How a Designer Does an IKEA Hack—And How You Can, Too

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Dining Room chair horrizontal

By Mark Cutler, Chief Designer at nousDECOR

Let me begin by saying that I am a huge IKEA fan. I think they have raised the bar across the world for well-designed furniture at a great value. And I am positive that at some point or another, we’ve all had IKEA pieces in our collections—you may even have some now.

That being said, just because the chain carries great pieces at affordable prices doesn’t mean that’s where the conversation has to stop. It just so happens that I believe most IKEA pieces present the perfect opportunities for hacking. I say this because they possess all the qualities I look for when searching for a piece to tweak—they are easily available, come at a great price point, and provide excellent starting points due to their classic silhouettes and design.

I recently remembered these valuable qualities about IKEA pieces when searching for a dining chair for a client on a limited budget. We were working to create a glamorous look in her space, and I found the perfect complement to that design in the PS 2012 Highback Chair. However, while I thought the shape was beautiful, black was the wrong color for my design.

I brought one of the chairs over to my friends over at Bespoke Furniture, a company that does exactly what I was looking to do with this particular piece: unique customizations. Together, we came up with a lavender-tinted chrome finish that we sprayed onto the chair. Before our eyes, it was transformed entirely from a simplified shaker chair into the glamorous art piece you see at right. After I saw the result, I immediately rushed out and bought more to be chromed. Needless to say, it is easily one of my favorite IKEA hacks I’ve ever done.

 Dining Room chair

Dining Room table and chair

While you may not all have access to a facility that can chrome your pieces, I think you can achieve just as spectacular a result through a unique paint color—the bolder, the better. I suggest orange, as it’s my current go-to color, but you can also try yellow or even acid green for a bright statement piece. If you are looking to go this route, they have some other chairs you might want to consider than the one I used for mine, as I believe they have a great shape that would really shine with the addition of a strong color or pattern.

Here are the ones I’d use:

Bojne, $90.

IKEA PS 2012, $85.

Trendig 2013, $59.

Vilmar, $29.

And just a word of warning before beginning your hack—all of these chairs come with a pretty tough factory-applied finish coat. Be sure to use a fine sandpaper first, and apply a good primer that works with your paint type before you apply your final color or pattern. A little time invested in prep will make the world of difference in the final result of your customization. Now go hack away!

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