IKEA Hack: How to Upcycle a Bedside Table

Our bedside tables have always let our bedroom down. I would paint the walls, put up wallpaper and decorate the bedroom with art, patterned bedding and rugs and our bedside tables would stand out like a sore thumb.

how to upcycle an ikea malm bedside table

We moved into our previous house straight out of military married quarters so didn’t own any furniture, apart from our washing machine and fridge/freezer! With everything to buy, we did a bulk order from IKEA and purchased several Malm bedroom items, including the Malm bedside tables.

A very early Instagram shot of my old bedroom with Malm bedside table. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t think it suits my style!

They suited our bedroom to begin with as it was decorated grey, blue and white. This was before I joined Instagram and gradually, I added colour and pattern to my house and knew I would either have to buy new bedside tables, or upcycle them.

Our current bedroom. These Gabin bedside tables from La Redoute were “borrowed” from my son’s bedroom for a brand photo shoot.

I love to upcycle furniture so I decided to keep the bedside tables as there was nothing wrong with them. They were sturdy, a good size and it would have been a waste of money to try and resell them and buy new ones.

I also love being creative and coming up with new bespoke designs for furniture. One of my favourites to date has to be the upcycle of this welsh dresser

One of my previous upcycles, a charity shop purchase Welsh Dresser.

I started pinning lots of bedside tables that I liked the look of and checked out my favourite online homeware stores to see what caught my eye. I knew I wanted to paint them green to bring out the colours in our rug and wardrobes, but I also wanted to add detail and pattern.

I loved this idea by @anotherfknflat

I found this image below online and my design started to take shape!

Priya side table – Dunelm

I loved the wood pattern on the drawers so decided to do something similar, painting the rest of the bedside tables green and using gold handles to add a bit of luxury detailing.

Bedside Table Upcycle

Once you have the design in place, you will need:

Tools for the job

Malm bedside table



Paint (I used Dulux Midnight Garden)

Wooden half dowels

Saw (I used a jig saw)


Paint brush

Medium pile small roller 

No more nails

Decorative items (I used some gold handles and gold feet for the finishing touches)

How to – 

First of all, I took the drawers out and lightly sanded the table and drawers to give it a smooth finish. I then cleaned the table with sugar soap and applied a wood primer. Applying a primer isn’t always necessary, but as the tables were a gloss finish, they needed primer to give the paint more to stick to. They needed 2 coats, with an hour drying time in between.

Lightly sand and clean the drawers

Once the primer was dry, I then painted the tables and drawers. Initially I went with Valspar Blue Jade as we had some of this paint leftover and I thought the dark teal colour would be perfect for our bedroom. However, I realised it was too similar a colour to our bed so decided to go for a lighter green, Dulux Midnight Garden, to help the bedside tables stand out more.

Using a small roller brush, I initially painted the drawers dark green…

Once the paint had dried, I decided to add feet to elevate the tables. Initially, I wasn’t going to do this, but I felt the bedside tables still looked like a cheap box without the addition of some legs! I went with gold triangle furniture legs as they look more luxurious and go together well with the handles.

Gold legs from Amazon

They were easy to attach, I just drilled some holes in the bottom of the bedside tables and screwed them in.

Easily screwed into the bottom of the tables.
Standing pretty

The drawers

Now for the creative and fun part! Using a tape measure, pencil and saw, I cut 7 half dowels to match the length of the drawers and sandpapered the edges. I then measured out the remaining space and starting from the bottom, cut the length of half dowels with a 45-degree edge and then measured from top to bottom to cut the corresponding half dowel. I did this until it covered the whole drawer.

I measured the height of the drawers and cut 7 half dowels for each drawer
Making sure they fit!
Creating the pattern
Happy with the results!

This took a bit of trial and error (note to self, buy a mitre box! ), but once I was happy with how the pattern looked, I then glued the dowels onto the drawer using No More Nails.

A little bit of glue to hold the dowels in place

I left the dowels and glue to dry for about half an hour and then drilled some holes in the middle to attach the gold handles.

Dowels glued on and handle screwed in
Checking the drawer! Looking good 🙂

Finally, I wanted the wood half dowels to be a bit darker and more of an oak colour. I bought some Ronseal Satin Dark Oak varnish and gave the drawers a few coats.

Ronseal Dark Oak
You can see the difference immediately
First coat on
First coat, you can see the difference between the 2 drawers

And that’s it! It took me a day to complete and I absolutely love the results. It’s completely transformed the IKEA Malm bedside tables and is one of my favourite IKEA hacks to date. I’ve just got to find time to do the other one now!

Matching my dress to my bedding!
Goes perfectly with my La Redoute lamp



What do you think?

Mel x

ikea hack how to upcycle a malm bedside table

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