Thursday, January 9, 2014

DIY: Expedit Hack - Wide Cubby and Legs

One of the things that I like the most about IKEA furniture is that not only does it have clean modern lines and awesome colors, but they all have the potential to be hacked!  There is an entire website dedicated to hacking IKEA furniture, and I'm no stranger to hacking, myself, as you'll remember my Orgel lamps that I hacked to add fabric shades.

Ever since I began designing the Family Room, I knew that I wanted the IKEA Expedit as the TV stand. The fact that it had all of these little cubbies to put our DVDs and video game consoles was perfect. However, the cubbies aren't exactly wide enough for a DVD player, and likely not wide enough for your Cable or Satellite box either, as those are typically around 15" and the cubbies are about 13".  To solve this, we decided to hack the unit, which didn't require any power tools or saws, which for Dylan, meant that it was perfect!

We followed the normal directions on setting up the Expedit unit, by attaching one of the long sides to one of the short sides first.  We put on the first short shelf, then the first long shelf, and then this is the point where we made some changes.

Instead of doing another short shelf and then a long shelf, we did the opposite - a long shelf and then a short shelf.  And yes, I know that sounds confusing, so I made you a diagram.

The black thick lines are the outside borders of the Expedit.  The small red lines are the small shelf dividers, and the long green lines are the long shelf dividers.  The layout on the left is how the Expedit is supposed to look, according to IKEA, and the layout on the right is what we did to make it fit our needs.

It's a little easier to see how we made the change now. Instead of putting a short board underneath the top long horizontal board, we put another long board, this time going vertically.  And then to the right of that long vertical board, we attached a small board, horizontally.  Because all of the pieces are essentially identical in the way they are put together, we didn't have to make any new holes for the dowel pegs to go through.  We did, however, have to make 4 of the wooden dowel pegs shorter.  The long boards (the green ones) have holes that go through completely so that they can attach to both of the short boards (the red ones) that meet up with it. Because of this, and the fact that we are using one of the long boards "improperly", we had to cut about 3/8" off from 4 of the pegs so that they didn't stick up through the long board and into the space we want the Cable box to go.  Not a big deal though - it was really easy. In fact, you don't even need a hack saw, although that would work really well.  We ended up using a large pair of wire cutters and it was perfect, although I bet you could get away with kitchen shears, pruning shears, and possibly even a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer, like you would use a chisel.

So, once you have your boards the way you want them, you can finish putting together the frame of the Expedit, securing everything together just like the IKEA directions say to.  Don't be concerned if you end up with extra boards. We ended up with an extra short board, which is a good thing, because I may or may not have accidentally chipped off an edge of the high-gloss finish...

After you have rearranged our boards, you may declare yourself done with this project, but we still had one more small hack to complete - attaching legs.  Since our unit will be placed on the long side, in order to hold our TV, we wanted it up off the floor so that the heat from our radiators could pass underneath it, and also for easier cleaning and so that the long side of the Expedit doesn't get too scratched when it's moved.  So, enter the IKEA Capita legs.  We originally got the 8" legs, but after getting the Expedit set up, we realized that adding 8" more to it's height would make the TV too high, so we exchanged them for the 4" ones.  They also have 6" ones available if you're interested.  

Anyways, I wasn't too logistical about placing the legs on the bottom, so I lined up the legs with the corners of the unit, and then pushed them inward about 1.5" so the screws didn't interfere with the assembly of the unit at the corners. The last thing I want is the piece to fall apart with the TV on it, right!

First off, make sure that if you hacked the shelf arrangement, that you are putting the legs on the side you want down.  You really don't want to go through these next steps just to realize that you put the legs on the top instead of the bottom!  So to attach the Capita legs, I just used one of the screws that came with the legs, and made a small indentation on the surface of the Expedit in where each screw will go, using the hardware as a guide.  

Using my drill, although a screwdriver would work fine too, I then attached the legs to the Expedit using the screws that were in the unit package.  I did not pre-drill the holes, as the interior of the Expedit structure is not solid wood, so they went in very easily.  

Depending on the weight of your television, you may want to add a leg or two to the middle of your unit. Our TV only weighs 50 pounds, but I just wanted to be extra careful, especially since we technically removed one of the weight-bearing shelf dividers from the unit.  

Once you have your legs attached, you can flip your piece over, set it in place, and then place your TV on top!  Our Cable box now fits in the top cubby, and when we bring the DVD player downstairs, it will be placed right under the Cable box.  

I think this looks great, and I can't wait to fix those cables back there so they don't show. And I have another neat little project planned for the Expedit - yes it is another hack. And I can't wait to get started on that project and show it to you!

Have you ever hacked an IKEA product? What did you do and how did you do it?


Anonymous said...

Very nice! Thank you for giving a clear explanation on how to attach the capita legs, i was more nervous about that part. And smart move with the widened space.

Mette Griffith said...

so glad I found this! this is exactly what I wanted to do. Any particular reason you didn't use the wheeled legs that they show in the directions?

Mands @ Rhody Life said...

Hi Mette,

Thanks for the comment - I'm glad that this post was able to help you. The wheeled legs in the directions are new, and weren't offered before IKEA discontinued the EXPEDIT series and started the KALLAX series in April. I really love the wheeled legs that they offer now, but I'm hesitant to use them with a large television on top, especially since only one of the wheels on each set is lockable. That scares me a bit with having pets and small children hitting the unit just slightly - I would hate for something bad to happen to one of them or even to the unit or the television.

KBH said...

Hi! Looks great, and I'm wondering: how big is your TV? The Expedit has been discontinued and replaced with Kallax, do you think it's just as stable?

Mands @ Rhody Life said...

We have a 60" TV. I do think that the Kallax is just as stable as the Expedit series was, but just remember that IKEA does recommend anchoring all furniture to the walls, which would definitely help in making sure things don't topple over. I haven't had any issues with my setup at all.

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