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Ikea hack

I have always loved Ikea, especially those modular bookcase units that you can customize with drawers, doors, baskets, and dividers. But one thing has always been frustrating for me: no backing. I’m the type of person that likes to push my books to the back of a shelf instead of having them in one straight line.
So I’ve had Ikea’s Kallax shelf unit for about 11 years. I also got this Kallax piece a few years ago that is slightly different in terms of dimensions. I knew wanted some sort of backing that would be lightweight yet easily removed if I wanted to change it somehow. I went to Home Depot, bought 2 sheets of 1/4″ plywood, and had them cut me pieces to my exact dimensions. Not wanting to waste anything I’ve spent my hard earned money on, I took the extra pieces home (more on those in another post).
I debated painting the pieces but since it’s unprimed wood it would have soaked up a ton of paint. Then I considered wallpaper, but at $44/roll it was way out of my price range. I was going to settle on a contact paper available at Home Depot, but my cousin vetoed it due to it’s ‘ugly’ and ‘too busy’ pattern. I shopped around on Amazon and Target, not really liking any of the patterns I saw, until I decided to look at Lowe’s. I found this beautiful teal Damask print on a white background, and at only $7/roll it was way cheaper. I didn’t think to take pictures of the process because I wasn’t fully sold on the idea of doing a blog yet. But, I have a few pictures of the bookshelves now to show you how it turned out. I ended up needing 2 rolls since the first one was about 20 square inches short; once again it was only $7 per roll so I was still in better shape than if I had gone with wallpaper. I laid my plywood pieces down on a long table and figured out which way I wanted the pattern to run depending on the bookcase and it’s orientation. After slowly peeling off the backing of the contact paper a few inches at a time, I would smooth it down so no air bubbles were present. Since the pieces of wood were wider than the roll itself, I had to line up the pattern precisely (I’m a bit of a control freak) to cover each backing. After getting this perfect, I took a fresh utility blade and cut the excess paper off.

Almost looks like a built-in!

To prevent the wood from splitting when I nailed the backing into the bookcases, I drilled a small hole for each nail. Once the first nail was in place, I made sure it was level with a 24-inch level, drilled a pilot hole and hammered it in. One nail in each corner with an additional nail in the middle of each long side (6 total nails per bookcase) ensured I can remove the wood and change the backing if I want to.
I absolutely love how it looks now and I can push my books all the way to the back without them going to the wall. This also allows me to keep my books as far forward as possible. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone but me.

My next post will be about the French memo/vision boards I made that are customized to my cousin and my styles perfectly. Please feel free to comment or ask me any questions!


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