11 DIY IKEA MALM Makeovers That Take It From Basic To Beautiful

The IKEA MALM bedroom series features minimalist modern furniture like bed frames, chests, desks, dressers, chests, nightstands, and more. With a little DIY, you can dress up these simple furniture pieces, giving them new purposes inside and outside of their intended bedroom spaces. The streamlined design has many opportunities for additional features that add aesthetic appeal and functional uses.

Below are 11 ideas that will dress up, expand, and alter your MALM series to be more befitting of recent interior design trends. Many of these projects are doable without special tools or extensive building knowledge. They're also budget-friendly, as the IKEA furniture itself is the most expensive component, and IKEA keeps its costs low. All you must do is assemble the IKEA product according to its instructions, order any necessary project supplies, and follow the directions in the provided tutorials. In no time, you'll have a new, game-changing piece of furniture without breaking the bank.

When installing your MALM furniture, be sure to take notice of any safety warnings released by IKEA on its website, product listings, or in the product packaging.

Combine multiple MALM dressers, and add handles

IKEA's MALM four-drawer dresser is roughly 31 inches wide. If you like the style of IKEA's popular dressers but need more drawers to sort your items, consider buying multiples of the same dresser. Purchase two or three of these pieces, and slide them together. Their style fits seamlessly side by side, creating the illusion of a large storage receptacle with eight to 12 drawers to separate your clothes and accessories properly. Add some Young Dance self-stick handles from Amazon to accentuate your combined dressers for an improved aesthetic.

Add decorative moulding to your MALM dresser or nightstand

Both the MALM dressers and nightstands can be jazzed up with decorative moulding. Order unfinished wood moulding, either basic or ornamental, from Amazon, and paint them in a color that matches your IKEA furniture. The safest bet is to use paint swatches to find the right color, or you can order DWIL matte wood paint from Amazon. Once painted and dried, adhere the moulding to the furniture using a wood glue like Titebond.

Give your MALM table a faux stone look

Transform IKEA's MALM dressing table into an expensive-looking piece using a faux stone painting technique. Collect the desk itself, preferably in white or a lighter color, and Rust-Oleum concrete paint. Apply the paint with a brush or roller, coating the entire dressing table with the coarsely-textured paint. It may take more than one layer to achieve the matte look you're going for. If your desk has any cracks or chips, fill those discrepancies with Polyfilla before you begin to create a more natural stone look.

Use a wood slab to make a combo dresser and hanging rod

Create a combination dresser and hanging rod for clothes using two tall IKEA MALM drawer chests, a wood slab, and a closet rod like this one from Amazon. Put the drawer chests along the same wall, leaving enough space in between for the extended closet rod. Visit a local home improvement store, and acquire a large wood slab that fits across the entire length and width of the IKEA furniture. Stores like Home Depot can cut this wood to size for you. Simply lay the wood slab over the top or use screws or wood glue to securely adhere it to the chests. 

Put leather pulls on a MALM dresser

Whether you use IKEA's six-drawer or four-drawer MALM chest, dress them up with leather pull handles. Purchase two double-packs or one six-pack of leather pulls from Amazon in brown, black, or khaki. Install them using traditional screws so they're functionally sturdy for opening and closing drawers. Black is usually a safe option, but you can also refer to an online color wheel to help you choose which color leather best fits your furniture scheme.

Add legs to anything in the MALM series

IKEA's MALM series is very modern and minimalistic; the entire line of desks, dressers, chests, and drawers comes without legs. Legs add a decorative element in addition to functional purposes. They keep furniture from blocking baseboard radiators, make drawers higher and easier to access, and make it easier to add anti-scratch foot pads. Purchase legs from IKEA or Amazon. Screw them in using simple screws, or use steel hanger bolts and leg mounting plates. You'll need four of each item per modified dresser.

Blend a MALM desk with the wall behind it

Use Polyfilla or any silicone gap filler to seamlessly blend a MALM desk with the wall behind it. Start by putting the filler in the gap between the desk and the wall. Acquire Rust-Oleum concrete paint and a wide paint brush. Paint across the entire desk, adjacent wall, and your chosen filler. Save any leftover paint to touch up your desk in case you nick and scrape it over years of use.

Give a MALM dresser a bohemian look with rattan

IKEA's MALM chests and dressers have neat, uniform drawers, which you can paste over with rattan to emulate a beachy or bohemian vibe. Purchase a roll of rattan webbing from Amazon. Cut it slightly larger than the dimensions of your MALM drawers. You'll also need a wood picture frame to disassemble or long wooden crafting sticks and self-stick adhesive to create the frame for the rattan material. If you've never worked with rattan before, follow House of Bamboo's installation guide for instructions on how to place it on the drawers.

Use popsicle sticks to make a herringbone design

Herringbone designs are a great way to add a luxurious feeling to furniture and interior design, and it can be done on a budget by repurposing popsicle sticks. Order jumbo or standard-size popsicle sticks, pieces of wood for a frame, and wood glue from Amazon. Start by laying the wood frame around each drawer's perimeter, then lay the popsicle sticks in a staggered triangular pattern, with the flatter side facing down. For more specific instructions on herringbone designs, follow Project in Progress's helpful tutorial. Glue the sticks in place, and wait for the glue to dry before you start using the drawers.

Paint white wood furniture a bolder color

Painting is one of the easiest but most transformative ways to DIY IKEA furniture. Order any item from the MALM series in a light color. You don't have to sand the furniture before you begin, but it will help paint stick to IKEA laminate. Use a standard semi-gloss varnish and a paintbrush, or use non-glossy spray paint in the color of your choice. It may take multiple coats to get your desired color. Paint the drawers, legs (if added), and any modified cabinetry hardware in complementary colors using masking tape to block off nearby areas. 

Add a mirror to make a vanity table

IKEA's MALM dressing table is a minimalist desk for home offices and bedrooms. Transform yours into a functional vanity table with a few simple additions. Shop around Amazon for a light-up makeup mirror and a vanity stool. If you decide to use a different stool design, make sure it's 7 to 10 inches shorter than the desk to provide ample leg space. The desk is almost 25 inches high on the underside, meaning you'll need a stool between 15 to 18 inches.