Hacking IKEA’s FÖRHÖJA Kitchen Cart

The Idea

Nadeem Khan
Dec 23, 2014 · 5 min read

I was re-arranging the furniture in my apartment and realized I could use a nice kitchen island to add for the extra counter space in the kitchen. I spent some time looking up temporary kitchen islands at online furniture stores but most of them seemed to be priced way more than I was willing to spend or were too big/wide for my needs.

So I went the DIY way and decided to repurpose one of my existing pieces of kitchen furniture, IKEA’s FÖRHÖJA Kitchen cart I was using for my microwave, coffee-maker.

The original cart, out on my deck, awaiting a new look.

The Inspiration

Shopping for Parts

For the new look, I needed to repaint the cart and re-stain the top, I needed:

  1. Paint color — Behr’s Sweet Rhapsody (nice turquoise blue)
  2. Dark Walnut Stain (get the smallest can available).
  3. Paint Brushes
  4. Sand Paper (220 Grit)

For setting up the drop leaf.

  1. IKEA’s EKBY TRYGGVE shelf (I had it sawed down to match the length of the table top)
  2. Three 1/12" hinges.
  3. Two drop-leaf hinge supports (one left and one right)
  4. Scrap wood to compensate for the difference between the table-top and the shelf (when attaching the hinges.)
Most of the tools, materials needed.

Getting down to work

The cart (minus the top with primer on it)

While the primer dried, I took the table top and added the first coat of dark walnut stain on it. Now, this is the tricky part (if you haven’t stained before) after you stain your piece of wood, you need to wait for a few minutes (5–8 minutes) to let the wood absorb the stain and then wipe off all excess stain with a dry rag. I cannot emphasize how important this is, as I failed to do this properly the first time and after almost a day of drying, my table top surface was still sticky with the stain residue on top of it. I had to re-stain it to get it right — once done, it looked pretty nice.

After applying the first coat of stain.
Wiping off all the excess stain with a dry rag.

I stained both the drawers and the drop-leaf shelf well similarly.

Now with the primer dried, it was time to paint the cart baby blue. This is how it looked like after the first coat (the color actually deepened after drying up for a while).

The left the table top and the cart to dry overnight.


After everything was all dried up, now came the interesting part of attaching the shelf I got from Ikea as a drop-leaf extension. First, I nailed the scrap wood onto the shelf to bring it to the same thickness as the table-top

Scrap wood nailed on the top side of the shelf.

Then I used an electric drill to drill 5/64" holes to attach the shelf to the table top with three hinges.

Hinges attached.

Finally, I had to measure and attach the drop-leaf hinge supports. I had to first attach the table top back on the cart before I did this since on side of the support hinge needed to be attached the table leg. Also, this was best done with table flipped upside down.

Attaching the support hinges.

That’s it! Now the table was up and ready for use. Here are is how it looked extended.

The drop leaf extension extended and collapsed.

That’s it! It was all done and ready for use. The extension and the table top did take a different color when stained probably because of the type of wood used in both cases was a little different, but I wasn’t going to fuss too much about it. It looks pretty nice and functional as-is. All I need is a couple of cheap bar stools off CL and we have a breakast bar / kitchen island hacked out of a $40 kitchen cart!

The kitchen island/ break fast bar is ready to use!

    Nadeem Khan

    Written by

    San Francisco based Software Engineer. Lover of food, culture, empathy and manipulating machines. Find me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/nadeemlinkedin