26 November 2011

Pirate Ship Chic (Ikea Hack)

I don't, in general,  like dressers, but I needed a dresser. In August, I spotted this dresser on Pinterest and thought it quite lovely:


Shortly thereafter,  I saw this dresser in an Ikea catalog and I thought to myself, "ooh!  I can make that dresser look a lot like the other dresser! Yay!"  A visit to the store confirmed my suspicions that the dresser could be quite lovely if changed just a bit.  I stood in the showroom knocking on it and poking it and peering inside it to confirm that it was solid wood (I'm not a fan of veneers).

The Mandal Dresser was, for a little while, out of stock at the store, but last week, when I check the Ikea website, it said that they had a few on the shelves, so I zoomed out there and picked one up. 

My plan was to stain the wood on the outside and change out the legs to some sort of pedestal + round tapered leg (á la the mid-century dresser that I had admired).

Now here's where I was a bit foolish:  I thought it would be easy to sand off the polyurethane finish (polycrylic? lacquer?) and stain the wood a darker shade.  Ha!  So foolish!  I tested out my little idea on a piece that would be hidden once the dresser was assembled.  And...


I was a bit distressed by how distressed it looked.
I tried again on another piece that would be hidden.
I sanded and sanded and washed and stained.
And the result was no better.

Things got busy at work, so I just let the wood sit out for me to gaze at over during my morning coffee and my evening banana.
I knew it would easily take primer and paint.
I knew it would look just fine the color it came in.
I figured I could probably buy some crazy chemical to peel the seal off.
I had options.
And then on Friday afternoon when I came home from work and looked at it, I realized that I loved it.
"You look like you've been on a pirate ship," I told the board.  "And I dig that about you."

Plus, a little voice in my head interjected, you can always paint over it if you change your mind.
I took the wood out to the garage.
I sanded.
I built a little pedestal.

I stained.
I waited for it all to dry.
Then I assembled.
And now?


Trés Pirate Ship Chic, no?
I don't blame you if you hate this.
I've been there.
But I love it.
And so I'm going to post more pics!






  1. It's all about making our homes ours! This resembles the style my cousins had (still have! in some rooms) when I was young and they were first setting up house keeping.
    My cat would be in those drawers! She has figured out how to get all the closet doors in our house open. Most of them slide, so I think i'm going to put a little velcro spot on the edge to give them a bit more resistance to her prying paws.
    I have dressers (1860-1920), but my favorite clothing (and fabric) storage is old kitchen cupboards. My sweaters are in one that has a glass door on the top half so I can see all of the colors, jeans and shorts hide in thebottom.

  2. I like him! The colour of wood reminds me of a well-loved table that has hosted many a swashbuckling feast. Good job!

  3. The distressing sort of looks to me like it's been salvaged from being slightly too close to a fire. And this gives me a good feeling. Note to self - try distressing wood by scorching and sanding process. Perhaps for outside furniture, or flower boxes....something sturdy.

  4. I like it. Next time try a dark gel stain.It works more like paint and goes on top of other finishes.

  5. Well done. The stain sinks in over time so you can always add another layer to make it darker if you want.

  6. Nice hack! Those legs are definitely better than the ones it came with :)

  7. Just thought I'd chime in... well, I like it too. In fact, if I lived closer than a million miles away... I'd work out where you lived and steal it... it's that good :)

  8. It's brilliant! I wish there was an IKEA store near where I live. It's a 2 hour drive.

  9. I love it! I think you did an awesome job!

  10. I like it. Mix between rustic and modern. Something that would go nicely in my home. Hmm...you've got me thinking.

  11. Good stuff!
    My in-laws have that dresser as the change table in their kiddo's room. (Yours looks cooler.)

  12. I think it looks gorgeous! You did a great job :)

  13. I like it too! And strong work for not giving up and tossing it or do something drastic. I found out the hard way with my own Ikea piece that pine and other "soft" woods don't take stain well right after sanding. You have to put something on called wood conditioner if I remember correctly. That helps the wood absorb the stain more evenly. Just for future ref though, this piece is awesome.

  14. I must admit, I do like your dresser in the darker stain that you have given it. Usually I quite like Ikea stuff as it comes, but you did well. Mind you, a bit of a risk to take, $200! Rather you than me!
    Well done,
    Claire from HandmadebyClaireBear

  15. i was just going to add a comment about wood conditioner, too. pine wood and other soft woods just takes stain in a messy way.

  16. Pirate ship is perfect. Yes, it's awesome. As soon as I saw the first distressed piece I thought "oh, but it looks good!" Glad you came to a happy place.

  17. I really like your Ikea hack!

  18. Excellent hack! You've really got me thinking!!

  19. While I love what you did, those legs won't support as much weight as the default legs, though for my own needs, I might just not use legs at all!

  20. Usually I quite like Ikea stuff as it comes, but you did well. Mind you, a bit of a risk to take, $200! Rather you than me! war commander cheats

  21. Any tips or details for building the pedestal? Thinking about elevating a dresser similarly and would love wisdom from your experience!

    1. Basically, if you look at the picture of the pedastal (4th image) you'll see what I did. I'm no expert, just 2x4s and long woodscrews and a bit of luck!

  22. brilliant actually. perfect. reclaimed wood look, meets mid-century and ikea. what's not to love


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