IKEAhackers – Malaysia
“Jules,” founder of IKEAhackers.net, acquired her pseudonym from the name of a chair by the Swedish furniture giant IKEA that inspired her website. The JULES chair–a modern design with nine holes puncturing the back of the seat–is available in multiple colors and styles, from swivel to desktop. It caught her eye while she was perusing an IKEA catalog, and since it coincided with the time she started her blog dedicated to unique modifications of the store’s furniture, the name stuck. This instantaneous idea processing is not unlike how she began her six-year-old website in the first place.
“IKEAhackers started in 2006 when I was browsing some home decor sites and noticed a few modifications on IKEA furniture. That was what sparked my curiosity, and I started searching for more,” Jules informed me via email. “When I found a handful, I thought it would be so useful to have them all on one site. So that’s how the light-bulbs went on. Of course, they weren’t really called IKEA hacks then.”
The born-and-bred Malaysian freelance copywriter, who lives 10 minutes away from her country’s only IKEA, has since curated an impressive collection of the world’s most original IKEA alterations from this studio-turned-one-bedroom apartment with the magical maneuvering of a PAX cupboard to 2011′s “Top Hack” contender who utilized 60 Billy/Benno bookcases to transform the 11m x 4m landing in his French country house into a library that rivals the grandiose biblio-house that makes Belle blush in Beauty and the Beast.
Despite her astonishing compilation, Jules admits she’s not much of an IKEA “hacker”–the name she denoted to these amateur masterminds–herself, preferring to promote the brilliant ideas of the people she finds or who submit their projects to her site.
“Actually none of the hacks featured on my site [are] by me. I don’t have any educational background on design. I am here to showcase what others have done,” she tells me, adding a smiley-faced emoticon to punctuate her sentence.
Jules doesn’t receive any incentives from IKEA, instead receiving funding only from advertisers and purchases through her Amazon affiliate link. Her website is solely a product of her passion, a digital chronicle of her devotion to bettering those iconic desks, shelves, and tabletops that adorn budget apartments everywhere. Because she lives halfway around the world, I caught up with the cheerful curator through email where she shared with me the philosophy of IKEAhackers, her favorite hacks, and the simplest way to update a dwelling space.
BANGSTYLE: What was your own first IKEA hack? What inspired it?
Jules: I have a few small hacks at home, but they are not good enough for my site! One is a two-tiered bathroom cabinet from the Sparren range (which is no longer in production). Another is a photo gallery using the the glass from Clips photo frames … I don’t really hack nowadays because my apartment is pretty much complete, and I have no ‘makeover’ plans yet.
BANGSTYLE: Do you have any specific requirements for a hack to make it onto your site? If so, what are they?
Jules: Well the first criterion is, ‘Is there anything modified?’ Next would be, ‘Is the modification interesting enough? Is it too minor? Have I seen too many of this hack?’ And other technical considerations like the photo quality, safety issues, etc.
BANGSTYLE: One of my favorite hacks is the bookshelf you featured in 2011. What are some of the most innovative you’ve seen?
Jules: Personally I like the weird or far-out kind of hacks–like salad bowls turned into speakers and stuff like that– because they really challenge the thinking and take it to a whole new level. But of course, that’s not always practical nor does everyone need salad bowls that sing. Some examples:
BANGSTYLE: Which hacks have been the most transformative; for example, like the way one hacker transformed a studio into a one bedroom?
Jules: There are so many it really is hard to narrow them down to the most transformative. ‘The studio into one bedroom’ by Dean Wilson is definitely one of them.
These vases turned into a bathroom wall is another:
This counter-top turned into a guitar:
BANGSTYLE: What’s the longest amount of time you have spent on an IKEA hack?
Jules: I have not done that many hacks, and [the ones I do are] relatively simple ones. So just an afternoon is all it takes to put it together.
BANGSTYLE: What is the core of IKEAhackers’ philosophy or mission?
Jules: Making IKEA better. Add your touch to it. Make it fit. Make it your own.
BANGSTYLE: Can the average person complete most IKEA hacks? What’s your advice for a beginning IKEA hacker?
Jules: I am not so good at building things. But my advice for the beginner hacker is to start simple. Sometimes just a simple change in color, fabric, or embellishment will make a big difference to the piece of furniture that you have. If you need to use tools, be sure you know what you are doing. Stay safe. Cutting up a piece of furniture may modify the structural integrity of the product, so be [aware] of the risks. Lastly, be creative. Have fun.
BANGSTYLE: What is the best decorative advice you’ve ever received?
Jules: Only buy or get stuff you love.
BANGSTYLE: What would you say is the most basic hack that can spruce up an apartment?
Jules: A new coat of paint? Haha.
BANGSTYLE: What do you love best about your work?
Jules: It has given me the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world, to peek into their homes. I love seeing the new innovative ideas that come through my inbox everyday. People’s creativity inspires me.
BANGSTYLE: What do you see as a future for IKEAhackers?
Jules: To keep hacking. To inspire more design ideas.
BANGSTYLE: Is there anything else you would like to share about IKEAhackers?
Jules: There are many reasons why IKEA hackers modify their IKEA items. Many of them usually are looking for a solution for their home. But they can’t get exactly what they want; so they change the ready-made furniture into something that works for them. Some modify because they want to personalize a piece of furniture that is produced en masse, just to add their own mark and distinction to it. They are usually very delighted that none of their friends can tell that the piece is from IKEA.
A few of Jules’s favorite hacks:
Photos from IKEAhackers