cabin progress: bedroom storage

DIY ikea dresser upgrade // smitten studio If  you remember from the bedroom “before” photos, there were initially two sets of identical bunk beds. Each of those bunk beds had a closet at the end. By removing one set of bunk beds (to fit the double bed) we also removed one good sized closet, and replaced it with just the tiny linen closet you see here. This meant less storage, but I has happy to make that compromise for a non-bunk sleeping option.

To add a little extra storage, we hit up Ikea and found this dresser that was the perfect width to fit between the two bedroom doors, it just needed a little something.

ikea dresserIn order to keep the dresser from taking up to much visual space I painted the bulk of it white. I also cut about 2″ off of each leg (I wasn’t loving the proportions) and then painted the base pieces with a metallic gold spray paint. After that I just swapped out the wooden knobs for these brass ones (in the “antique brass” finish).

ikea dresserSometimes all you need is a nice and simple Ikea hack. Have any of you switched up an Ikea piece?

To see all of the previous cabin progress check here.
To see all of the “before” photos check here.

Images by Sarah Sherman Samuel

Product guide: Ikea Tarva Chest // Brass knobs from Menards

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81 Responses to “cabin progress: bedroom storage”

  1. Rebecka Says:

    That dresser looks great! I now know what I’m going to do in my bedroom, but with the smaller one. I love the white. Did you paint it with a roller or brush? And oil paint? Thanks for the idea!

  2. Lindsey Says:

    this is just so gorgeous. so inspired by how you make simplicity so exquisitely beautiful!

  3. kelsey Says:

    beautiful space!
    kw ladies in navy

  4. Kristina Says:

    Ok that is totally gorgeous – before I read the post I thought that was a vintage find! I live for IKEA hacks, though I haven’t really done that many. I’ve painted IVAR shelves white ( (is that even a hack?), and covered an IKEA sofa in a different fabric, or switched out the knobs on a dresser, or added different legs to a desk (, but nothing hugely creative like this. Gorgeous!

  5. Melissa Says:

    Wow love how that turned out. I so wish we had an IKEA close

  6. Gaby [The Vault Files] Says:

    I did the same with my hemnes chest! I painted it white, changed the knobs for some brass ones and painted the legs gold! Love how yours turned out, looks amazing!

  7. sarah Says:

    Hi Kristina, Ha I was thinking the same about mine! Not sure if it counts as a hack if you just basically paint it and switch the knobs but a little goes a long way with these pieces. Great job with yours too!
    x sarah

  8. sarah Says:

    Yes, Rebecka, I painted it with a small quality foam roller, but I just used an acrylic based paint. Good luck!
    – sarah

  9. stephanie Says:

    I have loved following along on your cabin renovation! It looks like such a dreamy place to be. Quick question, not sure if I saw it in the post and sorry to be that person, but do you have a source you can share on the cow hide rug in the last photo?

  10. sarah Says:

    Hey Stephanie, No worries! I posted about it here. Its from Ikea as well! We also have a cowhide in the living room which we bought from a street vendor in LA.

  11. stephanie Says:

    Oh yes, now I remember. Thanks so much!

  12. Esther Says:

    That is beautiful! I am totally inspired.

  13. nikki Says:

    Very nice! The 2″ off the legs makes a huge difference. There is always something just a little off from most ikea designs, the leg length was this dressers problem. Looks like a high end piece now, great hack!

  14. Jade Sheldon Says:

    ADORE how you elevated the look of this dresser. Your space constantly inspires me…

  15. Amy Says:

    Sarah, That looks amazing! Great before and after. Makes me want to make a quick trip to Ikea.

  16. Miro - Dose of Dash Says:

    Genius! I’m having storage problems in my new apartment too, and this is a great-looking and (seemingly) easy Ikea hack.

    Any tips on how to make sure you’re cutting off the legs evenly? And did you have to sand or prime the dresser before painting?

  17. Karen Poole Says:

    amazing! love it. I have the same dresser still sitting in the box and this is the exact inspiration that I needed!!

  18. sarah Says:

    Hey Miro, I used a miter saw so there is a ruler built in and it is locked into place at a 90 degree angle. Also, I did give it a little light sanding but it didn’t need much, and then I used a paint and primer in one. Hope that helps!

  19. Bulb to Blossom Says:

    Amazing job! What a makeover!

  20. Latrina Says:

    Stunning! I love the white + gold together. :)

  21. Laura | The Velvet Doe Says:

    LOVE IKEA hacks! Seriously I love what you’ve done to this dresser. Awesome vision, Sarah. I wish I could ‘see’ how to transform pieces like this. :)

  22. Julie Says:

    Thinking of doing something very similar for my master bedroom. Lovely!

  23. A.Co Says:

    OMG you’re sooo good!! You cut off 2 inches of the legs, painted it multi-tonal AND swapped out the hardwear?! CREATIVE and looks AWESOME. Well done!

  24. Maddie Says:

    hey! did you have to sand off the surface first? whenever i try to paint wood the surface doesn’t seem to hold the color :(

  25. Jordana @WhiteCabana Says:

    Just came across your site this morning (via Handmade Charlotte I think). What a lovely site you have with so many beautiful images. Great work on the Ikea dresser. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the mirror above it?

  26. sarah Says:

    Hi Jordana, thank you! The mirror is from Target!

  27. Centsational Girl » Blog Archive » BOTB 8.16.13 Says:

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  28. Nora Says:

    So inspiring! I have the same question Maddie asked – did you sand the dresser before priming? I have an IKEA Rast that I’d like to paint over. Also any advice & tips for someone about to embark on their first IKEA transformation that involves paint? Thx!

  29. Kim R Says:

    Lovely dresser! My first thought when looking at the Ikea photo is that the proportion wasn’t right, but for some reason, I don’t progress from there to – cut the legs off. So glad Kate introduced you in BOTB. I look forward to seeing more of your blog.

  30. sarah Says:

    oh yes… Maddie & Nora, I have done it both ways. (with and without sanding before painting). The unfinished pieces, like the Rast & Tarva, take the paint pretty well without sanding. However if you want it to be really smooth I would recommend just going over it lightly with at least a 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out any roughness.

  31. Marla Says:

    I just found your blog today. I love what you did with the dresser, it looks great!! I read in your comments that you used a paint with primer. Which brand and sheen did you use? Have you painted other IKEA products, like the Billy Bookcases? I was just wondering if you would use the same technique or if it would require additional sanding and a different type of paint. Sorry for all the questions. :) Thanks so much for sharing!!

  32. Jess Says:

    I just bought this dresser, and then saw your website! I am planning on painting mine red, and have some fun blue antique glass knobs. Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  33. Cristina Says:

    Gorgeous. I have the most plain and awful dresser in my bedroom that could really benefit from a makeover like this. I’ve been thinking of way more complicated projects, but some white paint and gold accents is probably the way to go. It looks amazing.

  34. Alice Says:

    If any of you are planning to paint a piece which is raw wood…you will ALWAYS need to paint it with a primer. If you don’t, the natural resin in the woods fiber can come through any paint you apply. Ask me how I know…after a few years knots were starting to show and this was after two coats of flat paint but without any primer. However, most pieces will have some type of clear coating on it but you will need to be sure of that. During the sanding process, some of that clear coat was removed so I’d still go for priming.

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  36. Beth Shumaker Says:

    I love this!! I just bought this and was looking for some inspiration and came across this. Quick question for you: I saw the you said to use 220 grain sandpaper. Would 120 work?

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  38. Tracy Says:

    Sarah, apologies if I missed it, but can you call out which paint (brand/color/etc) you used on the legs? I’m looking for a good one and, if it matches the knobs well, that’s just the tone I’m going for. Appreciate it!

  39. Elisa Says:

    This is fantastic!

    I really want to do something similar, but my living room is dark wood with grey, purple and silver accents so I am wondering if I can do it in black-brown and gunmetal knobs instead…

    Thanks for the inspiration! Yours turned out absolutely amazing!

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  41. Tonia Says:

    HNY Sarah! I had the same question as “Tracy” on October 8 but an added one too, what color/brand was the white that you used? One word can describe your site and your work, “Beautiful”!

  42. Amanda Says:

    I am wondering the same question. What color white and finish did you use? Also did you paint the inside drawers white too? Thanks sarah, I love your style:)

  43. sarah Says:

    Hi Tracy, Tonia, & Amanda, I used the same color paint as our walls which is whisper gray by Dutch Boy. The finish I used was egg-shell. I didn’t paint the inside of the drawers, I left them natural. Hope that helps! x

  44. Jen Says:

    Love this! I’m not keen on the fiberboard IKEA dressers, but this looks awesome. Are the drawer bottoms holding clothing okay?

  45. Tamara Says:

    What color spray paint did you use for the legs and how many coats did it take? Thanks for posting!

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  47. Moira Says:

    Hi there – what was the original length/height of the legs?

  48. Sarah Says:


    Do you mind letting me know what spray paint you used? This looks amazing and I’d like to replicate.


  49. sarah Says:

    Hi Sarah, I used this spray paint.

  50. Suzanne Says:

    After many years’ thinking of how to modernize my ho-hum bedroom, eureka! A pair of these could replace my grand-but-tired American Empire chest. I clicked the Ikea link you included but they only give one dimension! Sarah, would you mind awfully sharing the dimensions of the top of the dresser? And thank you for sharing every itty-bitty detail on your sources. A great job!

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    Great Ikea hack! I was cursing the internet for some budget design ideas and this is great!

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  60. Debby Says:

    Hey Sarah! Quick question – I know you used acrylic based paint, but what did you use for your primer and what did you use for your top coat (wax?) or nothing? Thank you so much! This dressed is AWESOME and you have truly inspired me!

  61. sarah Says:

    Hi Debby,
    Thank you! I used a paint & primer in one and didn’t use a top coat.

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    Oops can you take off my last name on the above post, if not maybe just don’t publish and email me directly instead. Thanks!!:)

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  71. Mariel Says:

    What a beautiful transformation you made with that dresser! I’m totally inspired. I love that style of mirror- I think I saw on a different post that it is from Target? It has a lot of poor reviews on the quality, wondering if you feel differently?

  72. sarah Says:

    Hi Mariel,
    Thank you! Yes, that mirror is from target. I would also say the quality is not that great (plasticky parts) but I still liked the look of it and it works great for the cabin. I bought mine in the store so I guess I knew what I was getting into. ha

  73. Rachel Says:

    Beautiful transformation! I am going to try to do the same thing. Did you paint before or after assembly?

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  79. Kara Says:

    I love this dresser and am about to complete one of my own. What color is your paint and what brand? Thanks!



  81. Lauren Says:

    Hi Sarah,

    What a great idea! I am attempting this today and I am wondering what was your sequence in this. Did you spray paint the 4 legs and the base first then build it?

    Thank you,

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