How to refresh IKEA furniture with chalk paint

A moody makeover of this popular IKEA TV furniture with chalk paint.

Our white IKEA TV cabinet, the BESTÅ, was the perfect size for holding our Sky box, sound bar, DVD player and hiding an assortment of junk in the drawers. It had served us well for many years in our old house, which was light and modern, but when we moved to an older house and redecorated the sitting room we felt it no longer fitted in. It is such a perfect size and so functional that we were reluctant to just get rid of it.


IKEA products used:

Other materials and tools:

  • Annie Sloan chalk paint, Aubusson blue
  • Annie Sloan clear wax
  • Foam rollers & tray, paint brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Leather drawer pulls (from eBay shop)
  • Hairpin legs (Hairpin Leg Co via Amazon)

How I updated IKEA furniture with chalk paint

I had painted other wooden furniture in our house with chalk paint (chest of drawers, side table, bedside cabinets) but hadn’t thought that chalk paint could work on the shiny laminate surface of our BESTÅ until my husband suggested it. I started looking through IKEA Hackers and found that lots of people had updated their IKEA laminate furniture, like KALLAX and EXPEDIT, in this way and so thought I’d give it a go.

We chose Annie Sloan chalk paint in a lovely teal-blue shade, called Aubusson Blue, as we felt this fitted with the décor of our sitting room. I also bought some more clear wax for sealing (I only had a bit left over from other projects). My husband sourced some leather drawer pulls from eBay and I found some raw steel hairpin legs online from the Hairpin Leg Company (via Amazon) that I felt gave the same mid-century feel as the colour.

IKEA TV furniture gets a mid-century update with chalk paint
After: IKEA BESTÅ TV furniture with chalk paint

Step 1: Sand the surface

I lightly sanded the unit all over to provide a better surface for the paint to adhere to (just using regular sandpaper that we had in the shed).

Step 2: Clean and dry

Then I cleaned it with soapy water, rinsed and left it to dry it thoroughly. I removed the drawers and shelves but left the drawer runners in place figuring I would just paint around them. (This area is not visible when the unit is assembled so I wasn’t worried about it being too neat!).

Related: How to hack speaker fabric doors for the BESTÅ TV unit

Step 3: Start painting

I used a foam roller and paint tray to do the majority of the painting. The goal was I didn’t want to see any brush strokes and wanted as smooth a finish as possible as I wasn’t planning to distress the unit.

For some of the more awkward areas, like around the drawer runners and in the corners I had to use a brush. The paint went on surprisingly well, even on the drawer fronts which seem to be made from a shinier material. But I had to be patient and wait for each coat to dry thoroughly before the next one as otherwise, I found the roller would take off the existing paint in patches.

“I intended to leave it a week to cure before using it but I was too impatient to see it in my sitting room!”

Step 4: Let dry and paint again

I did 2 coats of paint all over and then an extra one on the top.

Step 5: Seal with wax

Then, after waiting 24 hours, I started waxing. I used a lint free cloth to apply and wipe off the excess wax, following the instructions on the side of the tin. Most of the unit got two coats of wax (with 24 hours in between coats) but I did an extra coat on the top and the drawers where I felt there would be most risk of scratching.

Step 6: Buff and let it cure

Finally, 24 hours after the final coat of wax, I buffed the unit with a clean lint free cloth and left it to cure for a couple of days. I intended to leave it a week to cure before using it but I was too impatient to see it in my sitting room!

IKEA TV furniture gets a mid-century update with chalk paint

Related: IKEA TV cabinet made from 4 fridge top cabinets.

I think if I were to do this project again I would use some sort of a primer before painting, just so I would be less paranoid about any paint scratching off with normal use. Alternatively, using a varnish instead of wax might offer more protection but it’s holding up well so far, fingers crossed!

Our IKEA TV cabinet hack wasn’t particularly cheap. I used nearly a whole tin of paint (£20) quarter of a tin of wax (they are £10 each), the drawer pulls were £10 and the hairpin legs were £20. However, I’m glad we decided to ‘upcycle’ rather than buy something new as we now have a piece that’s uniquely ours and hopefully we’ll love it for a long time.

~ by Claire King