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My Artful Ikea Expedit Hack

I have many unsightly items stored on my Expedit bookcase, including spiral bound texts, ratty library books and stacks of student papers, waiting to be graded. I love the little door we bought to hide the electronic equipment (bottom left) but those doors are expensive, so I DIY’d my own version.  I used painted canvases hung on hooks to hide my bookshelf clutter and the whole project cost about the price of just one Ikea Expedit door


  • 4mm Screw Eyes (Lee Valley – $1.90 for 100)
  • 1/2″ Cup Hooks (Lee Valley – $2.70 for 100)
  • 12 x 12 canvases (I bought mine at Michael’s for $29.99 for pack of 7, less with a 40% off coupon, but if you can’t find them I’ve linked to Amazon where they are on sale for $20)
  • Paint (I used acrylic – this is a great starter kit with lots of colours)
  • Paint brushes
  • Motivation (this is always the hardest to come by, for me)

Before Picking up a Tool:

1. I took everything off the Expedit.  Made a huge mess.  Started to cry.
2. I dusted and gave the Expedit a good, thorough clean. 
3. I put everything back on the Expedit and fiddled with the arrangement, taping up some paper to get a sense of where the paintings should go.

Then I marched down to the basement, also known as the pit of despair, and worked on a few paintings.  Two never made the cut, but the five that did were installed as swinging “doors” on my Expedit.

Install was simple:

1. We measured where the hooks should go, marking the measurement on tape instead of the shelf.
2. We installed the hooks using pliers, then removed the tape.
3. We added two screw eyes to each canvas – carefully measuring the distance each time because the canvases aren’t 100% uniform.

The “doors” easily swing or come off to access what is behind, but hide the clutter and general ugliness perfectly.

Finished Product:

I tried to create some balance between covered cubbies, cubbies with books, cubbies with magazine files (like the ones I just painted) and cubbies with objets d’art (and tchotchkes). 

My chevron plans came to fruition!

My painted magazine files look just right


    1. EJ @ Not A House, But A Home
      November 28, 2011 / 1:40 pm

      Wow! That looks great! And it's so subtle. I didn't even notice any of the painting immediately except for the chevrons. I love the colours you used.

    2. Meg
      November 28, 2011 / 2:37 pm

      LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! This is really awesome! I certainly have a few less than magazine worthy items on my expedit. This is a great way to cover them up and add some chic. I'll be copying you for sure. Well done!

    3. Nette @ This Dusty House
      November 28, 2011 / 2:49 pm

      Such a creative solution! I may have to borrow this idea for our bookshelves. I don't like how messy my books can look, but I just can't bear to box them up and stick them in the garage. Thanks for sharing!

    4. Faith
      November 28, 2011 / 3:34 pm

      This looks amazing! Love the colors! We may have to try something like this. My husband has taken over a bookcase and stuffed it with DVD's. It looks awful. This might be a fun way to cover all that clutter and still let him get to the movies (and games) What a great project, thanks for the share 🙂

    5. Jenny @ Simcoe Street
      November 28, 2011 / 3:35 pm


    6. Lili
      November 28, 2011 / 3:54 pm

      THAT IS JUST SUPER COOL! IT'S SO COOL IN FACT THAT I HAVE TO SAY IT IN ALL-CAPS! No seriously! I recently bought boxes from Ikea but they have a strong chemical smell and I need them for storing clothes. Every other thing I could think of was too expensive. I do, however, have tons of unused art inspirations and canvases! Wheee 😀

    7. La Maison Boheme
      November 28, 2011 / 4:41 pm

      Brilliant. That is so awesome.

    8. Neha@ All things beautiful
      November 28, 2011 / 4:49 pm

      L.O.V.E it! Tanya, the idea is just awesome!I'm so going to copy it:)The book case looks amazing!

    9. Julia
      November 28, 2011 / 5:11 pm

      Everything is better with art. This looks awesome!

    10. Midcenturymadam
      November 28, 2011 / 5:17 pm

      What a great idea! It looks fantastic! So orderly, artsy, and functional. Give yourself a pat on the back.

    11. renee
      November 28, 2011 / 6:46 pm

      Sorry if I missed it but did you paint the art in this post? Would love to see pics of the small art. I love them!

    12. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 28, 2011 / 8:42 pm

      Thanks for the positive feeback, everyone! I am so excited to hear that some of you might give this idea a whirl. Send me photos if you do!Renee: yes, I did paint the five paintings I used as doors. I am planning a post with a rough how-to with more pics so check back 🙂

    13. Dana@Mid2Mod
      November 28, 2011 / 10:52 pm

      Such a cute idea! Jenn and Joe went to Ikea yesterday for more boxes and doors for their Expedit, where they store books and toys. I don't think a 2-year-old could be careful enough not to loosen the hooks…but I'm wondering if something similar could be done with canvases and small hinges.

    14. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 28, 2011 / 11:07 pm

      Hi Dana,The hooks are pretty sturdy because they are screwed right in. It would take some real tugging to cause any damage (things need to be tough for us not break them ourselves). But hinges would work too – might need a custom canvas, or be happy with an off centred look because the cubbies are about 13×13 but the canvases are 12×12. (It is hard to see the space in some photos).

    15. Christy
      November 29, 2011 / 4:41 am

      Wow, this is too amazing for words. You're a genius!!

    16. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 29, 2011 / 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Christy! Your comment made me smile.

    17. Dusty Coyote
      November 29, 2011 / 5:54 pm

      This looks amazing! How lucky that the canvases with the hooks hang perfectly centered!! Love your paintings too! Great idea!

    18. Rosa @ FlutterFlutter
      November 29, 2011 / 6:00 pm

      Great idea Tanya. Simple, useful, and pretty too!

    19. Tamsyn
      November 29, 2011 / 8:09 pm

      I love it!! Those paintings you did are gorgeous 🙂

    20. Beatrice @
      November 30, 2011 / 3:36 am

      That is such a great idea. Love those paintings. Are you thinking about selling your paintings? People would love them.

    21. Interior Design Musings
      November 30, 2011 / 1:21 pm

      Clever girl! Way behind on my blog reading, but love this idea. Would have to commission you to do the artwork! M.

    22. melarse
      November 30, 2011 / 1:34 pm

      What a great idea! So creative.

    23. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 30, 2011 / 3:14 pm

      Awww, Mandi & Beatrice, you're both so sweet and complimentary.I actually, for the first time, looked into an etsy page after I received some emails about folks wanting to buy my spiders, but I was scared away. I'm petrified my things won't sell, and etsy costs money to list – even if I don't sell the item. Eeek. Pressure!I'll try to post better tutorials on how I make my paintings. I just don't think of anything I make as good enough to sell . . . but thanks for your kind words.

    24. Amelia @ House Pretty
      November 30, 2011 / 5:21 pm

      This is brilliant. Amazing!

    25. a Girl Called Kim
      November 30, 2011 / 9:38 pm

      aw, i love it! i'm definitely going to have to keep this in mind when i move to my condo, where i plan to get a 5×5 expedit. i have lots of things to store, but many are too fugly to be seen on a regular basis.

    26. emilie
      December 1, 2011 / 12:59 am

      I LOVE this idea! Did you post it on I'm sure other ikea lovers will go gaga over this idea.I'm pretty excited about the new store in our fair city, although I'm sure it would be a disaster to go there before or right after Christmas!

    27. Sudha
      December 1, 2011 / 1:18 am

      Tanya…….you are my hero!! I AM IN LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    28. Haus and Home
      December 1, 2011 / 2:31 am

      great job! Everything looks so neat and put together!

    29. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      December 1, 2011 / 2:52 am

      Thanks everyone!Emilie, I did submit it to Ikea Hackers . . . we'll see if I'm hacker material. I'll be sure to share the feature.And I am totally avoiding our Ikea until the new year. How will that many cars even get INTO the parking lot?!? Madness.

    30. Bronwyn
      December 1, 2011 / 11:20 pm

      This is Brilliant! My son has this same unit in his bedroom. Now he is going to get some canvases too! Awesome!

    31. Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d
      December 6, 2011 / 9:12 pm

      I love the paintings to conceal stuff! Such a brilliant idea! My favorite is the bottom one to the right. Great work!

    32. Wendy (SpikesnSparkles)
      December 12, 2011 / 2:34 pm

      love this hack! and your paintings are inspiring me to try making my own!

    33. Naomi@DesignManifest
      December 16, 2011 / 1:29 am

      love love love this idea!! Unfortunately I have zero painting skills… but you are giving me all sorts of other ideas. Insert Evil laugh here 🙂

    34. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      December 16, 2011 / 3:27 am

      Naomi: try wrapping a great fabric around stretchers, or paint a pattern (that just required some tape!) or even just stenciled letters. LOTS of options for folks not ready to whip up an abstract 😉

    35. Jenny
      December 31, 2011 / 3:16 am

      OMG, this is brilliant! I have a 3×3 version of this bookcase in my "Mom Cave" and it's screaming for something like this to make it more pretty and less … messy. Thanks for the fab idea!

    36. Kara @ June & Bear
      December 31, 2011 / 3:44 am

      so clever and so pretty. great idea and execution.

    37. Greg Ferguson
      January 19, 2012 / 4:09 am

      Just found this blog, truly fantastic design. Wondering if you have heard of panyl as a diy design material and if so, do you recommend it?

      • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
        January 19, 2012 / 2:21 pm

        Hi Greg, thanks for your comment/question. I have heard of Panyl – they help customize many Ikea product with adhesive vinyl. I have never ordered from them or used their product so I can't recommend it. It might be a good alternative to painting Ikea furniture but then it may also cheapen the look with seams, etc. If you try it, let me know what you think of it! Sorry I can't be of more help.

      • Dan
        January 19, 2012 / 10:07 pm

        Hi Greg and Tanya – this is Dan from PANYL. I'm glad you found our site!Our Expedit product is one of the easiest to apply, and I can say for certain that there are no seams – it's a very high-end design treatment. Please check it out at'd love to know what people think.

    38. Anonymous
      February 18, 2012 / 3:17 pm

      Love this idea! I found your blog searching for expedit accessories. Your idea is by far the most brilliant yet!Lisa

      • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
        February 18, 2012 / 5:04 pm

        Thanks Lisa! I appreciate your kind comment.

    39. Emily
      March 1, 2012 / 1:56 am

      This is so cool!!! What an awesome idea!!!

    40. cecilvalley
      April 20, 2012 / 4:42 am

      OMG You are a genius!! I am so doing this!!!! I am not a painter, can you give me more pointers on how to wrap fabric around stretchers? I have been looking for anything to cover up my books and papers!! Cat

    41. Kristy
      June 15, 2012 / 8:52 pm

      This is such a fantastic idea – I love it! I have baskets for a few sections (which really kind of works when it's stuff that is better contained in a basket), but I've been thinking of ways to do the same in other sections. It's so simple and straightforward – I can't believe I haven't seen it before!

    42. Erin
      June 17, 2012 / 3:55 am

      Easy, so easy – now, why didn't *I* think of that? Thanks for the inspiration – I've just ordered a bunch of photo canvases for this project on my own bookcase.

    43. Noelle
      August 4, 2012 / 5:46 am

      I love this idea! I've been struggling with how to deal with the ugly books in my expedit bookcase, and this is the perfect project for me and my husband! thank you for sharing :)Noelle @

    44. Pam
      October 19, 2012 / 4:21 pm

      I just found your blog via Pinterest. I've been looking for ideas on covering up some unsightly items in our Expedit. I just love your idea of using a canvas! So much less expensive than many of the boxes & drawers at Ikea & whatnot plus a great way to personalize your own space! Thanks so much!

      • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
        October 19, 2012 / 6:50 pm

        I'm so happy this idea will work for you! I'd love to see photos of your own Expedit hack, if you have a chance to snap a few.

    45. Anonymous
      March 12, 2013 / 8:19 pm

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    46. Aaron Alexander
      March 23, 2014 / 1:06 pm

      I'me going to to do this with my 4×2 unit (use it on its side as a TV unit) I'll get 4 canvas, paint black and then push them together in a row. Then drip lines of paint across them in the colours that match my scheme. When hung, there we will be uniform and look asome

      • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
        March 23, 2014 / 1:29 pm

        That sounds like a great idea!! I like the idea of dripping paint to pull in colours from the room. I'd love to see a photo when you're done!I'm doing a new Expedit Hack and I'm doing all one colour too (turquoise) because I've rearranged my stuff and I'm trying to make it look very orderly and symmetrical.

    47. Anna
      March 23, 2015 / 3:05 pm

      Love this! Can you let me know if you got the hooks that are 1/2" depth (length of the entire hook/screw) or 1/2" eye id? I just want to make sure I get the correct size. Thanks!

      • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
        March 24, 2015 / 3:28 am

        Good question! The hook part itself is 1/2". There are many different sizes, so it's good you asked clarification! I'd love to see a photo of your version when it's done 🙂

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