Ikea Malm Hack: How to Upcycle These Popular Drawers

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 and always considered an IKEA malm hack.

When we moved into our house, only one room 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 colors.

I thought that was a fair deal! 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. 

two Malm 3 drawers in our bedroom with a micke desk from ikea. The walls are painted pink and there is the usual mess made when decorating a room
A messy bedroom preparing to upcycle the drawers

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

As you all probably know, I love an upcycle and an IKEA hack and I love creating new furniture out of old. I decided to create a stylish office space in the bedroom that fitted in with the décor and tried to use what I already had, where I could.

It would also eventually 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.

IKEA 3 drawer malm dimensions
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 Micke 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!)

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 colors that connect to nature at the moment so I knew that the cane webbing would look perfect in our bedroom. Using cane webbing is a quick and easy way to update old (or tired) furniture. 

stretching and flattening the cane webbing on the floor 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 color out first on the chest of drawers, but I didn’t think the teal color was right for this upcycle. We have a dark green/jade headboard in the room and the teal color clashes with it. 

I went back to Valspar and bought a pot of Ebony Lake. It is a beautiful dark forest green and extremely rich in color, almost black.

ikea malm dresser and Micke desk all painted in Valspar ebony lake with cane webbing attached to the front.

Malm Chest of Drawers Upcycle

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

all the tools for the job. staple gun, paint, no more nails glue, saw, wood filler, tape measure and new gold handles
Materials for the job

What I Used:

How to Upcycle Malm Drawers

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

cleaned malm drawers ready to be primed
Ready to apply primer
clean malm drawers ready to be primed

As the Malm 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!

However, if you give them a good sanding down, to begin with, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. 

the primer going on but not sticking to the Micke desk
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 color!

painting the malm drawers Valspar ebony lake
2nd coat going on
a beautiful dark green colour
After 3 coats, a beautiful dark green emerges
the tops of the drawers painted and ready to have cane webbing glued to them
Fabulous!

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.

cane webbing being cut with a very sharp pair of scissors
Cutting the cane with sharp scissors
the cane webbing cut and ready to be stapled onto the drawers
Perfect fit
using a staple gun to attach the cane webbing to the drawers
Using a staple gun to fix the cane webbing to the drawers. So satisfying!
cane webbing attached with staples
You might have to hammer some nails in
cane webbing on painted ikea malm drawers
Ready to fix the frame

Once you have used the staple gun to fix the cane, you might have to go around 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 the 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 realized I was just making more work for myself and that the panel pins did the job just fine.

using a saw to cut the wooden half dowels
Using a saw and mitre box to cut the dowels
cane webbing being framed by the half wooden 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 caused more mess and as long as you are careful when 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 my IKEA Malm bedside table hack 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 screwed onto the front of the drawers
Dark green and gold are 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 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 corkboard, shelves, books, plants, and lots of faffery, the Malm chest of drawers really came into their own! I really am in love with my office space!

ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
The finished look
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
I love this view when I walk in the room
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
The handles go so well with the cane
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
I decided not to paint the desk door and keep it oak
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
Cork board
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
The handles also look good against the dark green
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
Not a bad place to work
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
I added 3 shelves and painted them in Ronseal Medium oak
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
Details
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
I love the desk just as much as the Malm chest of drawers
ikea malm hack drawers painted in dark green with cane webbing, ikea micke desk painted dark green with cane webbing on the cupboard. The window has wooden blinds and there are shelves with books to the right of the window. Lots of plants finish off the bedroom
Lots of light and natural materials

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

I think the dark green works beautifully against the cane webbing and gold handles and it inspired the rest of the decor in our bedroom.

What do you think? 

ikea hack malm chest of drawers upcycle

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14 Comments

  1. 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

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

    1. 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 🙂

      1. 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.

        1. 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. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

      1. 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. 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!

    1. 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

  5. Hi, I am looking at doing this on a Malm desk, myself but was wondering about if it was at all sticky afterward? The draw for me getting an Ikea desk is that it is a clean large workspace so want to make sure it would stay that way!

    1. Hi Kiera, it’s not sticky, but the paint on the Micke desk has started to peel away, mainly because of the desk material and I didn’t use a primer like Zinsser Shellac. I would definitely say when it comes to painting a desk, don’t! 🙂 Or, if you want all the furniture to look the same, maybe get some vinyl to wrap the tops. That’s what I’m going to do!

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