Wednesday, September 11, 2013

IKEA Expedit Makeover

When my husband was a bachelor and trying to fill his first house, he went the way of most 20-somethings and purchased a slew of pieces from IKEA.  While at the time I had to be okay with it {not my house, not my money}, marriage has forced me to acquire a bunch of furniture I never would have purchased for myself.  For instance, 8 Expedit units.  Oh joy.

No offense, Expedit... but... I'm just not that into you.

In my opinion, the Expedit is inefficient and a little too modern.  The square nature of the openings renders them pretty useless unless you are going to use bins {which I do in my craft room}.  However, we use them in our family room as a media center.  While they hold dvds just fine, they don't have backs - WIRES, EVERYWHERE!  And they are brown... dark, black brown.  It was time for a change.

Unfortunately, moving into a new place comes with a lot of expenses and a new media center wasn't in the budget.  However, genius is always in the budget.

I want to make it clear that this idea was my husband's.  100% Mr. Evans.  He knew that I wasn't fond of the Expedits and brainstormed a way to make them better for us.  And a genius idea it was.  Not only does it better serve our style and aesthetic, it totally brightens the room and feels like we bought new furniture.  I'm a lucky girl.

So here's the good news and the bad news.

Bad News first... this project takes some serious patience if you want to change the color of your furniture.  Being patient bites.

Good News... This is TOTALLY affordable.  The whole project only cost us $120 and about $50 of that was for paint!

Want to know how?  Keep reading!

Beadboard {Used: Home Depot, we had them cut the pieces to our measurements}
Liquid Nails
Caulking Gun {for Liquid Nails}
Finishing Nails {Used: Home Depot, sharp tip finishing nails, $3.50/box}
Paint {if needed}
Polyacrylic {if painting}
Spray Paint {if needed, match paint}
Painting Materials
Sanding Sponges
Electric Hand Drill and Circular Bit {if using for media, for cords}
Ground Covering

Have your backing/beadboard cut at Home Depot {or whatever hardware store you prefer}.  Not only did it reduce our stress - it actually saved us money!  The Home Depot associate took a look at our measurements and was able to save us an entire sheet of beadboard - $20!

Just measure your pieces ahead of time and know what you want to ask for.  If you are working Expedits, the edges are 2 inches wide so we shaved half an inch off all measurements to ensure the pieces we brought home would fit.  If you aren't working with Expedits, make sure you know how much space you have to play with.  Measure... and measure again.

Also, know which way the beadboard runs on the sheet at the hardware store.  Our Home Depot store sells sheets that are 4' wide by 8' tall with the beadboard running vertical.  This will affect what measurements you will request.  When in doubt, take a picture of your bookcases and take the measurements to an associate for help.

1.  Disassemble furniture.  This took way longer than we though it would but I do not recommend trying to paint your piece assembled.  You will get a better, more consistent finish if you take it apart.

2.  PAINT!  Now I'm not going to do a full tutorial on how to paint laminate furniture {Pinterest is swimming with them.  Check out my Home{made} board for a few that I consulted.}  I will tell you this.  Sand your pieces!  Everyone wants to skip this step because it takes too long but it's going to be a bigger pain if you put in all that hardwork and the paint starts peeling off.  You don't need to grind the piece down, just scuff up the surface.

We did three coats of white paint on all our pieces on all sides, waiting a minimum of an hour in between coats.

Don't forget to paint the beadboard.  Unless you really want the raw beadboard look... then cool... leave them alone.
Do yourself a favor and make painting a little easier.  When it came time for final coats, we mounted our pieces on various boxes and other stable objects around the house so we could paint the edges too.  Protect the under side by placing a paper towel between your box/paint can/Kleenex box and the board.
Allow the paint job to dry overnight.  It's a pain, I know.  But it's worth it to know all the pieces are completely dry.

3.  Seal your paint job.  We used General Finishes Polyacrylic.  Three coats is enough to get the job done. I know you just rolled your eyes... three coats, AGAIN?!  Here's the best thing... this is water-based and quick drying.  We did all our coats in under 4 hours.

4.  LET THEM DRY!!!  Seriously.  Take your time and let everything settle.  We waited two hours.

5.  In the meantime, spray paint your hardware so it will blend.

6.  Reassemble your pieces.  I'm going to be totally honest, some pieces turned out better than other.  So we assessed each piece - picking a "pretty" side and an "ugly" side.  We assembled the piece so all the pretty sides and ugly sides matched up.  "Pretty" side = Front.  "Ugly" side = back.

Check out these beauties.  Looking better already!

7.  Lay your pieces flat - pretty/front side down.

8.  Load Liquid Nails into Caulking Gun.  Apply a 1/4" line around all edges.  You get 10 minutes of working time with Liquid Nails so work precisely and don't rush.

9.  Lay your piece face down, taking care to line up your edges as you would like.
Our 2x4 Expedits required two pieces of boards, so we had to pinch them together.  Make sure the liquid nails goes between the cracks as well to ensure the pieces are adhered to the unit AND each other.

10.  Allow Liquid Nails to sit for a minute or two and then apply finishing nails.  We spaced ours out 1 every 12 inches.

11.  Because we are using ours for a media cabinet, we needed to add a hole for the wires to feed through.  We pre-measured where the hole would go.  After adhering the beadboard, wait 30 minutes before drilling.  Mark your spot.
With a 1 1/2" bit, hold drill directly upright and drill with confidence.  Beadboard is really thin so take care to hold on to the gun - it will pop through quickly!  Remember, always use eye wear and extreme caution when using power tools.  When in doubt, ask an experienced friend for help.
In full disclosure, our hole did damage the beadboard a tad, but nothing a little touch-up paint couldn't fix in a jiffy!

12.  Final Step - WAIT!  The Liquid Nails needs to fully set.  It will take days for it to actually DRY, but after waiting 2 hours, we were fairly confident that it had set, especially with the finish nails holding everything in place.

Keep paint and small paint brush available for touch ups.  Scrapes and bumps are bound to happen - so is a little Liquid Nails leakage.

But man... were we proud of ourselves?!  What a transformation!

Of course, we had to load it up with our dvd collection.  The white backing definitely gives it a cleaner look.

We could not be happier with how this project turned out.  I hope you are able to use it in your lives.  If you do, please share pictures!!!


  1. That looks amazing! Great job, y'all!

  2. Nice work! I've got 2 black units myself that I've wanted to paint white and this post has me convinced it will work. Wondering what colour you have on your walls in this pic? Love it.

    1. Hi Kelly - Sorry for the delayed response! The color on the walls is "Walrus" by Dunn Edwards. We absolutely love it!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hello! I inherited a big black/brown Expedit and am thi nking about painting it to open up the space. How is the paint job holding out after a year of use? Thanks in advance. JD in San Francisco

    1. It's held up beautifully! No scratches or chips. Taking the time to do multiple thin coats really paid off. Good luck!

  4. Which paint and paint color did you use for the Expedit? I'm sorry if this was somewhere in the post and I didn't see it...

    1. Hi Jen - It's been a while since I did the project. I believe I just used Behr paint, eggshell finish, some version of their bright white. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Jen -

    So, it's been 3 years since you posted this. Are you still using these expedits? Is the paint still holding up?


  6. Hey Jen-

    I have been thinking about doing something like this for my kids playroom. Did y'all drill all the individual expedits together or are they just sitting next to each other. We plan to anchor them to the wall, which I think will be enough, just curious if you did anything to make it look clean and flush across. Thanks!!

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