Before 3D printing, before holograms, before virtual reality, people were creating their own three dimensional objects, it was called carpentry, or as most people would experience it now – building flatpack furniture. It’s a lot like coding, you are given a specific set of building blocks and a set of instructions to follow to create an end result, and just like coding, you can hack your flatpack and make it do something different. It may not have been intentional, but all flat pack furniture is open source, and anyone can tweak it to their own ends. This can work out significantly cheaper and also means you end up with a bespoke piece of furniture specifically designed to fit your home and your needs.

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Flat pack hacking falls broadly into two categories – new builds and partially pre-assembled. With new builds you are taking a number of segments and re-arranging them into an entirely new thing, so you might take a bookcase and hack it into a bench, with pre-assembled you take partially or fully assembled furniture and create a hybrid.

If you are feeling ambitious, it helps to have some sort of CAD program to aid you in designing, don’t just use trial and error, you will fail, you need to measure and plan before embarking on anything. The aim is not to be sawing and drilling, but to use the existing cuts in ingenious ways, otherwise you may as well start with a tree. A good flatpack hack takes no longer than assembly the original design would, and uses the same tools.

A recent example of a simple hack is the current range of UK discount store B&M bargains Wiltshire Oak furniture. Made in Vietnam, it’s currently on discount and a fraction of the price of solid oak furniture elsewhere. There is no dressing table in the range, but there is a console table and a coffee table, by switching some of the pieces around you can create a two level dressing table and a modest coffee table form the same pre-cut pieces. The top half of each comes pre-assembled, so all you have to do is screw the legs from the console table onto the coffee table, fit the smaller drawer section on top of the coffee table drawers and use the thin shelf from the console table as a stabilising back leg for your new large dressing table. The remaining bottom shelf and legs from the coffee table give you a simple low table with no drawers.

If you are considering a flatpack hack, start with deciding what you want for your home, then look for furniture that is a similar size and see if you can convert it. There are many online resources for people to show off their hacks, but its much more fun designing your own.

For more information on hacking IKEA furniture, try the Ikea Hackers website for some inspiration.

[Image via Russ Payne]