Get an expensive look for so much less with this clever IKEA furniture hack. We’ll show you how to turn a basic dresser into a custom piece of furniture you’ll love for years.

By Hannah Bruneman
May 31, 2019

For years, crafty homeowners have been transforming affordable IKEA furniture basics into custom chairs, cabinets, and bed frames. And the classic Malm, a six-drawer dresser, is no exception. Make over the iconic IKEA dresser with stained wood panels, a coat of paint, and your favorite hardware. Follow along as we show you how it’s done.

How to Make Over an IKEA Dresser

Upgrading an inexpensive bedroom dresser is simple, plus you can customize the look to suit your style. Re-create this IKEA furniture makeover in a couple of days.

Supplies Needed

  • Malm 6-drawer chest
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Paintbrushes or foam rollers
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Table saw
  • (2) 3/4 x 20 x 36 in. spruce edge-glued panels
  • (2) 3/4 x 20 x 72 in. spruce edge-glued panels
  • Stain
  • Polycrylic protective finish
  • (4) 6-inch wooden furniture legs with metal plates
  • Wood glue or construction adhesive
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Drawer hardware (We used two 49 mm Amerock bar pulls and four 12-5/8 in. bar pulls in Golden Champagne)
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Step-by-Step Instructions

This easy furniture makeover can be done in a day. Learn how to transform its appearance with our how-to instructions.

Step 1: Paint Dresser

Before you begin assembling the dresser, sand, prime, and paint the front parts, including drawer fronts. You do not need to paint the sides or top, which will be covered by the wood panels. Make sure the dresser is completely dry before moving on.

Step 2: Prep Wood Panels

Using a table saw, cut wood panels to the length and width of the dresser top, bottom, and sides, adding 1-1/2 inches to each length. These will be applied over the Malm chest frame. We mitered our edges for a seamless look. Stain the panels and legs, then let all pieces dry before sealing with a polycrylic protective finish.

Step 3: Secure Panels

Apply wood glue or construction adhesive to the top of the dresser and place one of the short wood panels on top. Secure it to the Malm frame by screwing it on from the inside of the dresser. Repeat for the sides and bottom panel.

Editor's Tip: Make sure your screws are the correct length. If they're too long, they'll pierce the exterior.

Step 4: Attach Legs

After all the wood panels are secure, attach the legs to the bottom of the dresser using the provided metal plates and following the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the dresser on its side or back for this step. 

Step 5: Attach Hardware

Cut a sheet of cardboard to the size of the drawer fronts. Mark where you want hardware. Use this as a template to drill holes for hardware, then attach.

When you’re done, always remember to anchor the dresser to the wall so that it won’t tip and cause possible harm.

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