...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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

IKEA dresser bench 10

Mabrey’s big girl room is finished! I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, but this project took place in real time amid real life which means it took forever. I’ll be sharing a series of posts this week discussing different aspects of the room because I feel like there’s too much for one post. Actually, that’s how I tackled the room…by breaking it up into smaller, easily digestible projects. Last month I shared how we customized a plain Jane trundle bed. Today I want to talk walls. I promise pretty pictures are coming soon, but this post includes a bunch of grainy, in-progress, iPhone photos. Brace yourself!

big girl wall paint

The nursery walls were a deep charcoal with blue-green undertones. I absolutely love the color and am keeping it in my back pocket for future reference, but it was time to brighten up the room to reflect Mabrey’s, ahem, vibrant personality. (No joke, I just overheard her telling Everett, “That’s what you get. Don’t mess with me!” #strongwilled) I removed everything from the walls, patched holes and sanded them smooth in preparation for paint.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the teensiest bit concerned about painting a light color (Benjamin Moore white dove OC-17) over such a dark color (Benjamin Moore dark pewter 2122-10). I consulted with my local Benjamin Moore sales rep, and he assured me that the self-priming Natura line was the way to go. I was prepared to roll on three or four coats to get full coverage, but it only took two coats and a little touch-up. Yay for projects that take less time than anticipated! It also helped that the trim was already painted Benjamin Moore white dove, so I didn’t have to tape it off. Even though the walls are an eggshell finish and the trim is semi-gloss, stray brush marks aren’t noticeable. I painted three of the four walls. I left one wall dark thinking it would be a good backdrop for Stikwood, but that idea didn’t really pan out. (More on that in a minute.)

After the walls were painted I had the wall behind the headboard wallpapered in Cavern Home’s tapestry wallpaper in zuni. Yes, I paid someone $125 to install the wallpaper. It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I’ve successfully hung wallpaper by myself in the past, but this paper was a little different. For one thing the wallpaper was not pre-pasted, so I would’ve had to invest in adhesive anyway. Second, the edges were untrimmed meaning someone other than the manufacturer (preferably a professional installer) needed to trim them prior to installation. The process can be a little tricky if you aren’t familiar with it. I wasn’t willing to wing it for fear of botching the entire project. So I found a local professional installer via the Wallcovering Installers Association. I called three or four installers before I found one that would take on such a miniscule project. He stopped by one Saturday morning and, in less than hour, the wallpaper was up. I couldn’t write that $125 check fast enough. So. worth. the. money.

The lesson? If you’re considering “untrimmed” wallpaper, be prepared to hire out the installation.

We planked the fourth wall in Stikwood’s vertical caramelized bamboo. It’s the same wall treatment we used on the bunk wall in the boys’ room. (You can read more about that project here.) This is where the dark wall (the one I didn’t paint white) became problematic. The wall isn’t perfectly flat (thank you old houses) so no matter how hard we tried, a few gaps showed up between some of the planks. The dark background accentuates the gaps. Luckily, they aren’t noticeable on the finished wall. They’re one of those things that really only bother Steve and me because we’re the ones who hung the planks. Still, if I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I would have taken the time to paint the wall white. Live and learn.

I think that covers all four walls. (Corny pun, so sorry.) Normally, I wouldn’t use three different wall treatments in such a small space, but I like breaking all the rules in children’s rooms. Mabrey’s room isn’t even 10′ x 10′, so I feel like the walls are one dimension I can have fun with without taking up precious floor space. I spent very little on actual furniture pieces, so there was more room in the budget for wall coverings. And since I only used wall coverings on two of the four walls, the splurges were relatively affordable.

Do you have any unique wall coverings in your home? I’ve always loved the idea of a simple kitchen set against planked walls, either rustic or painted. Something similar to thisthis or this or this.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking