time to hang your headboard art. I placed them above the bed enough so that the pillows could easily lean against the wall instead of the canvases. Make sure to center them on the bed and your done. I love the impact this simple project gives to this room. It really turns this wall into a focal wall as well. Art and functionality in one swoop.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Install It - A New Light Fixture and a Quick Landscape Update

The weather here in central Texas has been on and off rain for at least a week or two and looks to be continuing for the next 10 days. Which is great for our drought, but not so good for our front yard landscaping plans. Between rainstorms this weekend, we were able to finalize and plant the native plants in the lower landscape bed and install some landscape fabric. So this bed is now ready for rock. The pathway still needs to be graded with some paver sand and possibly some crushed rock, then we can work on bringing in the large limestone paver stones. So if the weather continues, it looks like we are still about two weeks out from finishing this project. I hope to give you an update on the progress next Monday. 

Now on to the project we actually got finished this weekend. We installed a new foyer light! Usually light installation doesn't take us long, but I have had this light for 6 months just sitting in the guest room taunting me. The issue we kept running into was the height of the ceiling in the foyer. We have a two story house and the entryway is open through both floors. Which means that the ceilings are about 18' tall and the light is right in the center which means that our leaning extension ladder wouldn't work to give us access to the light canopy. I asked at Home Depot for some possible solutions, but it looked like the only option was to rent a hydraulic lift for $149 or rent and assemble some exterior scaffolding. Neither of which I wanted to do. Thus, we were left with a light fixture just sitting there.

Then I had a brilliant, yet not really recommended, idea for using the existing foyer light canopy and chain and just cutting the hardwired cord and splicing it with the new light fixture cord. Now, as a warning, I am not an electrician and don't want to give you the go ahead to do this in your own home, I am just sharing what we did for informational purposes. That being said, here is what we did to install our new light.

Here is the existing pendant fixture. Yeah, that guy is gross and tiny and didn't work well to light up the foyer at all.

The first thing we did was cut the power on the breaker for this light, then we put the extension ladder up on the wall between the light and the balcony overlook. As my husband stood on the balcony and I was on the ladder, we used a hanger to hook the light and bring it over to us. We unscrewed the ring attachment on the old light fixture that attached the pendant to the chain. When this ring was off, I was able to slip off the nut and ground wire that was attached between the ring and the pendant. I then used wire cutters to cut the hardwire and free the pendant. I separated the hot and neutral wires in the hardwired cord and stripped about 1/3" off the ends of each.

 Here is the pendant after it was removed from the chain. You can see the clipped wires coming out of the top. And below is the picture (from my phone so sorry about the pic quality) of the clipped and stripped wires and the ring and ground wire washer still on the chain.

Now came time to install the new fixture. I cut the wire cord on the new fixture (making sure to give myself some slack in case I needed it when connecting it to the existing canopy wires), split and stripped each wire in the new fixture hardwire line, and removed the ring and ground wire. I then slipped the ground wire washer from the old light fixture over the bolt on the new light and reconnected the ring. Next I used a carabiner that came with the new light fixture to attach the ring portion of the new light to the existing chain attached to the ceiling canopy. This made the new fixture attached to the ceiling, so all that was left was to attached the live wires to each other and the neutral wires to each other. Usually they are marked back and white, but since I was cutting the hardwire cords and splicing them, I had to guess at which was which. One wire from each hardwire line had voltage and other electrical info written on them, so I guessed that these were the black live wires and the others were the neutral white wires which turned out to be correct. I used the small wire nuts included in the new light fixture parts to attach the two live wires to each other and the two neutral wires to each other. Then I used black electrical tape to wrap each wire nut and attach it to the hardwire line. This helped to conceal my hardwire hack.

The only thing left was to turn the power back on and admire my new foyer light. The only real issue with this method (aside from the fact that the two wires are spliced together outside of the ceiling canopy) is that the chain and ceiling canopy are a different color than the new light fixture. Normally this would bother me, but the light is so high up, it really is hard to tell from the ground. Eventually we plan on repainting the ceilings here and in our living room, and we will need scaffolding for that, so we can always change those out at that time. Otherwise, I am happy that we finally were able to get this light up and didn't have to rent a large lift just to do it.