DIY Projects

Ideas for an Ikea Malm Dresser Makeover?

My daughter’s dresser officially went kaput a few days ago. She’s had it since she was an infant, and it’s been through a lot. Honestly, for a cheap piece of laminate furniture, I’m surprised it lasted this long. Anyway, we’re going to do some furniture shuffling for 3 reasons:

  • We’re moving into a 3-bedroom apartment to accommodate my stepsons and a general need for more space.
  • The aforementioned dresser is no longer serving its purpose.
  • My husband’s 3-drawer Malm dresser from Ikea (shown above in our current bedroom) just isn’t large enough for all his clothes.

We’re going to give my daughter my husband’s current dresser and find a used 6-drawer dresser to make over for our new master bedroom. Of course, Malm dressers are plain, and boring — none of which are words I’d use to describe my daughter’s room. The old dresser lived in her closet, but she’ll have a smaller closet this time, and the dresser may not fit. So I’m generating some ideas for ways I can make over the Malm dresser to make it fit the decor of her room.

I’ve read that if I sand the veneer lightly and prime it well, it should hold paint without a problem. So of course, that’s one option. But I’m debating if I want to do something a bit more unconventional than just paint.

Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with:

I love the idea of painting a large funky graphic on the dresser, rather than painting the whole thing. Plus, we still have some pink paint left over from when we painted the accent wall in her current room. Maybe not enough to paint the whole dresser, but definitely enough for something like this. Some funky knobs from Anthropologie could really make this something special, since they sort of look like eyes.

But of course, that got me wondering what it would look like if I reversed that idea. I really like the look of the wood showing through and the single knob at the middle of the starburst! Something like this would mirror the shape of the starburst above her bed without being matchy matchy.

But I don’t want it to compete with the pink TV table that’s already in the room.

And lastly, something completely different. Maybe face the front of the drawers with some wallpaper from Mod Green Pod?

Again, my biggest quandary will be coming up with something that won’t compete with the existing pink table in her room. I’m not married to any of these ideas, but they’ve definitely gotten my creative juices flowing.

So what do you think? Do you like any of these ideas? What would you do with the dresser?

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.


  • Kim @ Life Analytical
    May 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I sanded, primed, and painted mine(in Martha Stewart Arucana Teal). I’ve had a little bit of scraping/chipping on the top edge of the drawers, which are a smoother surface to begin with, but the top/front/sides are flawless. My scratches happened while moving, so under normal use it’d probably be totally fine.

    I really like the idea of painting the whole thing but leaving a design in the negative space of the existing color. Or what about making the front and sides solid with a simple design on the top? I think adding knobs would totally change the look too and make it much less Ikea.

    • jennae
      May 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Oooh! I’d love to see a photo of it if you have one! So far, I’m most liking the idea of a shape in the negative space, but I’m not sure yet. Seeing some other made-over Malms will definitely help. Speaking of which, I need to head over to Ikea Hacker 🙂

  • Ana FF
    May 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I would go with some pink butterfly vinyls or some flowers. Vinyls are easy, cheap and you can remove them if you want to do another makeover.
    I like the idea of adding funky knobs.

    • jennae
      May 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      I thought about stickers, but I think I want something that looks more custom. Plus, I’m not a fan of vinyl 🙂

  • Kathleen W.
    May 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I love those ideas, and the knob in the center of the flower is so clever.

    My initial thought was using contact paper (you can find some funky designs on Amazon), though when I read that you don’t like vinyl, I rescinded my thought. Wallpaper would be pretty cool though.

  • Angela Conley
    June 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I really like the idea of the flower, but this would surely be a an attention-getter in the room and compete with the table. (I think the wallpaper would also.) ou could just paint the drawer fronts in a matching pink with matching or simliar knobs. Another option is using paper or fabric to cover all or part of the dresser and use Mod Podge.


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