Douwe Osinga's Blog: Ikea hacks

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A lot of the furniture in my home in Amsterdam was more or less self build. I like working with wood and designing something and then actually building it, especially if it can be done in a day or so. Another advantage is of course that you'll end up with stuff that maybe isn't the prettiest (straight & right angles), but fits the available space or is even mounted in the wall. Of course when we moved to Switzerland this advantage turned into a disadvantage. The self made stuff was left behind or was thrown away and here we started a new. Ikea entered our lives.

The thing is of course that if you're new to Switzerland, Ikea seems like the only place with somewhat reasonable prices. Add to that the fact that if you need a lot of stuff, it is pretty much the only choice. So we ended up with a whole lot of furniture that looked quite the same as the furniture of other Googlers that had just moved to Zurich. Some of them might be millionaires, but we're still cheap.

Anyway, the room we use as a study is sort of oddly shaped and it was hard to find a right desk in there. So we put our old kitchen table in there (which was transported from Amsterdam, but which we had bought there in the Ikea - replacing the hanging kitchen table design of mine that had served me well from my student years on). It was a nice enough table, but it didn't fit very well.

Last weekend I set out to buy wood to build something better. Unfortunately in mideuropean fashion, the wood shop closed at 16 00 and the project had to be canceled or so it seemed. I stared a little longer at the kitchen table and then I realized that I wouldn't have to change that much really to make it into a perfectly fitting desk - the table was 140 x 100 cm and we needed 70 x 200 cm, so that's two minutes on the electrical saw. The legs needed to be moved around and the frame needed to be refitted, but the whole project was relatively straight forward and took only two hours or so.

And then it struck me how 'Ikea hacks' would be a great book in the O'Reilly's series. The book would show you how to build all kinds of furniture out of Ikea stuff. For each project you would have to order one or more Ikea products and it would involve some light or more heavy modifications. Build a vacation home out of 14 Billys and 2 Bjorns, that kinda thing.