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IKEA Malm dresser hack: how to upcycle a Malm nightstand or dresser

Ikea malm bedside table hack makeover with Lick paint Black 01

WordsMaha Elley


Thanks to its simple and streamlined design, the Malm bedside table is one of IKEA's most popular and versatile products. It is also one of the most "hacked" items in their range, with more and more decorators getting creative with quirky budget DIY hacks that give the piece a whole new, personalized look. Read on to find out everything you need to know about IKEA Malm furniture and check out a fun example from our community, who transforms their Malm bedside table with a lick of paint.

Can you upcycle IKEA Malm furniture?

Want to give your space a fresh look without much investment? Upcycling your furniture is one of the most affordable and effective ways to do just. IKEA Malm furniture has a simple, streamlined design that provides the perfect blank canvas on which to get creative and add your personal touch. Not only can it save you the expense of having to get new furniture, but you’ll also have a refreshed piece that’s totally unique. And it’s great for the environment. Not a DIY expert? No worries, once you’ve revived one piece, you’ll quickly realize that you don’t need to be a pro to upcycle with impact.

Can you paint IKEA Malm furniture?

Yes, you can! In fact, painting IKEA Malm furniture is a great way to give it a new lease of life. Painting wood furniture can make older pieces look newer, and also help them match a new decor scheme. If you are painting over a white stained oak veneer Malm piece, just make sure to sand and apply a primer before you start. Prime by applying a mist coat of 70% paint and 30% water. Once you’ve applied the primer, leave to dry before painting. 

Good news is, if your Malm furniture is already painted you can skip the priming step. 

Get inspired by this IKEA Malm bedside table hack

We’re lucky to have so many creative members who inspire us in our very own Lick community. @anotherfknflat from our community even gave us a full breakdown of the steps they took to do an IKEA Malm bedside table hack. Learn more about the steps they took to upcycle their bedside table and get inspired by this IKEA malm hack.

What you’ll need to upcycle your IKEA Malm bedside table

First, get all your tools ready: 

  • Lick paint
  • IKEA Malm unit or any bedside table
  • x4 Stripwood (28mm x 4mm x 2.4m) (you can get this from Wickes
  • White multi-surface primer
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Wood glue
  • Wood dye (optional)

IKEA Malm bedside table hack: DIY steps 

Follow the DIY steps that @anotherfknflat took: 

  1. Start with sanding. Remove drawers and lightly sand down the surfaces/drawer edges using light sandpaper. 
  2. Get rid of any dust. Wipe down with a dry cloth to remove any dust from the sandpaper.
  3. Prepare with primer. Using a white multi-surface primer, paint the whole unit on the sections which will be visible. You can paint the inside as well if you wish, but it’s not necessary. 
  4. Wait for the primer to dry. Check primer to see how long the drying process is (we waited 2 hours before applying paint). 
  5. Start getting that color on. Using your Lick paint color of choice and a small paint roller, paint your first coat all over the entire unit. 
  6. Let it dry before the second coat. Wait until dry and then apply another coat of paint. 
  7. Measure and cut the stripwood. Starting with the drawer fronts, measure the width and cut down x2 stripwood into the given length. Keep in mind that the drawer front is a different size to the top of the unit. 
  8. Optional step: you can either keep the wood as is or dye the wood to a different tone. If you do choose to dye the wood, dab a cloth with the dye each time, rub it into the wood and leave to dry (we gave them two coats). 
  9. Stick the wood panels on. Using wood glue, draw a line across the back of each wood panel and place into position. Hold into place with a bit of force for around 20 seconds to make sure they’re firmly attached. 
  10. Repeat the last 3 steps for the top of the unit. And et voila, you’ve got your very own upcycled Ikea Malm unit. 

You can use these same steps for any size unit and any size stripwood. Just keep in mind how much stripwood you may need and make sure the stripwood isn't too big/heavy for the wood glue to hold without using nails.