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Is That a Dresser in your Kitchen?

Why yes, that is indeed a dresser in my kitchen.  And no, I do not get dressed in my kitchen…well most of the time.  We are currently renting a 100 year old cottage style home.  It is chock-full of character, but unfortunately not chock-full of storage.  This move is temporary, so I decided to compromise on space/storage for location and character.  There are some days that I curse character, but most I try to embrace it.  The kitchen was a big source of frustration.   There was just not enough storage, so on a trip to IKEA this pretty little dresser was purchased.  It was painted, new knobs added and then dressed up.  Isn’t she lovely?  Looking on-line at the measurements, I noticed that it was narrower than a standard dresser.  This was perfect!  And it was affordable AND it can move with us!

Here is what the IKEA Tarva looks like in the store…

And by the way, I want my next job to be working for IKEA naming pieces of furniture!  Okay, back to the dresser.  Of course, IKEA furniture is affordable, but at the expense of your husband’s free time.  On a Saturday afternoon, he patiently assembled this bad boy with the help of two four year olds.  What should probably take a couple of hours turned into a six hour project.

And here it is almost ready to paint…

The wood was pretty smooth (and I’m pretty impatient), so I just skipped the sanding stage and headed to get my paint brush.   I used the Zinsser 1-2-3 primer.  I prefer this over Kilz.  It goes on smooth and doesn’t smell too bad.  I also prefer to use a brush instead of a roller.

Once the primer has cured (big word, but just look on the can to see how long you need to wait before re-coating), I then went on to the real paint.  I painted two layers of the Behr Ultra Paint + Primer Satin finish.  Let that cure and then apply your clear topcoat.  I used the MinWax Polycrylic Satin finish to make the surface washable and durable.  For the top of the dresser, I applied three coats of the Polycrylic.  I was a tad lazy and only applied two coats to the drawers and sides.  Follow the instructions on the can and you will be good to go.

Project Sources:

Dresser – IKEA Tarva 6-drawer chest

Yellow Knobs – Hobby Lobby

Primer – Zinsser 1-2-3

Paint – Sherwin Williams Dover White (color matched Behr Ultra Satin Finish)

Top Coat Sealer – MinWax Polycrylic Satin Finish


Side Note: I have declared Behr Ultra Paint + Primer to be my favorite paint.  So much so, that I drove 40 minutes to pick up a can of paint.  Some may call this crazy, I call it normal.  

Feel free to send me a note if you have any questions. 

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  • Reply
    June 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

    It looks so good! I knew it looked good in person, but it is even more exciting to see how well your pictures turned out!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Oh, I LOVE this idea!! It came out beautifully!! Thanks for sharing!! ^_^

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hi! I love what you did with this dresser! I’m thinking about getting one, and I wondered whether you’d be able to tell me whether it measures 61″ wide on the top or from side to side? I’ve got to squeeze it into a small space, so every inch counts, and I just can’t figure out where the 61″ measurement is taken from. I really appreciate it, thanks!

    • Reply
      Lucy Jane
      July 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      The top of the dresser is the widest part and measures exactly 61″. Hope that helps! It is also not as deep as your average dresser – only 15 1/2″ deep – so it is great for smaller spaces. Let me know if you have any other measurement questions.

      • Reply
        July 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

    That dresser fits perfectly in that space! I’ve never seen that particular dresser at Ikea before but I am going to keep my eye out for it now! So many possibilities.

    • Reply
      Lucy Jane
      July 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      It doesn’t look so impressive in the store, but really comes to life with a coat of paint.

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    John V
    July 31, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Like most men, I keep a toolbag at arms length, have many woodworking and handyman magazines under my belt, but I must say… you’ve impressed me! You have a gift and keep working it. Now I just have to figure out how to fit a dresser in my kitchen! You’re inspiring!
    John V

  • Reply
    November 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    First- the dresser looks great! I love the knobs.
    I’m considering the chest version of this dresser for our bedroom. I noticed the depth is 15 3/8″- about 2.5″ less than our current dresser. I know that you’re using this for kitchen storage, but in your opinion, would the shorter depth be a problem re: clothing storage? It seems like we always have an extra 3 inches in the front or back of the drawers anyhow.

    • Reply
      Lucy Jane
      November 26, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Thanks! I think it would work great in a bedroom. Fitting clothes should not be a problem and it takes up less space…if that is a concern. I say go for it! We have 5 year old twin boys and they have put the dresser to the test, so it seems pretty durable. Good luck!

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    July 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Fabulous! Chest of drawers works in any room of the house. Your tarva dresser is just a gorgeous and functional work of art!

  • Reply
    September 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I have a disco’d ikea dresser in our kitchen as well. We painted it to compliment the other decor in the room – MS Thunderhead and kept the dark stained top. We live in a small space, so the dresser works as extra drawer storage. Top drawer holds spices and cookie sheets, middle drawer holds cooking utensils and bottom drawer holds all my baking supplies. A microwave and my kitchen aid mixer are stored on the top. And white ikea shelves above for cookbooks, teas, coffee, and decorative bowls.

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    January 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Wondering if you painted the interior drawers and sides.

    • Reply
      January 3, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Olivia! I did not paint the inside or side of the drawers. Good luck with your project!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Love this idea in the kitchen. We just moved into a new house and need some extra storage ourselves. Question for you. What are the dimensions on the inside of the drawers. I store a lot of kitchen flours and grains in mason jars and am wondering what size jar would fit in those drawers. Thank you!

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    January 19, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    did you paint inside or outside the house?

  • Reply
    January 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I found this dresser listed on the IKEA site while looking for something to put in my very very small kitchen. It seemed perfect, but I couldn’t see if the drawers were wood or plastic inside, so I looked for images online and found your site. Yea! I’m so happy to see that you’ve used it in your kitchen.

    I’m still questioning the sturdiness of the drawers. My question for you is this: Do you think the drawers are strong enough to hold kitchen utensils and possibly pans in the bottom drawer? I’d go see it at the store, but I live in the city without a car and ordering online with shipping is cheaper than renting a car locally. :-)

    Thanks for your article and the paint recommendations. I may have a hard time getting the one brand, but I think the point is to use top quality for top results.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2014 at 6:29 pm


    If you want to avoid total disappointment and frustration, make sure the drawers work before you paint!

    I’ve been a huge fan of IKEA for decades. I have a pine set of cabinets for china et.al. that has moved 5 times and is solid as a rock. It needs a face lift now, but I can’t say enough good things about the product and value.

    Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the TARVA cabinet.

    I bought the 3 drawer and have had two big problems. The first was that the holes for the drawer slide on one side of the cabinet did not line up with the holes in the slide itself. took public transportation back to the store and exchanged the piece. Turns out that the holes cause the slides to stick out and show from the side.

    At this point after priming, sanding, priming, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, sanding, poly, sand, poly, sand, poly – I’m not a happy camper. I’m contacting IKEA. We’ll see what they have to say about the problem.

    Bottom line here is to make sure it all lines up and looks good without any paint on it first! I didn’t even think of checking that out first.

    I sincerely hope that everyone else has better luck. I do have to be thankful that in all the years of purchasing and putting IKEA together (there are pieces of all type and size in every room of my home) I’ve been lucky.

    Happy hacking!

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    May 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I am trying this for myself using your posts as a guide. The dresser was not as easy to build as I would have liked. I’m still finishing up. But so far, it is turning out great. Thanks for the inspiration! This is one of my first DIY projects involving primer and I have to say, I am never buying Kilz again. This Zinsser stuff is so much better. I will send you a pic when it is done!

    • Reply
      May 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Can’t wait to see the finished dresser!

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    July 4, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I’m going to do this very thing for my breakfast nook, and I am super-excited about it! The closest one to us is five hours away, but my husband will be driving there for another reason and I’m going to give him a side mission! :-) I’m glad to hear you can skip the sanding. I’m not sure if I want it to be taller than the chair rail in the nook, but the legs look like they’d be easy to cut down.

    Glad you posted this so I could better envision what it will look like for us here!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    hi! I know I’m way late in discovering this post, but I just had to ask you about the polycrylic you used. I just painted a wooden dresser like yours and then tried to seal it with Minwax polycrylic, but after the poly dried, I could see the streaks of my paintbrush lines when the light hit it. How did you avoid this? I would love to know what your application method was, and any tips! Thank you! Your project looks awesome!

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