Give your home a refresh. Transform an Ikea basic into a chic, one of a kind piece.
WHAT INSPIRED THIS IKEA DRESSER HACK?
When I was planning the decor for my new apartment, I realized I didn't have space in my bedroom for a dresser so I knew I would have to put it in the living room. I didn't want something that looked like a dresser since it wouldn't be in a typical dresser location so I tried to find something that looked more like a sideboard/credenza. I found a few on Serena & Lily, West Elm, and other high-end brands but I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars and they didn't fit exactly what I wanted. When I saw the Ikea Tarva dresser I knew it would be perfect to transform into exactly what I wanted for my apartment. I took the dressers I found on other brands as inspiration but my version ended up costing less than $300!
The dressers I got inspiration from ranged from over $1,300 to nearly $4,500.
Bar Island Dresser from Serena & Lily is $4,498
Mercer Dresser from Serena & Lily is $4,298
Margot Raffia 6-Drawer Dresser from West Elm is $1,399
Sydney 6 Drawer Dresser from Burke Decor for $1,799
This is the Ikea Tarva dresser - it's just a plain wood dresser; nothing special. I'm sure you've seen it many times when you are perusing Ikea. It has the same shape and style I saw in the other dressers but for only $179!
I went back and forth between using cane or burlap to overlay the dresser fronts. I ultimately chose to go with burlap because it covered the drawer fronts the way I wanted, was less expensive, and easier to find. Cane is not always easy to get unless you have a specialty shop in your area and can be expensive if you order online. I got burlap in the color Oyster from Jo-Anne Fabrics. There are always sales and coupons so I only spent about $10 on 6 yards. I didn't need all of it for the dresser but I knew I might want it for other projects in my apartment to keep everything cohesive.
HOW TO CREATE THE DRAWER FRONTS
If you're using the original drawer handle holes, you can skip this step but if you're using handles that don't it the original holes I recommend using wood filler to fill them in. This will ensure you don't see them after attaching the burlap. Simply sand off the excess when it's dry!
To have a seamless look, I got 1/4" x 1" wood trim from Home Depot to border the drawer fronts and lock the burlap in place. The drawer fronts are 29 1/2 in. x 8 7/8 in. and you need two short pieces and two long pieces for each drawer front. I used a mitre saw to cut the pieces at a 45 degree angle. When cutting the trim, make sure the the lengths of the long pieces (29 1/2 in.) and short pieces (8 7/8 in.) are for the longer side near the point that will be nearest the outside of the drawer. You will end up using a total of about 38 3/8 feet of trim.
When attaching the burlap, I used Gorilla Spray Adhesive prior to nailing down the trim to keep it in place and prevent it from bubbling up later on. My original idea was to use brass handles to match the other brass elements in my apartment but I ended up going with wood drawer pulls for a more neutral look. I think the brass handles would have made the dresser look even more high-end though. I used a cordless drill to create the holes I needed for the drawer pulls.
After the burlap is attached, nail the wood trim to each drawer front using a nail gun. After some trial and error, I found the best method is to start with nailing down one small piece, then both long pieces, and finish with the last small piece. This kept me from running out of space if one piece of trim was not perfectly straight or right along the edge as I was able to maneuver the pieces relatively easily.
The decision to paint the outside of the dresser took some time and deliberation as I was going back and forth between white or black paint, stain, or leaving as raw wood. I didn't love the knots that Ikea wood furniture has so I knew I needed to paint it. I chose white for a few reasons: my apartment is not huge so I wanted to keep everything light and airy, and my kitchen island located nearby is stained black so I didn't want it to match too closely.
It might seem easy to choose a white paint but let me tell you, it is not. There are so many undertones that can end up making the paint look entirely different in altered lighting. I spent about an hour in Home Depot going back and forth between paint colors and I went with Smoky White from Behr in a satin finish. A quart was plenty and I still have quite a bit extra after using three coats on the frame of the dresser. I love the color I chose but if I were to go back and do it again, I probably would have gotten paint samples to take home with me to see in my apartment lighting.
To seal the dresser, I used two coats of the Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane in a semi-gloss finish. Since it's triple thick, you probably only need one coat but a dresser tends to be a high traffic spot so I wanted extra protection. You can choose whichever finish you like but I don't love a high gloss look so that
Burlap or Cane (I got burlap in the color Oyster from Jo-Anne Fabrics)
1/4" x 1" Wood Trim (you can use whatever size you want - it could be narrower or wider than 1")
Wood Drawer Handles (I used the 4.96" hole center size)
Behr Smoky White Paint in Satin
Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane Topcoat in semi-gloss finish (you can use any finish you like)
Build the Ikea Tarva dresser frame based on instructions. Set aside everything for the dresser drawers except for the drawer fronts. It's easier to add the material and trim to the dresser fronts when they are flat. You can definitely wait to build the dresser frame until step 9 along with the drawers as well.
If you're using the original drawer handle holes, you can skip this step. If you're using handles that don't it the original holes I recommend using wood filler to fill them in and ensure you don't see them after attaching the burlap. Simply sand off the excess when it's dry!
Using a mitre saw, cut the wood trim at a 45 degree angle. You will end up with two short pieces (8 7/8") and two long pieces (29 1/2") for each drawer for a total of 12 of each (24 pieces total). You will end up needing about 38 3/8' of trim.
Cut the burlap to the size of the drawer front (29 1/2 in. x 8 7/8 in.). You will end up cutting six pieces total. It's okay if the edges aren't perfectly straight as they will be covered up by the trim. Your measurements don't need to be exact but make sure to cut the burlap to fit below the trim as that will help lock it in place.
Using spray adhesive, attach the burlap pieces to each drawer front. I recommend starting at one of the short ends, spraying a little adhesive at a time, and slowly lay the burlap down. This prevents having to readjust the burlap constantly and keeps it more secure. If you do need to readjust it at all, it's perfectly find but do it right away while the spray adhesive is still tacky. You don't need to glue down the burlap before adding trim, but it helps keep the material from bubbling up or shifting.
Nail the wood trim to each drawer front using a nail gun. I recommend starting with one small piece, then add both long pieces, and finish with the last small piece. This helps to ensure they all fit seamlessly on the drawer front. I used about two nails on each short piece of trim and five on each long piece of trim.
Fill in the nail holes using wood filler and let dry. Sand off any excess.
Pre-drill holes for handles or pulls (only if you completed step 2 as that means your handles didn't fit with the original holes).
Build the drawers based on the Ikea instructions. If you wanted to wait to build the dresser frame until now, you can build that too.
Attach your drawer handles.
If you don't plan on painting the dresser at all, you're done here and you can put the dresser drawers into the frame! If you do plan on painting it, I recommend waiting to put the drawers into the frame to prevent accidentally getting paint on them.
Using a foam roller, paint the large surfaces (top and sides of the dresser frame) and using a foam brush (or regular paint brush), paint the legs and edges. You can use a brush for the whole process of painting but it's quicker to use a roller on the large surfaces and prevents brush strokes. I used three coats of Behr Smoky White paint but if you're using a darker paint color or stain, you can probably get away with one or two coats, or to your desired color.
Once the paint is dry, finish the dresser by sealing it with a polyurethane topcoat. I used two coats of the Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane in a semi-gloss finish. Since it's triple thick, you probably only need one coat but I wanted extra protection. I used a foam roller for the topcoat on the large surfaces as well so I didn't have brush strokes but feel free to use a regular paint brush for the whole process.
Wait until the poly topcoat is dry and put the drawers into the frame!
The final product is chic and one of a kind. There are so many uses for this piece - sideboard/credenza, TV stand, entryway table, or just a dresser. I absolutely love it and I hope it inspires you to create your own!