Ikea Hack: How to make a $15 shelf look like a $1000 bucks

Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little bit.  I mean, maybe my hacked Ikea Ivar shelf doesn’t look exactly like I’d pay $1000 for it but it definitely looks like I paid more than $15.  (Which, by the way, was an excellent craigslist deal since brand new they retail for $72.50!).

My inspiration for this hack was this beautiful industrial vintage wood shelf from Hudson Goods:

Salvaged Wood Bookcase from Hudson Goods
Salvaged Wood Bookcase from HudsonGoods.com

I love the mix of industrial metal and reclaimed wood in this shelf and it reminds me a lot of the new collection at Restoration Hardware.  I do not, however, love the $1500 price tag.  And that’s where this lovely Ivar bookshelf comes in:

Ikea's Ivar utility shelf
Before: Ikea's Ivar utility shelf

I actually bought a pair of these on craigslist for $30.  My husband claimed one for storage and I went to work on the other.

First I painted it with a galvanized steel spray paint I found at Lowe’s for $5.  Once it dried, the color was a little too light for me, so I sponged on a slightly darker metallic silver-colored craft paint I already had.

Next, my husband bought a long piece of pine lumber and cut it down into four pieces for me.  Unfortunately, I’ve lost the pictures I took to show you how this looked, but it was very close to the original color of the shelf.  I sanded each piece lightly, wiped it down with a damp cloth, and after it dried, applied a deep walnut stain.

Once the stained shelves were dry, my husband nailed them into place.  The end result?

After: My faux metal and reclaimed wood shelf
After: My faux metal and reclaimed wood shelf

Here’s a couple of close up pictures:

Transformed Ikea Shelf Close-up #1
Transformed Ikea Shelf Close-up #1

(See those little porcelain Foo dogs?  They were vintage originals from China circa the 2nd world war!  A freecycler GAVE them to me!  Her mother brought them home after the war as souvenirs– I still don’t know what she was thinking to give them away…)

Transformed Ikea Shelf detail
Transformed Ikea Shelf detail

I was SOOO proud of myself for pulling this off!  I know that the silver is much lighter than the inspiration picture, but we had silver accents in the living room so I felt a lighter shade worked better.  The walnut stain on the shelves also pulled in the walnut color of the mid-century armchair that was right next to the shelf.

Project Expenses:
  • $15 shelf
  • $5 galvanized steel spray paint
  • $12 lumber
  • $8 stain
Total cost for my ikea hack:  $40.00
Wanna make your own industrial shelf?  Check out these tutorials I found for other DIY possibilities:
  • Jamie Zawinski offers step by step instructions to make an industrial bookcase from steel pipes on his website.  I’ll warn you now that he says he spent $300 on pipes which doesn’t agree with my tight-fisted budgeting ways, but I think it’s a clever idea and $300 is still much less than $1500, so it’s theoretically a budget-friendly project.
  • HGTV has a great tutorial by Dan Faire on how to make an Industrial Rustic Bookshelf using pipes and lumber.  I probably won’t repeat this for our new place, but if I were going to, this is the tutorial I’d try out.
  • Finally, The Crucible, a nonprofit in California that offers all kinds of amazing industrial design classes to regular folks like you and me, offers a Weekend Warrior wood and metal working class that can teach you how to build a pretty fine knock off of that Hudson Goods piece.  (If you’re in California and can take this class, I will be SOOOO jealous of you!)
This was a fun project for me because it pushed my DIY boundaries a lot.  I hope it inspires you to do the same.
’til next time, happy budget decorating!






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