Easy Coastal Transformations for Ikea Dressers

My dad has a love of the ocean. He grew up spending summers at the beach, and it’s one of those memories that still stirs him. He’s downsizing his main home to a condo and invested in a getaway house near the ocean. A big part of his vision is to have our boys play on the beach the way he did, so I know we’ll be at the house a lot, too.

I’ve been charged with putting his house together, which at times has been a curse (construction project from &$@%!) but is, of course, also very exciting. I can’t deny I love a good decorating project and am fortunate to have this opportunity from my dad. And of course, since we’re by the ocean, I’d love to incorporate elements of a beach house into the design.

One of the many beautiful things the ocean gives us is the beautiful bleached grey patina of weathered driftwood. This dresser from West Elm caught my eye, because of the organic feel of the wood tiles and the fresh look of white against wood.


West Elm prices are reasonable, but I had a whole house to finish, so I was hoping for a lower-priced option. What do you think when you think of inexpensive furniture? Ikea, of course! Ikea is a real mix of flimsy stuff that is barely worth the low prices and some really fantastic finds. For furniture, I try to stick with their solid wood pieces, which are sturdier and will last a lot longer than paperboard and foil. These Hemnes dressers definitely feel like they’re sturdy and a good value.
One of the current finishes at Ikea is this gray-brown, which I think has the look of driftwood. The super-easy trick I used was to buy two Hemnes dressers in white and two in grey – all for the price of one dresser from West Elm. I then swapped the drawers between the two sets, and tada! Instant coastal charm with a clean look that will endure!

A simple swap was all I needed for the master bedroom dressers, and the white matches the West Elm Window Headboard perfectly.

Ikea Hemnes dresser hack - swap the drawers for a coastal transformation. By Jewels at Home

White dresser with gray-brown drawers in the master bedroom.

Ikea Hemnes dresser hack - swap the drawers for a coastal transformation. By Jewels at Home

For the kids’ bunk room, I wanted to use a surfing theme, so I painted surfboards on the drawers. The designs were taken from some of the bedding in the room. This is a fun coastal look that is great for young kids and still works for teens.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers in the boys’ bunk room.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

Gray-brown Hemnes dresser transformed with painted white drawers. By Jewels at Home.

How to:
To paint the drawers, I sanded the drawer fronts lightly and sprayed them with white primer. I painted the surfboards with acrylic craft paints then sprayed a clear finish on top.

By the way, I realize not everyone needs multiple dressers, but you could swap with a friend or just paint the drawer fronts for the same effect. It was easy to work with the panels before I assembled the drawers.

Hope you’re getting the calm feeling of the beach from these easy and inexpensive dresser makeovers!


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14 thoughts on “Easy Coastal Transformations for Ikea Dressers

  1. What a wonderful trick! I have several IKEA MALM dressers, in pink and purple, and I might just swap out a couple of drawers to integrate better into my daughters’ room. I’m very inspired by this post!

    • Thanks, Erika! I’m very happy with how they turned out and would love to see what you do! There are so many options for this easy idea. I’ve seen a lot of great-looking furniture with a mix of white and espresso/chocolate wood that could be recreated this way.

    • Thank you, Sarah! I was so happy when I figured this out, because it’s such a easy way to get a whole new look from a standard Ikea dresser. People probably wondered what my hubby and I were doing, when we tested it out at the Ikea store:) I love the great ideas over at Naptime Delights and would love to share. Thanks!

  2. I love this!! I was actually thinking about getting a couple of the IKEA TARVA three drawer dressers and hacking them in a similar fashion. I found, though, that the dressers are quite huge and maybe even too tall to be right next to the bed like a nightstand. It looks to me like you might have cut down on the height of the HIMNES dressers (and quite well I might add). I am so afraid too saw into any furniture, let alone paint it!!
    This was such a great idea on your part. And I love what you did with the pieces in your kids’ room!

    • Thanks so much, Danielle! We only cut down the Hemnes dressers, because the windows open inward and would have hit the dressers. I think the height would have worked otherwise, but our bed is also pretty high, so you would be the best judge of how it would work in your room. As for the sawing, I “cheated,” because the contractor was still working on my dad’s house when we moved in, so he helped us cut the dressers. I would have been nervous myself about the sawing, but don’t let the painting intimidate you! It’s not that hard, and if you don’t like how it turns out, you can always paint over it. Hope you give it a try!

    • Thanks! The comforter is from Nautica and called Lemon Grass. I got it a couple of years ago, so it may be hard to find. They had it on Overstock and some on eBay at the time. Good luck!

  3. Nice IKEA hack! I’m wondering if the 37″ height of the 3-drawer Hemnes dresser next to your bed works for you? Do you find that it’s a bit too high when in bed?

    • Thanks, Maria! The height is on the high side for a bedside table. This bed (West Elm Window) is pretty high, and we also cut a few inches off of the legs of the dresser. This is pretty easy to do, before you assemble it. Have fun decorating your room!

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