Reader Question: Semi-Custom Corner Bookcase

I had a question from a reader about the bookcases discussed in Cordelia's Nursery and shown completed in Cordelia's Nursery: Part II.  The IKEA Billy bookcases in the 41" height are not meant to used as a corner solution, but I devised a way to make it work by creating a top out of birch ply. It's actually a fairly simple IKEA-hack, despite what may seem at first glance as intimidating directions (see below). If you have a program such as Google SketchUp (bonus - it's free!), it makes the hack that much easier.

You will need:
Plywood of your choice (1/2" to 3/4" thick)
A board of the same species of wood as the ply
Circular saw
Circular saw guide and clamps
Dowel Guide
Drill and bit to match the dowels
Wood Glue
Finish Nails and corresponding Nail Punch
Extra wood
Small wood screws
Table Saw
Miter Saw or Miter Box and Japanese Back Saw
Finish of your choice (I used urethane)

1. Lay out a plan view of you bookcases
2. Add a half inch on all sides except for the back
3. Divide that new shape into sections no longer than 8' (which is the max. length of a sheet of ply)
4. Try to do this so that the grain runs parallel with the front of each bookcase
5. Dimension the SketchUp sections and lay them out on the ply.
6. Using a circular saw and guide, cut the sections out.

7. Lay your pieces out as they would be when installed, but upside down. Be sure to not scratch the good side.
8. Using a pencil, draw three small lines across each joint. equally spaced to each other and the ends of the joint. These will help us align the dowels.
9. Align the dowel jig to each of the lines you just drew and drill holes into the ends of the boards to accept the dowels.
10. Prepare to glue. Lay two scrap wood pieces approximately 2" x 1/2" x 12" parallel to one of the joints. Make sure they are set back about a quarter of an inch on each side of said joint. Also, make sure that you have at least two clamps that are wide enough to get around both of these pieces.
11. Screw these two pieces to the BOTTOM of the two boards. Make sure the screws you use are not long enough to penetrate the finished face or you'll ruin the pretty side.
12. Apply glue to the edges of each board and too the dowels you'll be inserting. Attach the two boards together and place at least two clamps onto the screwed-on scrap pieces to hold them together.
13. Use a damp cloth to clean up any excess glue.
14. If you have additional scrap wood and clamps you can repeat steps 10-13 for all the joints while your first joint dries. If not, wait for it to dry per the glue manufacturer's recommendation before doing the next joint.

15. Use a table saw to cut down the birch board to a series of strips approximately 3/8" x 1". Because the pieces are so thin I recommend you use a feather board to keep the wood against the fence and a push rod.
16. Use the miter saw to cut the edge strips to size, making sure the corners are properly mitered together.
17. I pre-measured the location of the finish nails on the edging and pre-drove them for each piece.
18. Apply glue to the ply and edge piece and hold together. Drive the nails in to hold the edging in place. Use the Nail Punch to recess the heads.

I used a random orbital sander and 80 grit to make sure the edging was flush to the ply. Then I worked up to 120 and 220 before urethaning.  I put on four coats, sanding in between per the manufacturer's recommendation. I left the nail heads exposed. If you wish, you can use some wood filler to fill in the recesses left by the Nail Punch. Also, our walls were straight enough that I didn't want to scribe the top to them, but that is something to consider if you want the fit to be really, really tight. If you are going to scribe, I would make the boards a bit wider to account for the material you're going to eventually cut away.  Good luck! 

Cordelia's Nursery: Part II

And the winner is....

If you missed Part I, it's worth a look back at the five different inspiration boards I put together for my daughter's nursery and the sources for all the items in the collage above. The runner up was the orange and grey collage with the Thomas Paul rug, but this happy multi-color room won out for several reasons 1) It's a bit more feminine 2) I can add almost any accessory (called 'toys' in her world) without them sticking out like a sore thumb 3) I scored that PB Teen rug for next to nothing and it's still on sale here

The bookcases worked out just as planned. I already had the Kartell storage unit on hand to use as a side table and I snagged the Fat Boy ottoman designed by Dwell Studio at Marshall's of all places for a mere thirty beans (also available right here on clearance). 

Some things were just happy accidents like that as well as the rocking chair that I mentioned I picked up at the Rose Bowl. It was recovered in an ivory shag from Deco Home. Other things in the room had more thought behind them and were shown in the original collage. The Oeuf cribJonathan Adler Havana sconces, Kate Quinn bedding, Puka Puka mobile, and Multi-boxes were all must-haves.  The Adler initial pillow was also on the original wish list, but they were out of stock and we ended up with this one instead.  If you look closely it includes the word 'gin', but my husband jokes that Jonathan is simply referring to the card game, not the adult beverage!

Smaller items of note not mentioned above are in the source list at the bottom of the post. Of course, the most adorable thing in the room, Cordelia, is in the last photo.  Enjoy!

Wall Art - Suzy Ultman
Piggy Bank, Turtle and Snail - Jonathan Adler
Mushroom Lamp - Vintage
Mirrored Discs - PB Teen
Toy baskets - Land Of Nod
Floor lamp - West Elm
Wall color - Sherwin-Williams Harmony paint in 'Bubble'

Cordelia's Nursery

Every mother obsesses over a nursery leading up to their first baby, right? You have to make sure everything is perfect and you're ready to welcome the little one home. Well, that's exactly how I ended up with six different inspiration boards for my daughter's nursery! Let's just say decisiveness and pregnancy do not go well together. 

Of course, I started with a focus on function and never wavered from my original floor plan.  It consisted of a crib (obviously) strategically positioned in the one spot in the room that wasn't under a window (we do live in a glass house, after all, but don't worry we recently installed 3M safety film on all the windows), bookcases lining one wall and rounding the corner, and a chair plus ottoman. Pretty simple. 

The Classic Ouef Crib was locked in, as was the Billy bookcase storage solution from IKEA which would get a birch top (an IKEA-hack since the corner solution doesn't really work with the low bookcases). I had spotted the Britten Nummer fabric, also from IKEA, and envisioned it as the perfect backdrop for the bookcases (simply covering the back panels with the fabric adhered with a little non-toxic Modge Podge). I had also spontaneously selected a light turquoise for the walls when the painters were here to cover up the oh-so-hideous hospital green walls that the previous owner had somehow thought were a good idea.  

So, those were all the decisions that had been made up until the third trimester.  In the mean time, I was distracted with all the other projects happening, which is really just my excuse for not being able to make up my mind. Designers designing for themselves is sometimes a fatal combination. Add in the pregnancy hormones and you're doomed.  

Then, a trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market turned up a Ralph Rapson-style rocker (which I have to imagine was the inspiration behind IKEA's Poang rocker you'll see pictured in the first collage) and the room finally began to take shape. I had all the major furniture pieces. Although that still didn't stop me from contemplating repainting the walls (as you'll notice in the 3rd collage). So without further ado, here are the many variations on the nursery's color palette, textiles, lighting and decor. Can you guess which one of these five inspiration boards was the winner? 

Clockwise from top left: Mythic Paint in Turquoise, Sunny Outlook, and Sherwin-Williams 'Bubble', Jonathan Adler Havana Sconce, Frazier + Wing Mobile, Britten Nummer fabric and Billy bookcase from IKEA, Room and Board Henley floor pillow, Hable Construction fabric, IKEA Poang rocker (similar to Ralph Rapson-style vintage rocker scored at the Rose Bowl), Jonathan Adler Initial Pillow, Kate Quinn bedding, CB2 Birdwalk rug, West Elm side table, Oeuf Crib

Clockwise from top left: Puka Puka mobile, Thomas Paul sconce, Sherwin-Williams 'bubble', IKEA Britten Nummer and Billy bookcase, Oilo crib bedding, Amenity deer pillow, West Elm stump table, Monte Luca glider, Flor carpet tiles, Ouef Crib

Clockwise from top left: Puka Puka mobile, Mythic Paint in Blush of Dawn, Kate Quinn Bedding, IKEA Britten Nummer fabric with Billy bookcase, Multi-boxes, Crate and Barrel glider, West Elm Martini table, CB2 rug, Oeuf Crib, Jonathan Adler Initial Pillow

Clockwise from top left: Jonathan Adler Havana sconce, Summer Infant organic crib sheet, Puka Puka mobile, IKEA PS table, IKEA Britten Nummer fabric and Billy bookcase, Hable Construction fabric in charcoal, Modernica 'Grasshopper' chair, CB2 ottoman, Thomas Paul 'Parasols' rug, Sherwin-Williams 'Bubble', Oeuf crib, Inhabit wall hanging

Clockwise from top left: Jonathan Adler 'Havana' sconce, Sherwin-Williams 'Bubble', Puka Puka mobile, Jonathan Adler initial pillow, IKEA Britten Nummer fabric with Billy bookcase, Kate Quinn 'Clover' bedding, Multi-boxes, IKEA Poang rocker, PB Teen rug, Oeuf crib, Kartell Componibili storage unit

A Studio

We can all agree that Dwell showcases some pretty cool stuff.  The Joint Table by Tomoko Azumi is no exception. It's base is made possible by a traditional Japanese joinery technique that elevates it to a table worth gracing the pages of Dwell.  (Psst...I'm sure this table costs a pretty penny, but read on for some budget-friendly guidance.)

Image via Inhabitat

Azumi is certainly not new on the scene. These stools from 1965 have become a classic and here are some other designs equally as flawless. (Top - Recharge table, Bottom - Transport lamp)
What if you want to get a similar look for less?  IKEA actually has some products with a similar vibe for your bathroom or bedroom. Try Mandal or Molger. Admittedly not nearly as elegant, but you can't argue with the price, right?

A Little Bit Rock 'n Roll

When a music-lovin' friend (a single guy in his mid-20's) came to me asking for help with his new downtown loft, I instantly knew that I wanted a sort of 70's rock 'n roll aesthetic mixed with a few current pieces.  I wanted the space to be masculine, with some hard, clean lines, but decided to add some curvaceous pieces, so it wouldn't be too tough. As with any room, finding the perfect color palette would be oh-so-important.  This inspiration room from New York designer, Miles Redd, became my jumping off point.

What do I admire about this room?  For starters, the ethereal blue walls provide a great backdrop for the lacquered black furniture.  Then, a punch of red, with that piece of artwork, and a graphic pattern like that black and white rug give the room some edge.  So, how can you pull off a similar look and keep your budget in check?  Try these options:

Clockwise from top left: Jimi Hendrix 3'x5' canvas ($795), Farrow & Ball 'Borrowed Light' #235 ($85/gallon), Flor Carpet Tiles in 'El Tigre' ($5.20/sq ft), IKEA 'Ange' chair ($129), West Elm 'Links' Side Table, CB2 Avec Sofa ($1199), West Elm Hideaway Media Bench (Currently $449, Normally $549)

Try mixing in some wood pieces like this Walnut Hexagon Coffee Table from Room Service ($995).  The smoke glass top screams 1970's, but in a good way.

Add a bit of sparkle to this tough space with the Anemone Ceiling Lamp from  Jonathan Adler ($525)

And there are many affordable black lamps to choose from, but this one with its curvy shape fits particularly well into this room, Room Service 'Beverly Hills' Table Lamp ($175)

IKEA Heights

The IKEA Burbank store, with its close proximity to Hollywood, has enjoyed plenty of time in the spotlight with films like '500 Days of Summer' starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and 'Easy to Assemble' with Illeana Douglass and guest stars like Jeff Goldblum. Then there are the Hollywood hopefuls who join in the fun and test their acting skills in short films using IKEA Burbank as their backdrop. Who needs a set designer, when IKEA provides about thirty different room sets that your actors can call home, right?

The latest buzz is about 'IKEA Heights', a silly drama shot at IKEA Burbank. I tuned in this morning to see what all the fuss was about and what do you know, there are a couple of my room sets still there! See, I used to be an interior designer at IKEA and while it's been quite some time since I left, I was happy to see that some of my work has survived.

These rooms are featured in the first episode of 'IKEA Heights':

The kitchen wasn't quite finished yet when this photo was taken

IKEA Heights from DaveAOK on Vimeo.

And the IKEA Restaurant that I designed and remodeled is featured in the next episode. The ceiling was still under construction in these photos and the pendant lighting had not yet been installed: