How long ago was it that I first talked about refinishing my daughter’s IKEA Malm dresser? It was sometime early this year, I think. Well, I’ve finally gotten around to it, and I LOVE the result!
Pinterest has been the catalyst of a lot of projects around here lately. I can spend hours getting lost in inspiration there, but I’ve been trying to take more of that inspiration and turn it into real projects. When I found the photo shown below, I knew I wanted to recreate something similar in Ja’Naya’s room.
Of course, I didn’t want to jump right into without first having some idea of how it would look. I created this mockup in Photoshop from a photo I took with my cell phone and fell in love:
So I jumped right in and started taping off the lines. I was so gung ho that I decided not to measure. I just eyeballed the distance between each stripe. Because the drawers mark the meeting point of each sideways chevron, I was able to get away with this approach.
I created my tape lines with the drawers still in the dresser so I could look at everything vertically and see how the finished result would look as I went along. All I had to do was match the tape lines on the drawer below with the one above it. The final look isn’t perfectly spaced, but I’m OK with the slightly asymmetrical lines.
I have been obsessed with ring drawer pulls for a long time, and I was determined to use them on this piece. I couldn’t find any that I liked locally, so I wound up ordering these Hickory Hardware pulls from Amazon. They are nice and solid, but not too big or too small. The 3″ diameter made them the perfect size for these drawers, which measure 8″ vertically.
I measured 3.5″ in from the edges of each drawer and 5.5″ from the top and marked where I wanted the pulls to go. My hubby was kind enough to drill the hardware holes for me. The key is making sure the drill bit is just a tiny bit larger than your screw — but smaller than the screw head — so it can slip through to catch the grooves on your pull.
You may have noticed that the pulls are white in my Photoshop mockup. Well, I planned to spray paint them white. But once I put them on the dresser, I liked the look of the satin nickel finish enough to leave them as is.
I was wary about how a piece of IKEA’s inexpensive MDF furniture would handle being sanded and painted. I know that their solid wood pieces are hacked and painted all the time, but the Malm line has a laminate finish. After a ton of Googling and reading, I figured it would hold up relatively well and I got to task. I used medium grit sandpaper between my tape lines. I wasn’t trying to go past the laminate. I just wanted to remove the slick finish and rough up the surface so the paint would have something to grab.
You probably can’t tell much of a difference in the photo above, but trust me when I say you could see a visible change in the areas that had been sanded and the areas that had not.
I debated using primer, but decided to go without it. I regretted it later.We did four very thin coats on each drawer front, and we also did the edges.
Since we were painting on the patio, my daughter got in on the painting action — wearing one of my old t-shirts, of course. She’s been itching to paint for a long time, so I figured this was a good opportunity for her to learn proper “technique.” Lol. I talk like I know what I’m doing!
I let the paint dry for about an hour between coats and planned to pull the tape while the last coat was still a little tacky. Unfortunately, it was night time, and I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I knew right away that I was going to be in trouble.
Then it all went sideways…
The problem with painting over laminate is that no matter how much you sand, the surface will still be a little slick. And latex — which all low-VOC paint is made of, to my knowledge — is notoriously easily to peel away in layers. So I started peeling the first piece of tape gingerly. Within an inch, the rest of the paint started coming off with it.
I tried using an Xacto knife carefully at the edges of the tape. Not a good look. The blade started peeling the tape, too. By the time I was done pulling tape, I had exactly 3 clean tape lines. The rest of them had peeled in horrible, jagged shapes. NOT the clean lines this chevron pattern required.
This was about the time that I started wishing I had used primer. I don’t know for sure that it would have helped, but at least the paint would’ve had something else to adhere to. I was pissed with the outcome. So pissed that I forgot to take photos.
Still, I knew it was my own fault. I knew I’d have to start over, so I just went ahead and peeled/scraped the rest of the paint off. That took about an hour of grumbling and cursing, but eventually, I got most of it off.
There was a silver lining, though. Because I’d sanded over the tape, I could clearly see the pattern I had originally taped. The sanded areas were very visible, so I just laid down new tape lines over the old, un-sanded areas. When I was done, I resolved not to make the same mistake twice.
I again painted in 4 thin coats (again, sans primer — I really didn’t learn the first time, huh?). However, I only let the drawers dry for about 15 minutes between coats. And AS SOON as I was done painting the last coat on the last drawer, I pulled the tape.
Sweet success! The lines were clean, but for a tiny amount of bleeding from the edges of the tape.
I let the drawers dry for a full 2 hours before coating everything with some low-odor polyurethane. Honestly, I need to find another brand, because that stuff still smelled and gave me a headache. But I did the recommended 3 coats, with a light sanding between coats with fine sandpaper. Because of the smell, I let the drawers dry for a little more than 2 days before I put my daughter’s clothes back in them.
And I can honestly say I am in LOVE with the result! In fact, the corner where this dresser sits is now my favorite vignette in the whole room:
I love the juxtaposition of the sharp chevron lines next to the looser, more bohemian pattern of the comforter.
So what do you think? Have you ever had a project go completely sideways like this one did? Did you give up, or start again? Because I definitely considered giving up this time!