Ikea Hack – Tarva Drawers


For ages I’ve been wanting to try customising furniture – I live in a rented flat and there’s only so many options for putting your own stamp on the place. But I was always put off by the amount of equipment, time and space that it seemed to take up. Happily this hack can be done in the smallest of spaces with limited mess.

After a few unsuccessful looks around the local furniture charity shops/gumtree/ebay I decided to get some Tarva drawers from Ikea (easier to get up the stairs) which I built in the room where they would end up. Instructions on how to do this super easy hack below.

Time: 4 hours plus paint drying time – I did this over a weekend while watching Kate and Leopold and A Million Ways to Die in the West -but you do you

To build the drawers:
cross head and flat head screw driver

For the hack:
paint in your choice of colour – look for one suitable for use on wood
spray paint or paint in an alternative colour (for the legs)
small paint roller set
paint brush
masking tape
drawer knobs of your choosing


1. Unpack your drawers and sort your materials – this sounds obsessive, but is super helpful as you go along

2. Take the four legs and four slim sections of wood that make up the base of the drawers and spray paint/paint them your chosen colour. I did mine with copper spray paint which didn’t have the level of coverage I wanted for the copper effect. But I’ve grown to like it. I spray painted out on street (I have no garden) on top of a spare piece of cardboard. Super easy.

3. When the legs have dried, this took about 30 minutes, follow the instructions to build the drawers up to the point where the entire outer shell is complete (step 21 on the official instructions)

4. Prepare your drawers for painting by placing masking tape at the point where your painted area meets the non-painted one. I didn’t want to paint the inside of the shell or the legs so covered the meeting point at those areas.

Tip: Use the cardboard  from the packaging to protect the floor and area where you’re painting

5. Paint the outer shell of your drawers the main colour. I chose Dulux Natural Slate in matt as it had the cool grey I was going for. I didn’t bother with a base coat or a primer as the colour didn’t need it and I didn’t want to wait for it to dry. If you’re going for a bright colour you may want to do a white base coat to make the colour pop!

6. Use a small roller – about 10/15cms in length to get maximum coverage with minimum mess. Your drawers will need two coats to get good coverage, I waited a couple of hours in between coats.

7. Paint the front sections and side sections of all your drawers using the roller for the front and the brush for the sides. I chose to not paint the unseen insides of these, if you want to the hack will take longer as you’ll have to wait for one side to dry before doing the other.

Now we wait for it all to dry. This whole section took me all of Kate and Leopold – about 2 hours. I got started again the next day.

8. Return to the instructions and finish putting together your newly painted drawers and fitting them into the chest. You can patch up any paint issues if you have them at this point.

9. Attach your drawer knobs. The drawers come with a boring set which I chose to replace with a couple of different designs from Zara Home – they have lots of choice and are very reasonable when you need 10, especially if you find some in the sale.

This section took me most of the second film – the drawers are much faffier to make

10. Step back and admire your awesomeness

Bonus Tip: Why not obsessively Konmari your drawers – I promise it will change your life.


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