before & after: embroidered wardrobe


I recently re-watched the film Objectified, and this time around, I found myself inspired by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, particularly when she said that what interests her most as a designer is how to bring identity and character to something that is produced industrially. You can see this vision so clearly in her work; she brings a humanistic, hand-crafted touch to all her designs, including the pieces available en masse at IKEA. It’s not surprising that people are so drawn to her designs and those little details that speak to our experience of culture and memory, delighting our senses of sight and touch.

I instantly fell in love with this wardrobe makeover by Diana; it’s so inspiring to see how radically different a piece can look once it’s been worked over by a pair of creative human hands. If this piece had been in my childhood bedroom, I think I would remember it fondly to this day. It has a cheerful, vibrant, folksy feel to it. And I can’t say this with any authority, but it seems like a piece that would make Hella smile. Nice work, Diana! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 2 days

Cost: $20

Basics Steps: Growing sick and tired of an old spruce Ikea wardrobe in my daughter’s room but still liking the perfect size and simple form, I bought a big pot of green paint. Of course “just” painting would be a bit too easy ;) So after some thinking I came up with the idea of perforating the doors with a pattern of small holes, and then adding some extra colour by “embroidering” a pattern onto them. The good thing about this decoration is that we can experiment with new colours and patterns whenever we like, and my seven-year-old can also pick up some thread and embellish her own wardrobe doors, adding old buttons and wooden pearls on the way.

Here’s how I did it: I sanded and primed the wardrobe, then I took out the doors so working on the pattern would be easier. Taking the proportions of the doors into account, I designed a pattern for the holes. I decided to keep it easy and started off with the idea of a circle. I drew the right circle size with a compass on a piece of paper and placed a pattern of points in regular intervals until I was happy with the result (not too many points, but still enough to make the pattern versatile).

I went back to the doors and measured out the centre. I placed the paper with the pattern on the right spot and taped it on the door. Then I took one of those hand drills and made the holes according to the pattern. I started with a small size drill so as not to damage the soft wood, and then took the next size drill to widen the existing hole. After a bit of sanding to smooth out the edges of the holes, I applied two coats of green paint. I mounted the doors again, and then it was time to play with some wool and neon thread I had lying around! — Diana

  1. Rachel Tatem says:

    What an amazing change!

  2. Christine says:

    What a neat idea! I’m really into embroidery right now, but I certainly haven’t imagined anything beyond fabric. Very cool.

  3. Katie says:

    This turned out so beautiful! I love the bright shade of green and the fun brought in with the huge embroidery. Very cool re-do!

  4. Tara says:

    Holy cow! This is the best before/after diy I’ve seen yet (on D*S).

  5. Laura Trevey says:

    I love the green color and the embroidery makes it unique! Great job.

  6. Love it! So well done!

  7. Jo says:

    That’s a great idea and a great shade of green too. Something to remember when I can find the time to work on my own Ikea furniture :)

  8. Fantastic! I need to start stitching on my own furniture IMMEDIATELY.

  9. It’s so, so amazing how a very mediocre piece of furniture has been turned into something so amazing. Great job!

  10. Stitching on furniture?! I LOVE IT! Such a creative idea. Thank you for sharing!

  11. susie says:

    This project is out of this world! Love Love Love it!

  12. sue says:

    wish I needed an armoire so I could do this!

  13. anne marie says:

    magnifique!

  14. luiza says:

    Love this! A while ago I stitched into an old wooden bowl. It was fun! You can see it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/luizahenriqueschandy

  15. Jesse says:

    SO pretty, I love it!

  16. Wow this is totally cool, I haven’t done this kind of work since high school. Can’t wait to try it

  17. Vish says:

    …totally changed the mundane to something with a personal stamp to it …

  18. I love this idea. It would be a cool way to add initials too. Or words like “work” and “play”. Super creative, thanks for sharing.

  19. Susie says:

    Amazing! I have been trying to find casual ways to incorporate my Pennsylvania Dutch roots into my home. This project is screaming for just that touch! Thank You So Much For Sharing Your Talents! Blessings to You and Yours, from Port Huron, Michigan.

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