This One Weird Trick Will Make Your EXPEDIT Less IKEA-looking!

As a public service to my friends and family, I have vowed not to complain about the weather any more this winter, even though I have officially been diagnosed with a severe case of “Vortex Fever.”

OK, one quick complaint: For the last two months, the usually bountiful alleys of Chicago have been hibernating under a foot of snow and ice.


Actual picture out my back window today. Note the conspicuous lack of treasures.

Fortunately, this past summer and fall – perhaps sensing the oncoming freeze – I’ve fattened myself up on scavenged coffee tables, foam, ottomans and door art.

But remember that scavenging in the alley isn’t just about dragging home the big-ticket items.  It’s about picking the useful bits of hardware off of the hopelessly irreparable home goods: the wooden legs off a soiled couch, the casters off of busted kitchen cart, the drawer pulls off of a warped particleboard dresser.

Generally, I don’t believe in aspirational hoarding.* I’ve got three kids and a husband with rather complicated hobbies; there’s just no space for it .


Our pantry, dedicated to complicated hobbies. Note the absence of actual food.

But, there’s always room for drawer pulls.

Yesterday I was stretching on the floor of the living room. Stretching is a necessary but boring activity that usually results in me noticing something I don’t like about my living room. This time, I was struck by how “IKEA-looking” our EXPEDIT shelving unit looked.

IMG_3277I’ve managed to replace most of the most “IKEA-looking” wares in our house with lovingly-restored vintage items from Craigslist or the Thrift store.  But this shelf will be with us for a while, because there’s no where else to put the books and toys, and also I’m not sure how to get this beast out of the house.

Damnit! I thought, pounding my fist to the floor. There’s got to be a way to make this particleboard monster more charming.  Suddenly, between the hamstring stretch and the sciatic nerve slides, I realized how easy it would be to replace these cheesy IKEA chrome door and drawer pulls:
IMG_3278After rooting around in my scavenged hardware collection, I found this little container of slightly clownish – but otherwise adorable – drawer pulls, most likely pulled off an old dresser back in the Fall, when the alleys were still plentiful:

IMG_3281They were wooden, originally painted white… then blue… then silver. And the screws were just the right size.
IMG_3283PRO-TIP: When scavenging drawer pulls, always take both the knob AND the screws.

This project (if you can even call it that) is so easy that I don’t want to insult you with instructions. But just in case you like being insulted, here you go:

STEP ONE: Remove the old pulls from your doors and drawers. Keep the screws and pulls together when storing.
IMG_3284STEP TWO: Screw in the new pulls. This step may or may not involve a screwdriver.

IMG_3286STEP THREE: Just kidding. You’re done. Lay down on your living room rug and admire your slightly more charming EXPEDIT bookshelf.
IMG_3288IMG_3289IMG_3291* Aspirational hoarding: Collecting stuff that you have no use for in the present, but “might” need sometime in the future. This activity is strongly discouraged.



3 thoughts on “This One Weird Trick Will Make Your EXPEDIT Less IKEA-looking!

  1. After 7 house renovations, I can tell you it works with dreadful kitchens and bathrooms too. The first thing I do is replace the handles, and if that doesn’t do the trick (taking it from dreadful to merely a bit nasty), I do the rest with laminate paint.


    • That’s exactly what we did in our rental apartment when we moved in two years ago. The kitchen cabinets were new, but had these broze/copper flower-shaped cabinet pulls that made the whole room feel very country-precious. Switched them out for plain round chrome pulls and suddenly it felt very modern. Sometimes it’s the little things….


    • Yes! That’s exactly what we did when we first bought our house. I remember pitching $70 in drawer pulls to my housemates as an “inspirational first home improvement project” to get us through hours and hours of wallpaper removal. Totally worked.


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