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How to Beautifully Transform a Black Ikea Malm Dresser

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Have you asked yourself if you can you paint Ikea furniture? It’s easier than you think! I painted a black Ikea Malm dresser and transformed it into a beautiful white dresser. It looks updated, fresh and adds a perfect farmhouse touch to my bedroom.

Finished IKEA Malm dresser makeover, painted in walnut and white colors.

A few weeks ago I shared my small apartment makeover with the newly installed kitchen.  This is where we will be staying when we visit Greece.  But did you know there is another room to this space. Yes, we also have a bedroom.

​It is time I show you all the furniture that I tackled in there. A few weeks ago I had shown you the laminate table makeover into a farmhouse look which will be used as a computer table. Today I am sharing how to beautifully transform a black Ikea Malm dresser. 

Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers. 

Materials Needed to Paint your Ikea Malm Dresser:  

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​I started out with a standard black Malm Ikea dresser.  Basic black and oh so ugly!  What were we thinking when we bought it? The only great thing about it is that you can fit lots and lots of clothes and of course it is cheap.  But it was way too dark – in fact it couldn’t get any darker.  I desperately needed to do something.   

Black Ikea Malm Dresser before painting.

How to Paint your Ikea Malm Dresser:

The first thing I did was to scuff up the Ikea Malm dresser with a sander. 

Drawers from the dresser have been removed and sanding has started.

Just random scuffing and sanding all over. 

Close up of the top of the sanded dresser.

Then I went over the entire thing with Americana Chalky Type Paint in Everlasting.  As you must know by now I use this color as a base and also because it goes on really well.  I must have added about three coats to the whole dresser. Needed to desperately get rid of that black!

Painting the dresser with white chalk paint.

I then wanted to use an acrylic paint to go over the white on the top. This is what I had, but the bottle was almost empty.

Khaki Tan Americana Acrylic paint bottle.

But there is one thing I am, and that is resourceful!  So I mixed in a whole bunch of colors to really muddy it up and come up with a brownish tone.

Here is the brown toned color that I created.  I went over the top of the dresser with this.

Painting the top of the dresser with a brown color.

I did this in short brushstrokes and it dried quickly.  I was aiming to give it some texture.

Close up of short brush strokes on top of dresser.

I also painted the front part of the Ikea Malm dresser in this brown looking color.  But I left the sides with the white color.

Painting the front of the dresser in the brown color.

Here we can see that it has dried.  But I was not done.  I wanted something more. 

What I wanted was to get a nice rich finish that would be hard as nails. Because it is a dresser and the top would be used a lot so it had to have a tough finish.

Continuing to paint the top of the dresser.

Enter my secret weapon.  This is a multi-purpose sealer also from DecoArt’s Americana line.  It can be mixed in with almost anything to create a hard surface. In fact it can be used for outdoor items too.  Not that I would be placing my Ikea dresser outdoors… just sayin’!

Americana multi-purpose sealer and gel stain bottles.

I mixed it in with the gel stain to get a nice rich look, about 1/4 sealer to the 3/4 gel stain.

Mixing the sealer and gel stain.

I used a nice round brush to get thick full brush lines. I just dipped the brush in and dragged it all the way across the top. I had also used the gel and the brush to get a different sort of look on the laminate table a few weeks ago.

Next, I stained the dresser with a more subtle look by dragging the gel stain right across.  No short paint strokes.

Painting the brown stain across the top of the dresser.

Here is the top all done with those nice long brush strokes across it.

The finished top of the dresser in walnut brown.

​The drawers were all painted in Everlasting white. And they along with the other white parts of the dresser were all sealed with the creme wax in clear.

The front of the dresser painted white, with the top drawer partially opened.

And here is the result!

Finished dresser painted white and walnut.

Doesn’t it look cool with the rich brown tone peeking out?

Close up of white drawers with walnut front frame of dresser.
Close up of  the bottom of the dresser.

The top dried to a nice hard surface which is what I was after so that I can put all sorts of fun things on top.

Finished dresser with basket, blue lantern and two books placed on top.

And just a quick before so we remember what the black Ikea dresser looked like:

IKEA black dresser before the makeover.

Ahh so much better, don’t you think?  It has a bit of that farmhouse look that we all love. Would you have believed it was once black?

Finished dresser, painted in walnut and white colors.

As you have seen I’ve got the farmhouse look going on.  White is an easy color to coordinate with almost anything and already had a green bed and dresser in the room. 

The obvious question to ask me is why didn’t I just buy it in white in the first place?  And that is a good question.  Originally the dresser was used by my son when he was still a teen and he wanted black.  Of course that was years ago but that does not mean we have to settle for the original color. It is easier than you think to transform your furniture. And this piece is not even wood but particleboard.

It is now in the bedroom.  I have one more project to show you and I will be done with the apartment in Greece.​

Close up of a basket, blue lantern and two books placed on top of the finished dresser.

I hope you enjoyed this up-cycle.  I am always looking to try new products on my furniture to see what works and what doesn’t.  This multi-surface sealer really made a difference!  I am so happy with how I beautifully transformed this Ikea Malm dresser.  Have you ever tried this product? 

Do you have a Malm dresser?  I have another one in New York and it is also black.  Ugh!!

How to paint and up-cycle a black Ikea Malm dresser beautifully and transform it into a white and walnut farmhouse look, #paintedfurniture #furnitureupcycle #dressermakeover #ikeahack #Ikeamalmdresser #farmhousestyledresser #walnutstain How To Beautifully Transform an Ikea Malm Dresser

The Bedroom Series:  

Creating a headboard with fabric
Warming up a room with fabric
Laminate table painted with gel stain
Saving a Laminate Table with Gel Stain
Bed frame painted in olive Green
Bed Frame Makeover
Ikea Pine Dresser painted in Olive Green with natural top
Ikea Pine Dresser Makeover

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Tuesday 13th of September 2022

I have a white malm desk, I want to make the top look like this. Do I not need a primer on it so the stain stay?


Monday 12th of July 2021

I just did tried this on my old, sad-looking Malm dresser and it looks awesome! One question though: After applying the gel/sealer coat, do you recommend a second layer of just the sealer for added protection? Or is the first layer sufficient? Thanks!

Rita Herzog

Wednesday 12th of May 2021

Hi Mary! How long did this transformation take you?

Lily Lowe

Friday 27th of November 2020

I came across this when looking for ideas for painting my Malm dresser. I don't usually comment on blog articles, but I had to say that the work you did on the top of the dresser was a stroke of genius (pun intended). When I saw the first "after" image I assumed you had used a new wood top. You're as talented as you are resourceful! Great job.


Monday 18th of May 2020

Loved the idea! After painting the drawers white, what did you do? Did you set it with the wax? I’m sorry, I’m little confused on how the white part got finished.

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