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IKEA Hack: Malmback plant shelf

Foam for shelves

IKEA DIY projects are incredibly popular for avid craftspeople as the majority of IKEAs products are available at accessible prices. We see increases in creativity as a result and a boom in the IKEA hacks community. The latest trend taking the community by storm is the DIY Malmback flora and fauna shelf, which can be adjusted to size and placed almost anywhere inside – and indeed outside – the home.

The Malmback shelf is a floating shelf for decorative objects and picture frames and is 12cm deep. It is intended to show small decorative items and is typically popular with artists and other craftspeople who need to store paints, tools, and other components. However, IKEA hackers are now finding a new use for the shelf and are instead turning their Malmback storage shelves into their own decorative item.

We've seen a boom in the use of real and faux plants in the home, particularly for those living in apartments during lockdown who have been trying to bring touches of the outdoors into the home. With some homes short on space, the Malmback shelf can be carefully adapted to house particular plants. Some individuals have created an entire fauna shelf, making use of the supporting ledge on the front of the shelf to hold flora and fauna in place.

Foams used for plant shelves

To create your own faux plant shelf, you will need a multipurpose adhesive, your chosen faux plans (and plenty of them!), and a foam block base to secure the plants in place. When selecting your flora and fauna, it is important to pick certain plants with a strong stem that can be inserted into the foam. We recommend selecting a very high-density polyurethane foam which you can order via our cut to size tool in your required dimensions. If you are planning to include flora and fauna decorations of a greater weight, we'd recommend selecting a rigid polyethylene foam for effective support.

Depending on your intended design, you can select smaller foam pieces or one block piece that fits the shelf's length. We recommend ordering a foam block that is 10cm deep, 57cm long, and 10cm high for the entire shelf. Once you have received your order, check the dimensions against your shelf ledge before applying adhesive to the bottom side and rear side, so it is appropriately glued to two solid edges of the shelf. You should expect to see a gap between the front edge and the front upturn in the shelf ledge. This will be useful when the foam is decorated. It will enable you to cover any visible pieces of foam at the front with other fauna and decorations (perhaps some thin fairy lights!). It is then best to leave this to dry for a minimum of 24 hours.

You can now proceed with piercing the solid stems of your flora and fauna into the front, side and top edges of the foam block until it is completely covered. This can be done to your own design, though we recommend keeping the heavier fauna towards the bottom of the block as it will hang slightly differently. For more information on how foam is used in floral arrangements, please take a read of our foam for funerals blog.

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