A Little $40 DIY IKEA Nightstand Makeover

Finding nightstands for our bedroom wasn’t the first thing on our minds after we moved in. We were content to live like college students for a bit… Husband used a stool and I used a tiny wire shelf unit – definitely creative temporary choices until we could figure something else out.

I searched and searched and searched for a nightstand – building plans and off-the-shelf options. Either the building plans seemed like too much work (I’d need to make two after all) or the ready-to-buy options lacked in some way. Too short, too expensive, too wide, etc…

That’s when I stumbled upon this blog post (thank you internet!!) that changed the game for me! I hadn’t occurred to me I could just buy something cheap and, y’know, tweak it.

behold, tarva!

My design didn’t deviate too far from the linked blog, but I did need to figure out a way to make the nightstands ~5″ taller. I’d hoped that the included legs would be standard 2×2 sized lumber so I could swap them out, but no such luck. And no way to find out without ordering the nightstands first! (We don’t live near an IKEA.) I’d need to build a new leg assembly for each. So, I took the plunge and ordered two, for a whopping $80 plus tax and shipping!

What I Used

For two nightstands:

  • 2 x 8′ standard 2x2s, cut into 8 x 12 5/8″ pieces (depending on how high you want your tables to be)
  • 2 x 8′ standard 1x4s, cut into 4 x 13 3/4″ pieces and 4 x 10 7/8″ pieces
  • Dark walnut stain/poly (I like this one)
  • White paint
  • 2 of these on-sale-at-the-time knobs in brass (even now they’re only $6 each)

So, it’s not totally inconceivable that you’d have paint/stain and extra 2x2s and 1x4s lying around, making this a pretty inexpensive project. This, however, was pretty much my first go at anything woodworkish so alas I was starting from scratch here.

The Plan

To show all three of my readers just how much I love you, I confronted (definitely not conquered) my fear of SketchUp to bring you this rendering of the legs I planned to build:

sketchup screenshot

With everything dimensioned, I cut all the pieces to length (including adding a little nip off the bottom of each leg – I set the miter saw’s angle to 15 degrees, set up a little stop block, and chopped each leg at the same place) and then sanded and stained all the leg parts.

I also stained the tabletops, since I thought white would lend itself more to scuffs and dirt. The rest of the nightstand pieces got 3 coats of white latex enamel, and that’s boring so I don’t have pictures.


I’m an idiot sometimes, so this took me longer than it should have. Always read the directions when assembling IKEA furniture. ALWAYS. I thought that since I assembled one just fine, I could do it from memory for the second one. And that’s why husband’s drawer is permanently assembled inside-out. (Sigh)

After the IKEA pieces were put together, I gleefully added the fun drawer knobs and lopped off the extra bit sticking out with a hacksaw:

Things were starting to come together! Next I tackled the leg assemblies. Yes, I’m working on the dining room table. No, there weren’t many better options… I found the Kreg right-angle clamps to be very helpful here, but I did run into some serious splitting issues. Now, I know using cheap lumber isn’t ideal, but basically every single leg split until I pre-drilled the holes. You’re not supposed to need to do that with the Kreg system, but it made a huge difference for me. YMMV.

I used a little scrap wood spacer to keep the cross members just offset from the legs.

We’re getting close here! Unfortunately, there wasn’t much structure on the bottom of the nightstands to grab onto, so I did the best I could and used a few pocket hole screws to secure the leg assembly to the top. Is it bulletproof? No… But I doubt we’ll be standing on these tables at any point, and they’ve held up great for the past few months.

With legs and bodies assembled, it was time to attach the tops!

Now that they’ve been up in our room for a couple months, I’ve had a chance to take some better in-context photos:

IKEA makeovers are fun, right??


    1. Ack your comment got sent to spam!!! Goodness gracious…

      Thanks 🙂 IKEA probably has a lot of these, that would be a very impressive achievement!!

  1. Love the subtle block M in the background of the garage shot. LOVE THOSE BOARDS!

    Also, I never noticed my drawer was inside out

  2. I love that the knobs look like nautical cleats- a nod to Newport, if you will. And that whale dish! And analog clock! <3

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