Friday, December 31, 2021

That's a WRAP - 2022 here we COMEPHT!

Swedish Socialism is HALF of the solution to the current Housing Crisis.

I live it everyday.

I work it everyday.


Monday, November 15, 2021

FREE ---> ADA Compliant SEKTION Kitchen Design Guide and considerations - COMING UP!

 Chapter 1 - Costs should not be a barrier to GREAT DESIGN.

[picture shows IKEA's only SEKTION Home Automation option - a 'push to open automatic drawer opener] 

In January of next year - as part of the Toronto Design Festival, DesignTO 2022 - I will launch a FREE course that will focus on creating a SEKTION based kitchen that is ADA compliant. We will reach into absolutely into every trick and tip that I have accumulated over the last two decades working in the commercial millwork trade to produce it - banks, offices, stores - you name it. I will draw heavily on my hands-on experience fabricating commercial designs to create an accessible SEKTION guide. 

We will consider everything that IKEA has to offer, including Home Automation!!

Remember that IKEA's SEKTION kitchen is completely compatible with BLUM Servo line of movement options - that's EXCITING! 

I have done Home Automation for SEKTION kitchens before and I always think that home automation is a very valuable addition to any kitchen environment but it needs to be done in a smart fashion - 'not gimmicky' - there is lots of misinformation out there. It has to be practical and super-functional. 

Here is a link to the course! EXCITING! - [Copy and paste into browser if it doesn't work for you.]

It will be exciting!


Sunday, October 31, 2021

I OVERTHINK everything so YOU don't have to - OR - how I work [good value examples]

[Picture shows a small framed wooden structure in the woods with Karol Kosnik standing next to it on a ladder ]

Chapter 1 - How to do hardwood flooring, properly.

No I cannot frame your new house. 

It is partially because I am a mediocre framer - I take too long; I over think it; I am NOT experienced enough to frame commercially. Plus, there is already an experienced framer in the family, my brother Stan - different personality type**.  I don't hold it against my father when he told me 'This took forever,' and I quietly ate my pride, he, my father, was the assistant on this particular one. 

Efficient framing is a 2 man sport:

 - one is 'the Beast' - leads; measures and is quick with the gun; extensive experience allows them to make quick-judgment calls without pausing - 'NO, no piece of lumber is perfect so get over it.'

- 'the Assistant' - equally important; cuts ON-DEMAND - accuracy is paramount as errors multiply in construction; 

CHapter 2 - Ok, so that's framing BUT you wrote about flooring...

That's true and I did that for a purpose. This was done to illustrate that one cannot be an 'efficient master of all'. We can only be master of things that are 'in-tune' with our personality type. Have you ever thought about that...? How personality types affect the work outcomes in trades...?

I personally do because that is an absolutely critical component to the success of any construction project where multiple trades are involved. Any trade that consistently does good quality work finds that work rewarding beyond just monetary remuneration - this is where it matters. I keep a little 'Black Book' of business contacts - trades that I have randomly met, befriended and was impressed with their work - THESE are the people I want to reach out to for a professional opinion; THESE are the individuals that I want to involve on my projects. 

To be continued...

**I wrote this before ------>  'the accuracy sensitivity scale' as I call it is like this:

Framers work to what I call a 'strong quarter' - trim carpenters work to 1/8 or less....

Swedish Socialism - it's ON!

Picture shows Karol Kosnik's recording studio for his new SCHOOL and PODCAST - Swedish Socialism. It shows two Ikea trestles MITTBACK supporting Ikea's SINARP slab, which is of excellent quality and makes for a very sturdy worksurface. The desk is covered in KOMPLEMENT felt liners for increased comfort and to reduce sound reverberation while recording audio for the podcast. Standing on the desk is a hacked PAX box - it is shortened and strengthened with additional quality elements that extend its lifespan - lifetime box integrity warranty. The PAX box features custom elements including a pair of doors on top. Below the doors sit 2 solid, historic wood drawer faces. It is all illuminated with a large professional light. 

Chapter 1 - What is Swedish Socialism...?

---->  - some courses FREE, some courses $$;

----> It is on a platform called TEACHABLE;

----> Learn SKILLS, gain KNOWLEDGE, and UNDERSTAND the proper process of home improvement

If you are going to start with something then start with this:

The first thing I improved upon was the base - islands were solid, easy, and super-level. Kitchen cabinetry became easy, fast and accurate - even out the gaps, trim it out, add some custom elements and it looked like a million bucks. 

----> It is a LIFSTYLE - once you understand how to leverage the IKEA eco-system for yourself your LIFE will CHANGE - I promise that! 

** Ikea Hacker Lifestyle **
Furnishings, Food, Fashion + FAMILY

We are at this fascinating intersection in time - a housing crisis; runaway inflation; lack OR hard to access skilled, traditional workmanship; absolutely outrages pricing on basic interiors that lack functionality. 

Royal Bank of Canada [biggest Canadian bank], predicts that there will be some serious skills shortage that will lead to run-away pricing on basic home improvements - try to get something 'fancier' done!

And how about just plain straight up 'HOW TO' knowledge and understanding of how to get things done... like flooring...? It costs a ton of money and which one should you choose? What is a 'good value proposition'...? What is a good compromise...? What is the OPTIMUM SOLUTION, because that is what you want.

Today everyone captures your data and wants to be the middle man en-route to sell you something: a product or a service. Whole industries sprung up as 'gatekeepers to reputation' - hahahaha! what a JOKE! One of the worst painting experiences I have had professionally is currently a top rated painter on HOME STARS - it was easy, he promised me something that he did not do, a critical step in the process, literally the whole ceiling came down, F*CK is mildly put it, I blame myself because I wasn't there to hold his hand when he was painting. 

OR how about this one ----> made me FURIOUS! 

One of my closest friends, used to live just up the street from me - the unpredictability of home renovation forced him to up-size his house just before his second one was born few months back. 

He literally moved a week into the ~newly renovated~  house and had the baby. Within the next week, his heated bathroom floor tiles started popping off - both floors.  No warranty on the job because the tiles were done by a 'friend of the previous owner'. 

Yea.... 'friend of the previous owner' - you cannot imagine the trouble it is to fix this situation, how disruptive it is, how expensive it is...! 

The title says it all: Everything you ever wanted to know about floors, but DIDN'T know you need to ask...! ps. I did that floor in the picture - it's my favourite of all times. 



Friday, September 24, 2021

I LOVE Swedish Socialism - OR - Ikea in FLUX [opportunities!!]


[picture shows a person standing at the back of a ferry boat that is sailing away from the land; the wake is clearly visible and above, on a pole there is a Swedish flag that is fluttering in the wind. Overlaid is hand drawn text that reads: 'Swedish Socialism']

Chapter 1 - I LOVE Swedish Socialism

from WIKI - 'Swedish Socialism' -

1. it is a state of IKEA when the selection is plentiful; pricing is stable; supply predictable AND on-demand; and finally, the delivery is dependable.

2. a podcast about Ikea Hacking + Peak Furnishings created and produced by Karol Kosnik. Watch for launch soon - like maybe even... today!


This is a copy-n-paste post from my LinkedIn profile. To be continued...

Sunday, July 18, 2021

IKEA Hacker says - understanding Ikea's QUALITY + what to do about it. [PART 1]

[picture shows a series of large flooring wooden planks lined up and leaning against the wall during a flooring installation. This was done for the purpose of quick visual assessment of their suitability for installation and placement; every board matters - at this scale of plank it almost feels like building a large scale tabletop - it has to look amazing]

Chapter 1 - Understanding QUALITY - the SHORT of it

Quality comes in 2 parts, as I always tell my clients:

A] quality of the build - this one is NON-NEGOTIABLE;
B] quality of the user experience - there is some WIGGLE room here;

Because 'The Quality of the Build' is an 'inelastic expense' this is the one that causes most challenges. In a typical renovation 'inelastic costs' - may include building walls, stiffening the subfloor, upgrading electrical and plumbing, sound insulation OR wiring for sound... Right? Some things MUST be done in order for your project to be successful. 

Oftentimes I find that the homeowner is not convinced that the project needs the work that I am advising - well then, I ask, 'How can I offer you a warranty on this project, if I know that it will fail within 2-3 years...?'. Right - it takes about 2-3 heating / cooling cycles for your project to show its true quality built. 

** One year warranty is NOT ENOUGH **

Chapter 2 - What happens during those heating/cooling cycles? ------> Movement happens <--------

That actually can be accelerated if you have things like heated floors, which are very popular right now - and rightfully so as they are wonderful, but just need to be done right. 

When a product is first installed it usually is installed rigid - nailed, screwed down, glued in place, PL-ed in place OR Silicone'd in place, cemented in place... lots and lots of ways to mount products these days, and each method has a particular advantage and disadvantage. Often times you can combine for added durability or whatever other effect you are anticipating and expecting - I do this all the time to increase the durability of the product I designed and am fabricating; I am extending its lifespan; I am extending the peak performance that typically you only get in the beginning with other methods of installation.

It is EXPECTED today that products last longer - I am pushing for a shift where interiors function better, longer. Or how about this - interiors function best for the lifespan of 'the product' - YES, maintenance is always expected but it should be minor and not expensive*.

*let's get straight to the point. I could have written 'accessible' but the first initial cost is always the biggest barrier.

When a wooden floor is first nailed down, a seasoned installer will easily sense the 'new tension' in the subfloor. Every piece is nailed by being pounded with a rubber mallet, a long and serrated cleat plunges down and pulls the board tight against all the other boards - thousands, tens of thousands.... Over the next few days - we always tell that to the new owner - the floor will 'relax' and adjust to humidity and sometimes you will hear creaks and cracks happening at night - no worries its just the wood relaxing. The best thing you can do for the floor to maintain that initial rigidity is to keep the humidity constant at a value that minimizes that movement ~45% - 60%, whatever you find comfortable. I recall client once told me that they said they noticed a rare gap every now and then - during winter - by the doorstop molding and they just had a baby too! 

You know what my reaction was...? - too dry! Unhealthy dry! That means that large span of floating floor was experiencing massive jump in humidity during the heating season UP to a point that it was unhealthy! That's like 10% humidity! Unhealthy for humans to live in. 

Anyhow, you see how important every element is and how important it is to have an understanding - a big picture overview - of the process. This was just one example. 

Chapter 3 - Where is IKEA in all this?

[picture shows a display cubby at IKEA Etobicoke that is labeled 'Design for Everyone'; underneath text: Democratic Design brings good design to the many people by providing well-designed home furnishing solution and products, with great form and function, high quality, built with a high focus on sustainability and at an affordable price.]

Ha! Good question! The picture above is a good overview of IKEA corporate mission - woven in-between the lines is a lot of HARD FACTS that I will unpack for you. Ikea is middle of the 'bell curve' sales with simplified installation and assembly, again, to be done by the middle of the 'bell curve' population. So, is IKEA any good at it? YES - they are genius at it. I wrote, couple of posts back, about the 'IKEA'fication of Interior Design' and 'Task Rabbitazation of Labour'  and this entry builds on the linked post - give it a read if you are curious. Now, what do you get in that brown flat pack...? Is there a hidden value that most miss or refuse to acknowledge...?

Chapter 4 - Let's BREAK DOWN Ikea into 'puzzle pieces'.

'Puzzle pieces'....? Yes. 

The first puzzle piece is the Creative Potential of Ikea. Absolutely cream of the crop, top global talent works on product development at IKEA: seasoned Furniture Designers; Top Notch Industrial Designers.... the list is long-long. 

[picture shows a display cubby at IKEA Etobicoke labeled: FORM. Underneath Text: Form is not only about the beauty of a product, but also about how much better life at home becomes when it's beautiful and makes people feel good.]

I mean, you are influencing the world with your designs when you work for Ikea - Ikea is the world's largest manufacturer of furniture, and I would argue the most influential, especially now post-Covid and post Great Design Reset.

When Ikea wanted to design 'an official IKEA Hack' - the DELAKTIG project - they hired world's most famous furniture designer Tom Dixon. That is the power of IKEA - nobody can refuse the allure of prestige of working as a designer for IKEA. 


Second piece of the puzzle is the ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY.  I am probably exaggerating when I say that Ikea designers can go from a 'lunch discussion drawing on a napkin'; to a well designed and thought out CAD design; to a rapid 3D printed full-size model; to an actual 'structural joint' cut on a 5-axis CNC machine that can be stress tested in 'REAL LIFE' --------->  all in 1 day. 

Jealous I am.

[picture shows a display cubby at IKEA Etobicoke labeled: FUNCTION. Underneath Text: Function is not only about how good a product works but about how much better it makes things work at home. It's simply about enjoying the product.]

IKEA takes great pride in their development process capability and there are numerous videos floating around the Internet showcasing this - use the power of the GOOGLE machine to find them and impress yourself - what you are witnessing is unmatched in scale and scope, trust me. 

With great power comes great responsibility and IKEA is very serious about the power they wield - they know that in order to grow that growth must be sustainable. 

[picture shows a display cubby at IKEA Etobicoke labeled: Sustainability. Underneath Text: Looking for new and innovative materials, solutions and productions techniques in ways that minimize our environmental impact. We also see an important role in contributing to a more sustainable life at home. That means providing products, solutions and know-how that help people reduce their own environmental impact.]

When you shop at IKEA you also vote with your wallet - that's another key takeaway. Many 'good causes' - things we deeply care about - require us to make active efforts in those areas, commit time and money, and that is a luxury that many cannot afford. Ikea is different as their 'good cause' - sustainability - is built right into the product - you don't need to think about it, you don't need to put effort into it - it just is. 

[ALSO] Remember: when you shop at IKEA you actively support Western Sphere of Influence, this will be important going forward, and I will likely write more on this topic going forward. In some ways you are playing 'geo-politics'. Uhm hmm.... [while I nod my head].

Chapter 5 - Ok, everything looks great, but....

[picture shows the final display window from Ikea Etobicoke titled: Low Price. Underneath text reads: IKEA products are designed to fit the many people's wallets. They are developed on the factory floor ad adapted to the production possibilities. Our designers, together with our specialists, constantly look for solutions and innovations to improve the products and lower the price.]

This is the final picture from The Gallery at Ikea Etobicoke. I saved it last for a reason - this is THE CONSTRAINT. Most people think of constraints as something ~negative~. Right...? 'I wish I could do this, but....' - OR - 'I don't have time for this because I have to do...' - OR - 'I wish I could afford better quality, but...'.

For me it is completely opposite.  I subscribe to the STOIC principle that 'The OBSTACLE is the Way'. What are the OBSTACLES that people are encountering today when it comes to improving their space....? I would say that the main one is FINANACES:

-------> cost of appropriate materials to construct a beautiful and superbly functioning space. There are just so many absolutely useless 'Chackas, Dudas and Flim-Flam' - we are talking social media fads here - that I am personally amazed, and frankly overwhelmed. And if I find it challenging to navigate this field [and that includes sneaky contract language; for example: always using singular 'drawer' when talking about your new kitchen; kitchen is drawers, ALWAYS] then I cannot imagine the overwhelming feeling the average person experiences. The basics of home improvement have not changed and the courses I am offering will help you guide your purchasing - we want to select 'appropriate materials' and it is as simple as that. 

Philosophy here is this: If you need to spend then spend appropriately - which always includes saving money - but get it RIGHT. It's hard to make up for the mistakes, virtually impossible. 

-------> cost of expertise and knowledge to open the possibilities of your space -  you need to have it running at peak efficiency. Forget about your 'fancy doors' if your kitchen is not functional. Cooking instead of pleasure becomes a chore - you just waste time 'dancing around', that's what I call an 'inefficient cooking operation'. 

And what about closets for your 'stuff'? Properly stored clothing holds up better for longer periods of time - 'protect your investment', yes you can look at it as shallow consumerist thing [I am not personally attached to clothes or brands; my focus is always on comfort of activity], but sometimes you have to look good to be taken seriously - a small societal kink that I can tolerate. 

You can't start a family if you are not organized. It may hurt when I say it like that but it is absolutely TRUE - I got 4 babies and let me tell you that we have to be at 'Peak Organization' to enjoy the comforts and pleasures of being a family. PAX - let me tell you, both cost wise and design potential, that system is ~unbeatable~. I always outsource my 'Design Burden' to Ikea Design Team - smart engineers, creative industrial designers, and veteran furniture designers - they know what they are doing and they think of everything. That BROWN box is so PERFECT in absolutely every way. 

I just UNLOCK its true potential and show you how to improve and build upon that QUALITY. Add a ~lifetime~ to that warranty on your own labour. 

-------> AND finally, the cost of quality labour - a labour that will ensure that your project will provide PEAK PERFORMANCE for duration of your use. I know how to build things properly - I always assume position of 'building or designing for myself'. It makes me angry when I see routine short-cuts taken by trades - of course, everything is 'up to code' - but the loss is real. The last 15% of the project determines whether the project 'stops being great' at 10 years old [whatever that means; depends on care and attention of your labour] or performs flawlessly till 20 years... gently rounding up to 25 years of 'good service' when you will no longer feel any guilt about demolishing it to make way for something new and exciting. True dat. 

To be continued... ------> I will be periodically updating this post. Stay tuned. ~ciao~

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The 'Ikea'fication of Interior Design and Task-Rabbit'azation of Labour' - How to Overcome the Diminishing of Creativity;

 Chapter 1 - Handy Design - Modern Ideas, a school;

**EDIT: VIDEO - How to overcome the the Diminishing of Creativity

So this has been sitting with me heavy. Everywhere I turn all I hear 'shortage of skilled labour'. Let me tell you, NOBODY designs for 'skilled labour'. In fact, the opposite is true - every element of interior design is being pushed to be simpler for labour. Less labour equals less costs and today, with very few concerned, entire industries are going that way - intellectual property rights violations are rampant and unenforceable. 

Fight back the only way you can - regain the power and creativity of your own labour. I talk about Historic Design Event of 2020 when thousands of office workers left their super-organized and ergonomic cubicles [or open concept; whichever], left their commutes behind and suddenly found themselves forced to be productive at home, where they live. Talk about a blur between home and office! Think about the revolution of work culture! 

So you suddenly gain 2 hours of life - no commute. Your morning routine is also simplified - less grooming, more stretchy pants for women, guys in their in their undies. You lie in your bed, looking at your ceiling and you start thinking that you need to improve your space - it needs to function differently. 

You notice that you are now saving money - you cook at home, healthier, and get more sleep - you start looking better. No daycare fees and you drive less - it all adds up. 

You get excited. Now is the time to act - you look around the web and every one is using IKEA. OK... so you already have an IKEA kitchen, that's on one side. You first start wondering if there is a way to make your kitchen look custom, so it doesn't look like every other IKEA kitchen. Yea, when you bought you discovered that it was assembled without imagination and it hurts a bit. You now consider 'the other side' - do you really want to have 'another kitchen' in your living room?

How do you NOT make that mistake....? Lots of 'hacks' out there on the web, but this needs to be done professionally and with imagination. You want all that functionality... you love the price point... you want to make it look like a million bucks. How do you start....? Where do you turn...? Whom do you trust...? Can you really do it all yourself...? 

**ASKS doubting Thomas. **

The current reality of the labour market is that you very likely have or exceed the entry barrier to most popular tasking service - Task Rabbit; 'a willingness to learn'. I kid you not -  if you need something heavy lifted, if you need something picked up from a pick-up location, if you need something semi-assembled - if you need someone to wait in line for concert tickets, stuff like this - then tasks for gig are a great value. And I suggest in my courses that if you are short on time that you take advantage of that service - but up to a point...

**You will take over the creative part.**

That's right. You will install the rails and hang the boxes - that's my preferred method, but if you care and are feeling handy you can build a base and put some fancy trim on it. When you understand the potential of each box you will make an informed decision how to best leverage it for yourself - starting with design, delivery, semi-assembly + clean up;  small custom fabrication - it makes to structure the entire process to your advantage. 

**Yes, there is place like that on the INTERNET.**

Courses are being built right now. They are based on the the decade of questions I have received. Right now, 'HOW 2 BUILD a Home Office?' is the number 1 question that I get. 

IKEA revised their office lineups and production methods in response to this Historic Design Event! If you ever go on REDDIT - specifically r/IKEA and r/IkeaHacks you can witness the pent-up demand for creativity and practical solutions. Demand for stepping 'outside' of the 'Task Rabbit allowed activity'.

It's more practical to learn the concepts of Ikea Hacking and Peak Furnishings than......? Than what?

To Be Continued

Monday, June 7, 2021

IKEA Hacking Course - All questions will be answered ~TEACHABLE~


[picture shows a WILLIAM bookcase - short BILLY bookcase hack, open box split into 2 halves, with the lower half having sliding doors with a decorative metallic screen. According to the author of this post this is an example of 'Peak Furnishings']

Chapter 1 - How to scale this up? THAT is the question.

I can't answer ALL the burning questions of 'How do I.....?' even tho I really want to. I can't visit every home, condo, dwelling, loft, barn or a school bus that I am invited to and give a 'design opinion' on what is the best course of action. 

**But I do want to help.**

I am an educator at heart, passionate about quality and craftsmanship. I live exactly what I preach - nothing beats a great functional solution that doesn't cost a million dollars! I have accumulated thousands of hours of intimate, detailed work with IKEA's most popular and practical products: PAX, SEKTION, BILLY, BESTAs.... you name it! I know how to work magic with these boxes. 

That's right - it looks like a million bucks every time, mainly due to the design, optimized - imagine a very elegant, a very beautiful solution that also is super functional and it is meant exactly for your space. 

You know what I call those 'Optimized Designs'? I call them 'Appropriate' - everything is as it should be - your budget is good; your space is great; your comfort level is awesome; and you are just loving it - and that's luxury. 

Every IKEA box has strengths and weaknesses and it's important to make the right decisions. Yea, save money, but get it RIGHT! - I think Jules** is fudging thru a 'pantry project' right now!

** IKEA created me. **

It was a natural and organic process. I like being efficient. I enjoy taking on projects, no matter how simple, and then realizing their full potential - like my own household. When you have 4 babies and you live in a tiny space absolutely everything needs to be resolved. 

There is only 2 types of furnishings in my household, including the children's room:

A] IKEA Hacks

B] Fully Custom Pieces

I have made IKEA my renovation partner and I encourage you to do the same. When I weigh the costs of solutions that I can achieve via IKEA Hacks it becomes mind boggling - I've hacked every single item on my CORE 4 list [that's from my course! you learn about IKEA's Core 4 boxes...].

**'I'm not a fancy man.'**

I'm not a fancy man and I can totally appreciate IKEA's functionality. But what if things change? 

What if you buy a house, and for now it's just you. What if you now work from home and need a home office? What if you get married? Have a kid. Have a second kid. Have a third kid [why not! you already got 2 and you love babies anyways]. What if you get a promotion, start making more money. What if you climb the corporate ladder and make even more money.  What if you develop a taste for finer things in life....? 

It's OK. 

Everything that you have designed and built is compatible with the 'IKEA Standard'.  Going into the future, every IKEA shelf, pull out, insert, box, hanger, rod, organizer, tray, absolutely everything - will work with the design you create.

AND you can always change the doors. 

This is my favourite part of IKEA Hacking - it is! - your designs are always flexible and dynamic. IKEA comes out with new fittings, new organizers - we are talking functionality galore! - all the time. If you like something you can always bring it in. You can swap things in and out. You got an extra kid - you change your closets - that is the process, literally. Or maybe something catches your eye in the new catalogue and you kick out a KOMPLEMENT shelf for fancy looking KOMPLEMENT tray. DONE! That's what you really needed all your life anyways. 

And think about what you can do about your kitchen...? Firstly it looks like a million bucks, because you followed my instructions - you will make 'appropriate choices' for your budget and design. Door and panel replacement on a whim - greatest asset; and never underestimate that. Kitchens or built-ins these days need to last long time - 25 years is a good number. You will feel liberated during the install of your SEKTION boxes - guaranteed. Instead being frustrated with being accurate, you will focus your efforts on finishing details that matter and set the final tone all while keeping quality top notch - it will be easy, I promise.

**Leverage the 3rd party.**

We all need a little help in our lives. Sometimes the smartest thing we can do is ask for it. When the job seems overwhelming, or you lack the skill/equipment to do it properly then break it up into smaller chunks and outsource it. Do it at your own pace - there are many ways to go about a task. 

From hiring for assembly to small fabrication to 'getting a sheet of plywood ripped for strips', I will point you in the RIGHT direction. 

And don't forget the bottomless ecosystem of third party suppliers! Not quite digging the door line-up at IKEA but still desiring the savings of the box....? I assure you that there is a door for you out there.  This is what I mean when say 'ALWAYS compatible with the IKEA Standard'.  You see....? There are only advantages! And I will help you unlock it. 

**Quality and Design**

Quality and Design is always the focus of every course offered. 'Modern Ideas' section of the school tackles the challenges of being handy in the 21st century. We should aim to seize all the technological and production advancements that are available to us and leverage them to our advantage. The dwellings that we purchase today - especially the mass built - often are substandard when it comes to storage and organization - a fancy fancy address that doesn't come with any proper storage is a reality for many. 

Improve your space following proven design advice and done with methods that inspire confidence in your own work. Dramatically improve on the traditional warranties - in some cases resurrect ailing mill work - it is hard to find good quality labour today, yours is the next best thing. 

'Modern Ideas' is the one place on the Internet where IKEA Hacks make sense in Home Improvement - no 'cabinet gymnastics', no 'risky arrangements' - just a straight up awesome IKEA functionality dressed up as you like. 

You will learn how to develop your own aesthetic via the IKEA Hack - avoid the 'Ikea'fication of design.  Do you really want another kitchen in your living room?

With the right tools and methods it will be easy to improve on IKEA's initial offering - handy is the new cool and you will love the savings. 

**This is where it happens.**

We will start off just like everybody else - with a wall. We will build courses based on a natural progression starting with learning how to fabricate a solid and strong based for you kitchen box. We will then expand that base into other systems - PAX, BILLYs and then BESTAs. Yea... we will start with that.... See you on the other side!

**Jules, from; I'm on her mailing list; Yea, that's right, I like watching other people's hacks too! Some are really really good and I am planning on actually doing an 'inspired' version of her recent posting, that gorgeous PAX hack with those gorgeous doors. It will tie-in beautifully with my 'why build your own base' video - this will be the practical follow up. Infinitely useful for islands and peninsulas or some built in seating - LIMITLESS possibilities - super level and easy to setup [good laser level needed]. Yea, it basically opens the doors to sky high BILLYs - make it a WILLIAM instead, chose any... absolutely any tall base and match it to the BILLY in an elegant fashion. Arches are HOT! learn how to design them and get them cut. Yeezus! I do top notch work, and I love it! 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Business of LUXURY and I prefer APPROPRIATE [.....but still cool!]

Picture shows a newly built, out-of-character for the neighborhood house in Etobicoke, by the lake, where the author of this post resides. 

Prologue: Knowledge, understanding and respect of the building process - CRAFTING - from design to fabrication - will allow you to make appropriate choices and selection when time will come to renovate your own space. Avoid common misconceptions, social media hypes and industry myths that lead you to spend more money that you need to. 

Let's START!

Picture shows young Karol Kosnik installing hardwood flooring over a Warmboard - US-developed building technology that allows for installation of solid wood over radiant floors.

Picture shows young Karol Kosnik resting on a freshly laid-up, slip-matched, sliding ebony door for a media unit. This particular door went into the private residence of Canada's most famous lawyer. This is an 'artistic photo' from my DeStijl Days - it was a period in my life when I was obsessed with an art movement called DeStijl - I would impose some strict rules for 'living my life', not austere in any way, more like a 'creative direction' - focus was always on craft. 

Chapter 1 - Private Passions: Quality and Craftsmanship, how it started. 

I wasn't that young man - I didn't know what I wanted 'to do for the rest of my life'. I did not come from privilege and I had to work hard to pay off my student loans when I dropped out of university; I wanted to be an engineer. It was a career choice that both my parents and my grandma supported. My parents because as fresh-2-Canada immigrants - I'm a naturalized Canadian myself - they saw this as a meal ticket to a 'better life'. My grandma of course was completely enamoured with the 'White Collar' and 'bossing others around'.

Once a young man drops out of school where is he to get a job but a construction site, huh?

There were other options, of course, but the idea of spending excessive amounts sitting in front of a computer screen which I already did while taking computer programming courses [Java.....Java in 28 days.....Java in 7 days ..... Java in 24 hours....hahaha] did not entice me and I preferred jobs where I was not static. 

For first few years I cycled thru the 'entire ecosystem of woodworking' - framing, carpentry, trim-carpentry and hardwood flooring. It was with hardwood flooring that I really discovered that I enjoyed 'wood as a medium' - I was able to use wood [in all its forms] to construct practical structures that gave people shelter, provided comfort, created delight and sparked joy. In some ways it's quite intoxicating and you get a rush when you hand over that final result to the client - they love it... and they can't get enough.

When I entered flooring full time as a subcontractor I already had an extensive collection of woodworking tools and I topped it when I bought myself an older Dodge RAM 350 van. It was a short, stocky, heavy duty grey thing with an emergency lights on top - a BELL Canada van.... To this day I get a small chuckle when I write how I do 'emergency flooring' on my Instagram posts - I do occasionally do floors, mainly really nice Moncer installs, where every board matters, or I floor for friends.

As an independent contractor I worked for most reputable companies in the GTA [I always say that no.1 company in the GTA is Darmaga Hardwood Flooring for a reason] and my projects took me to some of the most prestigious locations in Toronto. I floored for the rich, famous and influential. I worked on projects where the word 'budget' did not exist. I worked in the presence of privately owned Picasso  - and a pretty big one too! Not one of those little scribbles....!

Did you know that you can turn any wood into flooring? That's right - everything from exotics to reclaimed lumber....

Picture shows a reclaimed pine siding from a demolished home re-purposed into flooring. Random widths / Random lengths. This project was a wedding gift to a really good friend and I would consider this to be my 'Peak Flooring' project. 

My wife suggested that since I enjoy wood and woodworking so much that I should further my education in 'that department'. After looking into various post secondary programs I settled on Crafts and Design program from Sheridan College: Furniture Design.  ~that was a wild ride~

I went into the program already quite skilled in technical aspects of woodworking and my focus was more on the ~design aspect~: exploring materials and forms and putting it all in the historical perceptive.  My education enabled me to contextualize and compartmentalize many of the projects I worked on in the past - I began to see decisions making process behind the choices. I began to understand - it was like 'fabrication' + 'humanity'. 

While at school I got a scholarship to spend my summer at Nienkamper - that's like an equivalent of Herman Miller but in Canada. I spent my days working on the floor of manufacturing plant that produced objects of impeccable quality that would be shipped all over the world. I got to upholster the base of the first ever Cloud Chair [google that beast] by Karim Rashid - it was prototyped that summer there by a visiting German craftsman.

It was fascinating to witness the birth of an icon by a modern designer - obviously there is historic context to the design but I spent more time talking to those actually working on the project. Considerations were given as to the ease of fabrication of the frame; how are we going to upholster this?; how are we going to deal with the 'warranty calls' - you would be surprised how a well meaning design turns into a production nightmare when you realize that the design has an 'excessive number of warranty calls'.  My Nienkamper Summer, as I like to call it, was truly an eye-opening experience for me - knowledge I gained; the ingenuity I witnessed; the experience I admired, yearned for and was jealous of - all that - is still very much with me to this day. 

Passion for quality doesn't go away, rather it grows stronger everyday that you focus and grow your craft.

Chapter 2 - What is APPROPRIATE and what is UNNECESSARY ?

Do you want to get philosophical?

I know, it's just interior design, but bear with me. We will start off with the following statement: 

** I think we all have a bit of passion for interior design - at minimum for our own space; some more than others. **

**I also want to mention that we will only be dealing and talking about residential construction as that is my forte.**

I strongly believe that the only reason for my success is the fact that Ikea Hacking is value proposition - it is cheaper to create interiors using boxes sourced from IKEA. When you compare 'how much' you can get from IKEA vs. anywhere else for the same amount of money it just makes sense - and this goes beyond just 'things purchased' but rather organization and functionality; 'an optimized environment'. 

This human pre-disposition for savings is a strong one, a natural one, an 'organic one', and the proof is the roster of my past clients, repeat clients, new clients and the sheer amount of requests for quotes and requests for advice I receive. I want to highlight that socio-economic status has no bearing on demand for my services - everyone wants me to come visit their space and give them my opinion. 

So, where do we start? 

**Everyone needs boxes in their lives.**

 We may have different personal aesthetics and budgets but the need is universal. 'Boxes' are used mainly to 'store stuff' and help us to organize our lives better. Vanity is a box; a closet is a box; kitchen is a series of boxes and a kitchen island is a free-standing box - you see? They are everywhere and so I ask - why not tilt the economies of scale in your favour and buy the boxes from IKEA? 

**Make IKEA your renovation partner. **

Yea, why not?! There is more! As a woodworker with more than 20 years of woodworking experience across industries such as residential design, hospitality, education and food service I can tell you that everybody builds their boxes the same way - this is not rocket science; we are not re-inventing the wheel here. 

This need for functional boxes was further amplified by a 'Historic Design Event' on a massive scale. What happened? The exodus of office workers from their traditional productive environments and into their private residences happened. Thousands of people were forced out of the confines of their well designed, well thought out, optimized and ergonomic spaces and thrust into the middle of their living rooms, bedrooms, dens and kitchens.  'Temporary 2 weeks' turned into months and now a year and it looks like it will continue for foreseeable future.

I'm on REDDIT - a frequent visitor to r/IKEA and r/IKEAHacks - and let me tell you that what I have witnessed is nothing short of pandemonium. Shortages of absolutely every conceivable box! People asking questions on IKEA hacking left and right - how do I do this? How do I do that? And you know what else? Nobody was like 'Hey, can anyone recommend an overpriced design service'? Instead, most were Do-It-Yourselfing along and saving money - pricing on renovation is insane right now. Work from home means you shave hours off your commute time, you are more flexible with your work hours, you are efficient 'differently' from the 'tradition'.  YES, this was a 'Historic Design Event'. 

**Understanding Quality**

We gonna get philosophical. Going forward I will never describe my work as 'Luxury', instead I will call it 'Appropriate'. When your space that you occupy works for you and not against you - that's appropriate. 

First and foremost it's functionality. Superb functionality means that your living is smooth, effortless and everything has its place - from items to actions. The stuff you own is stored properly [extend its life] and its accessibility is a function of how often you are required to put it to use [winter clothes get their own sturdy, dust proof, rigid fabric 'box' that stores on the top shelf of PAX box - a must for everyone - $12]. 

When I say 'actions', I mean your daily, 'mandatory tasks' are efficient and take minimum time and you might even enjoy yourself - your morning ablution, working from home, cooking meal,, etc. With the extra time you can focus on yourself - how are you going to spend it? 

Make it pretty -  for yourself, for your partner, your child, your pet. With the previous point of  'functionality' we are leveraging IKEA, the 'make it pretty' varies. It depends on who you are and what your tastes are. It depends on how much money you have available at your disposal - you can only save so much when you have a dream or a passion. 

To Be Continued....

*the Gilded Age the Pandemic

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

HAVSTORP - a new and exciting door form IKEA! - REVIEW


Picture shows a freshly launched door for the SEKTION box called HAVSTORP. 


Chapter 1 - HAVSTORP Door Review

~When I opened the HAVSTORP box..... I just saw a grey Veddinge doors.~

'Just'.... Listen up! Never underestimate the power of simple slab door in a neutral grey colour AND an at an AMAZING price point! Yea, I think I only paid $18 bucks from Click-n-Collect at IKEA Etobicoke!

White VEDDINGE doors are the cornerstone of IKEA's 'modern design' - Anything and everything goes with these simple and unassuming doors. Simplest way to accent is to use knobs or pulls - 'Who cares who made the doors or how much they cost, if each knob on that door costs 150 bucks, is handmade and imported from Great Britain?', asked a millionaire. This comparison struck me as odd, but it's very rational way to think about design - we see the 'High-Low' looks all the time, at least I do. I am actually a big fan of the 'High-Low' and use that principle in all my work. 

Along comes HAVSTORP......!

Tomorrow when I get to the shop will do some 'hard testing' and measure the vitals - will make a YouTube video for sure!

'Like, comment, subscribe!' hahaha!


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ikea Hacker says - Understanding IKEA's PAX warranty - how to come up on TOP

Picture shows an IKEA PAX hack that has been professionally done. It appears that a 200cm wide design was used with 4 doors. The PAX box is elevated on a platform and the bottom is wrapped in a baseboard. Side panels were applied and an oversized crown moulding installed. Large brass pulls were installed on the doors and the entire unit is painted a pleasant white shade. 

 Chapter 1 - PAX wardrobes are THE BEST DEAL IN CLOSET DESIGN;

This beauty popped into my mailbox few weeks back - straight from Jules, ~hottt~ off the press, so to speak. It caught my eye immediately - beautiful work whoever designed and executed it. Looks like Jules now has an Instagram account 'official Ikea Hackers' - CHECK it out! Some of the work is beautiful and very creative - that's precisely the type of work that I like to do. I sometimes visit her page to get inspired - designers don't work in a vacuum. We must continue to go out there and expose ourselves to ideas - 'fresh off the street' as I would like to say, because that is the only way to keep track of what is happening at the consumer level vs. corporate ivory towers**

I am certain that behind this beautiful build rests a box that is full of amazing organizers and lighting that just makes the morning routine a breeze! And I personally think that this a great build. 

Chapter 2 - a GREAT build without ~any warranty~

Whaaat....? It's TRUE. I am not making this up. As much as this is a GREAT example of an IKEA Hack, all the modifications applied to this PAX box completely void its warranty. Typical PAX box and the KOMPLEMENT system come with a 10 year warranty. Being a professional IKEA Hacker I have tended to numerous PAX boxes - everything from a fresh, baby-new box being assembled; to 'can you come and TUNE-UP this closet?' - something is not working properly, something is rubbing, the box feels wobbly...etc. I have even conducted PAX RESURRECTIONS - this is when the PAX wardrobe installed according to the provided instructions [and not always at the end of its 10-year warranty life] is failing to the point that it is being considered for curbside disposal. YES, I have witnessed this box across its entire lifespan and let me tell you that I always hope! - otherwise it's a lot of money and time to replace it new.

I am on REDDIT - active in the r/IKEA and r/IKEAHacks communities. It's a good community of people helping others - professional and cheerful. Lots and lots of PAX built-ins popping up. People are recognizing the value of that system and are choosing it over the traditional route of 'custom closets'. It's easy to make that decision when you compare the pricing on the designs - most of my work comes from people who first get a quote for a custom build and realize that they can achieve SO MUCH MORE for a lot less money!

Here is the trouble - when you are building in the PAX, meaning you are creating a custom structure that will either support, house, hide, elevate that box - whatever your end-goal is - you are removing the easy access to fix it up along its lifespan. I bet that you want to get more than the 10 years out of that box [that's the warranty]. I would argue that a good, solid run of cabinetry should last 25 years. Yes, there will be wear and tear on some elements. Yes there will be a need to occasionally adjust, lubricate or replace some components. This minor tweaking tho should be easy and accessible, including to the client so that there is no expensive call backs.

I know and understand the PAX box intimately. 

I know how it is designed and I understand how it is fabricated. This allows me to come up with solutions that when implemented will extend the life of the PAX years beyond its fairly limited warranty, in my opinion. 

If you are going to go thru the trouble of building in your PAX and you want to get a solid 25 year performance out of it then you MUST do those three simple hacks to the box. Here is the video: How to give your PAX a lifetime of performance!

To Be Coninued..... [video coming!]


**this is why I said that the DELAKTIG project was a dud - it was an artificial entity not quite suited to real life. The end of 'High Priests of Design' has come.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The case for WILLIAM - a BILLY bookcase hack OR everybody needs boxes in their life.

 This entry here is a part of the Toronto Design Festival 2021.

Picture shows Studio Kosnik WILLIAM bookcase prototype, a work-in-progress - a BILLY bookcase hack designed in the aesthetic called 'Accidental Wes Anderson'.  The BILLY bookcase had the back replaced with beadboard; side panels were added as well as 'face frames' and an oversized arch with a crown moulding tops the box.


Picture shows a very fancy looking BILLY bookcase hack by Karol Kosnik - the WILLIAM bookcase. 

Chapter 1 - The need for storage

People have stuff. Sometimes lots and lots of it. Sometimes they have too much stuff and it becomes a problem. 

Solution? BOXES.

Yes my friends that is most requested item on the menu at Studio Kosnik. No it is not fancy furniture design that people want [although I will often throw in some eccentric element into my design] but rather the superbly organized, well lit, beautifully functional Ikea hacks. I have found the perfect partner in IKEA - essentially they are in the business of boxes - well designed, well sourced.

In fact, Ikea's boxes are so popular that they often sell out of them. There exist shortages of their well priced boxes across many areas of United States, Canada - even European Union has its own issues [BREXIT!!]. Consumers complain of being sold a beautiful dream via the various IKEA planners, be it PAX, or SEKTION, or BESTA or BILLY or EKET..... just sooo many boxes - and then realizing that the item is out of stock and hasn't been re-stocked in ages. Or maybe they live outside of delivery area. Or maybe there isn't anyone in the area to install it - yes, there is a shortage of skilled labour.

Entry point pricing on a box that typically carries a better 'design value' - for example the design for the BILLY bookcase is resolved downright to the shelf pins! check them out! 10/10 - means that many of those boxes paired with the right designer [yes, that is another requirement...] - becomes an irresistible value proposition. How high are you holding your nose in relation to your wallet, huh?** 

What is the box that every dwelling will need? Easy, it's the kitchen box and SEKTION - which is IKEA's second version of the kitchen box; a complete re-design of their previous AKURUM system [for which by the way exists an entire ecosystem of shops making replacement doors] - is an industry leader.

I love telling this story:

So one day we were installing some really fancy fancy millwork for Canada's most famous lawyer - personal residence. I was fresh out of design school and working for a high end millwork company. This place had it all - 'a meellion dollar floor', rift sawn wenge; 'a meellion dollar' kitchen, Italian Boffi; of course there was my 'meellion dollar zebra wood' closet and media unit. The house is absolutely stunning and well designed. Soon I discovered that there was another large kitchen in the basement - an exact look-alike, except it was from IKEA. This Boffi/IKEA thing did not dawn on me right away - both kitchens were nice white high gloss; both kitchens featured great functional hardware, AND at first glance they appeared identical. That's right ~they appeared identical~. Me, quote, unquote, a professional, couldn't spot the difference at first glance. 

Much years has passed since that time - today, almost 15 years later, I've developed a more discerning eye and can spot 'designer' things easier, but this experience is deeply etched in my mind. 

~See? Who knows if you don't tell them? ~

Chapter 2 - The Pandemic

This pandemic has caused a dramatic shift to work from home for a specific demographic and now this demographic needs to be productive at home. There is a lot to be said for a comfortable task chair or a great, 'just-for-me' height desk or nifty filing storage system.  Guess what the backbone of such setups is? If you guessed boxes and slabs then you are right.

Browsing subreddits r/IKEA and r/IkeaHacks will give you an idea of the pent-up demand. Once a blessing - GLOBALIZATION - now a curse as all supply chains are upended and in shock. Geopolitical tensions are also rising and large corporations such as IKEA need to re-evaluate their long term stability of their supply chains. A good example that I always like to use is this: the more expensive and important a SEKTION door the likelier it is made in a stable western democracy. There are no doors made in China [there were!] and HAGGEBY which IKEA's plainest door is made in Ukraine which as far as my understanding goes is currently at war with Russia.