I am a huge fan of IKEA, here in Canada. Maybe because my family has a long ago tie to Sweden? (My Grandfather was born there, but left when he was 2 years old). Or what is probably a more plausible reason, is my Mom getting me started with my first bedroom set, brand new from the store. I was a typical child of the 1980’s and wanted factory made things which smelled new. So getting this particle board furniture covered in a high gloss white laminate was the height of sophistication for me as a teenager.

As time went by, I switched my color profile to the faux pine look. In fact, my entire house has that finish. Some people think they are walking into an IKEA showroom. That is a huge compliment. For years, I considered those curated rooms, just inside the front doors of the store to be the height of sophistication. On my budget. Fact was, I couldn’t afford better quality and in some ways, wouldn’t have known where to start shopping even if I had the money.

Once my house was full of reasonable looking items, I stopped shopping all together. I was set. I could cast my attention to other things. The fact is, IKEA furniture, for the most part lasts a long time. It doesn’t do well with stains from house plants being over watered, but what type of wood can withstand that kind of damage? 

I also have a belief that spending an excessive amount of money on home furnishings is a waste. Only a few items are exempt from this rule. Beds. The mattress and box spring set should be of the highest quality possible, in my opinion. I have slept on a $20K bed at the Wickininnish for a few nights and would buy that first, if I won the lottery. I probably have to buy a ticket to win any money, which I don’t do. So, I’m stuck with my stuff, as it is.

Then one day, I was hanging out with my Aunt and sister and discovered the Annie Sloan chalk paint system. I took a class with my local stockist and that was it. No IKEA furniture was safe in my house anymore. I started with small pieces, like our MALM night tables. Then, I went from there. There are still many faux pine pieces left, the whole kitchen for example. But, there are many less than before! 

I have even bought second-hand pieces and transformed them with Annie Sloan paint. I just love how easy it is to apply. The base colors and the custom combinations are endless. Then the wax treatment is divine. It takes a little muscle to rub it into the wood, but the resulting finish is luxurious. Not the high gloss finish of old furniture from my grandmothers era, but more like a well-worn piece of leather. It has a natural hand feel, which I adore.

The nemesis IKEA furniture, which I have so much of in my home, is the Billy bookcase. It was one of my first pieces as a teenager and is still a current and running stock item today. Anyone who has IKEA furniture probably has one of these kicking around.

The issue with refurbishing the Billy bookcase is the disassembly. I know how to take them completely apart, I could probably put one together in my sleep. But that seemed like so much effort and would that put too much stress on it? Then I decided to just remove the back board. Easy, so much so I couldn’t believe I had not thought of that before.

I made a video of the whole process, including all my supplies and how I transform my dining room into a painting space. (My husband was not a fan of that takeover). The video is on my YouTube channel and if you like what you see, go ahead and press the thumbs up button and subscribe. Thank-you in advance, I really appreciate it!

I welcome:

Christine Westermark

I am a world traveller, lucky enough to have a loving family who support my dreams to learn, create and give back by designing creative content which enables a lifestyle we don't need a vacation from.

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