Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 20

IKEA hacks

Planning is OK as far as it goes. 

I planned my new kitchen based on measurements I took, before I had even bought the property, then ordered everything from IKEA at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and it all came in the shipping container - some 180 items. 

This is one corner of the kitchen, at the point I bought the property. 

One look will tell you why I needed something a little newer!​

It was only when I assembled the various parts and installed them that I found I was short of a couple of lengths of wall unit architrave. 

There is just one IKEA store in Croatia, in Zagreb, which is a 4½ hour drive away, so not practical for a "quick" shopping trip.

With experience of "living" in the new kitchen, I also decided that I would increase the number of LED lights under the cupboards, to improve coverage and that I would add another drawer in one of the floor units. 

So by the time I did my "Dutch Dash" to the UK two months ago - yes, it really is that long ago - I had a shopping list of things I needed from IKEA. 

Some items, like the storage boxes for tools, will go into the new workshop, whilst the kitchen bits have been waiting for some uncommitted time and a bit of inclination to do the work.

I've done these and a couple of other little jobs this week - things like converting all the ceiling lights into low energy LED's.

IKEA furniture has the reputation with some people of being difficult to assemble. I have never found it to be so. 

What took the time in the kitchen was not the assembly of the parts, but making them fit an irregular shaped room, without any 90º corners.​

As well as having to build out from the wall to counteract the wall runoff, I also then had to cut the worktop to fit the angles​ 

and join pieces on.​

This week has been the same. 

I have the mitre saws and mitre blocks to create perfect corner joints, but trying to make things fit when you need to cut an angle say of 137º, it has to be measured, checked, marked and cut by hand, with a high level of accuracy.

I also strictly adhere to the maxim of "Measure three times and cut once".​

Then there is the interface where the architrave meets the wall. The old stone is anything but flat, so it was multiple cuts with a fine band saw, to get close enough to the profile.​

One fitted, the small gap which remains will be filled with silicone.​

Fitting the additional LED lights also required work. 

Because the LED transformer is under one corner unit, but it controls lights in another corner, I had to make some extension leads when I built the kitchen. 

This made it easier to install the extra lights - I had planned for the eventuality - but I still had to cut cables and splice extra pieces in, because these lights only come with a certain length of wire attached.

There is a whole group of people who call themselves IKEA Hackers

No, they don't try and break into the IKEA computer systems, rather it is about re-purposing IKEA furniture to uses you had probably never dreamed of, with a minimal amount of modification.

I've done this several times with quite a number of items. For example, when I wanted a Detolf glass case to be free standing - they are supposed to be securely anchored to a wall - I developed a method of bolting through the base, into the floor, to stop it being accidentally knocked over.​

True, if someone crashes into it, it may well break, but the same would apply if it was up against a wall. 

Then there are the Gorm shelves, which are simple to alter, so that you have a complete run of shelving along a wall. 

A little cutting and some nails and they are made to fit. 

You do not need a degree in DiY to do these hacks, because the hackers have already produced the plans for you to follow!

In the dining room, again because of the out-of-true walls, I cut a solid wood breakfast bar, so it followed the contours of the wall behind it.

I do hate it when electrical appliances break, so while I was in the corner in the kitchen, I removed the Black and Decker microwave oven and took the covers off to replace the little motor which make the glass turntable move.​

Ordering the part on line was easy and there are exploded views of the oven, so it was just a methodical approach to undoing various screws and a couple of nuts and bolts and the motor was replaced.

 I have had the oven about 10 years, during which time it has not had a great deal of use. By that I mean perhaps once a fortnight, so I saw no reason why something as simple as a low voltage motor should cause the oven to be thrown away. 

Here's to the next ten years of use!​

And at the same time, as I was in this corner of the kitchen and had removed all the clutter, I oiled the wooden worktop. 

These are solid wood IKEA worktops, which were sealed with Linseed Oil when they were new, but after four years, I think it is time for them to be re sealed.​

Another kitchen job this week has been installing a central heating radiator. 

I had thought that the heat from the wood stove in the attached dining room would have heated the kitchen too, but it doesn't. 

Being unable to get a narrow profile single panel radiator here, I brought one back with me from Screwfix

This has entailed some woodworking, because of the uneven wall. But once the cutting was done, the installation was easy. 

It's not connected up to the heating system yet - plenty of time for that before next winter - but it has meant that a good proportion of my week has been spent inside doing these niggling little jobs.

Another kitchen job, and one which is definitely not a "hack" has been making a spice rack and hanging point.

You know what happens, you have measuring cups and spoons and they are either at the back of a drawer somewhere, or the small spoons have migrated to the bottom of the cutlery tray. 

So while the weather has been nice and I had all the wood working tools out on the patio table, I made a second spice rack to match one which I made when I installed the kitchen. 

Then there are the little jars of herbs and spices which you buy and then put in a corner on a worktop. 

When you want one, you can be sure not to be able to find it.​

It is just made of softwood, with simple slot joints glued together then clamped until the wood glue set. 

Getting the cup hooks in the right place for hanging the cups and spoons took a bit of doing, but in the end it was finished and installed. 

It has meant that I can move clutter that I have had around the kitchen, just waiting until I got a round tuit!​

Between clearing up inside and putting away the cardboard I used to protect the fruit trees from frost, I have actually achieved quite a lot this week and for once I can really see the improvements.

Working outside has been very pleasant because the Day Lillies have all come into flowe

I have getting on for 50 of them. 

When I moved in, they were spread around but over time I have dug them up and replanted them in stands of 25. 

They have a lovely scent which wafts around on the breeze. 

Slowly but surely I am trying to tame the plants I have to make sure I have something in flower every month of the year, and there is some sort of a plan about where things are. 

Tallest at the back, shortest at the front, and with colours complementing each other. See, it's planning again!