Maybe you recently found that greatest of surprises in your mailbox — a brand-new, just-heavy-enough and weirdly nice-smelling 2018 Ikea catalog. Whether you grew up with Ikea products or fell in love once you struck out on your own, you're probably familiar with that potent mix of aggravation and pride that comes when you finally assemble that Hamnes dresser, that Kallax shelf unit or that Malm bed frame. But one huge community takes things way beyond that. You may have heard of them: the Ikea Hackers.
Your favorite DIY or apartment-showcase websites have probably posted huge slideshows showing off the coolest Ikea hacks. There's the Murphy bed made out of Billy bookcases, the elegant window herb garden and the most affordable French farmhouse table you've ever seen. Even Game of Thrones knows a thing or two about Ikea hacking. Those rugged fur capes Jon Snow and the Night's Watch wear around? Skold sheepskin rugs.
Ikea hackers congregate on a website called, unsurprisingly, Ikea Hackers. You can also find lots of ideas on YouTube and Pinterest. If it all seems a little intimidating (some hacks may require tools or extra parts), here are three great reasons to push past that and give Ikea hacking a try:
1) It saves you money.
Most of us don't have the funds to trick out our living spaces in custom furniture or high-end items. But even spray-painting a side table or Mod-Podging some neat paper on a drawer can bring some spark your home. And sure, millennials prefer to spend their cash on experiences, but why not save on décor and have it both ways?
2) It’s empowering.
Ikea furniture is (supposedly) designed so a single person can set up their apartment on their own, without needing to own a bunch of tools. As good as you feel building a sofa with an Allen wrench, how much more exciting is using these flat-packed parts in a new way? Think of it like making your own designs with Legos as a kid. Not only that, but each project can teach you new skills that open up all kinds of creative possibilities. Those power tools could look a lot more exciting — and let you express yourself too.
3) It gives you what you need.
Sure, the as-is aesthetic of Ikea products is reliable and generally pleasing. But say you're a big reader, and your bedside table cannot handle the piles of books you're stacking on it. Ikea hacking helps you combine your needs to make a truly personalized living space. Bookshelves in or above your bed? No problem! You can also do smaller hacks to optimize your kitchen or just liven things up around the house in an afternoon.
If you're still hesitating, especially about things like cutting and sanding wood, don't worry: most hardware stores can do that part for you. You might even be able to find your raw materials at Ikea itself. So why not give Ikea hacking a shot? Your wallet will thank you.