Scott and I picked up an unfinished dresser from Ikea for the nursery recently and decided to dress it up with a little paint and fabric. This project was pretty easy, taking just a few extra tools and materials to transform a plain piece of furniture into something more unique. Here's how we did it.
Upholstered Ikea Tarva Dresser
- 1 Ikea Tarva Dresser (with hardware and necessary tools)
- 2 sample size tubs of paint (We had ours mixed at Lowes)
- Rags for whitewashing
- About 3 yards of fabric
- A staple gun (with plenty of heavy duty staples)
- Fancy knobs (optional)
A few notes on the materials:
- When you pick out a fabric, try to choose something fairly thin. The fabric we used was a little too heavy, which caused the drawers to stick together. Then again, you don't want to use fabric that is too flimsy, or it could rip and tear during use. I'd recommend a light canvas or thin upholstery fabric.
- You can pick out almost any paint color you want at a home improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot, and order it in a sample size. One sample tub is enough to coat one three-drawer dresser, but it is good to have an extra tub on hand, just in case. You can always return it if you don't end up using it.
- I think adding fancy knobs did a lot to enhance our dresser, but it was the most costly part of the addition for us. Knobs range from $3 to $10 a piece, so getting six can add up quickly. The original dresser comes with unfinished wooden knobs. If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend just painting those to match. By the way, we got our knobs at World Market for about $6 each (before a coupon).
Lay out the pieces of the dresser on a large tarp or piece of cardboard. (We used the packaging from Ikea as a work surface.)
Mix one tub of paint with an equal amount of water, then use a rag to rub the color onto the bare wood. This technique is called white-washing, and you can learn more about it here. Paint all of the wooden parts of the dresser, then let them dry. To darken the color, repeat with a second or third coat of paint.
When the paint is completely dry, lay the fabric beneath one of the drawer fronts. Lay the fabric right-side down, and the drawer front inside-up. Use a pencil to trace the shape of the drawer front onto the back of the fabric, and mark the knob-holes with the pencil as well.
Set the drawer front aside, then cut the fabric about 3 inches outside of the lines traced from the drawer front. Repeat this with the rest of the fabric, cutting one panel for each drawer. Punch small holes into the fabric for each knob hole.
Set the drawer front back onto one of the panels of fabric, then use the staple gun to adhere the fabric onto the drawer. Fold the fabric under before stapling to avoid fraying. Be careful not to cover any of the grooves or holes in the drawer piece. You'll need those to be accessible during assembly.
Assemble the dresser according to the directions from Ikea. If you are using fancy knobs, simply install those instead of the wood ones when the time comes.
If you end up with drawers that are too thickly covered, they will stick. You can fix this, but it's kind of a pain in the butt. You'll need to remove the fabric from the bottom of each drawer front, then sand down the bottom edge of the drawer by 1/4 inch or more. Then, re-attach the fabric and try fitting them in again.