This “Floating Candle” DIY Is the Most Magical (And Stylish) Halloween Decor

This “Floating Candle” DIY Is the Most Magical (And Stylish) Halloween Decor

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Double, double toil and trouble — Halloween’s already (somehow) fast approaching. If you’re looking to get into the spooky spirit this year but ghouls and gourds aren’t really your thing, Mallory Fletchall has the perfect DIY for your home. Her Instagram account Reserve Home has risen to social media stardom by documenting her immaculately-decorated Brooklyn apartment. The page essentially feels like a free master class in chic styling and renter-friendly tips, among them her genius “Harry Potter”-inspired “floating candle” hack that’s perfect for fall and Halloween decorating.

Fletchall debuted this magical mantel setup last fall, which involves a smattering of candles seemingly suspended in midair, and naturally, her ultra-popular project had to make a comeback this year. What kind of sorcery is this, you may ask? Turns out it’s just a few battery-operated tapers and clear fishing line… no Hogwarts letter needed here! This idea’s easy, affordable, and an absolute must for any design-loving Halloween enthusiasts who like to keep their festive looks subtle. Ready to recreate? Here’s the breakdown, courtesy of Fletchall herself.

How to Transform a Plain IKEA KALLAX into a Groovy ’70s-Style Burl Wood Piece

How to Transform a Plain IKEA KALLAX into a Groovy ’70s-Style Burl Wood Piece

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September is Transformation Month at Apartment Therapy! That means we’re sharing stories about home transformations — from big renovations to tiny tweaks — all month. Head over here to see them all!

If you’ve ever been in a thrift store or antique shop, you’ve likely seen burl wood. This mottled-looking wood style started getting production attention in the 1960s, hit peak popularity in the 1970s, and is making its way back into the trend zeitgeist. Burl wood is not actually its own type of tree, but actually a grain pattern that results from growths on trees that put stress on the trunk or branches. The result is a cool spotted effect with tons of depth, pattern, and texture. Today, most burl wood furniture on the market is burl wood veneer as the actual sizes of burls make it difficult to produce large, solid pieces. 

Because of its uniqueness and rarity, real burl wood veneer pieces can cost a pretty penny. But you can bring the groovy 1970s look to a basic IKEA KALLAX with a little clever DIY and just a few tools. Here’s how.

Supplies you’ll need to create a burl wood cabinet:

How to create a burl wood cabinet:

1. Assemble Your KALLAX unit.

Build your KALLAX according to the included instructions. This 1×4 unit can be approximately built by one person in 10 minutes. Fill in any visible holes with spackle. Let dry and sand smooth. This will prevent bubbles underneath the contact paper later.

For this hack, go ahead and attach the KALLAX door inserts into the cubbies with the interior hinge hardware, but don’t attach the doors yet. This will help you plan where to wrap the inside of the KALLAX.

Lay out the wood pieces, using clamps to keep the joints square. Drill pilot holes and secure together with wood screws. Fill gaps/holes, let dry, and sand.

I’ll be using ours for board game storage, but if you’re planning on using this for heavier items, add two more 2”x 4” x 8.5” interior pieces for support.

3. Apply the contact paper.

Wipe the KALLAX down to remove any dust. Peel back about one inch of the contact paper backing and align the edge of the contact paper to your first surface. Press firmly, starting from the middle and moving outwards; smooth with a plastic card, like a credit card or gift card. Slowly alternate between peeling back more of the backing and smoothing. Let the contact paper “roll” into place instead of pulling. Don’t worry about small bubbles — you can pop these with a utility knife later. 

Once you get to the end, cut away from the rest of the roll and leave a little bit of tail to go in later for a more precise trim (I like to trim at the end instead of precutting to exact measurement for more allowance). For the finishing trim, hold your Exacto blade perpendicular to the edge of your surface. Support the blade with your middle finger and guide the blade like a pencil through the contact paper while pulling the excess away. Smooth down the edges one more time.

One thing to be careful around is the small edges of the KALLAX. You’ll notice that the exterior sides are not flush. If your contact paper is on the thinner side like the one I used, I found it easier to not wrap around the small edges to prevent ripping, but instead apply strips individually. Below is the order I found most helpful to prevent difficult cutouts and wrapping: 

The great thing about burl wood is that the pattern disguises small mistakes. If you do make a tiny rip, you can easily patch it with matching paint.

Repeat the process to wrap your wood base with the brushed gold contact paper.

Center the KALLAX over the base. Add a few heavy objects on top of the KALLAX to prevent it from moving. Measure and mark inside the KALLAX where the base is directly underneath. Drill pilot holes. Attach with wood screws.

Time for the finishing jewelry! Center your handles to the door faces, making sure they’re as flush as possible to the top edge, and mark the drill holes. Drill pilot holes for the screws; you can use painter’s tape on the drill bit to mark depth so you don’t drill through the front of the door. Screw the handles on.

Then, step back and admire your new ’70s-style centerpiece.

How to Turn a Plain IKEA KALLAX into a Funky 1980s Memphis-Style Centerpiece

How to Turn a Plain IKEA KALLAX into a Funky 1980s Memphis-Style Centerpiece

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September is Transformation Month at Apartment Therapy! That means we’re sharing stories about home transformations — from big renovations to tiny tweaks — all month. Head over here to see them all!

When you think 1980s decor, you probably think Memphis style, the design movement defined by terrazzo and laminate materials, iconic squiggles, bright colors, and offbeat shapes.

Started by the Memphis Design Group, an architecture and design group founded in Italy by Ettore Sottsass, the Memphis movement was all about big and bold statements — totally fitting for a decade known for over-the-top style. The IKEA KALLAX couldn’t be farther from a Memphis-style piece with its minimalist and understated look, and that’s why this transformation from the standard white shelving you know to a wild and funky remix is so much fun. Here’s how to pull it off.

Supplies you’ll need to create this Memphis-style cabinet:

How to create a Memphis-style cabinet:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble your KALLAX piece.

2. Create your semicircle shape.

To make the semicircle, first decide the length you’d like it to be. The easiest way to do this is to lay your MDF board flat on the floor, then lay your KALLAX flat on top of it so that’s it’s flush with the bottom of the board. Mark where you’d like your semicircle to end. For this particular project, I went out to the first two shelves (74 cm, or about 29 inches). 

Find and mark the midpoint of your semicircle. Then, tie a piece of string to your pencil, leaving a tail that’s equal to one-half of the width of your semicircle. Holding (or taping) the end of the string onto the midpoint of your semicircle, pull your pencil so that the string is taut and trace an arc all the way around until you create the outline of your semicircle. You might need to trace over this line with a marker to make it more visible.

Use a jig saw to cut out the semicircle shape, and sand the edges smooth. Set aside.

3. Create your scalloped edge.

To make the scalloped edge, first measure the length of the side of the KALLAX and mark on your MDF. Trace the line so that it’s approximately 1 inch away from the edge of the MDF.

Divide the length of the line by three, then mark these points on the MDF with your pencil.

Next, repeat the process for tracing the semicircle on your three equal parts by finding the midpoint of each and using a pencil attached to a string to trace three arcs. At the end, you will have a scalloped shape that features three semicircles aligned vertically.

Cut with a jigsaw and sand the edges smooth. Set aside.

4. Paint on the base coat.

Paint your KALLAX, semicircle, and scalloped edge with your off-white base coat. I like to use a roller for this part, but you can also use a brush. Let dry.

Dip your sponge into your gray color and sponge all over your piece, including the semicircle and scalloped pieces, to give it a slightly marbled effect. Once dry, you can go over parts of your sponging with a roller dipped in your white paint to help vary the intensity of the color. You’ll end up with a pattern similar to this.

6. Attach your MDF accent shapes to the KALLAX.

The semicircle will be placed in the upper left on the back of the KALLAX. Pre-drill holes in the back of the upper edge before hand screwing the semicircle into place using 1-inch screws.

The scallop will be on the front of the KALLAX on the right side. Secure it with three small hinges so that its front is flush with the front of the KALLAX unit. Make sure to use the smallest screws available for the job, so that you don’t poke through the MDF. (I used 3/8-inch screws.)

7. Create shelving pieces.

Cut a 6-foot-long 1×12 board of wood down to two different lengths: two pieces at 17 ¾ inches long and two pieces at 13 ¼ inches long. (You can use a circular saw to do this at home, but many home improvement stores will do this for you.)

Sand the pieces smooth, then paint in your bright orange color. Let dry.

Tip the KALLAX unit onto its side, then mark the four corners where the legs will go. Pre-drill, then screw in the legs.

Put the KALLAX back right side up, and add your orange shelves. Tip the longer ones at angles to create triangular openings, and use the smaller ones to give the bottoms of your cubbies a hit of removable color or stack on top of books. Then, fill the rest of the piece up with your favorite items and bask in that funky Memphis flair.

How to Turn a Basic IKEA KALLAX into a 1960s Brutalist-Style Display Piece

How to Turn a Basic IKEA KALLAX into a 1960s Brutalist-Style Display Piece

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September is Transformation Month at Apartment Therapy! That means we’re sharing stories about home transformations — from big renovations to tiny tweaks — all month. Head over here to see them all!

When it comes to mid-century design, you might be most familiar with the avocado green upholstery and tapered teak legs of mid-century modern furniture. But there was another design hit of that era that’s both divisive and poised for a comeback: Brutalism.

Brutalist style is all about utilitarianism and raw materials, focusing on blocky, geometric designs that put natural wood (or concrete, or metal) on display. And while that might not sound ritzy, the prices for real-deal pieces definitely are: Authentic vintage Brutalist dressers can fetch thousands of dollars each.

Fortunately, replicating the style yourself is pretty simple (and far cheaper, too). Here’s how to bring the Brutalist look home using a basic KALLAX shelf.

Supplies you’ll need to create this Brutalist cabinet:

How to make a Brutalist-style cabinet:

1. Assemble your KALLAX per the instructions.

If your KALLAX shelf isn’t already assembled, assemble it according to the package’s directions. 

2. Measure and cut wood veneer to cover your KALLAX.

Place the shelf on a drop cloth to protect the floor while you work. Measure, mark, and cut a piece of wood veneer that’s an inch longer and an inch wider than the top of your KALLAX shelf. 

3. Apply and smooth out the veneer.

Peel off the adhesive backing from the wood veneer, place it on top of the KALLAX shelf so there’s approximately ½-inch overhang on each edge, and press it firmly into place. Then roll over the wood veneer with a seam roller, first in a horizontal direction and then in a vertical direction, to ensure the veneer adheres to the surface and to smooth out any air bubbles.

Using a utility knife, carefully cut off the excess wood veneer along each edge. Tip: It may be helpful to turn the shelf upside down when cutting off the overhang.

Follow the same directions in steps 2 to 4 to cover both sides of the KALLAX shelf with wood veneer. Lightly sand any rough edges. 

6. Apply wood banding to the cubby edges.

Measure, mark, and cut strips of wood edge banding that are slightly longer than the front edges of the shelf cubbies. Align the strips with the shelf edges, and press a hot iron (set to cotton setting with no steam) along the wood edge banding until it’s adhered firmly to the surface. Trim the excess with a utility knife.

7. Cover door fronts with veneer.

Prior to assembling and installing the door inserts, cover the door fronts with wood veneer. Note: You’ll be covering up the hole for the door handle with wood veneer, but don’t worry — you’ll still be able to open the doors using the wood blocks that you’ll add later.

8. Cut out blocks for door decoration.

Using either a hacksaw or power saw, cut out various rectangular and square blocks from the plywood to create a Brutalist pattern for the doors. I cut three pieces for each door (a total of 12 pieces) with the following dimensions: 3” x 6”; 4” x 6”; 6” x 6”. Be sure to sand any rough edges. Tip: You can ask the hardware store to cut the wood for you, if you don’t have a saw.

9. Attach wood blocks to the doors.

Assemble the wood blocks into the desired pattern on the doors, and glue them in place with wood glue. Let the glue dry completely.  

Once the glue is dry, assemble the door inserts with their hardware, and affix them to the shelf cubbies. 

11. Prep and stain the wood.

Wipe on a layer of pre-stain wood conditioner with a cloth. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes, and then wipe off any excess. This will prepare the wood to accept the stain more uniformly and help avoid splotches.

Next, apply an even coat of wood stain using a clean cloth, and wipe off any excess. Allow to dry for two hours, and if a deeper color is desired, apply a second coat. Allow the wood stain to dry overnight, and then apply a clear topcoat to seal in the color and protect the finish.

Once it’s dry, you’ll have a swinging ’60s Brutalist cabinet that looks so convincingly vintage friends won’t believe it started as a KALLAX.

Patio Seating Inspiration: How to Build Paver Chairs

Patio Seating Inspiration: How to Build Paver Chairs

Having enough seating for your outdoor entertaining space is essential to ensure your guests are comfortable.

These chairs made from RumbleStone blocks make a great addition to any patio, particularly those made of pavers.

To create your own paver patio chair, first take small, medium, and large RumbleStone blocks and lay them out in a U shape. These are 24 1/2 inches deep, 35 inches wide.

Next, apply polyurethane construction adhesive before the next row of stones are applied on top of the other stones.

Be sure that the pattern of the stones varies for each new row. This way, no continuous seams will be seen from the bottom to the top of the chair. Also, this makes the chair stronger and visually appealing.

Use trapezoid blocks to fill in the back of the chair once it reaches 24 inches high. Apply construction adhesive to the bottoms and the sides of these blocks to form the back of your chair.

Inside the legs of the chair, glue four 45-millimeter-large blocks vertically to support the seat of the chair. For the seat, use four 2×4 wood planks and a couple of 2×2 pleats.

The result will give you complimentary paver chairs to go along with your paver patio!

Watch the video for step-by-step directions! 

Further Reading