Expedit Divider Removal – Ikea Hack

The second bedroom/office is nearly finished, hurrah!

This weekend we tackled an improvement to the Expedit shelving system* to create a wider space to house our printer at the same height as the desk. Apologies for the picture quality, I was too impatient to get going/get the proper camera out!


To remove a divider from your Expedit, follow the instructions below (which will need adapting slightly depending on the shelf you want to remove):

1. Unscrew the top and bottom bolts on both short ends of the Expedit, allowing you to remove one short end (go for the one nearest to the shelf you want to remove):


2. You will also need to remove the long side:


3. We were going for the second divider down, so we had to temporarily remove the top divider in order to get to it – gently pull it out and put to one side, making sure not to lose or damage the dowels. Use a piece of tape or a sticky note to mark which side of the divider was originally attached to the short end of the unit:

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4. Repeat this process for the shelf that is now exposed and the divider you are removing. You should then be left with dowels sticking out where the now defunct divider had been previously. These dowels will need to go back in later, so you need to mark the point where the dowels meet the shelf with a pencil:


5. Carefully remove the dowel rods with a pair of pliers:


6. Using a hacksaw, carefully cut the dowels along the pencil line:


7. Gently sand the dowels to give a clean finish and insert back into the shelf and colour the tips black with a permanent marker so they won’t be too obvious on your new shelf:


8. You should have now successfully created a wide, flat shelf, you just need to sort out the dowels for the shelf and divider you are placing back above it – otherwise these will stick out. Take the top divider, which you set aside in step 3 and mark the bottom 4 dowels (not the ones going back into the short end, identified by the sticky note) with the depth of one shelf:


9.Remove the dowels with pliers, cut to size and sand down, as above. Rebuild the Expedit with the new, shorter dowels and get your colouring pen out again:


10. Replace the long side and short ends and tighten up the bolts. Stand up the Expedit and admire your handiwork:

Expedit Hack

11. You are now ready to use your super-wide shelf!

Watch this space for more office updates over the next couple of weeks 🙂

* If, like me, you loved all things Expedit, you may have seen this and panicked. Fear not, as Ikea reassures us that although Kallax is replacing Expedit, it still has all of the flexibility and practicality that we know and love.

Cupboard Mounted Ikea Wine Rack

Cupboard Wine Rack

We’d been on the lookout for a wine rack that will fit under a kitchen cupboard ever since we moved in, but to no avail (note to self: invent wine rack that fits under cupboard and get rich!) The only ones we could find were too long to go between the under counter lights and didn’t seem to be for sale in the UK.

Then we had a thought – we could adapt a rack that was designed to go on the wall, as there are lots of those to choose from. We picked this Ikea Vurm as it was in-keeping with the brushed stainless steel handles in the kitchen, small enough to fit in the space and a snip at £9.50.

I was a bit worried about mounting it under the cupboard. As you can see in the photo above, the cupboard base doesn’t run all the way to the wall and the mounts on the rack are right at either end, so we had to drill a new hole in the rack (which we bolted through from the inside of the cupboard, just to be safe!) Once I’d gotten over that fear, my next concern was that the wine bottles would just fall out, but I am pleased to report that they stay firmly in place!

Vurm under cupboard

The only downside is that the wine rack only takes slim bottles, which I’m prone to forgetting in the supermarket, but overall, it was an easy DIY job and a good use of the otherwise unusable space above the cookery books, so we’re really pleased. Cheers to that!

Spray Painting Old Chairs

Grey Chair

I didn’t think there would be much upcycling of furniture, having moved into a new-build flat recently, but I realised that new decor doesn’t have to mean new furniture.

A perfectly serviceable Ikea Jokkmokk table and chairs set came from the old house and fits neatly into this gap, but the room needed something more to bring the living area and kitchen area together.


The accent colour for the room is bright red (with a grey main base, as with every room in the flat), so it seemed like a good idea to spray paint 2 chairs red and the other 2 grey. Except that I couldn’t quite commit – the chairs aren’t very attractive, nor are they particularly sturdy or comfortable. Whilst spraying them was cheaper than buying new ones, it didn’t seem worth paying for the materials for chairs that clearly aren’t for the long-term.

That’s when I found these chairs in a charity shop down the road from work and knew they were just what the room needed. They’re solid wood, with elegant spindle backs and generous bases, yet they’re small enough to fit under the Jokkmokk table – result! Plus, I got all 4 for £50 and all the money went to charity.

Wooden Chair


PVA glue (if you have any wobbly legs)
Wood filler and pallet knife (if you have any holes to fill)
Wet and dry paper/sandpaper
Top coat

Having done some Googling, Valspar came highly recommended, so we tracked some down (it’s stocked at some B&Q stores) and bought a can of ‘Midnight Serenade’. We already had some red paint left from a small repair to a very bright red car (mixed by Halfords). We also had other spray paints knocking around from various projects, which we decided to use as undercoat, to keep the costs down.

We started by gluing on a slightly wobbly leg with decorator’s PVA:


Then filled in a couple of holes with wood filler:

Wood filler chair

We then sanded the chairs lightly, to help the paint to adhere:

Sanding chairs

Then it was time for priming (this is best done outdoors as the paint fumes are pretty potent):


And finally top coat:

Chair top coat

The Valspar went on best, but took a really long time to dry (as in 5 or so days), which was really frustrating between coats. The Halfords paint went on more thickly, which made for a couple of runs in the paint, but dried far more quickly than the Valspar.

I’m really pleased with the results, which really lift the room and bring the living room and kitchen together:

Painting Chairs Spray Painted Chairs

I now think I need to do something with the table though – so a double-edged sword! Whilst I decide what to do with the table, I’m going to enjoy these beauties:

Sprayed Chairs

Chair Grey Paint

The materials were not the thriftiest as we ended up going through 3 cans of grey and 3 cans of red (each at around £7/8, although a although a buy-one-get-one-half-price helped bring this down), plus the primer we already had, but I think the results are well worth it!

Ikea Pax Built-in Wardrobe Hack- Part II

So in Part I of the Ikea Pax wardrobe hack, I showed you the frames and the Komplement drawer re-sizing. In Part II, I’d like to share the clothes rail hack and the construction of the wardrobe doors and ‘roof’.

Re-sizing the Komplement clothes rail was pretty straightforward, as the ends could easily be removed so that the pole could be cut to size (using a jigsaw) and then re-fitted.

These were then screwed into place. Owing to the design of the clothes rail, we needed to fit another piece of 4×2 below the frame to affix the rails to:

Designing the doors was really surprisingly difficult. We liked our original Pax Bergsbo doors because the panelling gave some interest, but we didn’t want the new design to be quite as complicated (mainly because we worried that so many panels would show any imperfections). I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, eventually settling on this as my favourite style.

The doors were measured up and then transferred onto free 3D modelling software Google SketchUp to check the proportions.

Once happy with the design, we purchased the MDF from B&Q, who offer a free wood cutting service in their larger stores. We had them cut the 24mm sheets for the doors to size and also a 6mm sheet into strips for the detailing. This is it all laid out (we did the final cut on the strips ourselves as this was fairly straightforward and allowed us to make it fit perfectly):

Each strip was glued and pinned into place using lost head nails, we then left them to set under every heavy object we could find and crossed our fingers that they’d stay stuck down:

Happily, they turned out pretty OK and were then ready to seal (with watered down PVA glue), prime and paint (apologies for the strange picture below!)

The doors and frames are painted in Little Greene ‘Clockface’ intelligent emulsion. We opted for butterfly hinges (from eBay) as we were worried that butt hinges would make all the measurements too difficult and result in gaps around the doors and I’m really pleased with the visual interest that they add.

The final step was the ‘roof’, which sits on top of the frame; we decided there was no need for glue or screws on this, providing the fit was good. To allow a bit of airflow, we used a router to cut two holes in the roof, as below and then slotted the roof into place.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result. The wardrobes are a real focal point in the room and maximise the available space, well worth the hard work!

Ikea Pax Built in Wardrobe Hack- Part I

There hasn’t been much happening on the DIY front lately, mainly because the house has now sold meaning that most DIY activities have ceased. However, there are still a few projects I wanted to share with you. The first project is the built in wardrobes in the master bedroom.

The wardrobes have been built either side of the chimney breast in what unfortunately transpired to be unequally-sized gaps with no 90 degree angles whatsoever. This may or may not have something to do with having plastered the room ourselves…!

In Thrifty Lodge, we had a set of Ikea Pax wardrobes, which hadn’t weathered the move to Thrifty House very well and hadn’t been enjoying sitting disassembled in the damp downstairs. So we decided their parts could be donated to the new wardrobes, in a thrifty circle of life. The main components we required were Komplement drawers and Komplement clothes rails. Here are the (messy!) wardrobes from Thrifty Lodge below:

The first job was to construct the ‘ladders’ that would form the wardrobe frames. Each ladder was built from four by two and was then screwed together, all holes were filled and the frames were given two coats of knot-blocking primer:

Once screwed to the walls, some careful measuring took place and two further four by two pieces were cut to size to form the ‘roof’ and screwed in place. As you can see, they’re strong enough to support my friend Colin:
This process was then repeated at the bottom of each wardrobe, to make the structure even more sturdy:
We’d designed the wardrobes to meet our individual needs (I wanted fewer drawers and space for longer hanging items, e.g. dresses), but the beauty of using a modular system like Pax is that you can change the fittings to suit your needs.
Our Pax fittings were all for either a 50cm wide single (too narrow for this space) or a 100cm wide double wardrobe, but the gaps are around 80-90cm each, so some adjustments would need to be made width ways. We designed the depth to be slightly bigger than a standard Pax (60cm) in order to accommodate the doors and hinges and give ourselves a bit of room for error.
The next job was to fit the Komplement drawer runners- this was fairly simple, except that instead of having pre-drilled holes like you get from Ikea, we had to drill our own:
Once this was done, it was time to shorten the Komplement drawers to fit snuggly. To do this, we removed one end of the drawer and slid out the base. The base was then measured to the width of the gap, cut down to size using a table saw and slotted back into the base. The end that had been removed simply needed a couple of new drill holes to re-fit:

The picture below shows an ‘original’ Pax drawer (from the double wardrobe), one for my new built-in wardrobe (the bigger of the two new ones, naturally!) and one for the smaller built-in wardrobe. We made sure the new screw holes were on whichever side was against the wall, so they wouldn’t be visible:
Unfortunately I was too excited to take any pictures of all of the drawers in place, so this one will have to do for now, until I reveal the finished wardrobes in a later post:
PS Maybe you’ll be able to picture them all in place by looking at this pile of Komplement drawer offcuts!


Big news… the house is under offer! Fingers crossed the sale goes smoothly.

Now I’m busy finding somewhere to make a fresh start, progress update soon!

Restoring Old Floorboards – Part II

Right, so the floor is sanded and the gaps are filled (if not, you need to read part one). Now it’s time to sand any rough bits around the edges and where you added filler, until they match the rest of the floor, which should be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Then it’s time to sweep, vacuum and wipe the floor until it’s as clean as can be. This is really important, or you might end up with dirt and fluff permanently adhered to your new floor. We also taped over anywhere we didn’t want stain- the hearth and radiator pipes in this case.

Once it’s sparkling, it’s time to break out the stain! We used Fiddes Hard Wax Oil in ‘Antique’ after a lot of research and on the advice of a trusted friend, but I’ve also heard that Osmo Polyx Oil is very good and I nearly went for this after seeing how great the floor looked in this post on Simply the Nest (beautiful blog about the restoration of a Victorian house in Manchester).

Make sure to wear old clothes and rubber gloves as it’s called ‘stain’ for a reason! Oh and open the window as it’s potent stuff (don’t do what we did though and leave the radio blaring on the windowsill, cos you won’t be able to switch it off once the floor’s wet…)

We applied our oil using a paint pad with an extension pole to save our backs and give an even finish. Start in the opposite corner of the room to the door and apply very thinly, being sure to go over any areas where excess builds up.

Once the floor is covered, leave to dry completely (we left ours overnight), before buffing to a light sheen with a dry cloth.

If there’s any chance the floor might have gotten any debris on it since the first coat, be sure to clean again. Then it’s time for the second and final coat, which is applied in the same way as the first. Once dry, buff again and then stand back and admire your handiwork, then compare before and after with a nod of smug satisfaction:

Restoring Old Floorboards – Part I

One of the things I’ve been most looking forward to is restoring some of the period features of our Victorian house. For months I’ve been swooning over bedrooms with beautiful floorboards, like these white painted onesthese shabby chic ones and these shiny ones. Ours, however, looked more like this:

So we set about restoring them to their former glory. Here’s a little guide for fellow aspiring floorboard restorers…

Firstly, you need to make sure the floor is sound- replace any dodgy boards, fix them all down securely and make sure to hammer in any nail heads that are poking up. Remove any skirting you’ll be replacing to make sure you can get to all of the edges. If you’re intending to stain the boards, it’s definitely worth checking the colour and application of the stain first- we used an old board we’d taken out.

We hired a drum sander from our local plant hire shop. Drum sanders are pretty heavy, so I suggest taking a car (even if, like us, this means going at 7.20am in your work suit!) We got loads of belts, because you can just return what you don’t use and it would be pretty annoying to run out halfway through. Our belts were 120, 80, 60 and 40 grit.

The drum sander is quite a beast, so lower it gently onto the boards, or it will make a groove (and then you’ll need to sand the whole floor down to this level!) It’s then a bit like mowing a lawn, except a whole lot dustier and noisier.

After a few hours of sanding, you’ll end up with it looking a bit like this:

You then need to use something a bit smaller (we have a belt sander and a sheet sander) to get all of the bits between the boards and around the edges. You might want to hire a detail sander to make this easier- lots of places do a package hire deal with the drum sander.

You’ll be knackered at this point from all of that sanding, so it’s probably a good time to sit back and admire your handy work. Make sure when you clear up that you keep some of the (copious amounts of) sawdust back, as you’ll need it later.

After a nice cup of tea, it’s time to grab a filling knife/scraper and get to work removing the dirt from between the boards. It’s amazing what can accumulate in nearly 150 years…

This will leave you with a clear idea of whether you need to fill the gaps between your boards (in which case, try something like this) or whether you’re happy with the rustic look and that your boards are close enough together that you won’t fall down between them! We went with the latter.

We had a few gaps that did need a little filler, so at this point, you’ll need to get your saved up sawdust and mix it with a little PVA until it forms a stiff paste:

Use this to fill any gaping holes, but do be mindful of the fact that this may not ‘take’ the stain in the same way as your boards, so be conservative (or test it out on an old board if you’re worried):

You can now call it a day and leave the filler to harden overnight, ready for round two…


We have been blasting through the main bedroom this month as our target finish date of mid February approaches rapidly (sssh, don’t tell that I’m blogging instead of filling/sanding/priming etc). Here’s a little update…

We’ve started off like this:

(Yes we were sleeping in there!)

And then stripped it out until it looked like this:

And then we added some insulation and plasterboard to keep us toasty:
And after putting our plastering skills (acquired at a B&Q ‘You Can Do It’ course) and some not-so-well-honed coving skills to the test, we ended up here:
So then it was time for the exciting bit- choosing the colour! We spent aaaages deliberating over the relative merits of whether we wanted our walls to resemble to breath of an elephant or a mysterious lady named ‘Joanna’, before finally settling on Egyptian Cotton. So, once we’d done a couple of undercoats, I painted some on the wall:
And it was exactly what I wanted- classy, neutral and understated. So out I went to buy myself a tin of  Dulux Endurance and as it doesn’t come in a 5 litre tin and I knew I’d need more than a weedy 2.5 litre tin, I got the nice man at B&Q to mix me some up at the Dulux machine, which he did. And since you ask, it is far cheaper to get it mixed that to buy 2 x 2.5 litre tins. So I walked home, all smug and happy.
Then I started cutting in and it looked all lovely and cottony and beigey:

And then I got my roller out and huffed and puffed until all of the walls were covered:
And then it dried. And IT TURNED MAUVE. Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhhhh.
Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. And I can’t really provide you with any evidence to judge for yourself, being as it is dark and all, but trust me, it’s mauve. So I painted another coat and IT’S STILL MAUVE.
As we can’t really afford to go out and splurge on some Farrow & Ball or Little Greene to make it all OK, I’m embracing it. You heard it here first, this season’s new hottest colour- mauve.

Furnishing with Freegle

I love the idea that something you no longer have a use for can go to a good home and online communities Freegle and Freecycle are the perfect way to do this. You post a ‘wanted’ or ‘offered’ items and others can see your post and reply, simple.

Here are my ten top tips:

1. Be clear in your offered ad descriptions- detail the size, colour etc and also your location and when would be convenient for the new owner to collect

2. Most groups send a summary email everyday- sign up to receive daily digest emails, then you won’t need to keep checking the website

3. Be quick! If there’s something you really want, make sure the emails come through to your phone and reply as soon as you spot it- chances are if you want it, someone else probably does too!

4. When you reply to a post, be polite, succinct and flexible (nobody wants to read a long story about why you’d be the best person to have the item)

5. Be patient and be prepared to wait for replies if you post a wanted ad- it’s bad etiquette to re-post wanted ads frequently

6. Remember that it’s free- don’t ask for anything ridiculous and be grateful for all offers you receive

7. Give and take- it’s important not to just always browse the offers, but to give stuff too. I make a rule that for everything I receive from Freegle, I will post something too

8. Keep up to date- mark offered items as ‘collected’ and wanted items as ‘received’ to save your time and other peoples

9. Say thank you- it’s always nice to drop someone an email afterwards thanking them for the item

10. Be careful- these online communities tend to be lovely, safe places, where people want to share what they no longer need, but think sensibly when agreeing to collect items and bring someone along with you, just in case

Here are some of the free things we’ve found for the kitchen at Thrifty Terrace:

And a slimline dishwasher, which is perfect for our small kitchen and a real luxury in our otherwise spartan home:

We have also given lots away lately, including our old bath tub, which I’m told is now being used on an allotment to grow carrots in!

Why not have a look- you’ll be surprised at what you can find!