6 Fun Ways to Upgrade Your IKEA Malm Dresser

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photo courtesy of norse interiors

IKEA’s Malm series is about as close to a blank canvas as you can get. The basic line of chests, dressers, and storage beds features seamless pull-out drawers with no hardware, which is great news if you’re going for the whole minimalist vibe. It’s even better news if your dream bedroom furniture does not seem to exist.

What your Malm furniture lacks in ornamentation it makes up for in opportunities for customization. There’s so much you can create with a can of paint, some new knobs, and a stencil kit (even if you only have $10 and 20 minutes to spare!). So fire up your hot-glue gun and throw on your finest coveralls—we’ve rounded up our six all-time favorite Malm dresser hacks, below.

Make It All About the Drawers

photo courtesy of my dear irene

The hack: White paint and a whole lot of knobs—that’s really all you need to spiff up your dresser. Angelica Kalatzi of My Dear Irene replicated the look of classic Jenny Lind furniture by gluing wood flat-backed ball knobs around the edges of the drawers. A bright white primer (the blogger used Kilz’s Adhesion sealer) instantly disguised the piece’s original dark brown surface. 

Level of difficulty: 4/10

Pro tip: Painting the knobs will be your biggest time-suck. Kalatzi recommends listening to a captivating podcast for that part.  

Add Some Mid-Century Charm

photo courtesy of house on a sugar hill

The hack: With the help of a bandsaw, Jodi Bond of House on a Sugar Hill cut four 5-inch wood plaque circles in half to create custom half-moon pulls. Note: You’ll have to drill your own pilot holes into the drawers in order to attach the handles. Bond also tacked on Pretty Pegs’s brass Theodor legs (they’re specifically designed to fit IKEA furniture) to elevate the piece, literally and figuratively.

Level of difficulty: 7/10

Pro tip: Don’t cut your circles straight in half. First, measure for a 1-inch gap down the center, mark it with a pencil, and cut away that. This will create the illusion that the two half-moons form a circle rather than an oval when they’re spaced apart.

Whip Out a Stencil

photo courtesy of wendys wohnzimmer

The hack: German DIY blogger Wendy of Wendy’s Living Room used a dense modeling paste to stencil the drawer fronts with a 3-D design. Once it dried, she brushed over the entire surface with chalk paint in the same hue so the texture of the stenciling would shine through. 

Level of difficulty: 6/10

Pro tip: Because the paste doesn’t dry immediately, it’s easy to smudge as you go. For the cleanest result possible, Wonzhimmer suggests treating the template with a stencil adhesive spray. 

Add a Few Pulls

photo courtesy of sugar and cloth

The hack: Got $10 to spare? All Ashley Rose of Sugar and Cloth needed to pull off this clever hack was 2-inch-wide strips of leather sourced from the craft store, which she attached to the interior of the drawers with two gold nails. 

Level of difficulty: 3/10

Pro tip: Slice slim, rectangular strips from a large leather square (see Rose’s Amazon pick here), then fold them in half to create the perfect loop.  

Buy a Whole New Facade

The hack: If you like the minimalist look of your existing piece but still think it’s a bit too plain, Norse Interiors’s customizable fronts are the perfect middle ground. Available for the three-, four-, and six-drawer Malm dresser, the brand’s satin-sheen surfaces look super–high-end. Take it one step further with fresh hardware and you’re golden.

Level of difficulty: 3/10

Pro tip: Order your custom fronts before you even begin assembling your Malm dresser; you’ll need to use the screws and dowels that IKEA gives you to attach them.

Fake Paint With Stickers 

photo courtesy of Locco Stickers via Etsy

The hack: And we thought temporary wallpaper was cool. Etsy shop Locco Stickers creates peel-and-stick decals just for IKEA pieces. The appliqués for the Malm dressers come with one strip for each drawer front, and we’re suckers for the hand-drawn look of this whimsical branch pattern.  

Level of difficulty: 3/10

Pro tip: Make sure the surface is clean and dry before you apply the stickers.

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Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.