Ikea Hack Hemnes Dresser Urban Industrial Makeover

IKEA Hack: Urban Industrial Dresser

As I mentioned previously, the IKEA Hemnes dresser we bought to go with our queen bedroom “set” at our old house has been doing our new king bedroom set exactly zero favors. I had planned on finding an urban industrial dresser at some point but it wasn’t too high on my list of priorities.

Well, it’s been almost eight months, and we still need and have the old dresser. However, the wood and metal of our “forever” new bed and nightstands from Pottery Barn cause the ol’ Hemnes to stick out like a sore Scandanavian thumb. I found a few possible options to replace it, but none within budget, which means it’s DIY time!

I schemed up this idea one morning after stumbling upon the most critical component, the sticky vinyl, on Amazon. From there, I just had to figure out what paint and drawer pulls I liked and get started.


I’m a big time online shopper and I ended up getting almost everything on Amazon so it could be shipped quickly without me needing to take extra trips out or hunt around a Home Depot looking lost. (The guys at Home Depot tend to be so patronizing when asking me if I need help! Surely this is an every-lady problem.) This came back to bite me a little bit when the vinyl arrived a different color than expected, but I still think the time saved was worth it.

Dresser makeover materials

Total cost for spray paint, finishes, leather strap, vinyl, and hardware: $78

Painting the Frame

First, I sprayed the body of the dresser. Removing the drawers made it easy to lift out into our yard, which is full of dead grass that’s about to get ripped up anyway so I didn’t even bother putting down newspaper. The coverage of the Rustoleum was impressive, and I was delighted to see the metallic sparkle almost immediately.

Spray painting the IKEA Hemnes frame
After just one coat!

I’ve worked with this Rustoleum before and learned that the type of motion you make while spraying is crucial. Heavy wet areas tend to look the most textured, so do those carefully and sparingly. The textured bits do give it extra dimension, which I think amplifies the whole urban industrial dresser vibe.

I used about six coats of the silver spray to get to the color density that I wanted. I let the color dry overnight and moved it into our garage for the next step: clear coat. While the silver tone was right on target, the texture felt a bit pebbly and was far from the smooth metallic look / feel that felt critical to the success of the project. I ended up spending another two days spraying the hell out of this guy with glossy enamel spray. I went through 3 cans and focused mainly on the top of the dresser, but I managed to get the smooth sheen I wanted.

Creating “Wood” Drawer Fronts

Next, I had to do the drawer fronts. I measured and cut the vinyl one drawer at a time to account for any irregularities between drawer front dimensions. The vinyl was pretty impressive! It was easy to reposition to get just right, and I used a shower squeegee to smooth out any air bubbles in the finish before wrapping the corners.

Vinyl-covered drawers in progress
Pretty convincing right out the gate!

Once all the drawers were covered, I started spraying them with the Polyshades to darken the vinyl a bit and seal the edges up. This stuff STINKS and takes forever to dry (and you can only do it on a low-humidity day) but it definitely gave the final finish a much more profesh and real-wood look. Worth it 100%.

Before / after staining the vinyl-covered drawers with Polyshades
Before / after staining the vinyl-covered drawers with Polyshades

The vinyl covered up the existing hole for the drawer pulls, so once they were dry I used a knitting need to poke through the vinyl and help me identify where I should drill. After one drawer I realized I didn’t even need to run the drill; the weight of it poked through the vinyl easy-peasy.

Leather Drawer Pulls like What

I wasn’t sure at first what kind of drawer pulls I wanted. Metal seemed like the natural choice for an urban industrial dresser, but I didn’t see any I liked for an affordable price, and I was intrigued by the idea of making pulls myself. I verified that this was do-able by perusing a few DIY links and got to work.

Measuring the leather into 6" chunks
Measuring the leather into 6″ chunks

Cutting the leather straps came next, which meant lots of measuring. I decided that any less than 2.5″ of “pull” would feel too small, so I measured out 6″ strips of leather to account for the fold and still give us enough to grab. Once I had measured all the straps, I folded them and marked where to drill on each strap.

Leather drawer pull assembly
Leather drawer pull assembly

The 3/16″ drill bit cut through the leather beautifully. I was able to go super slowly so I could feel when the drill hit the cardboard I had under the leather.

That just left assembly! The screw goes through the strap, then through the drawer, then I secured it from inside the drawer. Drawers go into frame, clothes go into drawers, and we’re done!

Ta dah! I’m very, very pleased with the result. It feels like we gained several more years of use from the old IKEA chest of drawers by turning it into this urban industrial dresser!

IKEA Hack Urban Industrial Dresser
The result!


  1. Wow – what a creative solution and one-of -a-kind result. The dresser looks terrific and the mix of materials is perfect for an urban industrial bedroom.

  2. Cool idea! Thinking to try this with our Hemnes to upgrade our dresser for our 3rd baby – our first boy! πŸ™‚ Doing a rustic/industrial look. πŸ˜‰

    1. Love it! A rustic/industrial nursery sounds way stylish and very practical for when baby grows up, too. Would love to hear how it turns out for you. Ours has worn really well in the year+ since finishing it so I’m sure it would be gangbusters if you wanted to put a changing station on top as well.

      Congrats on the forthcoming addition!! πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸŽ‰

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