Ikea: it’s more than Swedish meatballs

You’ve heard of life hacks - how about some Ikea hacks?

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

It seems like almost everyone I know is recalibrating their lives.

They could be down-sizing, up-scaling, reorganizing, moving or taking in friends or family members.

I don’t want to sound like an infomercial, but no matter what you are doing with your home, Ikea (or someone using Ikea stuff) has an answer.

Every store has their identity, but few, if any, have an identity as clearly defined as Ikea.

Yes, Ikea sells a distinct line of sleek, simple and largely affordable furniture and household items.

But even better is the sheer adaptability of their household items for a multiplicity of practical – and sometimes fantastical – purposes.


Just as a reminder, the term hacking, at its roots, basically means adapting something to uses it was not designed for. Ikea hacking is any form of upgrading, customizing, re-purposing, or personalizing any standard Ikea product or piece of furniture.

Consider that standard, off-the-shelf Ikea bookcase or table or set of fasteners as the near infinitely adaptable raw materials for whatever use or project that might emerge at home or work or anywhere.

The movement first took shape in the mid-2000s, when popular DIY blogs like Ikea Hackers (https://www.ikeahackers.net/) and Instructables (https://www.instructables.com/DIY-Ikea/) began offering up easy, affordable tweaks to popular items like Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units.

You might think of Ikea stuff the way DJs think of music sampling.

In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording.

Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds, or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, re-pitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated.

Consider that oh-so basic piece of table or shelf from Ikea and then mangled and distorted, perhaps even beyond recognition, it emerges as a creation in its own right. Literally a new, or at least newly designed and appropriated household object.

As you might guess, Ikea initially was not a fan of people customizing, if not re-making, even mangling its furniture and even sent Ikea Hackers a cease and desist order.

But since then, the company has decided to roll with the changes and has embraced its hackers.

Over the past decade or so, this once miniscule, eccentric and creative-reuse community has burgeoned into a full-fledged industry.

Oddly enough, this fringe of semi-renegade hackers has helped Ikea refocus its commitment to a greener, more sustainable business model.

Social media has, of course, picked up on, and contributed to the trend. Social media platforms abound with Ikea hacking content. Here are some web stats as of mid-June of 2021:

TikTok: 64m views on #ikeahacks videos

Instagram: 500k posts tagged with #Ikeahack

Facebook: hundreds of Ikea hacking groups with more than 1 million collective members

YouTube: thousands of Ikea hack videos with more than 100 million views

Pinterest: an endless scroll of DIY Ikea projects

Reddit: r/Ikeahacks boasts 76k subscribers and has grown 400% in the past 5 years

In yet another example of how any given object never “is what it is”, a piece of furniture is not limited to its original purpose of shelf or table, but could be just the beginning, or even first, or second or even third use of what had been a standard item.

And yes, you can find a whole host of Ikea-based hacking companies.

You could call them Ikea entrepreneurs. Here are just a few;

Semihandmade, Reform: (https://www.semihandmade.com/) customization options for Ikea-centered kitchens.

Superfront, Norse Interiors: (https://norseinteriors.com/) legs, hardware, and cabinet doors for an array of best-selling Ikea products

Prettypegs: (https://www.prettypegs.com/us/) legs for Ikea sofas, tables, consoles and anything else.

Kokeena: (https://kokeena.com/) doors and casework for Ikea cabinets

Panyl: (https://www.panyl.com/) vinyl wraps for Ikea furniture

Bemz: (https://bemz.com/en-us) covers for Ikea couches and chairs

You may never look at that stool or kitchen implement quite the same ever again.

To see more on Ikea and what can be done with their products, check out this website: https://thehustle.co/the-thriving-business-of-ikea-hacking/?


Related Stories