DIY | An Ikea Lack Hack Coffee Table Makeover

This post was originally published in April 2011.

I needed a functional coffee table for the living room, but I basically had a budget of zero dollars. This little Ikea Lack hack was my solution.

Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover

Lack Hack Supplies

  • An Ikea Lack coffee table
  • Spray Adhesive (this might also work with wallpaper paste, but I haven’t tried it)
  • ModPodge
  • Shellac
  • Wallpaper or very thick wrapping paper
  • A craft knife
  • A paint brush
  • Decorative nails (I used 3/8″ nails with a nickel finish) or nail head trim
  • A ruler
  • A hammer

Total Cost: about $65/£50.

The Process

Take one standard, cheap as chips, Ikea Lack coffee table. They run about $20/£17.

Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover - Before

1. Spray

If you’re buying a new Lack, this is easier to do before you assemble it. Make sure your table is clean and dry. Spray adhesive all over the top and lay your paper smoothly over. This can be tricky, but if you have someone to help, one can spray and the other can lay. Use a paint roller or a credit card to smooth out air bubbles.

If your paper doesn’t cover the whole table, you can still make this work by laying two pieces side-by-side and lining up the seams, although obviously that’ll give you a little visible seam. Your call.

Ikea Lack Hack Coffee Table Makeover in progress

{ Side note: On my first attempt, I used ModPodge to adhere the paper to the table. Do not, for the love of God, do this. It dries too fast and creases and you’ll be left peeling ruined paper off a very sticky table. }

2. Fold and repeat

Once the top is glued down smoothly, fold the paper along the edges, spray and press it down around the sides. Remove the table legs if you need to, tuck the paper underneath the table top and glue in place there too.  

3. Add Detail to the Shelf Edge

Using a craft knife, I measured and cut strips of paper to fit the edges of the bottom shelf too. To attach these, the ModPodge worked just fine, and was neater than using the spray adhesive. It’s subtle and hard to see in the photo, but I assure you it’s pretty in real life. Give it at least a couple of hours to dry before moving to the next step.

4. Seal It

Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover in progress

Use a paint brush to apply an even coat of ModPodge over all the wallpaper. Let it dry then give it another coat or two. When it’s all had time to dry completely, use spray Shellac to seal it.

This is never going to be a hard-wearing piece of furniture, but I can wipe it clean. I wouldn’t leave waterAll this might seem like overkill, but since we have a toddler and I am almost certain things will get spilled on it, I didn’t want to take any chances. As it is, I can wipe it clean no problem.

5. Add Trim

This final step was definitely a labor of love. I love the look of nail head trim, so I figured it would be the perfect finishing touch. I went to four hardware stores and three hobby stores and couldn’t find rolls of it anywhere. Bah. Finally, in JoAnns, I found two boxes of individual decorative nails. And so began the long process of hammering every single nail in by hand.

Nailhead trim close up
Hammering nail head trim

Using a metal ruler, I measured 13mm from the edge of the table to the center of the nail heads. Take the time to measure, it’s pretty straightforward to get them neat and evenly spaced if you do.

Yes, I measured every single nail. Sounds completely tiresome; but it’s actually quite therapeutic. Of course, if you just use a roll of nailhead trim, this part would be a lot quicker, but wouldn’t look as polished.

Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover

6. Enjoy Your Lack Hack!

Grab a cuppa and put your feet up… on your new coffee table!

Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover
Ikea Lack Coffee Table Makeover - After

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35 Comments

  1. May 31, 2011 / 12:03 pm

    Love your blog. So cute! I went to Ikea for the first time a few months back. Oh my gosh I was in heaven…

  2. May 31, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    You did a beautiful job on the table. And, you have a beautiful home…you're very talented when is comes to decorating! Lesa

  3. May 31, 2011 / 9:11 pm

    Whoa! Your table is absolutely stunning! You have mad skills friend!

  4. June 1, 2011 / 3:33 am

    Oh my gosh that table looks beautiful!! GREAT work!

  5. June 12, 2011 / 4:07 pm

    this is GORGEOUS and so creative! Im going to try recreating something similar!

  6. June 25, 2011 / 4:21 pm

    I am SO glad I found this on IKEA Hackers! We needed a new coffee table and I wanted something different, but all the ones I liked were more then we could afford. I had seen the LACK tables, but always thought they were too blah, I never thought to do this. AMAZING!! You just saved us a ton of money!

  7. August 9, 2011 / 6:48 am

    Hi! I love your blog! I feel so inspired looking through your posts. I especially LOVE this table! Ikea tends to have awesome deals on good pieces of furniture, but to me everything always looks so plain (for lack of better words), but I adore how you put your own spin on this table and made it pop! Beautiful!

  8. October 17, 2011 / 10:40 pm

    VERY sexy indeed! It is fabulous. I am so glad that you took the time to hammer in each and every decorative nail! Totally worth it. Popping over from Better After. πŸ™‚

  9. October 24, 2011 / 7:55 pm

    I know I'm a little late to this party but this is fabulous! I have a white bathroom cabinet that needs a face life and you have just given me a whole new inspirational view!

  10. January 27, 2012 / 11:02 pm

    I really like the table – great work! – but I'm so in love with the tray, resource, please??

  11. January 27, 2012 / 11:15 pm

    The tray was from West Elm but I'm almost certain it's not available anymore – I went back a week after I bought it and they were almost all gone (and that was last May). πŸ™

  12. January 28, 2012 / 5:31 pm

    Ficou muito bonita, vocΓͺ Γ© muito criativa!
    ParabΓ©ns!!

  13. January 28, 2012 / 10:00 pm

    Obrigado! πŸ™‚

  14. January 30, 2012 / 6:37 pm

    Do you think the protective coating would be enough to use on a kitchen table? No children in this house, but I am messy myself. Do you think that the Modpadge and Shellac would be enough? Great idea!

  15. January 30, 2012 / 7:18 pm

    I love this. I might try it on the Lack side table, with the nails going down the legs like the photo of the white table you included.

  16. January 30, 2012 / 9:35 pm

    We actually eat on this table on occasion, and the coating does make it wipe-able. If it gets too wet for too long (e.g. if a wet glass was sitting directly on the surface), it might leave a mark because ModPodge and Shellac are both water-soluble.
    One thing I will say – the paper on our table does have a couple of small dings in it now (from our toddler whacking it with metal trains), so it's not bomb-proof by any means. I'm assuming you'd probably be more careful though, so it should work!

  17. January 31, 2012 / 6:05 am

    Love what you did! Can anyone tell me what Lack is made of?

  18. January 31, 2012 / 2:02 pm

    Thanks. I think it's mainly particle board with a plastic veneer.

  19. February 29, 2012 / 5:53 am

    Hi! I pinned this on Pinterest, posted on fb, and featured at Creative DIYers Club. Please feel free to grab the feature button πŸ™‚

  20. March 30, 2012 / 9:18 pm

    I love, love, love this table. I'm totally new to the DIY thing, but this table has inspired me!

    One question though: how do you get the wallpaper smooth over the corners of the table? I can see in the pic that you've cut the corner of the wallpaper off, but i'm still not sure.

    Any help you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  21. April 2, 2012 / 10:27 pm

    Hi! Because the wallpaper was so thick, the best way I found was to actually fold each side down then trim it straight along the edge, so the paper doesn’t overlap. I hope that makes sense!

  22. April 16, 2012 / 11:19 pm

    Hi Lizzie,

    Thank you – it does! I kept imaginging it would have a big lump on one side otherwise.

    Really love your blog, and have been checking back for more inspiration πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the help!

  23. May 2, 2012 / 5:06 am

    This is a fantastic makeover – looks so professional!

  24. May 4, 2012 / 12:08 pm

    OMG, I love your home, it all really comes together

  25. July 5, 2012 / 5:59 pm

    We saw this table retweeted on Twitter and thought it was wonderful. Just had to tell you ourselves. Keep up the creativity πŸ™‚

  26. July 5, 2012 / 7:42 pm

    I re-did a Lack coffee table but was unable to get the nail heads hammered in. Perhaps my many layers of glue and varnish made it too tough. Your table is beautiful!

  27. September 4, 2012 / 8:52 pm

    Ahh! I can barely stand how cute this table is! I love it! I love Ikea, I love "frugal" things, and I love finding new ways to customize everyday "cheap" items to make them awesome! I loved it so much, I shared it on my site, I write a frugal blog/couponing website, and I have a feature called the Frugal Pin of the Day where I find awesome frugal projects on Pinterest and share them, and today I picked yours to feature. Here's a link to the post http://anexerciseinfrugality.com/2012/09/frugal-pin-of-the-day-16.html Thanks for the awesome tutorial! πŸ™‚

  28. May 25, 2013 / 9:00 pm

    I have a question about the project, how did you do the corners of the table with the wallpaper? If you could get back to me I would greatly appreciate it! πŸ™‚

    Thanks,
    Bonnie

  29. May 27, 2013 / 7:02 pm

    Hi Bonnie,
    Sorry for the delayed response! I think for the corners I cut both edges in line with the sides of the table and folded them down, so there was no overlapping. You do have to be quite precise to get a nice neat seam, but the wallpaper is thick so it worked better that way than folding angled edges and overlapping. I'm not sure whether that makes sense but hopefully it helps!
    Lizzie

  30. June 12, 2013 / 4:55 pm

    Thank you Lizzie! You truly saved me on this one! I milk painted an old 70s cabinet last year for lack of funds for a new one. I painted my little tiny living room and then bought new cheap Ikea curtains and more material to make throw pillows. It's been slow due to cancer recovery and Fibromyalgia and lack of paying hours and medical bills, but I have wanted a coffee table in there SO BADLY lately and you saved me! Just want to be able to come home from work and have somewhere to set my tea cup is a little dream of mine. (if I put it on the floor, my little Chihuahua drinks it!)I cannot wait to pick this up at Ikea tomorrow on my day off! I have the wallpaper already that I used for the back panel of the cabinet. I will take more pix send them to you if you are interested when I am finished-you are a design blog Angel thanks again! You rock!

  31. August 1, 2013 / 11:36 am

    Hi Lizzie
    I was in Amazon looking at the nails, most of the nails are upholstery nails can I use them?

    Cortnie

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