Before and After: A Plain IKEA RAST Dresser Gets a Mid-Century-Inspired Look with a $100 DIY Project

published Mar 6, 2023
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Ikea dresser before make over.

Paint, stain, wooden appliqués, and new hardware are all great materials for adding a bit more personality to a plain, old dresser. And this inspiring IKEA RAST redo by DIYer Meghan Wheeler (@MWHomeGoods) has all four. She brought rich color and new textures to IKEA’s three-drawer pine chest in about three days (working on and off) and for about $100.

To start, Meghan bought some particle board to create a sturdier base for the dresser — to make it easier to attach legs later — and used her jig saw to cut it down to size. Meghan’s project-simplifying tip number one? “If you don’t have a jig saw, don’t fret!” she says. “Home Depot will do two cuts for free for you, which is all you need.” Just be sure your measurements are precise before you ask them to do the cutting, she adds. She affixed her particle board to the bottom of the RAST with a brad nailer, but notes — tip number two incoming! — that a hammer and nails will also do the trick.

Once the base was level, Meghan got started on the rest of the dresser. She used wood filler to seal up the holes where the old hardware was, then sanded the whole dresser with 120-grit sandpaper — “just enough to get the paint to stick,” Meghan says. Next, she primed it with one coat, and painted it green with two coats. “I used the color Black Bamboo by Behr,” she says. “It is a really lovely olive green.”

After the paint on both the frame and the drawers dried, Meghan arranged craft sticks on the drawer fronts and glued them down evenly to create a trendy wood slat look. Hers are a 100-pack of paint stirrers from Amazon, which cost just $22.

“I made sure that each drawer matched — that way it looked even and seamless once all the drawers were in place,” Meghan explains. “I chose to cut them after they were glued using a jigsaw, but you could also measure and cut them before or just buy some that are the correct length.”

Next, Meghan stained the slats in Varathane’s Special Walnut — her favorite stain — and let it dry before adding the hardware. Process simplification tip number three? To get the perfect holes every time for her hardware, Meghan adds a piece of painter’s tape to the back of the hardware pieces and pokes holes exactly where the screws will go, then sticks that same tape to the furniture — centering it and using a level to make sure it’s straight — and drills where the holes are indicated. (See here to get a look at how she does it.) Meghan says on Instagram that drilling new holes for hardware is one of her least favorite things to do, but this method makes it easier. She added new mid-century-style legs to the dresser using a kit. Again, it wasn’t as daunting as she thought it would be. “I drilled a hole in the bottom, added the little bracket, and then screwed them in,” Meghan says. “It truly was that easy.”

Lastly, Meghan sealed the piece using polyurethane in a satin sheen. “I am so happy with how this project turned out,” Meghan says. “It is unique and adds so much character to the room. I wouldn’t do anything differently!”