IKEA Cabinet Organization + Makeover (How to Paint IKEA Furniture)

posted in: Decor, DIY, Home | 4

I’m baaaaaaack! Happy New Year, everyone! I’ve been on somewhat of a hiatus over the past few weeks, but for good reason. January is Get Organized Month and I am not one to pass up a healthy challenge, so I’ve been getting ready for a big organization overhaul. And it couldn’t have come at a better time โ€“ with a New Year comes new beginnings, right? Whatever is your reason for getting organized, it’s a good one. Now you just have to strap on your boots, roll up your sleeves, and take the plunge. While I could go into the many different levels of organizing, I’ll stick to tackling just one organization project for now (for a complete guide to organizing visit Real Simple).


So, here’s my problem: I don’t have a lot of space in my home. It’s a serious problem for a craftaholic like me. I have to find some creative ways to use the space that I do have and I can’t take a single nook or cranny for granted. One thing I am grateful for is my free-standing IKEA Effektiv Cabinet. It’s strong, sturdy, and holds pretty much all of my tools and crafting supplies. I don’t know what I’d do without it. But wait just a second. Have you seen this thing? It is U-G-L-Y and it certainly doesn’t have an alibi โ€“ it’s bad (just like that joke). The inside isn’t much better either. It’s sloppily organized and begging for a little TLC.


Since this month is all about organization, I went ahead and did my thang and organized the heck out of this cabinet. Not only that, but I gave the outside a stunning transformation. A little sanding and paint went a long way with this one. And the inside got a little help from Michaels’ new line of organization products, Crea8ted Space. They were having a 50% off sale so I had to stock up.

If you have an organization system that is already working for you, then please use that and just use this tutorial as a guide to painting your IKEA furniture. Most of the things I was using for organization were a combination of shoe boxes, various plastic tubs, and rinky dinky plastic trays. While the shoe boxes worked great, they were a bit unsightly and the plastic tubs and trays just weren’t doing what I wanted them to do. It was definitely time for an upgrade but I didn’t want to go out and spend a fortune on all new materials. Furthermore I needed to find a way to use the wasted gaps within the cabinet.


The solution: I kept what was working for me, giving those pieces a little face lift, and replaced what wasn’t working with new Cre8ted Space pieces. The result may have been just a painted shoe box but I am totally ok with that. It was easy, cheap, and they match everything else, so it was a win-win!

The biggest thing with organization is keeping similar things together. Before you go out and buy all new organization materials, gather everything you have into one pile and begin sorting similar things into like piles. For example, if you have a lot of felt or fabric scraps, pick those out and set them aside into one pile. Do the same for tools, hardware, adhesives, jewelry-making supplies, fine art supplies, etc. That way you can see what you have. Then, go through each individual pile and pick out the things that are damaged or that you don’t use anymore and either throw them away or set them aside to donate them. After you’ve done that, you can easily see how much stuff you have and figure out what kind of organization pieces you’ll need to find.


The difficult part is over! Now you just need to find, make, or buy containers/spaces for each pile. I am a big advocate for using what you already have so I suggest digging through your basement or attic and finding some shoe boxes or other containers that are not in use and just need some sprucing up. A little acrylic or latex paint will go a long way when it comes to polishing up those boxes. I also did away with the masking tape/Sharpie labels and brought out my label maker. Of course a label maker is not necessary but I’ll make any excuse to use mine. Another new feature I added was a magnetic strip which now holds the magnetic tins (also Cre8ted Space) full of washers, screws, and other small hardware. This was a great way to use some of the unused space that would have otherwise been wasted.


If you’re taking the route of buying new organization materials, Michaels’ new Cre8ted Space line is great. They have color coordinated bins, tins, boxes, and drawers of all shapes and sizes (and in any color you could imagine), prices ranging from $2.99 up to $79.99+. I wouldn’t normally pay those prices for craft organization but they’re having a 50% off Cre8ted Space sale until January 23, 2016 so I couldn’t pass up a good deal.



Now on to the makeover part.

IKEA furniture can be really difficult to make over sometimes. Most of it is made out of some sort of laminate and, if not done right, won’t hold paint in the way you want it to. Sure, the paint may stick at first, but after a while, it will begin to chip and fall off, making it look even worse than before you started the project. But, if you follow this tutorial, the result should be a piece that will look beautiful for years.



IKEA furniture (bookcase, table, cabinet, etc.)
Orbital sander (or sandpaper)
Painter’s tape
Shellac-base primer (Zinsser B.I.N. Shellac-Base Primer)
Latex paint (color of your choice)
Paint brush
Paint roller (foam or white woven work well)



Step 1: Disassemble the furniture

Break down the furniture as far as you can. Remove shelves and detach hardware so that you won’t get any paint on the hardware and so you can get into every nook an cranny of the furniture. If you don’t want something painted, then now is the time to remove it. Keep the small pieces of hardware in a plastic Ziploc bag so you won’t lose them.


Step 2: Sand each piece that you’ll be painting


This is crucial in making sure your primer and paint stick. Using an orbital sander with a 120-150 grit disc, lightly go over the surface of the furniture. If you don’t have an orbital sander, regular sandpaper will work just fine but may take a little more elbow grease. Make sure you get into all of the hard-to-reach places and that you sand ALL of the pieces. For example, the doors to my cabinet were a blue laminate and almost seemed like plastic. I was a little skeptical about sanding them, but I sanded them anyway (getting blue dust everywhere in the process) to ensure the primer and paint will stick. When you’ve finished sanding, wipe down all of the sanded pieces with a damp cloth to get rid of the extra dust and debris.


Step 3: Tape off what you don’t want painted

If there are parts of the furniture that are too difficult to disassemble and you don’t want to paint them, then use painter’s tape to cover them up. This is very important if you want to keep a portion of the furniture as is.


Step 4: Apply primer


THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP! In order for your paint to last a long time, you MUST prime your surfaces. Making sure all of the surfaces are clean and dry, apply the Zinsser B.I.N. Shellac-Base Primer to the furniture. I’m not sure why but this seems to be the best primer for covering laminate. First, cover the corners and creases with a paint brush, then use a roller to apply primer to the larger areas. The primer doesn’t have to look perfect since it will be covered up with paint, but try to get it as even as possible.


Step 5: Paint the heck out of your furniture

When the primer is completely dry (usually after at least and hour) you can begin applying your final color(s) to the furniture. Instead of buying an entire pint or quart of paint I bought sample sizes in white and teal. This costs less than buying the big cans and you’ll be less likely to have left over paint that you probably won’t use again. Each sample size covers about a 4’x4′ area so, if your furniture is larger than that, you may want to buy 2 sample sizes (which is still usually cheaper than a pint) or just go for the pint, quart, or gallon…use your discretion.

Choose a paint color that you’ll be happy with for a long time. Then, going slow and steady, get to paintin’. Again, first use a paintbrush to paint the corners and creases and then go over the rest of the surface with a roller or mini roller. After the first coat has been applied, wait for it to dry to the touch before applying another coat (about 1-2 hours). Depending on the paint you get, you may or may not need to apply more than one coat.

One thing to note: If you’re painting something that has screw holes or peg holes, periodically insert a Q-tip into the holes to keep them free of paint. This will help tremendously when you reassemble the furniture.


Step 6: Reassemble the furniture

You MUST wait for your final coat to dry COMPLETELY. Give it a good 2-3 days to let the paint really soak in and dry thoroughly. If you’re like me, this will be the most difficult step, but trust me, it’s worth it.

After 2-3 days, reassemble the furniture. If you are extra patient, wait another week or two before you use or set anything on your new furniture. This is not necessary but just ensures that the paint will be 1000% dry before using it.

Then, sit back and soak in the awesomeness.

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