10 ideas for NORDLI dresser: Easy to hard DIY projects


I need ideas on how to spruce up this NORDLI 12-drawer dresser.

Wanted to get them in white but they were sold out. And these were available used but have scratches on the fourth drawer on the right.

IKEA NORDLI 12-drawer dresser
Credit: Lauren

Looking for ideas to fix up the scratch and maybe brighten up the dresser so it doesn’t feel so dark.




Hi Lauren

Glad you scored a NORDLI for cheap. It will be fun sprucing it up.

The NORDLI is essentially made out of particleboard with acrylic paint. For the scratch, if it’s not too big an area, try a black Sharpie or a furniture repair marker.

There are many ways to embellish it, depending on your decor style. Some are as easy as peel and stick, some will need a bit more work.

But that’s part of the fun.

Let’s see what ideas we can come up with for your NORDLI dresser.

Easy ideas: Stick it on

First up, self-adhesive stickers and decals. And there are plenty in the market, you can cut to fit the NORDLI dimensions.

I did this quick and easy makeover with furniture wrap on my old MALM. And what a difference it made.

IKEA MALM dresser ideas

Or if you prefer something subtler, add a strip of contact paper along the bottom of the drawers. Again, seen here on a MALM.

IKEA MALM dresser ideas

Or use washi tape and create a geometric design. It may be just tape, but it can wow.

Another thing you can stick on? Craft foam dowels. It’s mind-boggling how beautiful it turned out. See the tutorial here.

IKEA MALM dresser ideas

Mid-level: Custom skin

Another route you can take is decoupage. This gives you a bit more flexibility in your choice of skins. You can tailor it to the interest of the user of the dresser or the room.

The hacker used maps and Mod Podge to fix the pieces to the drawer fronts.

You can try it with fabric, paper napkins, Star Wars postcards like these, or whatever else catches your fancy.

Mod Podge map

If you’re looking for a bit more texture, then, explore overlays. These are thin panels of fretwork that you can stick on. Some can be painted over. The gold panels immediately brightened up the KALLAX below. Perhaps the effect you are looking for?

KALLAX overlay

Another idea worth a try is a personalized front. Find a photograph you like and get it printed as an engineer’s print at your local copy shops like Staples or Office Depot. Still unsure? Read the tutorial here.

MALM with large print

Hard projects: New fronts

Let’s move on to some harder IKEA hacks. This will require the use of power tools like a circular saw. Plywood drawer fronts are lovely and add a layer of texture to the dresser.

IKEA HEMNES dresser ideas

If you have a CNC machine or access to one, you can rout a design onto the fronts. Like this soundwave on the NORDLI bench.

NORDLI with custom front

We’ve been talking a lot about embellishing the drawers but maybe the spot of colour can come from what’s around them instead. A butcher block or IKEA cover panels (eg. TORHAMN) may be used to wrap around the NORDLI. See more.

IKEA MALM dresser ideas

How do you like these ideas? Hope to see what you end up doing with your NORDLI dresser.

Happy hacking,


Hacking may compromise the structural integrity of the item, so please be aware of the risks involved before modifying or altering any IKEA product. Alterations and modifications will also void any warranties or return policies you may have received from IKEA. IKEAhackers.net is not liable for any product failure, injury or damage resulting from the application of suggestions, ideas and hacks featured on this site.