before & after: ikea dresser redo + painted desk

These Ikea dressers should be inducted into some kind of furniture hall of fame. I know we all have a complicated relationship with Ikea furniture, but the Malm dresser is inexpensive, attractive, easy to assemble, holds a TON of stuff and — as this makeover from Josue clearly illustrates — is essentially a blank canvas for creative minds, which is the best outcome of Ikea’s success, in my opinion. Josue has totally transformed this dresser into a sharp, graphic, stand-out piece, just by making a few brilliant paint and hardware choices — and hours of sanding, I should say :) Fabulous job, Josue! — Kate

Time: 3 days

Cost: $25 (not including the dresser)

Basic Steps: I figured that since the dresser was new, I wouldn’t have to sand it! WRONG! On the first day, I spent about an hour painting. After it dried, I accidentally scratched one of the drawers with my nail, and it came off like nothing. I was pretty puzzled, and I started scratching it more and realized none of the paint stuck. So after some frustration, I started to sand the dresser; it took almost 2 hours. You have to be careful because you don’t want to sand too much because these types of dressers aren’t real wood, so digging into the compressed wood isn’t the best thing.

The next day, I added the first coat of paint. While that was drying, I then started to cut the trim that I purchased. It took about 30 minutes and I had my dad help me out with the measurements and cutting. I sanded down the edges and any rough spots. After I wiped them down, I started the first coat of white paint. While that was drying, I added the second coat of gray to the dresser, then went back to finish the trim. After that, I cleaned the old hardware from the desk, then spray-painted them a bright olive green.

The next day I added the trim to the drawers and the sides of the dresser. It was a bit tricky trying to nail the trim; I had to use a little pick so that my hammer wouldn’t’ damage my freshly painted trim. I went back and did some touch ups on the spots where my hammer missed the pick, and after that, I started to drill the holes for the hardware. Yay! I’m finished! Took it home, added the hardware and it was ready to go! — Josue

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CLICK HERE to see Josue’s incredible desk redo after the jump!

This is Josue’s second amazing makeover of the day; this time, the subject is an old, well-worn desk belonging to Josue’s father. Again, it took a lot of sanding and some very precise brush work, but the result is lovely and fresh. I also really appreciate the mismatched knobs and the sense of playfulness they add to this well-tailored piece. Another great makeover, Josue!

Time: 3 days

Cost: $25 (for supplies)

Basic Steps: My dad bought this desk when he was in his twenties. It’s been a part of my life ever since I was a kid. When he got a new desk, I decided to take it off his hands and redesign it. The first day I spent about 3 to 4 hours sanding; getting all those nooks and crannies took up most of my time. On the second day, I started to fill the holes that were left from the old hardware, since I only needed  one hole for the majority of the drawers. After an hour, I sanded down the excess putty, then drilled the new holes. I wiped off all the extra saw dust then started painting the desk. It took about 2 hours.

On the third day after the first coat dried, I added a second coat of gray paint and let it dry. After that was done, I then painted the trim and legs white. I really liked the bright contrast between the blue-ish gray and snow white. Finally it was done! I then took it to my new apartment, attached all the new knobs and handles. I then added a piece of glass on top of the desk. Underneath the glass I scattered some vintage looking postcards to add some more color.

If someone wants to attempt a similar project, all I can say is “patience”! I absolutely hate sanding! Especially pieces that have a lot of curves and delicate areas that you can’t tackle with a electric sander. It takes time to make these pieces, but in the end, it’s so worth it! Trust me! — Josue

  1. Samantha Aida says:

    HOLY. CRAP. you guys. I have 2 malm dresses and I have been racking my BRAIN to figure out what the heck to do with them and this is it. THIS IS IT! you’ve solved my dilemma. Thank you thank you thank yoooooou!!!

    Any chance you know what type of paint used on the malm??

  2. Seavie says:

    The hook is from anthropologie… trust me, I work there!

  3. What kind of paint was used? I want to do this over the weekend but I don’t want to but the wrong paint. Is it Semi gloss? Matte? Should I be priming after I sand it?

  4. Morgan says:

    There it is!!!! I’d seen that Octopus hook somewhere and wanted to buy it, but now I’ve forgotten who was selling them. Can you tell me where you got yours? If you could I’d be eternally grateful. I’ve been kicking myself for months for forgetting. Im obsessed with that thing!

  5. Josue says:

    Wow, I am long overdue for a thank you! I really appreciate all the comments and tips for future projects. I am aware that Ikea furniture isn’t the best quality but that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving a piece a nice face lift. To answer a few questions, I got the pain at a local paint supply store in my hometown. I actually got the paint color from one of my old shirts. I brought it in and they did a color match for me, they grey was a little bit more on the cooler side than I anticipated but I really love the way it turned out. Oh and abou the hook, I got it as a gift and you can find it at anthropologie.

  6. Morgan says:

    Thank you so much for the info! Great job on the make over!

  7. S.U. says:

    What kind of paint did you use for the dresser? Did you use a roller or a brush?

  8. Allison Sandoval says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! can you tell me what you mean by “cutting the trim” you’d purchased? i would love to know what that is. i assumed the white was just stenciling, but maybe not…. thanks for your help! seriously, i’m so in love with both pieces!

  9. Lymari says:

    Hi Josue,
    I know I am just one more person asking you the same thing but we didn’t really get an answer to this question. What type of paint did you use for the dresser (semi gloss, flat, etc? and type of sand paper (grit number) did you use? and lastly did you use any type of protective coating on the top to prevent it from damaging or scraping?

    Thank you,


  10. Rashida S. says:

    I am painting an Ikea dressers. Made a mistake in thinking i can just primer without sanding. Bad idea. Can anyone tell me what to do now. I was going to sand the primer then add a second coat. I need help I want to do this right. I saw you painted and then sand can I do the same, Josue?

  11. SWAROVSKITTY says:

    i , like many others was obsessed with finding the now discontinued IKEA MALM DRESSING TABLE in black. So yesterday I bought the white one and spray painted it with KRYLON . Here it is


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