DIY Ikea Malm Mid-Century Modern Dresser

May 6, 2013

Mid-Century Modern DIY Ikea Malm Dresser with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts

I’m so excited to finally share this DIY, you guys. If you follow me on Instagram you have have noticed my photo (and my excitement) about buying a Mikata power sander. It’s true, I was stoked to add another power tool to our slowly growing collection, but I was really more excited to use it to hack our 5 year old Ikea malm 6-drawer dresser!

Click here to skip to my step-by-step tutorial on painting Ikea laminate furniture.

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite Ikea dresser hacks and while searching the web for inspiration, I stumbled upon Overlays. I really wanted to make our bedroom furniture look more mid-century than just modern and the Overlays were a perfect way to do that. They are decorative die-cut PVC panels that are made for customizing Ikea furniture. How perfect, right?

Mid-Century Modern DIY Ikea Malm Dresser with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts Mid-Century Modern DIY Ikea Malm Dresser with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts Malm Dresser Ikea Hack with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts

I went with the Olivia pattern and used them on the top two drawers. To give the entire piece a mid-century modern look, I only painted the drawers white and left the rest of the dresser as-is (which is the medium-brown wood veneer).

Mid-Century Modern DIY Ikea Malm Dresser with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts

I searched all across the web for mid-century modern drawer pulls and stumbled up these perfect round cabinet knobs at Home Depot for only $1.38 each! Cheap and mid-century modern. Perfect!

Malm Dresser Ikea Hack with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts

Kevin and I love it so much more now. It feels like we bought a completely new stylish piece of furniture! The next piece to hack will be the Malm tall 6-drawer chest that we keep to the right of the larger one. I’ll be working on that guy this week so check back for an update!

Want to give Overlays a try? They are offering 15% to Sarah Hearts readers. Just use the code HEARTS15 at checkout.

Mid-Century Modern DIY Ikea Malm Dresser with myoverlays.com | Sarah Hearts

Here’s the best way I found to paint Ikea laminate furniture:

1. Sand the laminate surface so you remove the sheen that is has. This scores the surface and makes the primer and paint stick. You can do this by hand (but it will take a long time) or you can use a power sander. It took me about 45 minutes to sand all 6 drawers. This is an essential step that you can’t skip!

2. Use a cloth to throughly dust of the pieces after you sand them. I used a slightly damp cloth first then went back over it with a dry cloth to ensure all the dust was removed.

3. Apply the first coat of primer. I used Kilz Complete oil-based primer spray. I choose to go with the spray can because I’m lazy and didn’t want to have to use mineral spirits to clean my paint brush.

4. After the first coat dries completely, add a second coat of primer.

5. Since the dresser doesn’t have drawer pulls on it, I had to drill the holes for the new drawer pulls. I used a t-sqaure (with measurements on it) to make sure the placement was exact on each drawer. Make sure your drill bit it slightly smaller than the width of the screw you’re using for your drawer pulls.

6. Spray paint the Overlays in whatever color you want. I used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2x coverage in white semi-gloss on both the Overlays and the drawers. It worked well and the coverage was excellent!

7. Apply a coat of spray paint to the drawers. Allow it to dry completely then add a second coat. I found that to be perfect but if you’re using a darker color spray paint, you may need to do a third coat.

8. I used Liquid Nails silicone adhesive to adhere the Overlays to the drawer fronts. I applied a thin bead of glue to the entire back-side of the Overlays then carefully placed it on top of the drawer. The adhesive allows a little bit of wiggle room so you can reposition the Overlay a tiny bit, if needed. I measured and marked the left and right edges of the Overlay on the drawer front before I glued it on. The lasy step is to attach the drawer knobs or pulls then you’re done!

Overlays provided the Olivia overlays to complete this project in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that enable me to share my ideas with you!

14 Comments

well done! looks amazing, and i love the midcentury influence.

Reply

emily

It looks great! I’ve been thinking of turning my Malm into a DIY for a while but I haven’t done anything with it. This is a great inspiration for sure. Great job, Sarah!

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Angel Y

Sarah, I love this so much! We have the tall 6 drawer malm dresser in our bedroom in birch, and it is way too boring for my style. I never considered revamping in, but you’ve inspired me to do something fun with it, especially since i’m super redecorate and crafting mode.

Last weekend we bought an unfinished kitchen island from ikea and I did a really fun finish on it that i think you would approve of, i’m hopefully going to post about it in the next week or so.

again, thanks for the awesome idea for the dresser! <3

Reply

Gabbie

WOW i am so doing this. I have a Malm bedside table and a 4 drawer dresser and i have been at a loss with what to do with them.

Reply

Leah

i have been obsessing about ikea rast hacks all night and this is my absolute favorite of all the hacks i’ve seen. perfect, simple mid century mod! i think i may try something similar with a nice warm yellow…versus white.

Reply

Sarah

    Thanks so much, Sarah! A warm yellow sounds perfect! Please share photos of it when you’re done!

    Reply

    Sarah Post author

Question for you! Could you put knobs on the overlay drawers as well or do they not fit? How do you open the drawers without the knobs??? I’m stumped. Thanks!

Reply

Stacy

    Yes, you can add drawer pulls on any of the Malm drawers. They are designed to be used without pulls and the top of the drawers are angled downward so you can open them. I drilled holes in the drawers and added the pulls to give it a more mid-century look.

    Reply

    Sarah Post author

This dresser looks really sweet

Reply

Nic

I have used Ikea to redo many large area’s of our rebuild after a fire. Kitchen, closet,entertainment and lighting. I have found several pieces of furniture at thrift shops that I love that are getting facelifts. I LOVE this mid century modern look. Do you know if Ikea still has that dresser? Thanks for your blog!

Reply

Ellen

    Ellen, Ikea still sells all the Malm pieces I have and they are now even cheaper!

    Reply

    Sarah Post author

How many cans of primer and paint did you end up using for this project? Looks great!

Reply

Tia

    Hi Tia, I don’t remember exactly but I think it was 2 cans of spray primer and 2 can of spray paint.

    Reply

    Sarah Post author

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