Before and After: A $65 IKEA MALM Makeover Repurposes Another Familiar IKEA Product

published Jan 25, 2024
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There are tons of furniture flips out there that use Pole Wrap, or column cover, to give a table, desk, drawer front — you name it — a more fluted texture. But if the surface upon which you want to add the vertical texture is small enough, you don’t necessarily need an entire roll of wrap. 

Instead, you can reach for smaller items with similar texture. In fact, for this desk upgrade, DIYer Holli Brown (@homebyholli) didn’t even have to leave IKEA to get her upcycling materials. “The desk before upcycling was the standard MALM dressing table from IKEA in white [that I] bought new in 2022,” she says. “I loved the practically and shape of the dressing table, but everyone on Instagram seemed to have the same one! I wanted a unique dressing table that was bespoke to me but didn’t break the bank to make.” Her project cost about $65.

Credit: Holli Brown
Credit: Holli Brown

 An IKEA armrest tray makes for an easy upgrade.

Holli and her partner, Seb Ingram, used a 25 5/8-inch by 14 5/8-inch RÖDEBY armrest tray from IKEA (a $20 find) to give the dressing table drawer a textured front for a little more visual interest. Seb used a jigsaw to cut the mat to fit the drawer dimensions.

“This project was a new project for us, as we had only ever paneled a small chest of drawers in a different style and used a paneling kit,” Holli says. “We saved money and time buying the IKEA armrest tray rather than buying, cutting, painting, and attaching individual pieces of wood.” They sanded down the top of the trim where they had made the cut with the jigsaw for a straight line.

Holli says the bamboo mat was easier to stick on the drawer front than expected; the DIY duo used No More Nails adhesive

Credit: Holli Brown
Credit: Holli Brown

Paint the bamboo mat before you adhere it, this DIYer advises. 

But before adhering the piece on for good, Holli says to make sure to do the painting first. She and Seb hand brushed Dulux’s White Cotton over the bamboo mat to match the MALM — though Holli says if she were to do the project over again, she might try for a new all-over color to make the piece look even more custom.  “This dressing table would also look so classy in a beige, black, or even a more bold, colorful color,” she says. 

Seb and Holli also sanded down the drawer front before gluing on the mat. 

Credit: Holli Brown
Credit: Holli Brown

Drilling holes for hardware was the hardest part. 

The hardest part of the project was figuring out where to drill the holes for the gold drawer knobs to go, Holli recalls. “Not accurately measuring the distance of the desk to work out where to drill the holes meant the positioning had to be adjusted,” she says. 

Still, the setback was small, and Holli says the biggest DIY lesson she learned is that “you don’t need to spend a fortune to upcycle your furniture.”

“Shop around for the cheapest material, and do your research about similar hacks!” she advises. Even if you were buying the MALM new, it would cost about $200 to do the project — and it looks like a much more expensive piece!