Step by Step IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Table Hack

And now for my next trick, I transform IKEA’s VITTSJÖ nesting tables…

IKEA VITTSJO

into nesting tables!

IKEA VITTSJO Nesting TablesVOILÄ

But let me back up: as with all things, I had very specific requirements in mind.  I wanted a larger table for our lamp (West Elm’s Morten Table Lamp, which I scored for much cheaper via a floor model sale) and a smaller table for Jarrod to pull out to use next to his chair when we’re camped out in the living room for the evening.  It had to be at least 18x18x18.  It had to be metal and glass because we already have too much wood happening in there.

I searched for used nesting tables on Craigslist for months before giving up.  I then searched for new nesting tables at every store/website I could think of before giving up.  It seems that stores offer only a few nesting table options, and they are very expensive.

Enter the VITTSJO nesting tables, which seemed perfect in concept, except what’s up with the child table being twice as long as its parent table?  Not sure what IKEA is going for there.  I would prefer that the smaller table nest fully within the larger table.  I bought the set planning to hack it but partially assembled it first just to confirm that the table as-is didn’t make any sense.

IKEA VITTSJO Nesting TablesNope, that doesn’t make any sense.

I totally winged it with this hack – there were several opportunities for disaster and I would have preferred to buy them used because it would made it less of a bummer if I ruined them.  The VITTSJO series is new to IKEA, however, so it’s not turning up on Craigslist yet.  Much love to Jarrod for encouraging me to barrel through.

Just like your favorite New Kids on the Block song, there were five major steps: cutting the metal frame, piecing back together the frame, cutting the MDF shelf, cutting the glass and painting the legs.  I’ll use NKOTB and some modified IKEA assembly illustrations to walk you through it step by step.

Step one, we can have lots of fun… learning how to cut metal.

Cutting Points

I needed to make six cuts, as indicated above.  I tried three approaches: a grinding wheel on my miter saw, a hacksaw and a jigsaw.  I’ll elaborate more in a separate follow-up post (oooh, I bet you can’t wait for that); for now I’ll say that I went with my Ryobi miter saw, which was fast, accurate, loud and sparky.  Hence the precautionary fire extinguisher.  (Update: see Metal Cutting Options)

Miter Saw with Grinding Blade

Cutting Metal

Sawing left me with the pieces seen below.  Modifying the bottom rails was easy; I just needed to drill new screw holes at the end of each piece to replace the holes I sawed off.  The top was more challenging because I needed to reconnect the pieces in a way that would be as stable and seamless as possible.

Table Pieces

Step two, there’s so much we can do… to piece this back together.  I walked around The Home Depot inserting all manner of things into the hollow metal tube to determine what would allow for a nice, tight fit.

The winner: a piece of 1/2 inch hardwood.  It fit perfectly tight – so much so that I didn’t need glue.

VITTSJO Metal Connection Point

Metal Wood ConnectionNot bad!

Sharpie

I touched up the cut edges with a Sharpie paint pen while Jarrod crept up on me with the camera.  I think I look half-crazed in the right-hand photo: I was really excited that this hackneyed scheme of mine was actually working out.

Table

The cutting scars are discrete like a high-class face lift – not invisible, but you wouldn’t notice them if you weren’t looking for them.

IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Tables

Step three, it’s just you and me… and a too-long particleboard shelf.  Nothing a jigsaw can’t fix.

MDF Shelf Cutting


Step four, I can give you more… 
photoshopped IKEA illustrations.

Tempered Glass

No pictures of this step, because I paid Ashland Glass to do it for me.  The IKEA glass is tempered, which means it can’t be cut, so I had a new piece of glass cut to fit.  $34, which isn’t cheap, but $34 + the $60 tables is still significantly cheaper than anything I found elsewhere.

Step five, don’t you know that the time has arrived… to dress it up a bit with some gold dip-dyed legs.  I tried three different types of gold paint and will compare the products in another follow-up post that you can await anxiously: Plaid’s Liquid Leaf in Brass, Rub ‘n’ Buff in Gold Leaf and Krylon’s Gold Leafing Pan.  I liked Liquid Leaf best.  (Update: see Gold Leaf Paint Options)

Taped Table Legs

Pro tip!: start with the back legs.  Not as big a deal if you mess them up.  I learned that FrogTape didn’t create nearly as sharp a line as good ol’ 3M Scotch Blue.

And we’re done!

DIY IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Tables

VITTSJO Nesting Tables

Dip Dyed Table Legs

IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Tables

IKEA VITTSJO Nesting Tables


You may also be interested in:

Gold Leaf Paint Options
Gold Leaf Paint Options
Metal Cutting Options
Metal Cutting Options

Swedes & Sputnik

Now this, this is a mailing list I want to be on.

IKEA 2013 Catalog

Look at that armchair: it’s only $9.99.

[Update: that was a joke, you guys. Thanks, though, for your diligent readership!]

As excited as I am about this catalog, I’m even more excited about what’s awaiting me in Jefferson City, Missouri. This vintage sputnik chandelier has been floating around our family for decades – my mom saved it from one of our many house renovations, knowing that one of her kids would like it some day. It’s traveled from basement to basement and I’m going home to claim it next week. And to, you know, see my family.

Sputnik Chandelier

It needs a bit of restoration work. If anyone has a recommendation for a lighting repair shop in Chicago, I would be very grateful.

Sputnik Chandelier

You will be mine, you will be mine, you will be mine all mine.

Cat Concessions: Plants and Upholstery

Lola is a bit of a pig when it comes to my houseplants, treating them as an all-you-can-eat salad bar.  Adding plants to my hoard collection is a trial-and-error process: some plants he simply isn’t interested in, others he gorges on until he pukes.  Those are either relocated to my office (which is like a rescue sanctuary for half-eaten plants) or moved out of his reach.  What is officially “out of his reach” is also a trial-and-error process.

Cat Eaten Plant

I wasn’t even sure how he had managed to reach this one until I caught him in the act, wedged up behind and on top of the books below.

Cat Salad Bar

Whatta jerk.

Bad Cat

I decided to mount a plant container on the wall, fully out of fatso’s maw. Enter the IKEA FINTORP rail and container.

IKEA FINTORP Rail

IKEA FINTORP Rail with Plant

I also love these modern hanging planters, which I picked up a few years ago at Sprout Home here in Chicago.

Hanging Planters

That’s a somona (euphorbia milii) on the left and a goldfish (nematanthus) on the right.

Hanging Planters

Another decorating concession we have to make because of the cats and their never-ending shedding is our upholstered furniture.  This used to be our solution for our armchairs:

Living Room Chairs with CoversUgh, winter.

I had yards of this fabric leftover from getting the cushions reupholstered, so I asked my tailor to sew two long pieces of fabric. I know that sewing in a straight line should be within my skill set, but, well, it’s not.  (When explaining what I wanted I called them “table runners” because because it was a lot easier than “See, we have these chairs that I want to look like normal chairs while protecting them from cat fur, so I’m going to wrap fabric around them and I want it to look tailored and not sloppy.”  Actually, that sounds pretty simple now, but there’s a language barrier. “Table runner” was easier.)

Living Room Chair with Cover

Living Room Windows

I can easily wash and iron the slipcovers, and when guests come over we can whip off and stash the slipcovers and have a cat-hair-free place for people to sit.

Armchair

Have a good weekend, e’erbody.

Chair Slipcover

Gallery Wall: In Praise of Chopsticks & 3M

When Jarrod and I order sushi the quantity is such that no one can imagine we’re feeding any fewer than five people, so there are a lot of extra chopsticks in this house.  Which is fine by me because they’re great for all sorts of alternative purposes, like shims and paint stirrers.  (Although, let me clear, getting raw fish into my mouth is their greatest purpose.)

I decided to hang a collection of frames on our back dining room wall.  In tackling this project, I put chopsticks to work twice.  First off, I wanted all of my frames to be black so I spray painted a few to match.  Chopsticks work well for holding a frame off the ground unobtrusively, allowing you to spray paint at all angles.

Secondly: one of my IKEA frames was warped from, ya know, hanging on the wall like it was designed to do.  Good work, IKEA.  In The Furniture Doctor, George Grotz recommends using the sun and consistent pressure to heal warped wood, which gave me the idea of using chopsticks in a tourniquet.  I tied soft rope (so it wouldn’t damage the wood) around the frame and then tightened it by twisting the chopsticks in the rope.  I tied the chopsticks in place so they wouldn’t unwind and then left the frame in the sun for the day. It noticeably improved the warp, and could have removed it entirely had I been patient enough to leave it in the sun for a few more days.

(Side note: The Furniture Doctor, or The Furniture Whisperer as I like to think of it, can be had for $0.03 on Amazon and is an enjoyable read if you’re into that sort of thing.  It begins:  Hello, out there! And welcome to the strange but happy world of people who are always fussing around with their furniture.)

Moving along!  I arranged the frames into a pleasing formation on the floor.  I had various things I wanted to frame, so I didn’t worry about what would be in the frames at this stage.  Take a picture of the arrangement before you start hanging them so you don’t forget the order!

I started by placing the bottom row of frames along the floor, using a tape measure to space them evenly.  I read online that 57″ is a good middle point for hanging pictures, so I used that as a guide.

Here’s where I pitch 3M Command strips.  Guys, they’re amazing.  And you can take my word for it, because there aren’t enough people who read this blog for me to get paid to hype a product.  They’re great because as soon as you get them into the position you want on the wall, you can press them into place and know that that’s where they’ll stay.  No budgeting for where the wire hangs in the back, or where the hook is, or anything like that.  It’s WYSIWYG for the decorating world.

So I got the bottom row up and fretted that it was too low and looked weird, took the picture above and called it a night.  The next day I tackled the top row in the same way, using a tape measure to space them evenly and my laser level to provide a guide for the baseline.  I even secured it to the wall with a Command strip, which worked great.

Here’s the finished product once I made my art choices:

If you’re curious, here’s what’s on the wall:

1) This one is to be determined.  I have some big stencils I like but haven’t successfully stenciled anything yet.  That shit’s harder than it looks!

2) The awesomest yard sale sign ever, drawn by Jeffrey Brown for a yard sale we had a while back.  If you know anyone who’s really into cats, Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations should be on your holiday shopping list.

3) I’m unsure of this one.  Vote below!

4) A collection of photo booth strips.

5) A screen print I made of a Jack Johnson patent illustration.  He was issued a patent for a wrench he improved while in prison.  I work in the intellectual property field and the illustrations on old patents are a public domain image source goldmine.

6) A picture my brother, Andrew Droz Palermo, took of my aunt and uncle’s pecan grove in Rich Hill, Missouri.

7) An original illustration by Pia Guerra from Y: The Last Man, which is a pretty awesome graphic novel series if you’re into that sort of thing.

8) A picture of my mom and aunt looking like babes on a boat dock, taken by a newspaper photographer when they were in college.  Because they looked so hot it was newsworthy.

Returning to frame no. 3: I think it’s too small and throws off the balance.  See the badly-Photoshopped mock-up below for what it would look like if I removed the frame and shifted the bottom row.  What do you think?

Option A:

Option B:

UPDATE: Per Kate’s suggestion, I hastily Photoshopped Option C, which swaps the two top right frames.  I think this does succeed in breaking the symmetry that makes Option A look kind of rigid/formulaic, although the bottom left frame is still looking a bit puny to me.  Something to think about.  Thanks for the idea, Kate!

I Built a House!

And by ‘house’ I mean ‘tent.’

My niece Cora turned one this August and I built her an a-frame tent using this post as my guide.  I tell you what: it was not sturdy.  Legs all akimbo, no means to control the width of its stance – there was definitely room for improvement, which I finally got around to this past weekend.  I added dowel rods to connect the legs at the bottom and ribbons to control how far it would open.  I also added a pocket, because what kid doesn’t love pockets?  (Or, even better, books about teddy bears with pockets.)

It’s still probably not the most durable thing in the world, but it should last a year or two, provided Cora doesn’t turn into a real bruiser.  (And if she does, well, all the better.)

Speaking of kids (smooth segue, right?): children have ruined the ENJE.  These awesome, easily-customizable roller shades disappeared from IKEA’s shelves right before we moved into our new place.  I have had my fingers crossed they would come back so that I can replace the miniblinds on our living room windows . . . and they did!  In the United Kingdom.  And the United Arab Emirates.  And Taiwan.  And Slovakia.  And everywhere all over the world, really, except for the United States of America, because American babies can’t be trusted with cords.  During a recent trip to the IKEA in Schaumburg, I checked out the new US ENJE, which has a flimsy spring-roller and cheap-looking plastic pull-down tabs:

These shades aren’t even pictured on IKEA’s US website because if they were American babies would start doing research on how to get entangled in them and then IKEA would have to recall them all over again.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!  If I continue the trend of posting only on federal holidays, you can expect my next installment around December 25th.