Our master bedroom is a mess. According to my husband, we "live like teenagers" because none of our furniture matches and the room is always a mess. One of the big things we are lacking is matching bedside tables. We had a hand-me-down set that we ended up selling on Craigslist last fall (mainly because they needed some major love and I was not in love with them). So our current setup is an old wooden chair and a small 3-drawer chest that also needs some major TLC. As you can see, not ideal.
We've contemplated getting a full bedroom furniture set since we got married (ahem, almost 4 years ago), but we're both hesitant to pull the trigger because of the cost and our bedroom doesn't have a ton of space. So somehow I convinced hubs to let me get 2 Ikea Rast dressers and hack them into something useable and not eyesore-y, like this or this or this (the last one was really my inspiration and very similar to what I did). And after coming across O'verlays decorative panels specifically made for Ikea hacks, I really wanted to use these on my hack (look how beautiful they look!) but hubs vetoed that look. I'm saving this idea for a future project!
Full disclosure: this project took over a month to complete, since I could only work during baby's naptimes/bedtime, and required power tools and a good dose of hubby input/feedback/help. It's a little more involved than a weekend craft project, but totally doable.
As soon as we got the boxes home, I was itching to get started so I assembled one of them, adding wood glue to the dowels to make sure they would stay in place...which made it slightly more complicated to prime and paint. I left the second Rast unassembled and laid all the pieces out in the garage for priming and painting.
Before I could prime and paint the drawer fronts, I added the decorative lattice strips. I chose to join these with 45-degree angles, meaning I would need 61" total for each drawer so the strips would line up at the outside corners. Calculating that out and adding for insurance/bad cuts meant I needed about 32 feet for 6 drawers. I used this pine lattice molding from Home Depot. At $.62 a foot, it worked out to around $20 of molding. Shout out to the nice employee at Home Depot who helped me saw these down (by hand!) to fit in my car.
Once home, I took some careful measurements before cutting. I used hubs' miter saw to cut each strip to length first and then to add the 45 degree angles to each side.
I dry fitted the 4 pieces for each drawer together as a group, trimmed as needed to get a snug fit, and labeled each piece (group 1 top, bottom, left, right, etc) so if they got mixed up I would know which ones went together. After cutting, I used wood glue and a nail gun to attach the lattice to the drawer fronts.
I hit the tops and edges with a palm sander to make sure the joints where the lattice met up were smooth.
Then I filled the nail holes and joints with Elmer's wood filler. This took several coats of filling, sanding, filling, and sanding again until I was happy with it. In the pic below, the drawer on the left has filler and the one on the right does not. See how the filler makes the nail holes almost disappear?
Then all of the pieces got 2 coats of Kilz 2 latex primer and 2 coats of Behr semi-gloss white trim paint (we had both on hand from previous house projects) mixed with a little Floetrol to minimize brush strokes and help it cure since I was working on this during Snowmaggedon 2014 (so it was pretty cold, even in the garage). Assembly of the second dresser was pretty quick after everything dried.
Let's talk about the tops now. The Rast assembly illustrations from Ikea show the top board as being flush with the tops of the side panels, but without drilling new holes in the side panels, there is no way to make this happen during assembly - you get about an 1/8" gap from the top of the top panel to the top of the side panel, which you can see if you zoom in on the picture on Ikea's site.
I knew I wanted a dark stained wood top, and whatever we did would have to cover this gap. Hubs had some 3/4" thick birch plywood on hand (I have no idea from what. If you don't have random pieces of finished plywood in your garage, HD carries something similar to what we used). Hubs cut it down so that it was 1/2" longer on the front and 2 sides of the assembled Rast (the back was flush).
To get the top pieces to attach cleanly to the cabinets and cover the gap, hubs routed a channel in the underside of the birch to match the length, width and depth of the side pieces of the Rast. This allowed the birch tops just slide onto the top of the Rast and cover up the gap.
Since we used birch plywood, the edges were layered (not the look I wanted!). A little research led us to this edge banding, which we got from our local woodworking supply shop for about $15.
You cut it to length, iron it on (no water - the steam will ruin the wood), then use a laminate roller or heavy even pressure to seal it. Be sure the corners get a good seal, since that's where you'll see it. Hubs used a router with a 1/2" trim bit to trim the excess off the edges. You could also use a Xacto blade if you have a really steady hand. Looks like a solid piece of birch!
I prepped the wood with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner according to the can directions. I followed up with 3 coats of Minwax Jacobean stain - I wanted something nice and dark and this was the darkest stain we already had. I let the stain soak up for 10 minutes each time before wiping it down.
Then came the polyurethane. There are low VOC options out there, but we already had an almost-full can of Minwax Quick Drying Polyurethane, so that's what I used. Oh, did I mention it was under 40 degrees out the entire time I was painting/staining? The Floetrol helped the paint, but I couldn't add anything to the poly. I used a foam brush and put on (what I thought were) nice even coats, sanding lightly by hand with 220 grit sandpaper in between coats. After 8 coats over 3 days, my tops were kind of shiny looking but there were a bunch of ridges in the clear coat. No bueno.
I called in the hubs to help, since he's done several projects with polyurathene that have turned out beautifully. Turns out I needed to be using about 1000% MORE poly on each coat than I had used. He *very carefully* sanded the tops with his palm sander (I couldn't watch - I didn't want to see in case it went through the stain coat and down to the wood, which would have meant the tops were ruined). He did the next 3 coats of poly over 2 days, sanding lightly by hand in between each coat. So after 11 coats of polyurethane, our tops were finally done. We attached each top with 4 1" screws from underneath the top Ikea piece. Aren't they beautiful? I love the wood grain and the color.
Then came the bottoms. I knew I wanted to add baseboards to the bottom for a beefier, more polished look. I found this baseboard at our local Home Depot and bought enough to cover the fronts and both sides of the 2 cabinets. Hubs helped me with this too - since these were critical angles and he 100% has more experience cutting and attaching baseboards than I do, so I let him take the lead here.
We added a scrap piece of wood to the toe kick portion of the Rast to build it out enough where the baseboard could nail into something. Only the top front edge of this will be seen, so it doesn't have to be the prettiest piece of wood. A little wood glue and a few nails from the nail gun held it in place just fine.
After the baseboard pieces were attached, I filled all of the nail holes and seams with Elmer's wood filler. The seams required a few coats to make sure they were good and filled. When everything was dry, I primed the added piece of wood and then painted that and the baseboards with the same Behr semi-gloss trim paint as the rest of the piece.
Then we just had to add the knobs and put the drawers in. Check out Part 2 of our Rast hack here where I go into detail about the fabric covered drawer bottoms and cost effective update for the knobs.
Overall, I'm thrilled with the result, even if it did take way longer than expected! Not too bad for a $35 dresser.