IKEA has always been a part of my life growing up. As a kid, my brother and I used to pretend we lived in the demo rooms, especially the ones with the bunk beds, and we always anticipated ending our IKEA visit with a hotdog and ice cream that cost less than $1.
At home our room was all IKEA and I think that might have been how I got interested in furniture in the first place. I was my Dad’s furniture assembly assistant, responsible for holding the instructions manual and handing him the screws and bolts and tools he needed to built my anticipated new desk/bookshelf/bed. I always found it magical how my Dad could take pieces of plywood from a box and turn them into a new piece of furniture that suddenly appeared in our home.
As an adult, my furniture style changed and I became more drawn to antiques and distressed furniture. I wanted my furniture to tell a story from its dents and scratches, I didn’t want my furniture to come out of a mass produced box anymore. The MALM dresser that I’ve had for years became too boring and bland for me.
So I went on a hunt for an antique dresser. Although I found some gorgeous pieces, they lacked the storage space I already had with my existing dresser, and I didn’t want to sacrifice that. Essentially, what I wanted was a new exterior with the same storage space. The solution suddenly became easy: I didn’t need a new dresser, I just needed paint and some knobs.
In 2013, Annie Sloane paint wasn’t as commonly available in Toronto as it is now. After a bit of extensive online research, I ordered Paris Grey and Clear Wax (definitely get the wax if you’re painting furniture) from Kathy Jordan Design. I was beyond excited when it arrived, and I couldn’t wait to experiment with this revolutionary paint.
Even though a new coat of paint would give my dresser a new look, it was the hardware that would really make it non-MALM. It would transform the ultra sleek into a charming, rustic, bohemian treasure. When it came to the knobs, I didn’t want uniformity. I wanted the knobs to be different for each drawer, so I picked up a medley of bohemian and floral knobs from Anthropologie and Pier 1.
I drilled holes for the knobs (always measure!) and I painted on the elegant Paris Grey colour. It was a smooth paint, it glided on beautifully and dried into an even matte texture, which is perfect for when you want to replicate antique furniture. To add more of a distressed look, I smudged some brown paint on the edges and corners. Looking back, I probably would have done it differently but at the time that’s the look I was going for – beaten up treasure dresser. Two days later, after letting the paint settle in, I waxed and added my decorative knobs to complete.
I loved the transformation. From all-white and sleek to romantic and rustic, I achieved the look I wanted and still kept the storage I needed. Speaking of storage, to make each drawer unique to its knob, I added decorative linen paper in each of the drawers.
Who would have thought that once upon a time this used to be an IKEA MALM dresser? I’ve since moved out of my purple room but this dresser came with me and acquired actual dents and scratches during the move, and now it has its own story to tell.