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IKEA dresser bench 1

The nursery version of Mabrey’s room featured an IKEA EXPEDIT (now discontinued) which served as a dresser/changing table. A mix of woven baskets and fabric bins held everything from clothing to diapering essentials to random toys. I added an extra long contoured changing pad to the top to give it yet another purpose. It served the nursery well, but as Mabrey grew so did her clothes. Eventually, the baskets couldn’t contain her wardrobe. They were overflowing and, more often than not, I would find them pulled out from the shelving unit. It was not a tidy look, and it wasn’t working for our current situation. (Not to mention, Mabrey hasn’t needed a diaper change for more than two years.) It was clear that we had outgrown the EXPEDIT, but it lived with us for nearly a decade as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in previous residences. It had a good, long, multipurpose life. We got our money’s worth and then some. It was time to pass it on to someone else.

When I started searching for an upgrade, I knew I wanted another versatile piece that would stand the test of time and maybe even a few moves. Actual drawers were absolutely necessary! On a trip to IKEA earlier this year, I spotted a NORDLI dresser on display and was impressed with the customization options, soft-closing drawers and affordable price. After taking some measurements, I settled on the four-drawer NORDLI dresser.

IKEA dresser bench 3

It was easy enough to assemble and anchor to the wall. I took me maybe an hour and a half? The scale is spot-on! The length fits the wall opposite Mabrey’s bed perfectly. The drawers are wide and roomy, yet the 17″ depth is shallow enough to keep the middle of the room open for play.

IKEA dresser bench 6

Real drawers that open and close! Such a novel idea. The drawer hardware runs smoothly and the soft-closing dampers are every parent’s dream. Three of the drawers hold clothing. The fourth holds puzzles and a magnetic doll dress-up set.

IKEA dresser bench 7

I love the HÖFTA drawer dividers! They’re super handy for divvying up drawer space and organizing smaller items like socks, underwear, pajamas and costume accessories. Mabrey knows where to find everything, and everything has a designated spot to return to after washing.

IKEA dresser bench 5

IKEA dresser bench 2

The low-slung design reminds me of a bench, so I made a custom cushion for the top. I loosely followed this tutorial to sew the cushion which features french mattress seams for added interest and a casual vibe. I decided not to add tufts to the top because the cushion is so narrow and I thought tufts + patterned fabric might be too busy/formal. (Also, I’m lazy.) It’s worth noting that this is NOT a removable cover. We don’t allow food, drinks or art supplies in the kids’ bedrooms, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Even so, I’m no stranger to a little spot cleaning.

IKEA dresser bench 4

Sewing a french mattress cover is definitely more time consuming than making a basic boxed cushion cover. This took me the good part of a day, and my fingertips were numb for another two days. But I’m so happy with the result! It felt good to bust out the ol’ sewing machine. We have somewhat of an on-again-off-again relationship.

IKEA dresser bench 8

Adding the cushion added another function to the dresser. It makes for the coziest, pint-sized reading spot. (Cheetah loves curling up on it, too.) I love multipurpose pieces like this! Especially in tight spaces where square footage is at a premium. With a removable slipcover made from outdoor fabric, I could see this dresser-bench combo working just as well in an entry or mudroom – even a breakfast nook. With so many customization options available, the possibilities are endless.

IKEA dresser bench 9

I love finding affordable, quality pieces like this at IKEA. Too often, I think consumers wrongly equate quality with a big price tag only. When I think about quality, I consider design, materials, function, versatility, longevity and price. A piece that looks great, works well, serves multiple purposes for different rooms and/or different life stages doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Bonus points for possible customization and personalization! For instance, the BEKVÄM kitchen cart is solid, unfinished wood and begging for a DIY stain or paint job. I’d use it in a small kitchen as a bar cart or extra prep space, in a bathroom as added linen storage or in a craft room to corral art supplies. And it’s $60!

Do you have a favorite multipurpose IKEA piece?

P.S. – Stay tuned for a full tour of Mabrey’s big girl room along with a complete source list!

*I am a brand ambassadör for IKEA. This post sponsored in part by IKEA. I received product and payment for this collaboration. IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and is used with permission. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

37 Comments

30.August.2016

You’re so spot on about IKEA. We’ve come across so many people who think IKEA is nothing but cheap junk and then we point out the multitudes of solid wood furniture and other sturdy pieces we own. We’ve changed a few minds! Investing is great, if that’s an option, but it’s nice to have a store where I can get a good piece of furniture that will last a long time and not break the bank. Our current favorite is the Hemnes sofa table- we’ve had it for 6 years and it’s lived as a media console and dining room buffet (but never a sofa table, go figure).

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30.August.2016

Hi,
I absolutely love the big girl room! :) May I ask where you bought the fabric for the dresser/bench cushion, and also the source for the pink stag?
Thanks

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replied on August 30th, 2016

For the life of me I cannot find a link to the exact fabric I used, but here’s the gray version. There are also mint and dark pink versions. The oversize floral pattern feels modern and feminine but not too sweet. I found it at Jo-Ann and scored it for $6/yard with a 40% off coupon. (I used two yards for this cushion.) I also had 60% off coupons for the foam and batting (surprisingly expensive!) which brought the total cost of the cushion to $50. Not too bad for a custom cushion.

The stag was in the nursery originally as all white but Mabrey asked me to paint it pink and gold and who am I to deny her her first spray paint job?! Haha. Anyway, it’s from White Faux Taxidermy. Again, I’ll be including an extensive source list in the full room tour!

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replied on August 30th, 2016

Thank you!
I will check out my local Joann’s for the fabric. :)

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30.August.2016

Such a great idea for a kids room. Could you share where you got those curtains from???

The pattern is amazing!

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replied on August 31st, 2016

The curtains are from the original nursery design. I bought them from West Elm a few years back. I wish they still carried them! I love that they’re light and airy but have a dainty pattern.

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30.August.2016

I’m so looking forward to having an IKEA only about an hour’s drive from our house. IKEA Memphis is scheduled to open this fall!
What you’ve done here looks a lot like what I have in mind for a window seat in our bedroom. I’ll have to check it out and see if it would fit.
As usual, your design sense shines in this room. And Mabrey is s spunky sweetheart.

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Our local IKEA is ~25 minutes away by car. It’s a blessing and a curse!

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30.August.2016

Love this! What do you use to keep the vision from slipping off the dresser?

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replied on August 31st, 2016

So far there haven’t been any issues with the cushion slipping or sliding off. I can always put a strip of anti-slip gripper underneath if necessary.

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30.August.2016

These would be perfect in our playroom, I think. We have super low windows (28″ from the floor). The IKEA site says that it is 63″ long, 17″ deep and 20.5″ tall. Is that correct? If so, how tall is each drawer? I just want to make sure that it really is just 20.5″ tall. It has been impossible to find anything ready-made that is short enough to go under these windows. Thanks,

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Yes, the measurements are accurate. Although with the added cushion, the height is more like 25″. I measured just for you and the interior drawer height is ~7 1/2″. Great question!

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking those measurements and for including the drawer height. Those seem like the perfect size for toys as well as fabrics and such (playroom/sewing/craft room). Now I just have to figure out when to make the 4-hour trip to San Antonio.

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replied on September 5th, 2016

No problem! Hope it works out. It’s a really great piece!

30.August.2016

I am a huge fan of your work and think the room looks fantastic and seems to suit her personality perfectly (and personally LOVE that you aren’t afraid to make an impact through paint – light or dark). Nice job! I also want to thank you for your honest and balanced reviews of the products you include in your design. I am a big fan of IKEA but agree with your assessment that they shine brightest when blended with other pieces. I think you’ve done a great job striking that balance and finding a way to customize their pieces to meet your families needs/design style.

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Such nice words, thank you!

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30.August.2016

That looks like a great, versatile piece of furniture. I love all the fabrics you used in this room!

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30.August.2016

Love, love, love this dresser, cushion and gallery wall!

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30.August.2016

I love playing “That’s Ikea” when people come over to my home. It’s funny to see the look on their faces when I tell them that certain pieces are from there. Also, I bought a beautiful crib (spent a fortune on it) when I had our first baby, 10 months later, SURPRISE! I was pregnant again. So we bought a crib from Ikea and it’s just as nice, has a smaller profile (which is great for our midcentury home) and was under $150. Both my mom and in-laws went out and bought the same crib for their homes as well…The thing I like the most about Ikea is that I don’t feel guilty when I grow tired of some piece in my house, because I can usually resell it and put that money towards something new…from Ikea!

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Agreed! I’ve found that many of the popular yet discontinued IKEA pieces (like our old EXPEDIT) hold their resale value pretty well if they’re in good condition.

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31.August.2016

IKEA is great but avoid the espresso finish ones. Buy white (even the glossy ones) or just buy those made of real wood and stain/paint them, these usually turn out looking more expensive than it is ;). One of my favorite thing about IKEA is that they make compact size furniture. You can occasionally fine a gem out of their cushion covers or throws. I was really lucky to snag one of the last two pieces of Sommar (blue and white) cushion cover last week, it’s no longer on my local IKEA site. :)

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replied on August 31st, 2016

I agree 100% on the no-espresso!

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31.August.2016

Lovely room!
Dana, you did mention that you anchored this dresser to the wall. As an Ikea brand ambassador, I think it would be important to emphasize the imperative need to do this with Ikea furniture, particularly in a child’s room and when you’ve purposed the furniture to climb on. Thank you!

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Yes, of course, the dresser is anchored to the wall which I mentioned in the post. Anchoring the dresser is part of the assembly instructions, so please don’t skip that important step!

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31.August.2016

You always do a great job of pulling your spaces together in a way that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing! I was wondering how you get the cushion to stay put. Did you use adhesive?

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replied on August 31st, 2016

Thank you Andrea! So far there haven’t been any issues with the cushion slipping or sliding off. I can always put a strip of anti-slip gripper underneath if necessary.

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02.September.2016

Hi there, Dana!

This has nothing to do with the subject of this post but I’ve been looking to upgrade my frame game recently and love the thin wood frames you have for both the small picture & larger poster-y print on Mabrey’s walls. Any tips on where to find those subtle babes? Thanks for your help!

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replied on September 5th, 2016

I’ll be posting a complete source list, but the frames you’re speaking of are actually IKEA (larger square frame) and Target (vertical rectangle with mat) spray painted a matte gold. They were originally silver and white respectively. The sizes/prices were right and I liked the slim frames, but I wanted a warmer look. Hope that helps!

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02.September.2016

I am a big fan of the EXPEDIT/KALLAX cube shelves. They are so sturdy! I put them in both of my kids’ rooms. I’ve had good experiences with IKEA quality plus I love the modern design – and the price cannot be beat.

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04.September.2016

How about where is that colorful wooden slider toy from? I know a nine month old who would love that!

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06.September.2016

What does Mabrey think?

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replied on September 6th, 2016

LOVES.

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replied on September 7th, 2016

Then job well done.

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13.September.2016

Such a great idea. I did have issues with the vision, but velcro solved it fine. Thanks for sharing, your blog is really cool and helpful.

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13.September.2016

Hi,
This room is so great. How do you feel about roman shades if they are on the front of the house? Both of my kids’ rooms are on the front, but I love the idea of these shades for them. Do they look okay from the backside when down? Thanks so much for your help!

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replied on September 14th, 2016

We rarely lower the woven shades. In each bedroom there are Levolor blackout roller blinds mounted inside the window frame. We pull those down for privacy/darkness at night. I’ve never really considered what they look like from the front of the house since it’s usually dark when they’re down. As long as my kids are sleeping, I kind of don’t care!

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replied on September 14th, 2016

Thank you so much for the reply. You are right! It’s all about well rested children:)

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