Friday, February 26, 2010


IKEA is like that guy whose number you just can't erase from your phone. Kinda boring, of questionable quality, tolerable in small doses, but always there when you need him. You find yourself coming back again and again, whether it's a lonely Saturday night, or when you just can't find the right bookcase for your living room and you're tired of looking.

But even if you feel stuck in a rut (be it "romantic" or "furniture"), there are always ways to shake it up. The behemoth IKEA has stores in 37 countries, and in all of those countries there's bound to be someone bored with that same ol' LACK table. People around the world are "hacking" their IKEA furniture. The term "hacking" no longer means lonely geeks in their Mom's basements trying to decode the encryption for the CIA database. Hacking is now a term meaning modifying something yourself to make it better, more efficient, and more AWESOME.

There are IKEA hacks all over the internet, but IKEA Hacker should be the first stop on your online hacking tour. IKEA Hacker was founded in 2006 by "Jules," a nom de plume derived from the eponymous chair. There are hundreds of hacks on the site for you to admire and try yourself. Some of our favorites... (Click the pic to go to the tutorial.)

A floating iMac desk

A BEKVAM kitchen cart turned into a cool sink

But IKEA Hacker isn't the only place to find cool hacks. Here's one from Lifehacker...

Lotsa LAMPAN lamps turned into an awesome light sculpture

And one from Apartment Therapy...

Turning two LACK tables into a kitchen island

The possibilities are endless. Stop by your local IKEA and check out their "as is" section for discounted pieces that are perfect for a little hacking. Get creative! Get kinky! (And yes, that applies to both your furniture and your friend with benefits.)

Via IKEA, IKEA Hacker, Lifehacker, and Apartment Therapy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

B&A: Wander Films

For today's ALTER before & after, it's "Take Your Designer To Work" day! Sure, you could observe "Take Your Daughter To Work" day, but those crayon drawings she does really won't add much to the decor.

The goal of any office or workspace is productivity, and Wander Films, seen in here in these pictures, is no exception. We started with a completely empty two-room suite that required a little work. Still, the large windows and high ceilings brought in a ton of light and character.


The art we put on the walls plays with scale: some are big, some are small. We also brought in an old-school chalkboard that's not only charming, but creates a hub for communication throughout the office. For the furniture, we played with a mix of the modern and the rustic. The sleek metal-and-glass tables contrast with the leather chairs and heavy wooden mini-conference table. The combination keeps the space from feeling either too sterile and dentist's office-y, and also from feeling too folksy and log cabin-y.


With no built-in storage, we had to bring in our own. Organization and having a place to store all your stuff is essential to having an efficient workplace. Piles of paper, office supplies, and other crap all over your desk can leave you feeling overwhelmed -- not the feeling you're looking for when you're trying to work! You need to feel like hell yeah, bring it on! Whatchu got for me? And so, the large wood-and-metal bookshelf, file cabinets, and side tables are the perfect way keep your things neatly put away and your desk clear.

So you see, bringing your designer to work can really benefit your working life. Now, if you want Girl Scout cookies, you're still going to have to bring in little Suzy. Mmm, Girl Scout cookies...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Q&A: What a Concept (Board)!


Dear Jackie,

I'm stumped. Totally stumped. As stumped as Sarah Palin when asked about her favorite reading materials. I've got a room that I know I want to [re]design (great word, by the way!), but I don't even know where to begin. I want to make sure I've got everything planned out before I move a single piece of furniture. What's a good way to organize my thoughts and make sure that everything works on paper?

Don't Want to Go Rogue



A concept board is exactly what you're looking for, you betcha. A concept board is like a design brainstorm, that helps you narrow down your style and gives you a jumping-off point for starting your room makeover.

Just about every fabulous fashion designer uses one, so you'll be in good company. Check out Habitually Chic's great posts on designer's mood boards, like the ones above from Tommy Hilfiger and Oscar de la Renta.

But even if you're a glamorous designer or just a bumpkin from Wasilla, Alaska, all concept boards start out the same. Just start saving pictures you like! Tear them from magazines, right-click-save-as when you're online, snap a pic with your phone!

Once you've got a good pile o' pics going on, take a step back and look at them with a more critical eye. Notice any similarities in the pictures you've chosen. Are you picking lots of crisp, fresh whites? Lots of bold patterns? Does everything seem to be imported from Morocco, or are you more of a Parisian girl?

Now that you've narrowed it down to one overall theme, it's time to edit. Pick only about 10-12 pictures that fall under the design theme you've decided on. Now, take a look at the predominant colors: what is the main color (it's probably going to be a natural or neutral color)? Next, what's the secondary color (probably gonna be a richer tone)? And lastly, what's the accent color that goes with them (probably a bold one)? Once you've picked them out, you've got your color palette. You're well on your way to redoing your own room in a way that'll emulate the dream rooms you've torn out of magazines.

If you've already got furniture in the room you're looking to make over, take pics of those too and add them to your board. You'll be able to see how what you already own fits in with what you want to own. It'll help you decide what can stay and what has to go.

Having your concept board up and running makes shopping sooo much easier. You'll be able to tell instantly if that rug you saw in the store fits with what you're trying to do. No more buying something, taking it home, and realizing it just doesn't fit, thank God! (I hate returning things -- I always lose my receipts anyway!)

Erin Sitting Area

One more tip: if you're the kind who likes to "window shop" online -- you know, you browse your favorite stores online for hours, bookmarking everything you like -- there's an awesome tool called Polyvore to help you make an electronic concept board. Sign up (it's free, obvs), install the "bookmarklet" onto your web browser, then get back to shoppin'! When you see something you like, click your "Clip to Polyvore" bookmark and click on the picture you want to save. Polyvore saves the picture to your account, and saves the store and pricing information too! When you're done browsing, go back to the Polyvore site, and create a collage with everything you saved! You can publish it to your own website (it's the perfect way to drop a hint about what you want for your birthday!), email it out to friends, and share with other Polyvore users.

Whether it's torn-out magazine pages or clipped electronic images, having a concept board is WAY easier than writing your design ideas on your hand, dontcha know.

Via Habitually Chic and Polyvore.