10 Built-In Ikea Hacks To Make Your Jaw Drop


1 Ikea Hacks Built In Shelving

By Anna Smith of Annabode.

We’ve all seen them—those gorgeous closets and bookcases that make you do a double take.  They look like they were custom built and cost oodles of money… and, most of the time, that’s 100% the case.  BUT thanks to the wonders of the internet, the talents of fabulous DIY bloggers, and the mecca of affordable design that is Ikea, those aspirational built-ins are actually in reach!  (Cue angelic choir music.)

My family just moved into a new/old house that is crying out for some personality and creative storage solutions.  This is in part to manage the boatload of belongings we lugged across the country but also to help differentiate it from every. other. house. in the neighborhood. Oh, the joys of suburbia.

So of course I was pumped when Ashley asked me to write a post on Ikea hacks and knew immediately the kind I was looking for.  So, without further ado, here are the 10 most beautiful and awe-inspiring built-in Ikea hacks on the planet.

(Quite a build up, huh? Except I’m serious.)

Via Lonny (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

1. Irene Edwards had her BILLY bookcases framed with trim and the front pieces painted in a contrasting color—even accommodating baseboard heaters below!

Via Smitten (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

2. Sarah Sherman Samuel used Ikea kitchen cabinets to form the base of her built-in living room shelving.

Via Jenna Sue Design (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

3. Jenna Sue created a custom-looking pantry with PAX cabinets.

Via Avery Street Design (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

4. Laura Irion of Avery Street Design created an entire wall of built-ins from BORGSJO bookcases, adding drywall and trim for a seamless appearance.

Via Home Made by Carona (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

5. Ursula Carmona used two Ikea RAST dressers to create this insanely chic wardrobe hack. Now this one made me do a double take! And, okay, so technically this one isn’t built-in… but you could easily make it so.

Via Design Sponge (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

6. Amy Azzarito of Design Sponge used this tutorial by Jenny Komenda (of Little Green Notebook) to make these incredible arched library bookcases.

Via Jenna Sue Design (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

7. Jenna Sue does it again with these built-in wardrobes from PAX doors. I love the detail she added!

Via Ikea Hackers (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

8. This turn-of-the-century-esque built-in was crafted by Shannon George out of two RAST dressers. That bead board, the color… every part of this is perfection.

Via The Makerista (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

9. Gwen Hefner needed a more traditional look for her friend Laura’s bookshelves and created this built-in Ikea hack.  She added some killer trim to BILLY bookcases in order to keep the design period-appropriate to the house, and the effect is stunning.

11 Via Jenny Komenda/Little Green Notebook (Hither & Thither: Built-In Ikea Hacks)

10. Last but not least, Jenny Komenda shared this beautiful built-in wardrobe using—what else?—PAX wardrobes.  Painting the wardrobe the same color as the walls makes it appear as if it was part of the wall!

You know I’ll be replicating some of these in our new house! Do you have a favorite Ikea hack in your home? Ashley and I are both big fans.

Thanks, Anna! And best wishes for the new home! 

P.S. My office shelves, made from the Ikea Stolmen closet system; and our bar shelves, made from Ikea countertop.

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The 10 Easiest DIY Wall Hangings


No Weave Wall Hangings

By Anna Smith of Annabode.

Hey! It’s Anna again, from Annabode, here to share with you today a round-up of my all-time favorite DIY wall hangings.  I always ogle the beauty and texture of woven hangings on Pinterest, but all that time spent in front of a loom makes me want to run in the other direction.  I consider myself a pretty lazy DIYer—if I can’t finish it quickly or if it requires a lot of detail work, then I simply leave it to the professionals.  (Like Maryann Moodie—she’s a textile rockstar).

That’s why I’ve gathered the 10 easiest DIY wall hangings from around the web, no weaving required! Each of these bloggers has created something lovely and textural that won’t have you pulling your hair out (admittedly I’ve snuck one of my own in here, too).  Whether it’s a hack of an existing textile or a minimalist yarn creation, I hope these projects inspire you to create something of your own!


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Great.ly (Make Better)


Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.37.42 PM

Have you heard of Great.ly? Sarah Bryden-Brown, a wonderful person I’ve met through blogging, recently founded the online marketplace which aims to compensate all involved—the maker you love, the tastemaker you trust.

Essentially, “tastemakers” (bloggers and the like) curate their own shops and do all of the selling, so that the makers are left to making and creating rather than to marketing and selling! It’s a lovely concept and everyone is invited to join. In support, I’ve chosen some favorite items to feature today (and of course, they’re all available in the boutique I’ve created as well.)

Leather Switch plates // Scarf // Bookends // Leather Tote // Giraffe Chalkboard // Draw Your Own Postcard // Cork Planter // Cushion // Bowls and Cutting Board

Check it out! And if you’re a maker and you’re interested in selling on Great.ly, here’s how to apply.

Have a great weekend!

[All images via makers on Great.ly. Here’s the link to my boutique. And to shop Great.ly at large.]


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Living Clean: A Laundry Makeover (part 1)


There’s a reason why all of those house tour posts never showed our laundry room: it’s a huge mess!

I figured, if I’m going to stick with my commitment to live clean with non-toxic, sustainable products from the Made to Matter, Handpicked by TargetTM collection, I should do it in a (clean) laundry room that makes me want to spend a little time in there. There is a skylight, after all!

So in addition to stocking up on recycled paper towels and high efficiency laundry detergent from Seventh Generation and method, I’ve been bringing home lots of storage boxes and baskets, poring over inspirational (aspirational) images of laundry rooms on Pinterest, hunting down the perfect peg rail, and replacing dingy plastic scrub brushes with pretty wood ones. (You know, so I’ll use them more.)

[Pictured above: Towels / Wire Baskets (and the boxes I’ll use inside the cabinets) / Seagrass Baskets / Market Tote / Laundry Truck (similar) / Dustpans (red & green) / Wall Clock / Peg Rail / Made to Matter Household Goods]



Here’s what it looks like now. In my wildest dreams, we’d move all of the hookups so that the washer and dryer are stacked on the back wall; we’d get a tankless water heater to save on space; and that water softener would go somewhere else to free up the corner. Then we’d have someone come in and build custom cabinetry. But realistically, I think a little paint, a little purging, and a lot of reorganizing will go a long way.

What do you think about the grey for the cabinets? I’m leaning toward a very pale, cool grey (like the one on the upper right) at the moment, but it will probably be a last-minute call.

As for what’s inside, we’re cleaning up our act. I think we’ve moved that bleach with us at least twice, but we never use it. I think I have it because my mom did. (Sort of like my iron.)


[1. Dustpan and brush / 2. method Glass + Surface / 3. Utility brush / 4. Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent / 5. method Wood Surface Cleaner / 6. Feather duster / 7. method Smarty Dish tabs / 8. method Daily Shower Cleaner, method Bathroom Cleaner, and method All-Purpose Cleaner / 9. Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Bathroom Tissue]


A little paint, some new hardware, and a change in routine. Stay tuned.

P.S. My first post on committing to using products from the Made to Matter, Handpicked by TargetTM collection: a chat with method founders, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan.

This post is sponsored by TargetThe Made To Matter line has been handpicked by Target to bring you brands that make things better for your you, your family, and the place we all call home.

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Our Home Office (and Friday Links)




Thank you again for letting me share our home tour this past week! It’s been a lot of fun and, as usual, you have all been so generous and kind.

This is the last of it—our office. I spend quite a bit of time in this room, so we just had a skylight added to get more of that uplifting natural light! I was amazed, actually, at how straightforward it was. It’s just as you might imagine: you simply have a giant hole cut into the ceiling and someone puts in a window. Best decision! There are actually lots of skylights in the house—there’s even one in the laundry room—so I thought it only seemed fair…

I’ve shared some details about this room already. You might recall this Ikea Chair Hack and this Ikea Bookshelf Hack?

Here are some links for your weekend… 


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Our Home: Backyard



Having a backyard to spend time outdoors in was most definitely what we were most excited about when it came to moving into a new home in California. And though we had a ton of furniture to buy for inside (coming from a small, studio apartment), we agreed that the number one priority was furnishing and tending to the backyard. We knew that those purchases would go most directly toward making us feel happy about the move from New York, and give us the most dramatic sense of an increased quality of life.

Simply the addition of outdoor space was plenty to be happy about (okay, that, and the bit of trivia that there’s an average of 300 sunny days a year here).  But there was still a lot we wanted to do in the yard.


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Our Dining Room (&am...

Our Home: Living Room and Dining Room




We moved to Davis nearly two years ago now, and I feel like it’s been almost as long that I’ve been saying I’d like to do some home tour posts. For some reason or another, I just kept putting it off—maybe it felt like too much of a work-in-progress for me. But then our friend, Joanna Goddard asked about featuring it on her site, A Cup of Jo, and it finally gave me the push I needed to take what we’ll call “after photos” (for simplicity’s sake, because while we’re really excited about the house as it looks now, the word feels a bit too final for me). The post went live with an interview last week!

So I thought it might be fun to share my favorite (long overdue) “after” photos this week—some from the feature, some not previously shared—along with a few of their “before” counterparts.


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Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home


I’ll never forget the time when, a few weeks after Hudson was born, Aron walked into our tiny Manhattan studio apartment to find me rocking back and forth like a madwoman on the sofa—at the time convinced that it was perfectly normal to just pretend to have a rocking chair to soothe our colicky infant. We didn’t have room for one after all, and the yoga ball just wasn’t cutting it. Our eyes met and I suddenly realized how crazy I must have looked. We both burst into laughter. (Moments later, of course, I passed Hudson off to Aron when he, no doubt, started performing some other version of a soothing-jiggly-bouncy dance that was no less ridiculous. Probably right before I crept through our closet, past Hudson’s mini-crib, to get to the bathroom.)

Ah, the crazy things you do in the name of sleep.

It all passes, and you look back with humor and nostalgia at what would once induce panic and weepy tears. We survived (thrived mostly) in that 500-square-foot space, the three of us. And I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in minimalism. But there was often a sense that it would be so different (i.e. easier) if we had more space.

Yes and no, is what we’ve learned since moving to a larger home in California. We still have to do the jiggly-bouncy-crazy dance (and now while smiling reassuringly at a toddler) but now we can get help from a rocking chair. There’s still that sense of fear that strikes about six weeks in: “will we ever be able to go outside past 8pm again?” (of course, yes), but now we can eat outside in the backyard. When she cries, it still sounds as loud as a chainsaw (to her own parents’ ears), but we no longer feel like we have to jump at the slightest peep out of courtesy to our neighbors. Thank goodness for not sharing walls. No matter the circumstances, new parenthood seems to come with its own dizzying combination of joy and anxiety, and often a bit of isolation.

More than ever, I’ve discovered, it’s important to love where you live—and find comfort in your home.

Here are ten things making motherhood sweeter at home these days…


Her big brother, who has been more patient and tender than I could have ever imagined. “Her name Skyler.” “O want to pet her head?”—whereby “o” he means “u”—is the greeting Hudson offers enthusiastically to everyone who passes.

Fresh, white sheets for snuggling (and petting her head and nursing and napping and, more often than I’d like, not sleeping at night). I can’t tell you how good it feels to come home from the hospital and lay down (and lay your baby down) on crisp, clean sheets. And because it’s hard to keep them that way (hello, spit up), I got an extra set. Still, I like white for those precious newborn photos (and the spit up doesn’t even show!)



Fresh flowers and natural light. The illusion, at least, of calm. (And isn’t it amazing what natural light can do for your mood? It’s so refreshing and uplifting to get outside!)

A stack of thank you cards. Because, fortunately, people have been incredibly kind and generous and because, unfortunately, if there aren’t cards nearby I’m apt to forget to thank them. (Even though I’m sure friends and family would give a new mother a pass.)

Soft blankets.



Baskets. Baskets, galore. I can’t stop bringing home woven jute baskets. They help me carry away messes in a hurry to look presentable and they’re by my side with water (I get so thirsty when nursing) and snacks (I’m obsessed with these dried fruits for my sweet tooth) and entertainment. I love that they have handles for moving one-handedly (the manner in which so many things get accomplished lately, it seems).

A foot stool or ottoman for balancing little people on my knees and helping me to sit back and stop slouching while feeding Skyler. I’ve literally placed some version of one near every chair I tend to camp out on. (Can’t get enough of the jute.) It’s also just right for lounging on our slightly narrow couch if given the chance to binge-watch The Americans.

Our swing. (This is new to me and has been such a relief. We seem to make motion-loving babies, only this time I’m not walking around New York City for hours and hours every day.) And a video monitor so that I can be in the backyard or Hudson’s room while she’s in said swing. Or—eeps!—in her own room. With a lovely, full-size crib.

A partner to share it all with. A daddy to love them, and to play “shark attack” over and over (and over) in the “tiny pool” with an incredibly energetic toddler while I sneak off to soothe a sleepy baby. Obviously in a category of his own.

All of the items linked can be found at Target. Also pictured, from Target (their Threshold collection has been amazing lately): Ceramic White Vase /  Decorative Linen TrayRound Rope Mirror / Nate Berkus Scissors (in store) / Nate Berkus Pool towels (in store). On me: Micaela Tee (Anthropologie) and Zara Jeans (similar to broken-in style by JCrew).

This post is sponsored by Target. The adventure begins here: Discover all Target has to offer for your baby registry and throughout your motherhood journey.

All opinions expressed are my own.

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Last year, around this time, we were just planning our garden: planting citrus trees and succulents, and making room for plots of Sungold tomatoes. We were also hoping to address an aphid problem. One way to do so, is to encourage beneficial insects—like ladybugs and lacewings—to take care of them, rather than use pesticides. Sounded good to us!

But even more appealing, to be honest, was the chance to play in the garden with Hudson—who was, at the time, just getting really excited about dirt and worms and rolly-pollies and the like. He would surely love to release ladybugs!


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Ikea Hack: Office Bookshelves


Bookshelves Hack
Bookshelves Hack

When we first moved into our home, I talked about my fondness for the Dieter Rams’ Universal Shelving, sold by Vitsœ. And we came quite close to calling the company to get started. You might recall that I said they made a great case for starting small with the “starts-cheap-but-gets-exorbitant-quickly modular system.” They really did. But I still couldn’t do it. The shelves and E-track were reasonable, but the drawers (which I really wanted) started in the $800-1000 range (each).

Lo-and-behold, Ikea came through again. Their STOLMEN closet system bore some striking resemblances. The only issue: the shelving system is designed as a closet system, so everything is centered along long axis poles that you fix to the ceiling or wall, to allow for hangers extending out on both sides. However, if you’re hoping to store books on the shelves, you want those shelves to back up flush to the wall to keep things from falling backward into a large gap. If all of your shelves are the same width, no problem. If you want to include deeper drawer units, here’s how you might avoid this…


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Shopping Sacramento: Scout Living


I’m still pretty fresh when it comes to unique , local shopping in Sacramento (and am open to suggestions!) despite having lived in Midtown for one year after college. But one spot I’ve returned to on multiple occasions now is Scout Living. (We found the Eames chair that some of you spotted in our dining room there!) It’s definitely my favorite shopping find so far.


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Small space living



We’ve just stepped off the red-eye from a week in New York City, and I must say that the task of unpacking our overstuffed luggage is feeling a little daunting at the moment—perhaps the reason the simplicity of this 580-square-foot cabin, the home of Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser (aka Pete Campbell), is piquing my interest right now. It may also have something to do with having just left Manhattan where we were reminded of our own time spent as a family of three in an apartment just under that size. (Although, on this visit, we stayed in a wonderful one-bedroom-apartment we found on the brilliant site Kid & Coe… more on that soon enough.)


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Try this: Wreath-making tutorials


I wish I could say I made this Bay Leaf wreath (shown smelling wonderful on our Thanksgiving table last year before it went on to adorn our door for far too many months), but I bought it.

Not once, but twice, this year I’ve purchased materials with the best of intentions to make a wreath: first a wire wreath form—with this succulent wreath in mind (we have the materials in our yard); and then a dried grapevine wreath with the impulsive thought that Hudson and I would hot-glue his stash of mini-white-pumpkins to it. I brought it home only to remember that… oh yeah… I don’t have a hot glue gun.

DIY: Best wreath-making tutorials

So while I’m sort of a DIY-fail, I really do have the best of intentions! And I’m assured that making your own wreath can be very simple. I’ve been collecting inspiration for those of you with more follow-through: if I were to make a wreath this year, here’s where I’d look first.

Oh Happy Day: 3 wreaths to make for the holidays
Design Sponge: Bits & Bits wreath (pictured twice) and Bittersweet & Rosehip wreath
Kinfolk: Holiday wreath & card holder
Martha Stewart: Corn Husk Wreath (she, of course, has many useful tutorials)

And for backup? A for-purchase Olive branch or Bay Leaf wreath would be lovely throughout the holidays.

Try it. Then let me know how it went so I can continue to be a vicarious DIY-er?

[All photos, except top (our last year’s Thanksgiving table), from the listed sources.]

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Moving down the Chore List: Baskets


Conquering the chore list Conquering the chore list

Tackling the chore list is a moving target. I realize I do okay when it comes to daily maintenance, not so good when it comes to weekly deep cleaning. We’re lucky to have help twice a month in that department now, so you can understand if it tends to slip off my radar from time-to-time.

But I love the basket trick: At the end of the day, grab a basket and go through the house to pick up all of the misplaced items and then redistribute to rightful places. I’ve actually started using two baskets—one for Hudson’s things (the majority) and one for everything else. If he’s already asleep, I tend to leave his basket just inside his bedroom door.

Of course, all the better if the baskets are pretty! We tried to bring home as many baskets from Bali as we could, but they’re not so easy to pack. Here are twelve great options (row by row, left to right) you can order online:

Handwoven African Horizons Basket // Woven African Knitting Basket // West Elm Curved Basket // Land of Nod Charming Baskets // Serena & Lily Round Belly Baskets // Serena & Lily Senegalese Baskets  // Nate Berkus for Target Chevron Storage Basket  // Crate & Barrel Sedona Totes  // Ikea Magga Basket // Tanzanian Iringa Basket set // West Elm Graphic Printed Baskets // World Market Amelie Basket 

Also, be sure to check out the woven collection at Jjangde Goods (not pictured). About to launch, Jjangde connects local women entrepreneurs to the global marketplace (though you can find some items on Etsy). Profits from the goods go to fund schools and employ the women in the communities where the goods were made and are starting small with one community in Senegal in West Africa.

What tips would you share for conquering the chore list?

P.S. A link for a printable chore chart.

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21 Wallpapers for Kids’ rooms


wallpaper for kids

Though wallpaper can be a daunting commitment, I love the way it can dramatically transform a child’s room. And ever since leaving behind Hudson’s mini-crib space (though we took some of the paper along with us), I’ve been wanting to paper an accent wall again.

Top:  Whitby in Lido; 2nd image, clockwise: Habitat / Dogs / Collette / Great Meadow Mural


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Happy Anniversary!

Our Dining Room (& our dining room table search)


I was talking to some friends about our progress moving in and how, a year later (almost to the day), we still feel like there’s a lot to finish. There’s a momentum to furnishing a place and ours has died. That’s okay—I like the idea of taking one’s time rather than rushing through the fun of decorating (to a degree) and there is the practical matter of cash flow to consider, but I do wish we could go back to that early-on momentum and borrow some of it to finish a few spaces.

Right now, the room we keep talking around in circles is our dining room. You see part of the room the minute you walk through the door (that’s the view, above), and I love it! Because we hardly ever sit in there, the most visible bits stay pretty clean—clear of the stuff you typically set down when you walk in the door (that tends to pile, instead, in our kitchen). So I’m pretty happy with this half of the room; all of the natural light makes it bright and inviting and I’m glad our couch from New York has a place to rest. Anyway, I keep hoping to share some after photos of the whole room, but since I don’t know when that will be… let’s move onto the “before.”

The other half is definitely a “Before.” Most of the time, it’s filled with boxes and backpacks and scooters and helmets and strollers and… a whole lot of junk. There are two empty pieces of furniture backed into the corner—because we’re not sure what to do with them. We know we want to install a light fixture that hangs over the table, but what should it look like? And then there’s the dining table. Aron made that leaf for our old one (which we found at a thrift store when we were first living in Los Angeles, ten years ago) and we usually only use it under a table cloth, but I’ve been keeping it in because (a) I don’t mind the two-tone so much and (b) we’ve learned that we like the look of a long table in here (this is roughly 100″).

Finally, the black storage isn’t really right anymore for the style of our new home; it was better suited for our apartment in New York.


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Laundry Secrets

An 80-foot slide. In their house.


David Hotson designed slide

I can’t get over this: the David Hotson Architecture group designed an 80-foot slide inside a New York City penthouse, called Skyhouse, to take residents from the attic (where a hole is cut into a vertical glass partition) to the ground floor, four levels down.

The whole place is incredible—the views alone are enough to make your jaw drop, nevermind that there’s also a 50-foot climbing wall on a central beam that extends up from the living room and a stainless steel slide! The building itself dates to 1896, a beaux-art skyscraper with a dramatically pitched roof, but you’d never know it from the interior.

Can you imagine?! The designer notes that guests have the option of using yellow cashmere blankets to speed-up the ride down. I guess if it’s too much, you always have to the the option to get off on the third floor. Eek!

P.S. My favorite NY real estate storyModern architecture in Manhattan, and an underground house in the Swiss Alps.

[All photos via David Hotson, seen first on Handmade Charlotte]

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Memory lane: Our first apartment


Aron and I took a little trip down memory lane on our last trip to Los Angeles…

This is the first apartment Aron and I shared—on Ogden in the Fairfax district.

I lived in that large, Spanish-style apartment, just up the block from CBS Studios, alone at first as a graduate student at USC. I was about six-months into the Comparative Literature PhD program when Aron came down from San Francisco and moved in. It was a giant one-bedroom with an amazing layout, but it seemed small at the time. (Funny, considering our five years in 500-square-feet.) Six months later, as he began medical school at UCLA, we moved around the corner to a two-bedroom on Genessee.

I remember pushing our things (literally) around the block and being asked whether we were selling our records. We looked like a walking yard sale, we had so barely bothered to pack up.

I went back through our old photos and it’s amazing how few we have of it, especially considering we were there for four years.

It was here that we got engaged (nearly eight years ago)!


Where was your first home away from home (other than the dorms)? What was it like? There’s a great book called My First New York where artists, actors, writers and the like recount their early days and first homes in the city. No matter where you are though, it’s something you’ll never forget.

P.S. Favorite shops in Los Angeles (and now this one, too) and my pick for pizza in the city.

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