When we first moved in to the flat, we were short a few items of furniture. The previous owner had left a bed frame behind, but nothing else for the bedroom. To be fair, it was a small room, with plenty of storage in the closet. The only things it was really lacking, were side tables.
We lived with some little stools that Richard brought back from Nepal for a while, but I wanted storage. I wanted a place to keep little things tucked out of sight, like charging cables! However, our space on either side was limited, so we needed to find something small.
That’s when I turned to IKEA. They have plenty of options for side tables, but none of them really fit my design aesthetic. So what’s a cash strapped girl to do? IKEA Hack, that’s what! We ended up going with the NORDLI side table, as it had some pretty cool design features. It has hollow back legs that you can run cables down, as well as a little shelf inside purpose built for chargers and the like. The only thing not perfect about it was the bland white exterior.
That’s when I began searching for inspiration. I have always loved West Elm for style, and had fallen hard for their bone inlay bedside tables. However, I just couldn’t see how this design would be applied to the tables we bought. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt like our room needed more “warmth”. That meant wood, right? And if I can’t do bone inlay, why not wood inlay? So I searched around for a few styles of wood patterns, and found these. That got me thinking of ways to implement them.
Ida cabinet from Swoon Editions
Rosanna media cabinet from West Elm
Karlsson sideboard from Swoon Editions
I keep seeing people posting projects using Stickwood, and thought, why not that? It’s super thin, so maybe it would be easy to cut into strips! Not only that, but it’s often made using reclaimed wood, which I like. However, they really intend it to be used for larger projects, and don’t sell it in small amounts. As I wasn’t keen on having so much extra wood with no other projects in mind, I had to start looking for something else.
So I started googling adhesive wood strips, and came across wood veneer! Why didn’t I think of that before? The Wood Veneer Hub here in the UK had so many adhesive options, in all different kinds of woods. Best of all, they have lots of raw wood, which means I can stain it whatever colour I want and make it look more like a finished piece of furniture, rather than a DIY project. I settled on walnut, because I like its subtle grain, and it’s often used in mid century furniture. My only regret is that unbleached walnut is quite dark, and stains dark, no matter what type of stain you use. It’s a bit darker than I had originally imagined, but I still love the finished look.
From their website, I chose a large sheet of walnut for the tops of the table, and walnut peel and stick edging (in 22mm) for the drawer fronts. It took only one sheet of the veneer to do both of the tops (and I had extra which will at some point become more projects) and one roll of the edging. I ordered two rolls of the edging because I wasn’t sure how much my design would need. Now I need to think of things to make with it…
For my X design, I cut the strip into pieces 18, 13, 9, and 4.5 cm long – 4 of each size, for each table. Then I drew some pencil lines on the drawer front, dividing it into 4 sections. Now, if you’re thinking of doing the same design, be aware that this drawer isn’t a perfect square. It definitely made things a bit awkward.
In the end, I made little paper templates of the two angles that I had to cut off the end of each piece. That way I didn’t have to line up each piece and measure it, but simply cut them all, and was able to stick them on. I also labeled each piece, as well as the drawer front, in order to keep things straight.
Once all the pieces were adhered to the drawer front I was left with little points sticking past the edges. All that needed was a careful cut with an xacto knife. The veneer is very thin and cuts easily, but you need to be careful not to cut past the edge. The drawer front has a slight bevel around the edges, which means that if you don’t cut a perfect line, you could accidentally cut into the face.
Then I cut some pieces to go around the edges, and trimmed off the extra there too. All I needed to do now, was fill all the seams with wood filler, and sand away all the excess. You’ll need to be careful that you choose a wood filler that matches your wood, as it won’t stain like the wood will.
For the stain, I chose Canadian Cedar danish oil. I’m really starting to love danish oil after using it to brighten up our table and chairs a while back. I wanted to add warmth to the wood, without making it any darker. Unfortunately, the wood darkened anyways, but it did add warmth! Then, I just finished the pieces off with some satin varnish and they looked amazing! The drawer fronts looked like actual wood, which was really cool! The only thing I wish was that the tops of the piece looked less like veneer. Because the tops had that same little bevel, there is a little strip of white around the edges.
To finish off these side tables, all they needed were some handles. I wanted something slim, brass, and ideally wanted drawer edge pulls. Luckily for me, I found the perfect thing from a local Etsy supplier. They are solid brass, and very heavy! We just drilled a couple holes through the drawer fronts, and voila! A very finished side table. Does it still look like IKEA to you?