Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interior Tuesdays are BACK! IKEA Expedit Hack Part 1

I promised some projects here and this first one is probably the one I’m most excited about. You may remember back when I went on an IKEA shopping spree in anticipation of all the changes that are happening around here. Well after several months of boxes sitting in my living room, and then a couple weeks of assembling eleven boxes of IKEA furniture and other rearranging, we finally got our sweet little Expedit bookshelf and desk put together and placed in our room.

It’s a beauty, but for me, it wasn’t functional as-is. The whole open-backed bookcase + my toddler = disaster waiting to happen. So after talking it through with my better half, we came up with some ideas of how to fix this problem and make that space usable. Cue the sketches:


We wanted to find a way to cover the back of the bookcase and then turn it into a fun activity area for kids using magnet boards, chalk board, and a homemade felt board.

But we’ll get to that later. Part one was covering the back of the thing. So I went to fabric.com and ordered this lovely lattice print to serve as the backdrop for MY side of the bookcase:


Once the fabric arrived we headed to Home Depot to get some plywood cut. I chose 5/8” ply instead of 3/4” just because I wanted the least amount of bulk possible. The bookcase part of my new craft desk measured exactly 58 1/2” x 58 1/2” which looks like this:


I knew that my fabric was only 56” wide and was just shy of being able to  cover the bookcase entirely in one width. I also knew plywood was 4’ x 8’ which is too narrow to cover the whole back as well. So I split the thing in half and had two pieces cut at 29 1/4” x 58 1/2”. I figured I’d wrap them both, and the seam would be hidden by the middle shelf divider. After the calculations and cutting were done it was time to get to work. Or better yet, time to put my husband to work. Now had I not been 7 1/2 months pregnant when we finally got around to doing this, I probably would’ve been able to do it myself. But as it was, I got to instruct him, watch, and take pictures. I’d say it was a win-win. : )

So here’s what we did:

DIY Steps


1) Cover your work area with plastic or a tarp and lay out your plywood with your fabric next to it.

2) Use spray adhesive to cover the entire face of the plywood. This will make sure your fabric doesn’t budge once it’s in place.

3) Lay the fabric lightly over the sticky plywood surface. Starting at one end, smooth out the fabric from the center to the sides. You don’t want any creases.

4) Trim excess fabric around edges. For a good wrap you want to leave about 2” to give yourself enough fabric to staple. As you can see, we weren’t precise here. It’s all going to be covered up in the end anyway. But just for a guideline.

5) Using a staple gun, pull the fabric tight around the edge and start stapling.

6) Our staple gun didn’t always put the staples all the way in, so we went around with a hammer and made sure they were all flush with the plywood.

7) Stand your beautiful upholstered panel up next to the bookcase where it is to be applied. I just wanted to stare at it’s beauty for a second before I hid it.

8) Use a small drill bit to drill pilot holes. We did one in each corner and two on each side of the long sides.

9) Screw 1” wood screws into each pilot hole. You could go 1 1/4” on this particular bookcase, because we were screwing into the thicker edge pieces, but just be careful to not angle your screws. You don’t want anything poking through on the other side.

10) Voila! A newly-backed bookcase! Pretty right? Okay…not yet.

So that’s it for part one! Next time I’ll show you how I transformed that ugly plywood back into a fantastic play area for my little girl. Stay tuned and, as always,

Happy Tuesday!


  1. How cool! I need to do this to the back of my hutch. It is ug-ly. Can't wait to see how it turned out!

  2. I didn't know that you had a blog until today. This project is honestly Amazing to me! I will wait (im)patiently for the part two for this project as I think you may have solved a huge dilemma for me. Can't wait to look around your blog, it's looking pretty dang awesome! :)

  3. Ooooh. The fabric was supposed to be on the inside, with your books in front of it! It all makes sense now!

    (I was thinking the fabric was going to face the other way.)


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