You can do a lot with an IKEA Malm dresser. The Malm series has been a long-time favorite among IKEA shoppers. And the collection contains six different storage cabinets—all of which are simple, sleek, and versatile.
That flexible canvas has given IKEA hackers a lot to work with. And over time, they’ve come up with all kinds of exciting IKEA Malm dresser hacks. Naturally, these hacks have ranged from easy DIYs to full-blown transformations. But all of them have reimagined IKEA’s classic Malm pieces—turning them into something entirely new.
Whether you already have a Malm dresser that you’re looking to spruce up, or whether you’re searching for a piece of furniture you can buy and truly transform, you’ve come to the right place. There are tons of IKEA Malm dresser hacks worth recreating, and they’ll give you all the inspiration you need to take the piece from classic to custom.
Add Shaker-Style Trim to Your Drawer Fronts
The IKEA Malm dresser has slab drawer fronts, meaning each drawer front is completely flat. But by adding a little trim, you can get the coveted Shaker look, instead. Line the outside of each drawer with flat strips of trim. Then, paint that trim to match your dresser. Once you’ve added drawer pulls, you’ll have a dresser that looks like a classic Shaker-style piece—and not like an IKEA budget buy.
Paint Your Dresser a Fun Color
IKEA Malm furniture comes in four basic colors: black, white, gray, and natural wood. But since Malm dressers are so flat, they’re really easy to paint. Find a color you’ll love looking at, and paint your Malm from top to bottom. Then, use hardware—like drawer pulls and contrast trim—to bring the piece together.
Invest in Pretty Drawer Pulls
Malm dressers don’t come with standard drawer pulls.—the drawers are lined with slanted edges, which you can grab and pull by hand. So, adding hardware is an easy way to dress them up. Keep an eye out for statement-making drawer pulls, and once you’ve found a set you love, add a pretty drawer pull to each dresser drawer.
Line Your Drawers With Slats
For a serious transformation, stock up on thin wood slats, and cover your drawer fronts with them. Take care to evenly space these wood slats and to keep them straight as you attach them—you want the lines of your drawers to look just as crisp as they did before you added the wood slats.
If you want to top things off with a coat of paint, paint your dresser and wood slats before pairing the two—that’ll make it easier to get paint in every nook and cranny.
Trim Your Drawers With Wooden Balls
Add a pop of personality to your dresser by trimming each drawer with wooden balls. Stock up on spherical wooden knobs, attach them to your drawer fronts, and paint them to match your dresser. This unexpected accent will mimic the look of Bobbin furniture—something you definitely wouldn’t find at IKEA.
Combine Two Different Dressers
Why limit yourself to one Malm dresser? If you need a bigger piece of furniture that fills more space, snag two matching dressers and use plywood to connect them. With a little imagination, you can craft a sprawling desk, a custom dresser, or—in this case—a massive vanity.
Switch Out Your Drawer Fronts
You don’t have to stick with the drawer fronts that came on your dresser. Lots of brands specialize in custom doors and drawers for IKEA furniture. So you can switch out your drawer fronts with a custom set that adds color, texture, and contrast to your otherwise-simple dresser.
Top Your Malm With a Marble Slab
If you’re looking for an easy upgrade, find a marble slab, and stick it on top of your IKEA Malm dresser. When cut down to size, the slab will look and act like the dresser’s top surface—making the piece feel much more elegant.
Add Function With Leather Drawer Pulls
Your drawer pulls don’t have to be fancy or expensive. With a few strips of leather and a handful of nails, you can DIY leather drawer pulls that feel cozy, look luxurious, and make your drawers much easier to open.
Make Your Dresser Look Fluted or Reeded
One easy way to upcycle your IKEA Malm dresser? Cover its drawer fronts with thin strips of wood. The touch will add on-trend texture to your dresser—mimicking the look of beadboard, reeding, or fluting, depending on the shape of the wood you use.
Add Color-Coordinated Campaign Hardware
Campaign-style furniture—named for its use in military campaigns—is lined with handles and hinges that made it portable and easy to fold down. And with a little creativity, you can make your Malm dresser look straight out of the Campaign era. Stock up on warm brass hinges, and add them to the corners of your drawer fronts. Then, finish things off with a few matching drawer pulls—and you’ll have a dresser that looks delightfully vintage (or at least, vintage-inspired).
Line Your Drawer Fronts With Cane Webbing
Cane webbing is a favorite detail in midcentury modern design. And with a few patches of it, you can make your Malm dresser look way more expensive than it was. Line the center of each drawer front with carefully cut cane webbing, then cover the edges of that webbing with trim. Add finishing touches—like striking drawer pulls and a fresh coat of paint—and you’ll have a piece that looks completely different than the dresser you started with.
Put Your Dresser on Legs
IKEA Malm dressers sit flat on the floor. But yours doesn’t have to. Invest in some pretty dresser legs, and attach them to the base of your dresser. This choice will elevate your dresser a few inches from the floor—making it look sleeker and lower-profile.
Make Herringbone Drawer Fronts With Popsicle Sticks
For a next-level IKEA Malm dresser hack, stock up on popsicle sticks, and cover your dresser drawers with them. Lay out the popsicle sticks in zig-zags to create a herringbone-like pattern, then finish things off by trimming the edges of your drawers with popsicle sticks, too. The project will leave you with a dresser that feels earthy, textured, and unique.
Upgrade to Suede Drawer Pulls
Your drawer pulls don’t have to be hard or stiff. By stocking up on strips of suede, you can DIY drawer pulls that look cozy and feel soft to the touch.
Paint Your Drawers a Contrasting Color
Have a little fun with your paint job. Instead of painting your dresser the same color from top to bottom, paint just your dresser drawers. The unexpected choice should make your dresser more eye-catching—and it should make your DIY project even easier to tackle.
Trim Your Drawer Pulls and Your Drawers
For an ultra-custom look, don’t just trim your drawers—trim your drawer pulls, too. Line the edges of each drawer with trim. Then, snag some trim to tuck inside that border. Complement round drawer pulls with circular trim, or go all out on some patterned decorative panels.
Try Several IKEA Malm Hacks at Once
There are lots of ways to hack an IKEA Malm dresser, and many of them aren’t mutually exclusive. So line your drawer fronts with wood slats, paint your dresser drawers, and invest in pretty drawer pulls. Take cues from all your favorite IKEA Malm dresser hacks, and piece them together to create a custom dresser that ticks all the boxes.