Malm Chest of Drawers Ikea Hack: Creating a Stylish Office Space

We have owned various shapes and sizes of IKEA Malm chest of drawers for the bedroom and although they are fab at doing their job, storing clothes, they are a bit lacking in style. But I didn’t want to throw them away. 

When we moved into our house, there was only one room that could be used as a dedicated office space and my working from home husband nabbed that. To be fair, the deal was, if I wanted to decorate the whole house as I pleased, he wanted one room where he could hang his Army memorabilia and his picture of The Queen without me faffing about with cushions and paint colours. I thought that was a fair deal!

malm chest of drawers ikea hack

Whilst we were renovating downstairs, we decided the best place to put my office space was in our master bedroom. We are lucky with very large patio doors leading out onto a balcony in our bedroom with sea views, so I wanted my desk to face the views. 

Eventually, we will be creating a guest bedroom/play room/office space in the old kitchen so I didn’t want to spend any money on new furniture, but our Ikea Malm chest of drawers looked out of place in our green and pink room.

A messy bedroom preparing to upcycle the drawers

As you all probably know, I love an upcycle and I love creating new furniture out of old, so I decided to create a stylish office space in the bedroom that fitted in with the décor. It could also be used as a dressing area and somewhere to put our clothes when I eventually moved working from home out of our bedroom and downstairs to my own office space.

Malm measurements

We already had the IKEA Malm chest of drawers, so I searched for a desk that could sit alongside the drawers and were the same height (or thereabouts) so they looked custom made. Almost!

I found this desk on the IKEA website. At 75cm in height, it was only 3cm smaller than the Malm chest of drawers so it would sit perfectly in-between the two (they do a Malm dressing table that would have been perfect, but it was too long in length!)

Micke oak effect desk – IKEA

I ordered some cane webbing from Etsy about 2 years ago when cane webbing furniture began to become extremely popular but I just never got around to using it. I’m absolutely loving natural materials and colours that connect to nature at the moment so I knew that the cane webbing would look perfect in our bedroom.

Trying to flatten the cane ready to use. It had been rolled up and shoved in a corner for 2 years!

We had some Valspar Blue Jade paint left so I tested this colour out first on the chest of drawers, but I didn’t think the teal colour was right for this upcycle, so I went back to Valspar and bought a pot of Ebony Lake. It is a beautiful dark forest green and extremely rich in colour.

Malm Chest of Drawers Upcycle

With the materials and colour chosen, this is how I upcycled our Malm chest of drawers.

Materials for the job

What I used

2 sets of IKEA Malm Chest of drawers

IKEA Micke desk

Paint colour – Valspar Ebony Lake

A really good primer!

Cane webbing

Paint roller and brushes

Saw & Mitre box

Half wooden dowels

Wood filler

Wood glue

Staple gun

Panel pins

Tape measure

Gold handles

How to upcycle your Malm chest of drawers

I lightly sanded the Malm chest of drawers and the desk and then cleaned them with sugar soap. I then applied a thick coat of primer everywhere where I wanted to paint.

Ready to apply primer

As the Malm chest of drawers are quite glossy in nature, I recommend an extremely good primer that has shellac in it, like Zinsser, as the paint just peels off!

The primer going on ready to paint

Once the primer is dry, apply the paint onto the drawers and desk. This needed around 3 coats as the paint is such a dark colour!

2nd coat going on
After 3 coats, a beautiful dark green emerges

Next, you need to fix the cane webbing to the drawers. I used a staple gun and it was really quick and simple. I cut it to size with a really sharp pair of scissors, measured out the drawer to make sure the cane webbing sat in the middle and then stapled from the middle of the cane webbing and worked my way out. I made sure I kept the cane webbing tight all around so that it didn’t sag.

Cutting the cane with sharp scissors
Perfect fit
Using a staple gun to fix the cane webbing to the drawers. So satisfying!
You might have to hammer some nails in
Ready to fix the frame

Once you have used the staple gun to fix the cane, you might have to go round the drawer with a hammer to make sure all the staples are flush and ready to put the frame on.

I used wooden half dowels to frame the edges of the cane webbing to keep it looking neat. I measured out the length of dowels first, then cut them at 45 degrees angles using a saw and mitre box.

I painted them in Ebony Lake and then secured them with panel pins. I used wood glue with the first dowel to fix it in place, but I soon realised I was just making more work for myself and that the panel pins did the job just fine.

Using a saw and mitre box to cut the dowels
Framing the cane webbing to keep it neat and tidy

When the frames are secured and in place, you can use wood filler to fill in the corners of the frames and over the panel pins. However, I found this just caused more mess and as long as you are really careful when you are measuring out the frames and securing them, they shouldn’t need wood filler.

Once all the cane webbing and frames were in place and secure, the final job was to add some handles! I had some gold handles left from a previous Malm upcyle I did (you can see this upcycle here) and realised they were perfect for our Malm chest of drawers. I fixed them by drilling a hole through the drawers and using the screws provided.

Gold handles from Amazon
Dark green and gold is one of my favourite combinations!

And that’s all there is to it really. It took me about 3 days to complete but that’s because I did 2 Malm chest of drawers, one desk and a lot of waiting in between for the paint to dry.

As with anything, once they were all put together and I added some cork board, shelves and lots of faffery, the Malm chest of drawers really came into their own! I really am in love with my office space!

The finished look
I love this view when I walk in the room
The handles go so well with the cane
I decided not to paint the desk door and keep it oak
Cork board
The handles also look good against the dark green
Not a bad place to work
I added 3 shelves and painted them in Ronseal Medium oak
I love the desk just as much as the Malm chest of drawers
Lots of light and natural materials

I couldn’t be happier with how the IKEA Malm chest of drawers and desk have turned out! I loved pulling this corner of our bedroom together and now it’s an absolute pleasure to work here. 

What do you think? 

Mel x

ikea hack malm chest of drawers upcycle


  1. Wendy
    13/02/2022 / 9:43 am

    Absolutely love this!!! Didn’t realise you could buy the cane webbing! I’m definitely going to have a go at this. The transformation is incredible. Your office space looks absolutely beautiful. Thank you for inspiring me again x

    • Melanie Boyden
      13/02/2022 / 4:02 pm

      Hi Wendy
      Thank you! I am so happy with how this turned out, it’s better than I could have hoped for. The cane webbing can be a little expensive for what it is, but I think that’s because it is in high demand and I think it’s worth the cost as it makes the furniture look so much more expensive!
      Mel x

  2. Sarah
    20/02/2022 / 10:32 am

    Love this. Have you got a link to the shelves? They look fab but I can’t find them on the Homebase website

    • Melanie Boyden
      21/02/2022 / 4:29 pm

      Hi Sarah, I have had a lot of questions about these shelves! They are in fact a 120cm plank of pine from Homebase which I cut in half and varnished using Ronseal Medium Oak. Mel 🙂

      • Sarah
        06/03/2022 / 9:55 am

        Amazing is that all! Wow! Thank you. Were the little bracket clips from Homebase too? Think I saw them on your stories but can’t remember.

        • Melanie Boyden
          11/03/2022 / 7:54 pm

          Yes, I couldn’t find the perfect sized shelves so decided to take the matters into my own hands! The brackets are from Homebase, I’m not sure if you follow me on Instagram but I put a tutorial reel up yesterday with a how to. Mel x

  3. Jamie
    21/02/2022 / 2:35 pm

    Hi Melanie! This is absolutely stunning and exactly what I’ve been looking for for my home office. How were able to get the desk and dressers flush? They look perfect in the pictures despite being 1.25in (or 3cm) different in height.

    • Melanie Boyden
      21/02/2022 / 4:27 pm

      Hi Jamie. Thank you! I forgot to mention that I bought 6 x 30mm door stoppers from Amazon and fixed them to the bottom of the desk. It makes it the perfect height. Mel 🙂

      • Jamie
        21/02/2022 / 11:53 pm

        Thanks, Melanie! If you don’t mind, would you be able to share the stoppers you purchased? I’ve been searching Amazon and Google but can’t seem to find the right height/diameter.

  4. nicole
    03/05/2022 / 2:42 pm

    Hi Melanie! OMG, you saved me! This is gorgeous! Question—the depth of the desk is 50 and the drawers are 48. How did you make everything look so even? Was it a noticeable difference? Thank you!

    • Melanie Boyden
      10/05/2022 / 12:07 pm

      It actually worked out quite well as we have the radiator behind the desk. So the Malm dressers are pulled forward ever so slightly to align with the desk. It’s not noticeable at all

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