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.

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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.
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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!

“Jewels”

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Ikea Dining Chairs All Grown Up – Craftsman and Regency Makeovers

No doubt it’s lovely to buy something new for your house, but it can also be fun when furniture you have had for a long time takes on new forms and uses.

Hubby and I first bought these chairs from Ikea thirteen years ago when we were living on the other side of the continent. There were four of them in birch with white seats around a small matching kitchen table in our apartment. Over the years, we accumulated more from Ikea and then through Craigslist, when Ikea stopped making them. Our collection of twelve chairs has moved across the country and through several houses with us. They’ve held up wonderfully as our everyday dining chairs for thirteen years!

I can’t dig up a good picture of the way the set originally looked, but I’ll keep an eye out for it. Meanwhile, I found this old stock photo on the internet.

original ikea chair

This is the original chair we bought from Ikea in birch, tough ours had white seats. I can’t remember its cute Swedish name, but I think it started with “A.”

Ikea borje chair

Ikea Borje chair.  A current model that has a somewhat similar look.

The cute birch table with a glass top met an untimely end (long story), and we replaced it with an Arts and Crafts/ Craftsman/ Mission style cherry wood table. At that time, I put slipcovers in the chairs, since they didn’t match.

Arts and Crafts Makeover:

Three or four years ago, I was shopping for chairs to go with the Arts and Crafts style dining table, when I realized the solution was right beneath my nose! I still liked the elegant geometric lines of the Ikea chairs, which I think are reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most well known architect of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was just the light color of the wood that didn’t work. Staining the chairs would have involved stripping the finish and trying to match the color. Even if i had been able to do that perfectly – and that is not likely – the grain of the woods would still not have matched.

In any case, it really isn’t necessary to have chairs that match your table – nor nightstands that match your bed. It actually looks so much more interesting to mix and match. The chairs at the head of our dining table are not the same as the side chairs, either, and I feel it all works together.

So, our chairs that started as Scandinavian modern evolved to Arts and Crafts with new black paint (tips on painting in an earlier post) and tan microfiber suede seats. Microfiber suede, also called faux suede or ultrasuede, has a nice soft texture but is extremely durable and washable – I have scrubbed these seats with a soapy kitchen sponge on more than one occasion, and they end up looking as good as new. There are microsuedes intended specifically for upholstery that have a backing to give this soft material a lot more structure. If you can find this, it’s highly recommended! Four of the chairs with the tan seats are at our games table, which is our original cherry dining table, in the family room.

ikea to arts and crafts

The first makeover: I adapted our modern Scandinavian chairs to go with an Arts and Crafts style table by painting then black and adding tan faux suede seat fabric.

games table

A round games table in the family room is perfect for art projects and board games with the kids. The tan microfiber seats hold up very well!

Regency Makeover:

We move way too often, but I do like the opportunity to change the design of our rooms. We still have some great Arts and Crafts furniture, but I wanted to brighten up our home and incorporate more contemporary and Asian elements. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m trying to develop a bit of a Hollywood Regency/ Chinoiserie feel in our new living-dining room, and I love that these familiar old chairs have been able to come along for the ride.

So, in our current home, I’ve changed the seats on the majority of the chairs to a whimsical Chinoiserie print in blue and cream: Robert Allen Lake Paradise in spa, an outdoor fabric that’s durable and wipeable. These are chairs that are used daily – including by the kids – and I just didn’t think that ordinary fabric would hold up. The polyester is not as soft as a nice upholstery cotton, but our bottoms haven’t minded. I showed how to upholster the seats in earlier post. Start looking around, and you’ll find that outdoor fabrics now come in almost any color, pattern, or texture. Many great fabric designers have beautiful prints meant to stand up to the outdoors, often including some of the same patterns they have in their indoor collections and more!

ikea to regency chair

Another step in the evolution of our old Ikea chairs. This new fabric gives them an elegant yet whimsical feel that fits in with the Chinoiserie/ Regency look I am working on in our living-dining room.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining Room with new chairs. The space is still a work in progress.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining room from the other side. I’m happy with the wallpaper inside the shelves.

The dining room is starting to come together. I do like how the Imperial Trellis silver wallpaper looks inside the bookcase. Now that I look at the collection of plates again, I think I could use a couple more. I also want to make over or replace the sideboard. My fantasy is to find an old Thomasville or Henry Link Bali Hai dresser with faux bamboo accents to repaint for that area. And most of all, I would love to change the fireplace mantel. It is plaster with a cheesy faux marble finish, and there are two disembodied heads that stare out at you! Part of me wants to take the whole thing out, but since it’s historical, I might keep it and try to remove the heads and repaint it. I’d also like to do a few small projects like recover or replace the cushions on the head chairs, sew a runner for the sideboard, work on accessories, etc.. Well, one thing at a time. I’m having fun every step of the way!

“Jewels”