Monday, September 5, 2011

Ikea Hemnes dresser hack! (& a Pinterest challenge project)

Do you remember a month ago when I transformed these black-brown Hemnes nightstands from this:

To this?

Well, this weekend it was finally time for the dresser to face the same fate. It worked out great being a holiday weekend, because I had two days to complete the project and one day for the poly to cure (I only waited a few hours with the nightstands and it did not get along well with the bottoms of the freshly spray painted lamp bases).

So here's what I was working with:

Not a bad looking dresser at all, but way too dark for the room (especially against all the dark wood floors!)

Step #1: Remove the drawers

It might have been a good idea to also bring the dresser into the garage, but I was home alone all weekend and my tiny self was not about to make this happen. I was barely able to take the mirror down by myself.

Step 2: Prep the drawers for paint.

This included the long and tedious process of taping around the perimeter of the dark wood, then retaping paper towels on to be extra safe.

Step 3: Primer everything

I think it looks better already!
I used 4 coats of primer to cover completely. Probably could have gotten away with 3, but I didn't want to take any chances.

Step 4: Apply paint

I did not take pics of this step. Just visualize a white dresser and drawers... much like the primered version. I used 2-3 coats to fully cover.

Step 5: Lightly sand.

I also chose not to take pics of this because you can't really see the detail. I had used a foam roller to apply all of the paint and wasn't entirely happy with the subtle orange-peel texture. I used 220 grit and my electric sander to do the job. This is the first time I've sanded after painting and I think it is the secret to a smooth finish.

Step 6: Distress.

This is always the most exciting part... probably because it's instant results (unlike primer/painting/poly-ing). I just grabbed a square of rough sandpaper and went to work along all the edges and corners.

Step 7: Apply first coat of poly.

Again, no pictures because it's hard to really see. I used Minwax's water-based Polycrylic (same as on the nightstands, it's pretty good stuff).

Step 8: Lightly sand again.

The instructions on the poly say to sand in between coats (which I skipped on the nightstands out of laziness), but this time I did as instructed, but just to the top of the dresser to make sure the finish was as smooth as possible.

Step 9: Apply coat #2 of poly, sand more, and apply last coat of poly.

Ok, so I combined a few steps here but this was getting too long .... so finally,

Step 10: Reattach hardware (I love the knobs the dresser came with, so I kept em)

And here is what my 3 (well, technically 2) days of hard work got me...

What do you think? Better than the black? I feel like a weight has been lifted in the room... it's so much brighter and happier now (or maybe I just am)... either way, well worth it! I think I'll sleep better tonight :)

Moving along... I'm officially hopping on this bandwagon:

This particular pin and caught my eye a while back and I thought it was pretty genius:

Anyway, a little while ago I was strolling through the aisles of Target and noticed this vase on the clearance rack:

Not exactly my style.... but check out this price:

Um.... I don't care how fug this thing is if I'm saving $35. Nicely done, Target.

So I took it home and sat it in the corner, knowing I'd figure out some way to jazz it up. Then I remembered that pinterest project and I did a small happy dance.

Since I was already going to go through the process, I found a couple other items I could use for my project. Like a random aqua vase I've had since highschool and a bottle of wine I polished off the night before.

Sure, these will work.

Next I came up with a plan for the pattern. I didn't trust myself to freehand this, so I made a different look for each and traced some guides with paper and tape:

Actually, I lied. I freehanded this one. Mad skills.

After my templates were drawn, I headed to Michaels to pick up some puffy paint and matte spraypaint ($7 after a 50% off coupon). I came home with the goods and carefully applied the paint... one dot at a time.

For anyone trying this at home... make your dots poofier than you anticipate, because the poofs settle and flatten. I had to re-poof the turquoise vase becuse the dots had settled too much.

And here they are, all dotted up and ready for paint!

Here they are in the spray paint chamber, mid-coverage:

and after several coats:

And here they are, all pretty in the light:

I used flat spray paint, but I'm considering grabbing some satin and going over them once or twice because the texture is a bit chalky and weird up close. But from afar, I heart them. Especially for a total investment of around $12. Thank you pinterest!

That is all for this week. I'm still on the months long, never-ending hunt for a craigslist dining table... cross your fingers it happens this week. If not, I'll find something else to tackle... as always :)


  1. Well done on the challenge. I have a few randoms laying around that are calling my name, they need some poof...

  2. Those turned out so cute! I love the dresser, it totally lightens up the room!

  3. wow you did such a great job! i love the after pix!

  4. I am new to your blog - I love the dresser and the vases!!! I just bought puffy paint and spray paint yesterday to try this with some old vases I have on hand. However, I bought glossy paint so I hope they turn out okay. I'll be keeping my eye out for more cheap vases/bottles to paint after seeing yours, I love the results!

  5. I love what you did to the dresser! It has inspired me to do the same to mine. I have a collection of different shaped bottles and I can't wait to spray them. I love how you added texture to them. You're super creative!

  6. I love the dresser. You have inspired us to do the same to our IKEA table. Want to go from brown to white as you did. Can you tell me what brand and type of primer and paint you used? thanks so much!!!!!

  7. I just found your blog (probably me and 4,000 other YHL readers, right?) and I'm in love with all your projects. I've been eyeing up that same pin, and every old bottle we have for months -- yours look amazing!! I can't wait to paint mine now!

  8. hello.

    what a great idea.

    thank you so match

    Greatings send you Conny

  9. I love your Hemnes hack! So much so, I started to do my own hemnes pieces myself! I made the mistake of trying to do EVERYTHING in one weekend so now I have furniture pieces everywhere, but its okay because I know that because of this post, its going to turn out AMAZING!

  10. So I have been in the process of painting my hemnes massive dresser this entire week and sadly failed. I wish I would have seen your helpful DIY sooner! For now I am entering the tedious process of peeling off all the paint from my dresser and then starting from scratch! Yours looks amazing and I hope that mine will soon as well!


  11. I love your blog! Thanks for sharing! I have the same IKEA dresser, however mine is already white. I like the idea of distressing it though. Any way I could paint it a color and then apply white?

    1. That sounds like a lot of work! I would just sand the edges and see what happens. If it's wood colored underneath and you want it black, try wiping the exposed wood down with an ebony stain (and making sure to wipe it up immediately so it doesn't settle into the white surface). Good luck!

    2. I've done this with Annie Sloan charcoal. I just painted the edges of the dresser and the perimeters of the drawers and frames. Then let it dry and painted over with a soft taupe color. I'll post pics, but it's looking awesome!

  12. Thanks for sharing this. I painted my Hemnes (Antique Stain) and followed the same approach you used - came out perfect! So much better against my pale green walls and white trim bedroom. Thanks!!!!

  13. Measure the free space in your room. Not only should you make sure that you have the length and width measurements, you should also make sure that you know how high your dresser can be.

  14. I'm SO glad you posted this!! I'm re-designing my master bedroom and have that exact dresser in dark brown, but almost went out and bought a new white one :) I'm definitely doing this soon, I just hope it turns out as fabulous as yours! Thanks for being so amazing and for providing me a new blog to be addicted to! xoxo

  15. I know this is super random but what color is on the walls in your bedroom. I'm getting ready to redo our room and I love how bright and fresh your walls are.

    Thank you!


  16. Just curious what mirror you have on top of your dresser? We just got the same dresser and I'm trying to find some ways to style the top of it. Thanks!

  17. It's just a cheap mirror I found on Craigslist a long time ago and refinished! I always check there first for mirrors.

  18. okay Jenna Sue - I've officially fallen in love with your blog! we have that same dresser, and I'm so not a DIYer and had thought I would have to sell and buy new furniture, you ROCK thanks for 1. saving me money & 2. being such an inspiration.

  19. Hi Jenna! I'm about to do the same thing you did with your Hemnes dresser. For the drawers, did you paint them or use a spray? And for the project as a whole did you use flat, semi-gloss, or high-gloss?

    Thanks in advance!

  20. That mirror is just the thing I'm looking for to spruce up my dresser. Did you stain it, and if so, what did you use? I love the grey-ish look of it. Also, any idea the dimensions of the mirror? I really like the proportions. Thanks!!

  21. That mirror is just the thing I'm looking for to spruce up my dresser. Did you stain it, and if so, what did you use? I love the grey-ish look of it. Also, any idea the dimensions of the mirror? I really like the proportions. Thanks!!

    1. You can see how I refinished it here:

      It's about 34x47". Hope that helps!

  22. Hi I absolutely love this tutorial! I've been wanting the white one for ages but can't afford to spend $500 on it with a new bub due in a couple of weeks. I was lucky enough to fin a cheaper one online however its like a bluey teal colour and doesn't suit. Just wondering if you think it would be better to sand the whole unit before painting or if that would just ruin it? I really don't want any of the blue to shine through...

  23. The reason I ask is because I'm worried the paint might crack or peel seeing it was applied to a surface that already had a high gloss finish...did you find this at all?

    1. The black/brown finish is smooth and not glossy at all so I didn't run into that. If yours is gloss I would definitely do a light sanding first followed by primer and paint!

  24. clever idea with the bottles!

  25. Hi :) I loved your vases and used them in a post I wrote about shopping Goodwill for fun items. I hope that's okay!

    PS: You can see it here:

  26. Were you aware that these products actually come in 2 types of white?

  27. I might just try your Hemnes hack on my dark Hemnes desk. I love how the dark shows on distressing. I kinda love the two-toned dark on top and white body look too, but I'm a bit scared to try ha!

  28. Did you sand the dresser first before applying the primer? Both projects were great!

  29. I am considering the Hemnes black brown chest for my sons room.... can you tell me if it is more black or brown? I'm looking for something to match a black bookshelf and like the style of the Hemnes chest, wondering if it will blend well.

    1. Ours was definitely black but I've seen photos of some that had a lot of brown in it. They might all be different!

  30. What is the wall color? I am in love