This IKEA Malm bedroom furniture hack has to be one of my favourite transformations to date.


Do you fancy giving your Ikea furniture a new lease of life? If the answer is a resounding yes, then read on…..

Disclosure; Some affiliate links are included in this blog post.

I’m pretty sure the Malm bedroom furniture range is one of Ikea’s best sellers. They are a cost-effective solution to get you out of a storage dilemma.

When I’d finished my first and long overdue bedroom makeover I ran out of money. I’d spent all of my budget on re-plastering, fitted wardrobes and a carpet – the cookie jar was empty!

At the time, it just so happened IKEA had an offer running. The sniff of a £20 saving and whiff of a tasty meatball had me hot-trotting towards flat-pack heaven in double quick time. I came back armed with two white bedside drawers, a four drawer dresser and a little indigestion! I immediately set about giving them a little zhuzh up with some rose gold metallic DC-Fix. It was a really simple and quick way to add a little interest and break up the block of white. I just measured and cut out strips and applied them in between each drawer

IKEA white Malm furniture with Rose Gold metallic DC-Fix added

Fast forward a couple of years and I realised the pale grey bedroom was no longer giving me joy. I’d already moved on from the former grey decor throughout the house and kicked my colour fear to the kerb. The events of 2020 hit us all like a wrecking ball. I, like so many, looked for extra comfort inside the walls of my home.

The thought of a bedroom that felt like a cocooning sanctuary, somewhere warm and inviting fired me up. I’d been toying with the idea of creating a scheme inspired by the opulence of the far East. Think Chinese artwork, bamboo, dark furniture etc. I started a mood board based around the fabulous wall mural from https://www.wallpapered.com (PR product).

Once I’d nailed paint colours, lighting and soft furnishings I set about looking for bedroom furniture. I wanted something that would compliment the decor and add a touch of drama to the room.

My first mood board, you can see my starting point for makeover ideas!

The seed of an idea!

It soon became apparent that Oriental and ornate style furniture I was lusting after came with a hefty price tag. That got the grey matter thinking…

  • My Ikea furniture was in really good condition.
  • It provided all the storage needed.
  • I was mindful about reusing and recycling wherever possible.

So I decided to get creative and see if I could give what I had a new lease of life. I started sketching out some simple designs and initially thought I would add rattan to the drawer fronts. I then decided to take inspiration from the straight lines in the headboard. I figured that gold lines against a black background would create a dramatic look and tie into the colours of the wall mural. One one small problem – I had no idea what I could use to achieve it!

I used the lines of the headboard as inspiration for the furniture design

On a particularly hot summer day, I was sitting in the garden eating a Fab lolly. Now I only mention the brand as it makes me laugh that it turned out to be a really FAB idea!

As I went to throw the stick away I suddenly had a light bulb moment. I twirled it around, held it up, scratched my chin and decided there might be something in it. A quick Ebay search revealed that I could get 200 jumbo lolly sticks for £10.49. The seed was planted.

Transformation of the Bedside Drawers

Products and equipment I used to transform the IKEA bedside drawers:-
▪️ Zinnser Bullseye 123 Primer https://amzn.to/3pDkxue
▪️ Frenchic Al Fresco in Blackjack
▪️ Two Fussy Blokes Semi Smooth Roller https://amzn.to/3ukvZyr
▪️ Jumbo wooden lolly sticks, EBay
▪️ Montana Gold Spray Paint https://amzn.to/3btFMJX
▪️ Beeway Hot Glue Gun https://amzn.to/3uhol7I
▪️ Drawer knobs from TKMaxx
▪️ Silky Tassels, EBay

Before & After of my IKEA Malm bedside drawers

PREPARATION – According to the product details on the Ikea website the furniture is made of particle board and acrylic paint. With that in mind, a decent primer was needed for the paint to adhere. I used Zinsser Bullseye which is suitable for most surfaces.

I should say at this point that I am no expert and there may be more professional ways to approach painting furniture. The following steps worked for me and I’m more than happy with the finish. Also to note; I’ve been using Frenchic chalk paint on my furniture upcycles for years and it’s honestly a dream to work with. I bought a new white UPVC front door two years with the sole intention of painting it. I used Dusky Blush from the Frenchic Al Fresco (outdoor) range and it’s still as good as new today.


Step by step guide

  • Clean all surfaces and apply a light coat of primer using a roller, this gives a smoother finish.
  • Leave to dry overnight and then apply first coat of paint, when dry repeat, I actually did three coats overall.
  • Lay out lolly sticks onto a piece of cardboard and apply first coat of gold spray paint, once dry repeat until the required depth of colour is achieved.
  • Measure and mark out the centre of the drawer and drill hole for handle.
  • Measure and mark out placement for lolly sticks and then glue on using a hot glue gun.
  • Attach tassel to the drawer knob before screwing into hole.
IKEA Malm drawers – from bland to beautiful!

Transformation of the Chest of Drawers

Next job to tackle was the chest of drawers but I didn’t want to repeat the same design. I’d been itching to try my hand at gold leafing for ages and watched a few YouTube videos. I convinced myself I could do it, nothing venture, nothing gained right.

The IKEA Malm chest of drawers makeover using Frenchic Blackjack paint and Gold Leaf

Products & equipment I used to transform the chest of drawers
▪️ Zinnser Bullseye 123 Primer https://amzn.to/3pDkxue
▪️ Frenchic Al Fresco in Blackjack
▪️ Basic stick of chalk
▪️ Polyvine Gold Size https://amzn.to/3pDDsoD
▪️ Pebeo Gedeo Gold gilding 14×14 https://amzn.to/3aBaAJq
▪️ Polyvine Decorators Varnish Satin Finish https://amzn.to/2OZndFN
▪️ Natural sponge
▪️ Dry Chalk Paint Brush
▪️ Two Fussy Blokes Semi Smooth Roller https://amzn.to/3ukvZyr
▪️ Drawer handles as before.


I followed the same process as the bedside drawers using the primer and three coats of black paint. I wanted to replicate the branches in the wall mural and have them flowing over the unit. That’s where it got a little tricky, well for me at least. My skill set does not include the ability to draw. Something I realised from an early age and I happily opted for Textiles over Art at school. My needlework was on point by the way (pardon the pun).

Working on the premise that fine wine gets better with age, maybe so had my drawing skills. I set about free-hand drawing a design…..lets just call it organic and leave it there!

IKEA Malm Chest of drawers makeover – Stages of creating the gold leaf branch design my

Step by step guide to applying gold leaf

  • I drew the design outline used a piece of chalk.
  • To apply the adhesive (size) I dabbed it on using a cut up natural sponge. I didn’t want a smooth even finish which I think would have happened if I’d used a brush. I deliberately left some areas adhesive free so the black paint would show through and create a ‘bark’ effect.
  • You have to leave the adhesive for a minimum of 20 minutes before you start to apply the gold gilding. The sheets are very fine and tear easily but you can still use any small pieces that fall away. You don’t need to apply a sheet as a whole.
  • Once the leaf is on you can brush away any pieces that aren’t stuck down and also ‘buff‘ over to get a smoother finish. It is a pretty messy job so I do recommend laying down an old sheet.
  • The thing to remember is, wherever there is adhesive the gold leaf will stick, so if you wanted to cover a whole solid area you would have to make sure you apply the size evenly.
  • Once I was happy with the gold leaf application and had brushed off any loose bits, I gave the whole unit two coats of varnish for extra protection.
IKEA Malm chest of drawers makeover – The finished drawer unit with two coats of varnish for protection


Total cost of project

All in all, I spent just under £150 on the whole project. That includes a new glue gun and I have loads of primer, varnish, gold gilding leaves and adhesive left to use on further projects.

The dream furniture I’d looked at buying would have around a £1000. I’m pretty chuffed with what I achieved and it’ll see me through for a good while yet.

With any upcycle project, the biggest reward is the sense of achievement gained from knowing you have created something totally unique.

The finished pieces in all their golden glory, to me they are imperfectly perfect!

An added bonus

Aside from my satisfaction at completing this makeover, another great thing came out of this project. I was contacted by a lady who had seen my Instagram pics of the transformed furniture. She asked if I’d be interested in upcycling her IKEA furniture for her. Due to distance and lack of time, I had to decline, but I did encourage her to give it a go herself.

She was a little reluctant at first as she’d never done anything like that before. With some reassurance from me and details of what to use, she agreed to give it a bash. I had a message a few weeks ago saying how pleased she was with what she’d achieved. Her first upcyling project had been a roaring success and she was over the moon. It absolutely made my day to hear that I’d inspired her to try something new.

You really never know what you’re capable of until you try do you ?

Till next time, Jo x

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