Category Archives: building

Jazzing Up A Kitchen Corner- Wherein I Install More Ikea Backlog



The Ikea backlog is almost depleted. I purchased the kit for this kitchen wall rail about 3 months ago, prior to kitchen wall painting.


Fintorp kitchen rail comes with two brackets and one 22.5″ rail

The system is expandable if you want to install a longer rail. My rail is going to be placed on the wall to the right of my stove which is just barely wider than a standard counter top depth, so one rail will work for me.

First we mark the location of the back plates (which will connect to the brackets) on the wall. I’m using a level to make the marks. It’s not easy to photograph yourself using a level.

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Me and my gigantic level



You will need your own wall fasteners for this project as Ikea does not provide any type of screw or anchor with their hardware. I like the Ikea Fixa fastener kit for this purpose. It contains 6 different types and sizes of wood screws and 3 sizes of wall anchor.


This is the Ikea Fixa hardware kit, sold separately.


It is unlikely that you will be able to locate two wall studs spaced 22 inches from each other so you if you have common drywall/gypsum board you’ll want to use a drywall anchor.


Medium size anchor and 7/16 drill bit


Choose a drill bit that’s slightly smaller than the diameter of your anchor. You’ll want to be able to insert the anchor, but you want it to be very snug.


Anchor partially inserted into hole

Once the anchor is partially inserted, use a small hammer to tap it all the way in so it’s almost flush with the wall (but don’t squish it AND/OR damage your wall).


As the instructions below indicate (more or less) when you insert the screw into the anchor you’ll leave just a bit of space. Which allows you to slide the wall plate in snugly.


Ikea instructions featuring “ghost screw”, my screw is 1 1/2″. Note the head is domed and not flat.


We dry-fit the plate to make sure we’ve placed our anchors at the correct distance apart. Flat side out, beveled side in. Plate will slide in between the anchor and the screw.


Then we install the brackets, removing them a few times and adjusting the screws to make sure the fit is snug.



Tested for snug


Next we install the rail. Once the end of it is inside the far bracket (towards the back) I contort myself over the oven and place the end-cap on with my left hand. This will be easier to do if you are installing it on a portion of a wall that doesn’t terminate in a corner.


We leave one end off to add hooks.

Rather than the Cirque du Soleil-like moves I performed, you could also assemble the unit then attach it to the wall. But I like a challenge.

Now we insert rail into the other bracket and add the end-cap to the other side.


Voila! Relatively level.

Last step is to take your tiny hex-driver (allen wrench) and tighten the rails so they don’t slide (insert into hole at the bottom of each bracket).

And here it is with useful kitchen stuff on it.


Cute Ikea bucket and 10 hooks. The hooks are sold in packs of 5.

One more Ikea project done! But I’m on a roll, so please stand by for my next Ikea kitchen project —tiny spice shelves–coming this week!

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A Little Slice Of Sweden In My Basement: The Ikea Billy Bookcases Come To Fruition

The Billys are up! Yes, the same Ikea Billy bookcases that have been lurking in their little flat-pack boxes in my basement since 2013 when I insisted that we purchase them RIGHT NOW.

Ikea Billys have been manufactured continuously for 36 years, and for the last 20 years their price is apparently unchanged. Google “Ikea Billy reviews” and you will find people who have kept their Billys for many many years.

My Billys are clear birch. Yes, they are essentially particleboard but they are covered in a veneer of real wood. The components are substantial and sturdy. The fastening hardware is magical.

Billy units come in four sizes: tall units are 79.5″ by 31.5″ or 15.75″, shorter units are 41.5″ high by 31.5″ or 15.75″. All units are 11 inches deep. Extensions add 13″ to the height. Units can be mixed and matched to fit your space and create a custom look.

Billy Series

We begin: there is nothing like the fresh promise of Ikea parts when you first lay them out on the carpet…


Billy Bookcase Sides

It is also extremely important to employ your local burly-man, particularly one who loves a mallet.


Burly-Man with mallet



Initial Billy building: this is the quintessential 31.5″ Billy.


31.5″ Billy- The Flagship

We add the second bookcase, a 15.75″ Billy. The idea is to create a corner bookcase. We try a few different configurations:

The Ikea corner solution (they sell a corner bracket for this set up. I bought the brackets. I cannot find them in the garage.)


Ikea-Style Corner with 45 degree angle

And here is option two- a basic L-shaped book nook.


Corner with 90 degree angle

We choose option two, it seems to fit the small area better. Now do this 2 more times. Then build the extensions. 80 million pegs later…


Built Billys with extensions on top

It is done.


Billy area with desk (also Ikea) and lamp (also Ikea)

The Billys are fastened to the wall with included L-brackets. Ikea gives you screws and washers but not wall anchors. We used 1″ drywall anchors because that’s what we have. Obviously use the correct anchor for your wall.

We leveled the first unit on the far left, then fastened it to the wall. The next unit was leveled and placed flush with the first. The third unit was placed at a right angle and overlaps the second one slightly and the fourth is level and flush with the 3rd.


Billy Bookcase Sides, butted and slightly overlapped

The extensions are connected to the top of the bookcases with cam locks.


Extension on top of bookcase- cam locks visible on either side

The sides of the bookcases contain a cutaway in the back to fit easily over your baseboard trim (we thought we were going to have to remove the trim– yay!!).

You may have noticed in one of the earlier pictures that one of the bookcases covered up an outlet. We installed a low-profile flat plug extension cord and snaked it under the bookcase via the cutout channel.


Cut-out for baseboard trim, extension cord is routed through

Next project entails installing trim pieces around the edges (between the Billys and the walls) and on the top (between the Billys and the ceiling) to make them look like a built-in unit.






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Get Off The Shed!! Keeping Garden Tools and Kitties Warm and Dry With a Backyard Shed

One of my favorite SNL sketches is the one where Will Farrell is yelling at his kids to GET OFF THE SHED!!

So we’re building a shed. I don’t think my kids will be on it, but you never know.

The shed is mainly for gardening storage: lawn mower, blower, weed wacker, tools, etc. We will also be able to store bins of outdoor stuff like camping supplies (in bins), stacked lawn chairs, etc.

The other purpose of the shed is to create a “barn” for my outdoor cats. The climate in the Pacific Northwest for most of the year is very mild, so they are fine on the covered patio on their own kitty cushions, in their cat tree or inside their “kitty hut” (small cedar dog house furnished with a cushion, blanket and outdoor pet heating pad.) But I wanted to give them more of a loft where they can escape winter weather and feel safe being high up.

So we are going with this little number:

It’s the Heartland Belmont, 8’x8′ gabled two-door shed.  Base price at our local Lowes is $538 for the kit which includes everything but the flooring, foundation materials, and roof shingles. There is also an option to have the shed professionally installed (which includes the omitted materials in the DIY kit) but it’s about $1200. So even with the additional materials I’ll need (masonary blocks, 4×4 posts for the skids, OSB sheets for floor, roofing material) I’m still up about $400. Plus it gives me something to write about!!

The Heartland website offers fairly good Youtube tutorials about how to level, build and roof your shed. We’ve built decks in the past, so the leveling and squaring is not much different. We also had a Better Built Barns shed installed at a previous home (for use as a music studio), 10×20 with windows, and we watched them install it just like these videos show. That shed was actually finished like a tiny house, since it was meant for occupancy: insulation, sound board, pine tounge-and-groove paneling, electrical and lighting. I’ll go through that on another post.

Our local building codes allow for a structure that is unattached and under 200 ftsq to be built without a permit. It must nut be considered living space. Since our shed did not contain environmental mechanics such as HVAC nor plumbing it qualified. So I will not need a permit for this one. Your local codes may vary so check it out before you build as it may become a problem if you sell your home and have an unpermitted structure.

We are considering installing metal roofing rather than asphalt shingles. Metal roofing will be easier to maintain as we are located in a “tree bowl” which causes moss to grow on our shingle roof, whereas metal roofing just needs to be hosed off. Installation also looks easier than the 3-tab shingle affair, but I guess “easy” is probably just a relative term in this case.

For the cat house: critters are a problem in our woodsy area, there are many large trees and run off creeks to attract raccoons, opossums, and skunks. So the object of the kitty entrance is to make it unavailable for marauding ‘coons. So I am going to design an entry this is combination of this:

Kitty stairs

And this

Raccoon-proof cat feeder platform

The theory is, raccoons can climb and they can leap horizontally but they can’t jump straight up like a cat. So as long as the initial platform (or perhaps cat-form) is located at height that is inaccessible to them, we should be able to keep them out. Having said this, I did a search and there is some video footage of raccoons jumping up onto a feeding platform like the one shown above, about 4 feet. However my cat can jump onto the top of a 6′ fence easily and my roof, so I think 4 1/2′ for the initial pad should be sufficient. We’ll see!

I actually purchased one of those RFID cat doors where a special tag is necessary to get the door to open, but this requires that the cat wear a collar. Mine won’t. If all else fails, I can purchase a newer pet door with a reader that will sense an implanted microchip. I think we’ll try this first.

The actual entry will be in the gable end opposite the doors, where a small loft will be built for a cozy kitty nest. I suspects the cats will also be “on the shed”, particularly when it’s first built as they will need to closely inspect “the new thing”. Kitty steps projecting from the end wall will lead up to the entry door (in theory!!)

So! Project kickoff date is TBD, likely in September when it’s cooler but not yet raining.

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