In a moment of foolish ambition, I decided that it would be a good idea to “hack” the six-drawer IKEA Tarva dresser. I saw this delightful hack and thought, “Hey, I can do that!”
…Except no, Mica, you can’t. You are the worst (THE WORST!) at DIY!
Stella has a soft spot in her heart for big-box retail, so she helped me navigate through Home Depot, collecting the various things that I needed. Also, her boyfriend Aaron let me drive his manual transmission truck across the bay to pick up all the furniture in deceptively heavy packaging from the IKEA in Emeryville. I definitely could not have done this project without them. (I can also say that I have driven a stick shift in San Francisco, and I am very proud.)
Here’s how it went down:
Last Wednesday night, Hus-friend and I got about halfway through the assembly instructions. As a former ESL instructor, I was all like, “Hey, I got these pictorial instructions. It’s just like deciphering incomprehensible student essays.”
(Though I did have to take to Twitter for this one. I thought it meant “Here are some extra pieces. Don’t leave them lying about. And don’t try to climb on your assembled bookcase.”)
As you can see, Bodger was exceptionally helpful.
The next day (Thursday), I decided to put together the rest of the dresser, including the six drawers. It’s hard to express the utter fear and panic I felt when I realized that we had put all of the roller tracks on BACKWARDS. I’m not really sure how this happened because we were pretty meticulous in following the instructions.
No big deal, I thought. I’ll just turn things around. Except I had already nailed ON THE BACK OF THE DRESSER with no fewer than 60 tiny nails. As it was impossible to pry them out with the back of the hammer, my only option was to whale on the backing with a hammer from the inside until all 60 nails popped out of the frame. Meanwhile, I was screaming profanity at the top of my lungs. Thank goodness for our soundproof apartment walls.
This didn’t solve the problem though. Long story short, I disassembled the entire dresser and had to put it back together from scratch, except I had already stripped some of the screws with my electric drill, making reassembly significantly more difficult. Even then, one set of roller tracks was still backwards, so I had to do that part over again, too. You guys know that I’m the modern face of temperance, but I’m not kidding when I say that assembling this dresser almost drove me to drinking.
Suffice to say, it was not my finest moment:
Finally, after the sun had set, I was left, feeling numb and dead inside, with two smashed fingers, and a somewhat ganky but assembled dresser:The next day, I decided it was time to start painting. This, of course, coincided with a much-needed but inconvenient break in the California drought. As you can see, I built and primed that baby in the middle of our apartment, but I could barely open the windows since it was raining steadily all day.
First, I rubbed down all the to-be-painted surfaces with fine sandpaper to remove any tiny splinters and wiped everything down with a clean cloth. I’m very impatient when it comes to that sort of thing, so I’m not sure if my half-ass job really did anything at all.
The Internet told me that oils will continue seeping out of the pine knots in the dresser for several years, so I layered on four coats of tinted primer. Again, I’m extremely impatient, so I’m not entirely sure that I gave each coat a sufficient drying period, but it seemed okay. Also, I suspect that I did a real crap job of rolling on the primer and either had too much or too little on the roller at any given time.
Oh, by the way, I should have purchased a paintbrush to get the areas that were inaccessible with a clunky roller (like, around the legs and in the corners). I didn’t learn this lesson until it was too late and had globbed primer everywhere. Eventually, I went to Target and got some foam paintbrushes for the painting step.
After letting the fourth coat dry over night, I went to town with the Quiet Storm paint. With my amateur painting skills, I easily got three coats out of one quart of paint with plenty leftover. Here it is after one coat:
The paint can recommended two hours between coats. I probably should have waited longer with the humidity, but I am impatient. I wanted all the painting to be done in one day. (In between coats, I wrapped the foam roller in a plastic grocery bag and put it in the fridge to keep it from drying out.)
I could have just called it a day here, but noooooo, I stubbornly insisted on lining the drawers with fancy paper because the plain, ugly white drawer bottoms reminded me of the furniture you see in cheap hotels and beach houses.
Lining drawers turned out to be a much bigger pain in the butt than I anticipated. I had to cut approximately the right size of paper, carefully crease it into the drawer, and then cut along the creases with a razor blade. Then I sprayed the back of the paper with spray adhesive and quickly tried to place it in the drawer without wrinkles or bubbles. I didn’t do a grrrrreat job, but as Hus-friend kept pointing out, you don’t actually see the bottom of the drawer.
I used silvery-grey wrapping paper for Hus-friend’s side:
And this bird print for my side:
(I had illusions of picking out six different types of fancy paper, three for each of us, but when faced with the overwhelming selection at Flax Art & Design, I almost burst into tears.)
This is probably my favorite part. I think it looks pretty great:
Finally, it was just a matter of screwing in the white porcelain knobs I had bought (The dresser comes with ugly wooden ones.) and carrying it upstairs.
HAHAHA, LOOK, I TOTALLY FORGOT TO PAINT THAT WEIRD STABILITY LEG IN THE MIDDLE. Oops!
I think the Quiet Storm color fits well in both a feminine and a masculine color scheme. In the dark, it looks navy/black:
And in the sunlight, it’s a pretty blue with hints of green, which you can’t actually see in the picture. Just trust me on this one. It’s a good color.
Here’s what I ended up purchasing for this project:
- IKEA Tarva 6-drawer dresser – $150
- 3″ Foam roller kit – $6.97
- two extra foam rollers – $4.67
- 220-grit sand paper – $3.97
- 1 qt. Kilz Premium primer (I got it tinted.) – $9.48 + $0.35 (“paintcare fee”)
- 1 qt. Behr Semi-gloss paint in Quiet Storm - $12.98 + $0.35
- 12 ceramic knobs – $33.48 ($2.79/each)
- Foam paintbrushes – $1.94
- Spray adhesive – ~$8
- Two rolls fancy wrapping paper – ~$14
- Total – $246.19
The IKEA Hemnes 8-drawer dresser is $299, so I guess I’m glad I saved $50 and got a final product that I like a lot more. However, I was only able to complete this project with a modicum of sanity because I hadn’t started working yet. Hell will freeze over before I attempt anything like this as a weekend project. I’d rather just store my clothes in piles on the floor (which is what we’d been doing for two months). Instead of being fun or soothing, each step made me frustrated and stabby. I like making things, but I think putting together furniture and painting (and really, anything messy) causes me too much stress.
So, if you ever hear me say, “Oh, I’ll just DIY it.” please slap me squarely across the face and remind me how absolutely miserable I was doing this project. I’m going to stick to knitting and sewing for now.