Before and After: This Sophisticated IKEA MALM Dresser Hack Only Cost $20

published Dec 5, 2021
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What can you get with with $20? A few coffees, for one, or a ticket to the movies (with popcorn, if you pick a matinee!). But you can also make a lasting improvement to a plain piece of IKEA furniture, too, with just a few hours of work.

DIYer Morgan Susice (Life on Willow Creek) has the proof in this three-drawer IKEA MALM redo. The original — a classic IKEA piece — was fine, but Morgan wanted to give it some oomph. “I wanted to add character to a standard IKEA piece that so many people have,” she says. “I wanted to show others that beautiful furniture doesn’t have to break the bank.”

To refinish the slick MALM surface, Morgan says, prep is key. She started by sanding the piece with 60 grit, 80 grit, and then 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the finish and give paint something to stick to. “Be sure to take the time to properly prepare the surface before painting,” she advises. “It makes all the difference in the finish and longevity of the piece.”

After sanding, Morgan used wood glue to attach 5/8-inch square dowels to the drawer fronts, creating a modern linear pattern. Morgan followed that with a primer then painted the whole piece a deep sage green (Fusion Mineral Paint’s Bayberry).

To really up the look, Morgan installed black edge pulls on the drawers, then used 2×2 wood pieces to create a base and legs for the piece. The legs give a little height to the piece, upping the style factor, and help bring in some natural warmth through the wood tones, too.

Morgan’s redo only took her four hours start to finish, not including paint dry time, making this project completely doable over a weekend. And even better? All her upgrades totaled $20.

“I love that it was an affordable and doable upgrade!” Morgan says. “I am most proud that this was only $20 in upgrades that completely transformed a basic piece of furniture.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.