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See these ideas before you customize the IVAR cabinet

We bought some IVAR cabinets to make a customized wall unit for our living room.

Again, maybe not a very high-tech or impressive hack, but there might be some useful tips in here for someone looking for a similar solution.

We played around a bit with the configuration, trying different options (see GIF), ending up with our final customized IVAR.

custom ivar
Ivar combinations
IKEA items used:
Other materials used:
Tools:
  • Spirit level
  • Drill
  • ⌀35mm forstner drill bit
  • aw
  • Painting supplies

Customized wall mounted IVAR cabinet

First off, this cabinet is cheap. It is cheaper than buying only the wood from the hardware store if you are considering making something similar yourself.

This is great and saves you a lot of time, but also manage your expectations on the quality of the wood. There are a lot of corrections in the wood, some more noticeable than others (see pictures).

imperfections

They are not on the front faces of the doors, but on the cabinet side walls all around, on the shelves and on the inside of the doors. If you are planning on painting later, this might not be a problem, but just something to keep in mind.

The good side out

I inspected all of the wood before assembling and made sure the best looking pieces are on the outside of my configuration and on the most visible parts.

And the worst looking ones are assembled against each other and thus not visible. (Since the cabinets are sold in cardboard boxes, you cannot check the wood before buying it, as I did when buying IVAR shelves.)

Wall mounting bar in the IVAR

We screwed the cabinets right into the wall (using suitable wall anchors of course). I read some comments on the cabinets that there is no system supplied/available to hang them (like for other (IKEA) cabinets there apparently is?)

But the cabinet has a structure which makes it suitable to hang it right onto the wall, like the instruction manual also shows. There is a reinforcing wooden bar at the top off the back with screw holes already in place. This bar will carry the cabinet.

ivar assembly wall
Adjusting the IVAR gap

Second critical note I read online in several hacks and comments/reviews on IKEA’s website, is that there is a big gap between the 2 doors. I admit that when I first assembled the doors, I was also a bit disappointed by the size of the gap, but; it CAN be fixed by tuning the hinges!

Of course, you can also solve it by adding a strip of wood at the back of 1 of the doors, but I preferred to not have a fixed order in which to open and close the doors.

I tuned the hinges, again according to the manual, and in my opinion the gap is acceptable now. Since the initial gap is about 0.5cm big, I was afraid that tuning the hinges, bringing the doors closer together, might give a noticeable gap/step on the hinge-side of the doors (between the door and the outside of the cabinet), but in my opinion, it is acceptable.

So, to close the gap:
  • loosen the screw that connects the hinge on the door to the mounting plate in the cabinet. Make sure it is loose enough (or completely disassemble it from the mounting plate) so there is enough room for the second screw to be screwed in.
  • when this first screw is loose, you can screw in the second screw. This screw will give the door an offset to the mounting plate in the cabinet (I quickly damaged the cross in these screws making it hard to screw them, I ended up using pliers to grab it on the outside and turn it in)
  • now, re-attach the first screw to secure the hinge back on the mounting plate

If you do this for all 4 hinges, you get, in my opinion, an acceptable gap.

adjusting the gap

So far everything is according to the manual, no hacking involved 😉

New hinges for wide opening

We also wanted to put the TV in one of the cabinets. Only issue is, the hinges of the cabinet only allow for a +/- 90° opening angle. This will limit the visibility of the screen, so I decided to replace the hinges.

The IKEA hinges, even though they are branded ‘IKEA’, are actually BLUM hinges, so I bought BLUM 170° hinges. Hinges from another brand will probably also work fine, but I have good experience with fitting these hinges onto this cabinet.

When buying hinges, make sure to buy:
  • full overlay hinges; so the door will cover the sidewall of the cabinet
opening hinge
  • the opening angle you want (I choose 170°)
opening angle
  • screw-on hinges; there are other systems available (depending on the brand called things like inserta/fix/impresso), but they require more precise drilling. With screw-on, you can just screw into the wooden door. IKEA actually also sells 153° hinges (UTRUSTA), but they have the inserta system, so I did not use those.
  • mounting plate, I picked clip top ‘wing’ mounting plate 0mm plate height with system screws. These mounting plates and screws fit right into the existing holes for the original 90° hinges. 
mounting plate

Like I said, the mounting plates fit right into to cabinet where you would otherwise use the hinge provided with the cabinet. The hinges on the door require a bit more work. The original hole in the door is ⌀25mm, the new hinge requires a ⌀35mm hole.

Because I had to make a new bigger hole, not centered to the original hole, I made a very simple jig which worked perfectly. In a scrap piece of wood, I drilled a ⌀35mm hole all the way through the wood. I then attached another small scrap piece of wood to this first piece.

Drilling new holes for hinges

According to specifications of the hinge manual, there should be 7mm between the edge of the door and the start of the hole (‘TB’ dimension between 3-8, with mounting plate height being 0 and door thickness of 18mm, this results in 7mm).

template
table
jig

Unscrew the 2 bars on the inside of the doors (they were interfering with the jig and also with the new hinge). Place the jig on the door with the strip against the (hinged) edge. Center the ⌀35mm hole in the jig and the ⌀25mm hole in the door. Firmly fix the jig to the door with some clamps and start drilling the new hole. The jig will keep the drill bit in the right location. 

Be careful not to drill too deep by regularly checking if the new hole is at the same depth as the original hole.

When you reach the right depth, fit in the new hinge and make some small pilot holes for the screws.

Now, attach the hinges to the door and re-attach the wooden bars back on the door (I had to move them a bit to prevent interference with the hinge). Next you can clip the hinges on the doors onto the mounting plates in the cabinet. If needed, tune the hinges to fit the door in place. Now your doors can fully open 🙂

Customized IVAR for TV
Customized IVAR for TV
Customized shelves for IVAR

When we had this unit finished, we realized that the whole thing was a bit too clean and closed, and we wanted to add some open shelves. Again we experimented a bit with different setups and ways to create open shelves (see GIF). I will shortly explain some of the ideas we had since it might be of help or inspiration to someone.

Customized IVAR for TV
Option 1: 2 cabinets 1 set of doors

When you have 2 (or more) IVAR cabinets on top of each other, you can use any of the dowel hole positions to attach the hinge mounting plates. This way you can place 1 set of doors partly covering 2 cabinets, creating some open shelves around it. No drilling or other modifications needed!

Customized IVAR
Customized IVAR
Option 2: Cutting the doors

Another option we considered, is cutting the doors so the doors will no longer cover the complete cabinet behind it. When cutting the doors, you will cut off the hinge-position, so you will need to make new (⌀25mm) holes in the doors to re-attach the hinges.

If you would align this new hinge position with a new position for the mounting plate in any of the dowel hole positions (see above), this option will require a minimum of modifications and effort.

Option 3: Adding a open area

3. In the end, we decided to move one of the cabinets a bit higher onto the wall, creating an open space between two of the cabinets. The sides of this opening, I covered with some wood.

I used a IVAR shelf to cut some pieces since this is the same wood, same thickness, same depth, so it was really easy to just cut 2 strips to close the sides.

I attached this strip to the cabinet wall below is and on top of it with some pocket hole screws to have the most invisible way of attaching them together. Basically, the strip is not a structural part of the whole wall unit, both cabinets are hanging on the wall by themselves, so you could just put the strip in there with some nails/glue/tape/whatever. 

Customized IVAR

Once we were happy with the configuration, we decided on painting the cabinets, using a slightly different color for the inside and outside. See the end result below.

Painting the IVAR

Midway in the painting process:

Customized IVAR

Painting finished:

All done. Our customized IVAR cabinet.

Customized IVAR
Customized IVAR

Pocket holes attaching the strip on the open shelf part:

Customized IVAR

Original hinge:

Customized IVAR

170° hinge:

Customized IVAR

Also, I customized some KNAGGLIG crates to better fit the IVAR cabinets.

Customized IVAR

For a complete how to on modifying the KNAGGLIG crates, please see the following post on IKEAhackers:

~ by Pauline (Utrecht, The Netherlands)