Photo credit: Stephanie at Studio 36 Interiors

IKEA Hacks Are Adult LEGOs

Are you familiar with IKEA Hacks? Did you know there is an entire website devoted to this phenomenon? Maybe you’ve hacked some KALLAX yourself. I suspect everyone owns at least one of those cube shelves. They are handy.

For the uninitiated, an IKEA hack occurs when one takes an out-of-the-box IKEA product and turns it into something even cooler. For example, a talented architect transformed the simple shelving unit above into gorgeous built-ins for her office. And the clever blogger featured below turned an IKEA utility cart into a fancy bar. Looks like marble right? Nope, that’s contact paper.

Marbled Bar Cart by Ilia

Partly out of sheer interest and respect for these ingenious people and partly due to our before & after content growth efforts at SnapTwice, I’ve spent a decent amount of time scrolling through and documenting several of these hacks. People bling out their dressers, chalk-paint their tables, create custom kitchens on a budget, and even build award-winning, environmentally-friendly backyard sheds, like the one below. The options are endless and oh, so wonderful.

Super Shed by Chuck Witmer

Then, last week, the 2017 IKEA catalog arrived in the mail. Holding it in my hand as I walked past my sons’ room, I spotted the giant bins of LEGOs occupying more of the floorspace than I’d like to admit.

And the similarity between all of this IKEA hacking and my sons’ LEGO building hit me like, well, a ton of bricks — people like to build things, sure, but they really like to trick out existing things and make them better. Just as kids like to take basic blocks and make cool, unique vehicles or buildings, adults like to improve upon and customize basic products for their homes and entertainment. IKEA hacks are LEGOs for adults.

The route from Billund, Denmark to Agunnaryd, Sweden

I find it interesting that the founding of IKEA and LEGO occurred rather close to each other, both geographically and temporally. LEGO was founded by Kirk Kristiansen in Billund, Denmark in 1932. A few years later and only about 500 km (300 mi) to the east, in Agunnaryd, Sweden, Ingvar Kamprad started selling furniture as IKEA. Ever wondered what IKEA stood for? Per the website, “the founder’s initials (I.K.) plus the first letters of Elmtaryd (E) and Agunnaryd (A), the farm and village where he grew up,” inspired the name.

Did the ubiquity of LEGOs for us as kids drive this building and hacking passion as adults or did LEGO simply tap in to a natural human desire? I don’t know, but what I do know is that IKEA hacks are awesome, and they are everywhere — and not just for DIYers either. There are entire companies dedicated to helping consumers get their hack on. One of our favorites is Los Angeles-based SemiHandmade, which helped the Manhattan homeowners featured below reimagine their tiny kitchen into an open, gorgeous space.

Photo credit: Sweeten blog

Now that the kids are headed back to school, if we aren’t cursing the little bricks that we step on scattered around our homes, maybe we can draw inspiration from them. Let’s build something cool, fellow hackers!