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The Grand IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover. Also known as an IKEA Expedit shakes off two dusty previous owners and earns its sexy butcher-block makeover.


Ed gave me his old EXPEDIT 2×4. It’s your standard dark brown wood veneer affair and he was owner number 2. Part of his flat renovations included a kitchen bar, which meant he no longer had room for the shelf unit and I now had plenty of space for additional future. 

Fortunately, my landlord knows I have an affinity for “making things pretty”, Yvonne did not (she now stands corrected) and mentioned the unit didn’t quite fit my aesthetic.

Ed: “Don’t worry, she has an idea.”

Nat: “Oh, I have like eight ideas.”

– When I was signing my lease

This is true and I had like eight ideas off the top of my bed before I finished reading and signing my lease. I think I flipped through six or seven ideas and settled on the GRAND IKEA EXPEDIT MAKEOVER.

But you know those projects where you have high hopes and think you don’t need as much material as you think you do?

This is one of those projects. Half of the reason it took so long because I kept thinking “oh, six rolls of contact paper will be PLENTY!”

Narrator: That was incorrect.

The Contact Paper

I have a small one-sided love affair with DC-Fix Contact paper. Every variety I’ve used has this gorgeous, thick finish and that’s understandable, it’s meant to be used on countertops. I redid my Helmer Drawer units in the white-gray marble paper (which I think I need to redo).

It’s also staticky as hell. A sharp straight edge is required to get rid of the bubbles and in some cases, I just embraced the bubbles because they were happening whether I liked it or not. I decided to match my bamboo picture ledges (yay, IKEA), therefore I chose to use the butcher block colorway. 

Supply List

The IKEA Makeover Process:

  1. Measure: Every single surface. 
    • Your shelves from front to back, side to side. Rinse and repeat for the entire unit. Yes, even the little transition pieces. Measure it ALL! 
    • Write those measurements down. 
    • Go measure again. I’m serious. You probably measured wrong.
    • Confirm your first measurements were correct. Bet you measured wrong, didn’t you?
  2. Mark: With your pen and ruler, unroll your first roll of paper and with the helpful grid on the backside, mark out your pieces. I started with the interior pieces, knowing my external sides would take up the most paper. Work carefully here, because you’ll want to puzzle together as much on one roll as you can actively get away with.
  3. Cut: Now carefully, cut your pieces from that roll. GO SLOW. Use your straight edge or in my case, an acrylic ruler to make sure I stayed on my lines and cut slowly.
  4. Save: See how much you’re cutting away as scrap? Don’t throw it away, reroll it. I found two other projects to use and I have 3 more on the way. The waste will get used. Calm down.
  5. Peel: Once a piece is cut, carefully peel an edge away and set that edge into place. Use your straight edge as you peel away the backing paper.
  6. Press: Once your paper is set, use your straight edge or thumbnail to press the opposite edge into place. If you have excess hanging over your edge, use your razor blade to cut off the bits.
  7. Do It Again: Only 35 more surfaces left! This project took ME about two weeks at 6hours at a time, but also because I kept running out of paper. Be patient.

The Final Result?

Ta-da! The unit now sits in my bedroom under a set of picture ledges. I originally had plans to set up a pole in the bedroom, but now that I look at my budget, I think it’s a project I may cut for future reasons. 

So now your chance. Tell me about your favorite IKEA makeovers or the ones you wish you could do. Let’s share the makeover fun!

IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover Final Result - butcher-block contact paper covered shelf unit sits on the long side under a set of bamboo picture ledges against a light gray wall

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