IKEA Hack: Expedit Shelves

Pretty Spaces, Projects

After three months, I’m happy to finally reveal the new shelves in my apartment! Moving was a lot of work, but I decided to add to the work by creating this project. I knew exactly what I wanted for this large blank wall and I was willing to put in the extra effort to make it happen.

I already had a fireplace from my little apartment in New England and bought four IKEA Expedit Shelving Units a week or two after moving in. I put them together, leaving them to look like this:

Before...

Before…

Now, this was the most boring shelving unit to look at, therefore I immediately started putting together the details of what I was going to do with these shelves. With a little help from some of my favorite shops, they now look like this:

AFTER!

…AFTER!

Much better!

Here’s how I did it:

1. IKEA Expedit Door Inserts: These door inserts are optional to put in the shelving unit, but not only did I want to paint them, I wanted to have some extra hidden storage space. I use these inserts to hide all of the wiring for my T.V.

I was originally planning to spend $20 on each white door insert, but I luckily found green door inserts on sale at IKEA for $7.99. Since I was already planning on painting them, I figured it was worth it to save about $100 and purchase the green ones — perfect!

2. Gold Paint: I lightly sanded each door front (I didn’t bother with the other parts of the doors since they wouldn’t be showing) and then I spray painted each with a KILZ primer. After they dried, I gave them each two coats of Rustoleum Metallic Gold spray paint.

3. The O’verlay Effect: We’ve featured O’verlays on our site before and I was thrilled to see that these genius and creative ladies recently added some new designs to their site. I ordered some of their new Harper 12″ Thick Square for all eight doors. O’verlays are extremely easy to work with and they stay secure with simple Elmer’s glue.

Harper 12" Thick Square O'verlays on IKEA Expedit Door Inserts.

Harper 12″ Thick Square O’verlays on IKEA Expedit Door Inserts.

4. Bookshelf Styling: This was my favorite part. In order to create the perfect look, I frequented my go-to stores for decor like Home Goods and Target, but also found a lot of great items from boutique and vintage shops.

A look at one side of the IKEA Expedit Shelves.

A look at one side of the IKEA Expedit Shelves.

Items shown above (clockwise from left to right):

  1. Vintage gold napkin holder found at OPUS
  2. Floral jar from Furbish Studio
  3. Sea urchin from Target
  4. Turquoise foo dog from Home Goods
  5. Gold picture frame from Home Goods — a picture with my best friends from college!
  6. Yellow vase from Target

Opposite side of the IKEA Expedit Shelves with a mix of vintage and new decor.

Opposite side of the IKEA Expedit Shelves with a mix of vintage and new decor.

Items shown above (clockwise from left to right):

  1. Gold picture frame from Home Goods — a picture with Christie and our mother.
  2. Vintage teal vase
  3. Vintage Japanese bowl found at Sleepy Poet
  4. Fretwork jar from Target
  5. Turquoise foo dog from Home Goods
  6. Ceramic pigeon from Target

I should also note that all of the flowers were bought at Michael’s — they have the best stock of faux florals.

5. A perfect finish: The finishing touch to the wall is the Jackie Focus #1 print from Parima Studio. Christie and I really, really love everything from that store, therefore I was so glad that this 20″ x 20″ print fit perfectly in between my shelves.

A full look at how the shelves turned out and where some of the largest items came from.

A full look at how the shelves turned out and where some of the largest items came from.

Have you refurbished a piece of furniture lately? Comment, tweet or email us, we’d love to hear from you!

16 thoughts on “IKEA Hack: Expedit Shelves

  1. Hi! These are fantastic. What are those gold trays in each cubby? Where did you get them and what size are they?

    1. The trays are actually charger plates, which I bought from Target after Christmas on sale last year for 98 cents a piece! They are by Threshold and are sized 12″x12″ which is the perfect size for an Expedit shelf.

  2. These are so great! I love them so much I want to replicate one in my apartment! Is your Expedit shelf white or high gloss white? did you have to paint the o’verlays to match the shelving unit or did they match? (Or do o’verlays all come unfinished? I’ve never used them before.) I want to order the shelves (smaller then yours, 4 units high and two wide) but am not sure whether I should go with the regular white color or high gloss white! Please let me know if you have any insight :)

    1. Thank you, Jane! My Expedit shelves are the standard white and the O’verlays are slightly lighter-colored than my shelves. I originally wanted the high-gloss white, but IKEA doesn’t carry the 5-unit shelving in high-gloss, therefore I stuck with the white. In my opinion, I think the high-gloss will look great with the O’verlays! You could even apply a clear, high-gloss coat over the O’verlays before you put them on your insert doors as well. Good luck with your project and be sure to send us pictures when you’re done — we’d love to see the finished product! -Mary

    1. Thank you! I actually opted to not put the knobs on since I wanted to keep the O’verlays over the middle (which covers up the hole for the knobs) and the doors open easily without the knobs. If you really want to have knobs on them then you can put the knobs in the hole that’s made for them and slide the O’verlays over to the side a bit — just make sure to keep the symmetry with each door if you do decide to slide them (left or right). Good luck on your project!

  3. I love this idea beyond words! I got the Expedit door inserts and am surprisingly unable to open them without the knob, even trying to push in on the hinge side, etc. Did you do anything special with the installation or otherwise to be enable the opening of the doors without the knobs? Any info/tips would be SO appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, I have no tricks here! I rarely open the doors since I use the shelves to store wiring and things that I don’t need very often, but the doors open pretty easily for me when I do need something. I had one door get stuck once, but it opened after I gave it a little tug at the top. Maybe you can try loosening the hinges a bit? That might help. Good luck!

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