Friday, February 22, 2013

Redefining the Ladies' Boudoir with Ikea

The alternate title to this post was "Frenching My Dresser."

My Ikea Malm series dresser has been feeling a little neglected, as it watches other furniture in my room get makeovers, so of course I thought my next project had to be transforming this modular piece into the ultimate 18th century ladies' boudoir.

For inspiration, I found this gorgeous 18th century French dresser from, which is like Temptation Island for people who like the 18th century.

Unfortunately, restored French furniture from 250 years ago is probably out of the price range of, say, your average freelance writer.

So, instead, here's the idea. This clever Pinterester restored a drab dresser with spray paint and lace:
My Malm dresser may not have fancy swirly legs and accents, but it still deserves to feel 18th century-fabulous.

For this project, you will need:

  • paint primer (I use Glidden's)
  • 2 paint colors: a pale one for the undertone, and a darker one for the lace drawer fronts (I just find some interior paints I like at Home Depot and ask them to make me up some sample paint pots; they cost less than $3 each and are perfect for smaller projects)
  • a disposable spray can dispenser (this was $4 at Home Depot, and preferable because you can use any color with it; ready-made spray paints tend to come in a fixed selection of colors)
  • pieces of lace large enough to cover the front of your drawers (I have two sizes of drawer, so I measured each and bought a yard of cheap-o lace fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics and used the same two pieces of lace for all six drawers)
  • painter's tape to tape the lace down (this is nice because it won't leave sticky stuff on your drawers)
  • a cup of tea, preferably Lady Grey tea, since we are all ladies here

First, empty your drawers of all your ladies' things, aka bras from Target, and pull out the drawers from the dresser. Sand and prime the body of the dresser and the drawer fronts. Depending on your preferences and type of dresser, you may also want to paint the sides and insides of the drawers; the drawer fronts on my dresser stick out beyond the actual dimensions of the drawer, so it wasn't necessary for me.

After the primer dries, paint the dresser and drawer fronts in your lighter undertone color (it's hard to see in this light but I chose a very pale mint green). You should let this dry for a couple of hours, so while that dries, you can do some other thing, like watch Property Brothers on HGTV or pet a cat.

Once everything is dry, take your lace and lay it over one of the drawer fronts; measure and cut enough to wrap around the drawer front and tape underneath so you get a nice, flat surface for the paint to take on the stencil:

Grab your disposable spray can and follow the instructions to dilute the darker paint you chose, enough to go through the spray nozzle. The guy at Home Depot told me that for most interior paints, it's fine to dilute them with a little water; only oil-based paints require actual paint thinner. I used about a capful of water per 2 oz. of paint, but I really just eye-balled it:

Holding the spray can about 6-8 inches away from the surface of the drawers, spray your paint over the lace covering. It's important to keep your hand moving as you spray so you get even color; if you hold your hand in one place, you're likely to get a blob of paint that looks uneven with the rest of the surface. Spray until you get the drawer to the desired color.

Because the paint layer is so thin, these dry pretty quick, but even so, let them sit at least a half hour to an hour before carefully untaping the lace and peeling it back. But when you do...

Gorgeous!! Shabby-chic 18th century glam!! Who knew Malm had it in her?

You can sand the edges a bit if you want your piece to look a little more shabby-chic, or if you love it as is, just put the drawers back and admire how crafty and mod-18th century you are.

Put your ladies' things back in your lovely new boudoir, make yourself another cup of tea, and settle back to revel in the best modern girl's 18th century bedroom piece.


  1. Beautiful job! Incredibly impressive!! Also- tea is wonderful :)

    1. Thank you! Feel free to shoot me any ideas you'd like me to explore.. :-)