Hack of the Year

Published on March 19th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Spotlight on Dean Wilson, winner of the Ikea Hack of 2010

I recently finished painting the Campbell’s Soup mural in our kitchen using the same method as the Reservoir Dogs design, a projector, pencils, posca pens and paint.

We’ve seen the winning hack. Let’s get to know Dean, aka thedesignguy behind the gorgeous Pax sliding doors room divider.

More on the IKEA hack of 2010

IH: How did you come up with the idea for the Pax room divider?
Dean: When my girlfriend and decided to purchase our first apartment, we were fully aware that we couldn’t afford anything much bigger then a studio. Both of us being fairly creative, we put our minds together found a well designed apartment and brainstormed how to make it a comfortable/functional living space.

IH: In constructing the hack, what was the toughest/most difficult portion?
Dean: The toughest part of the entire build was actually not the plan nor the mounting of the doors; those aspects of the build came together surprisingly easy. It was more the fact that as I had never built anything before; as a result I researched via the net, questioned employees at hardware stores and asked friends for advise. One of those friends was my girlfriend’s brother who was an expert at building and gave me some insight into what to look out for. The number 1 being; cracks. The room was going to be combination of the already standing concrete walls, jip rock and ply wood. To prevent cracks from forming while joining the different materials, Sebastian recommended I wrap the entire room in a fibreglass type wallpaper before painting (which in Sweden is called microlit).

Now; I barely know the names of different building materials in English but trying to explain them in Swedish to the hardware store employees was quite the task. Needless to say I left the hardware store with a woven structure fibreglass wallpaper instead of the thin lining I should have. I then covered the entire room only to notice as I start to paint and discover the woven structure in the finish. As hard as it was to put up, it was harder to pull down but the benefit of renovating at home was not needing to wear appropriate clothing. Unfortunately I learnt my lesson the hard way, playing with fibreglass in your underwear is not something I would recommend.

IH: Did the room divider boost the sale when you wanted to sell your apartment?
Dean: Definitely! We believe the most important factor was that the bedroom was custom built to snugly accommodate a double bed and a small cupboard which left the remaining portion of the room to be a nice large living area. We expected to make a small profit from the improvements we had made to the apartment but never anticipated the 45+% increase on what we paid for the apartment a year before.

IH: What’s with the Reservoir Dogs mural? A big fan?
Dean: A very big fan but I also liked the idea of completing the room’s design with a simple piece of artwork, unfortunately my girlfriend didn’t agree after she woke up rather tired without her glasses; she got a bit of a fright to say the least.

IH: Tell us a bit about yourself
Dean: I’m 24, Australian, have always had a big interest in all forms of design. Moved to Sweden (after meeting my girlfriend in Australia). Starting working in hotels (as fluent Swedish wasn’t required). I later tried to start a freelance design company (thedesignguy.se) but struggled to get it off the ground with only a few clients. Since then I have continued my career within hotels which I enjoy; and I design (whether it’s interior design, video editing, playing with photoshop or painting a mural) whenever I get the chance.

IH: Where do you live?
Dean: The beautiful city of Stockholm, once you get past the long winters you really learn to love the charm that is capital of Scandinavia. Not to mention  living just a few minutes from the biggest IKEA in the world!

IH: What do you do for a living?
Dean: I am currently the Front Office Manager of a 5 star hotel.

IH: What’s your favourite IKEA item?
Dean: It would have to be the Fusion dining set because compact living is a way of life in Stockholm and without the very neat, affordable well designed dining table and chairs my wife and a good majority of our friends would be forced to eat on the sofa.

IH: What do you like most about IKEA?
Dean: Apart from the 5 SEK slice of pizza at the end of every visit? I like the displays, IKEA ‘Kungens Kurva’ has a huge selection of displays showcasing IKEA furniture and accessories in a mock up environment. More recently focusing on mock ups of entire apartments; with limited space they give shoppers great inspiration and affordable solutions for functional compact living.

IH: Do you have a lot of IKEA in your home?
Dean: There are almost unsaid rules in Sweden for how much IKEA is acceptable. These ‘rules’ help to prevent you from having an identical apartment to all of your friends and family. My understanding of this rule is IKEA everything except: your living room table, a selection of lights, an arm chair or 2 and the odd shelf. So that’s exactly what we have. Beds, drawers, cupboards, shelves, glasses, plates, cutlery, pillows, sheets, curtains, dressing gowns, towels, slippers, soap, Tupperware and pretty much everything else you can think of…. IKEA! Of course an array of small artifacts, ornaments and accessories from different sources provides the space with some balance and prevents the apartment from looking like IKEA vomited in your house.

IH: Are there any other hacks in your home?
Dean: Well, we recently built a custom ‘four poster’ bed frame with curtains (mounted in the ceiling) because we have a 2m wide bed and IKEA’s EDLAND frame would not fit our mattress, but I don’t think it makes the cut for IKEA Hackers

IH: What makes you hack or the reasons you hack?
Dean: Functionality and customisation. Finding solutions for space saving and optimal functionality is so easy when you can assess a problem; be as creative as you can; come up with the solution; go to IKEA and find products similar to those you dreamed up and get to work. What makes it all possible? IKEA is so cheap, you can afford to try and and even afford to make a mistake.

IH: What/Who inspires you to hack?
Dean: It would have to be a combination of my beautiful, smart; wife’s input and always thinking outside the box. Settling is too easy, success requires a good idea, a trip to IKEA and a bit of sweat!

IH: Are there any current hack projects you are working on?
Dean: We are currently building a walk-in closet in one of our bedrooms which we have not finished planning but we are contemplating on incorporating a STOLMEN storage system and quite possibly a set of PAX sliding doors. You’ll all have to keep your eyes peeled ;)

More hacks on IKEAHackers.net

Socker Lamps
Stolmen Scratch post

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

6 Responses to Spotlight on Dean Wilson, winner of the Ikea Hack of 2010

  1. Anonymous says:

    I hack lots of IKEA material. Perhaps I should upload the light, an bathroom changes I made to IKEA objects :-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    A highly impressive piece of work.

    “…asked friends for advise”

    Should either be “…asked friends to advise” or “…asked friends for advice”

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love the murals! Is there a way that Dean could go into detail about how he did them?


  4. Anonymous says:

    Great hack, glad you won. I will be in Sweden soon and have already looked into what types of jobs and pay/houses I will be able to afford, speaking very little Swedish. This will definitely come in handy,Lycka till.

  5. Okok says:

    I love the way you did the PAX hack, and am really glad you got the award.
    I had originally thought of dividing my tiny studio with PAX over a year ago, but didn’t get down to do it because I was shirt if cash. I went for curtain dividers, but will probably do that in a few years.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is a nice interview. I’ve been having a heck of a time as an expat (Canadian, living in Germany) and reading this made my day. Your hack has also inspired me to buy a well designed bachelor in Germany and renovate it with PAX. I have been talking to my bf about it since I first saw your hack! Thanks for the idea and keep on staying positive and enjoying Europe. :) ~SG

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