IKEA Shelving, Modified

July 17, 2012

Progress continues on the playroom to study transformation – I’m trying to get it all done before the kids go back to school in late August.  One of the major changes I wanted to make was to have a wall of shelving that would contain books, art supplies, games, and a modern TV for the kids to view videos on occasion.

You may recall the laminate entertainment center that used to sit in the space – a fabulous piece but always a little bulky.  It jutted out into the room, but that was necessary to hold my old college television and my kids would watch their VHS movies on it.  We decided to donate that piece of furniture to the Alma Project family room so I went in search of some new shelving for this space.

I wanted to something streamlined, modern, narrow, but wide too and I most definitely did not want to spend a fortune.  Enter the IKEA VITTSJÖ shelving unit, $70 bucks each!  It comes in black metal with glass shelves, but I wanted to transform it to suit our home, so I painted it white and substituted dark wood shelves for glass – here it is.



The unit when assembled looks like this.


But I thought white with wood shelving would be better fit for our home. These transformed inexpensive shelves are now perfect for this space !

ikea shelves side view cg



There is just enough room for educational books, artwork, and some greenery.

green magazine file folders cg


green magazine file folder history

kids books on shelf


The magazine file folders are get this – painted!   Seriously.  It’s cause I’m cheap resourceful like that.  I already had the set of four orange canvas ones from a few years ago (I think I found them at The Container Store?) so I painted them with a craft paint – reinvented for pennies!

painted magazine folders

blue magazine folders and kids books

That cute green oversized clothespin is adorable, I know!  I found it at Pottery Barn Kids five years ago, sadly it’s no longer available but I say bring it back in all kinds of colors because it’s not just a decorative accent, it can hang on the wall and hold art, love that.

Hedgehog, otherwise known as Mr. Prickles, is running joke in our home.  Long story short, it’s the one forest animal our daughter stumped us on last year in a 30 minute game of “Guess The Animal” making us “furious!” and every time the kids want to make us mad they say “Hedgehog” and then get tickled to death.  Mr. Prickles has a place of honor in our home – acrylic watercolor purchased from Dimdi on Etsy.

hedgehog and dark shelves

This is a good time to talk about those shelves – they are made of birch plywood.  I didn’t like the idea of glass shelves in this space and I’m smitten with the white + dark wood combo (see these end tables and my personal Pinterest board dedicated to the subject) so I decided to replace them with stained wood shelves.

I headed to my local Lowes because it has a pretty good selection of wood.  I could have cut up a piece of regular ol’ ½” plywood but I opted instead for the prettier birch.  I have to tell you I stood there debating over cutting up the $30 piece of of inexpensive plywood and spending $75 for nicer birch (4’ x 4’ sheets) for half an hour and ended up choosing the latter because I liked the grain so much better.

Lowes offers free cuts for their wood so I had their guy cut my ten shelves to the size I needed. I also grabbed three cans of Rust-Oleum spray paint in semi-gloss to turn the shelves from dark to light.

rustoleum spray paint minwax stain


I used my leftover stain from the X base table – two coats – then added one coat of Minwax Polyurethane in ‘Satin’.

minwax special walnut stain

minwax wipe on polyurethane


Plywood has unattractive edges, so the best way to disguise them is to cover them with iron on edging, use wood putty, or take the easy route and paint the edges with some dark brown paint – a solution I’m satisfied with in this circumstance since the edges aren’t that visible anyway because they mostly sit inside the shelving unit.

hide plywood edges


Both shelving units are secured to the wall with these earthquake straps- the same ones we had on the old entertainment center.

earthquake straps


The final result from staining the birch plywood is a nice contrast between dark shelves and the white painted frame – it plays well with the adjacent dark wood table and white window seat.

colored pencils and books cg


I love how integrated the smaller flat screen TV is…

ikea hack vittsjo shelving cg


… five bazillion points if you can identify this movie.

smaller tv on shelf


I really love how I can display a rotating art gallery on top.  Picasso said it best, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”   The butterfly art is from IKEA but the rest are *masterpieces* created by the children.

kids art on shelf cg


art on display above shelves


And that’s the story on how a plain ol’ IKEA shelf became the perfect fit in our house!

vittsjo shelving ikea hack

The whole project including two shelving units, new wood shelves, and spray paint cost me $225 because I spent the extra $$ on the nicer plywood, but I’m crazy loving this new sleek modern wall of shelving in our home!

ikea shelves side view cg

ikea vittsjo shelving makeover cg


Want more ideas for personalizing the Vittsjo pieces? 

Take a peek at this follow up post (think color, rustic, and glam!)



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