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Before & after: Ikea mini drawer unit revamp

I've had these Ikea drawers so long that they no longer sell them (though they're in the ilk of the Moppe series). 

I put wheels on them back in the day, and thought often about painting them, just like the ones I overhauled in the bathroom – using odd old drawer knobs found on eBay and some white gloss paint. Years passed, procrastination flourished. Finally I have got around to fixing them up.

The drawers (almost) before, sad and naked 

Motivation came largely from an empty space in the bedroom where my make-up and general female paraphernalia needed to live. It had been in a large re-usable shopping bag for too long.

Also, I couldn't see what I was doing to my face in the mirror as the lighting wasn't good after dark. I dabbled with the idea of a giant Anglepoise kind of thing (like this, from Habitat/Argos), or an extendable wall light, but as the idea of the Ikea drawers came into focus, so did the far easier idea of topping them with a regular-sized Anglepoise.

The empty space in the bedroom, and bad make-up lighting

Anyway, first of all, here's the transformation. What do you think?

It was very quick and easy to do. Rather than using sticky varnish, I painted the drawers with two coats of tinted Colron Danish oil (Georgian Medium Oak, only because that was what was I had and I was too lazy to go shopping). You're meant to use at least three for more of a shine, but I gave them a little polish and thought they looked good already. If you've never used Danish oil, it's nice to use – you just paint it on, let it dry, then buff with a soft cloth. Ideally a lint-free one so you don't get a surface covered in soft bobbles.

The frame is painted with black Ronseal floor paint. I love this stuff. It gives a tough finish because that's what it's made for, it has a very soft sheen – softer than eggshell even – and you can paint it onto anything. Apparently you don't even need to prime the wood but I only read that bit after I'd already done it, using two-in-one primer and undercoat. Then two coats of the floor paint and it was ready.

I have it on good authority from a lighting designer that overhead lighting is rubbish for doing make-up: what you need is something directed at the mirror and reflecting back at you. Anglepoise-tastic. It also means that this corner of the bedroom gets a cosy glow at night now. And the lamp can illuminate the strange charity shop painting when not in use helping me to avoid over bronzing. The lamp is borrowed from downstairs, so the hunt for another is still on. I'm scouring eBay and Etsy with no joy so far. Any budget tips? Do share.

Meanwhile: dark, messy corner sorted. Now I just need to get greener fingers so the plant doesn't put the whole arrangement to shame.


Words & pictures: Kate


  1. Very nice. I was at a friends very posh house the other week and had to do my makeup - but no good lighting at all! Now I know it was because all the lighting was from above!

    I love your blog - I have just bought a flat with my boyfriend and will being doing it up on the cheap.

  2. It looks fantastic! Well done, definitely going to nick this idea.

  3. Love the lighting tip, I bought an old school desk and turned it into a make-up station and was just thinking about what i should do about lighting so perfect timing, thanks for that :)