An upcycler has given her IKEA Hemnes chest of drawers a vintage-inspired makeover

From mass-produced to vintage vibes
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  • An upcycling lover has given her plain IKEA Hemnes chest a stunning, vintage-inspired makeover. What was once a practical, looks-like-everyone-else’s chest of drawers now has a lovely midcentury feel.

    There was certainly nothing wrong with it before – the no-frills design would look great in a Japandi or minimalist scheme. But this IKEA hack goes to show what you can do with a classic flatpack piece, some paint, and striking gold hardware.

    IKEA Hemnes upcycle


    white IKEA hemnes chest of drawers in white with black handles

    Image credit: @studio_twentyseven

    Furniture artist Kata had always loved her IKEA Hemnes tall chest of drawers. She tells us it’s the perfect shape and has amazingly spacious drawers.

    But although it was a great, functional bedroom storage idea, the plain white finish and black hardware weren’t to her taste. She decided to give it a vintage look with dark grey paint and a walnut finish.

    ‘The unit was a freebie from Freecycle,’ Kata tells us. This meant she had a little more to spend on accessories, like the showstopping high-end handles.


    ikea hemnes chest of drawers after upcycling project

    Image credit: @studio_twentyseven

    These were ordered from Hong Kong and cost £160. However, the other materials were all very budget-friendly. The primer, paint, stain, and varnish came to about £30.

    So, how did Kata achieve this rustic, retro feel? First, she cleaned and degreased the whole unit, then sanded it. ‘I scuff-sanded the frame because I was going to paint it,’ she says. ‘I fully sanded the drawers and the top (mine were real wood, not laminate) to bare wood.’

    Then, she applied a primer specifically made for plastic and slick surfaces. She used Fusion Mineral Paint’s Ultra Grip, at Amazon.

    IKEA Hemnes chest of drawers with gold handles

    Image credit: @studio_twentyseven

    Once it was totally dry, Kata painted two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint in Ash. She gently sanded between coats for an even finish and perfect adhesion.

    ‘I added the amazing long handles and voilà, I had a brand new ‘vintage’ chest of drawers,’ says Kata. ‘It was such an easy and quick project and I could finally say goodbye to my boring white unit.’

    Feeling inspired to do some DIY and decorating? Kata teaches upcycling – check out The Painters Hive membership on her website for £12 a month.

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