How to IKEA hack a nightstand with lift top

A Hackers Help question from Shannon, asking us how to hack a lift top nightstand. Let’s brainstorm together.

Hi! I need help determining if this hack — a nightstand with lift top — is actually doable or not.

And if so … how?

We have an adjustable bed so I’m looking for a nightstand with a lift top and I would really like to be able to use the TARVA dresser.

ikea tarva chest of 3 drawers

Images below include a few examples of what I’m looking for. 

Lift top nightstand sold on Amazon
Photo: Amazon

If a lift-top wouldn’t be doable, is there another way to get an “extendable top” onto the TARVA dresser, such as maybe a folding top?

For what it’s worth, I plan to also put casters on the dresser. 

~ by Shannon

Ideas for a DIY nightstand with lift top

Hi Shannon

I think the lift-top on a TARVA dresser is doable and may not be as hard as it seems. But there are some things to consider, mainly, stability of the unit.

Hacking the IKEA TARVA into a nightstand with lift top

If you look at its construction, the top is essential to the structure of the furniture. Without the top piece, it will be just 3 panels, with nothing to keep the frame square. So that’s the first thing we need to handle.

IKEA TARVA construction
Photo: IKEA>com

Now that we’ve settled that, the other issue that pops into mind is how to finish the top section. In the IKEA TARVA assembly manual, it shows two horizontal shelves which act as a brace to keep the structure rigid.

create a shelf for lift top nightstand

Without the drawer, things would fall through to the second drawer. I would suggest cutting a piece of wood (below, in blue) and place it on top of the first panel, which would essentially create a “box” like storage space for the lift-top section. Here’s what I mean.

Plan for TARVA dresser lift top nightstand

Do insert the second drawer before you place the extra shelf in, as you may have some difficulty sliding in the drawer (which needs some headroom to lock the slides in).

But if you don’t want to go through with the extra shelf, use boxes or baskets to keep things in place, resting them on the original ledge.

Last thing to take care of, the fiberboard material on the back of the TARVA. It’s just a flimsy backer board and would not be able to hold up the lift top mechanism. Add another wood panel along the back, attached to the side panels in place of the backer board. That should be good enough to hold up the arms.

Hope that makes sense? If you have any questions, please shoot in the comments below. Anyways, moving on to …

Pottery Barn inspired folding top TARVA Dresser

The Pottery Barn extendable table is relatively easier to construct. You’ll need hinges and two pieces of wood. Try to get pine in the same thickness as the TARVA top, so it’ll match up more seamlessly.

Basically, you’ll need to cut the piece of wood. Use piano hinges and secure the new piece to the TARVA top. And that’s it. Repeat on the other side.

However, do take note that the inspiration PB piece is only 12 inches wide, with each extension leaf around 6″. That’s probably as much weight as hinges can hold up. The wider the extension leaf the less likely the table top will sit level.

If you need a sturdier table, perhaps, to view your laptop while sitting in bed, I would suggest adding a fold out bracket to the side of the TARVA. When you flip the table leaf down, open up the bracket to support the table top.

How to add a support bracket

Add a wooden bracket like the SANDSHULT with two hinges to the side of the TARVA. Fold it in when not in use.

fold down table on nightstand

A spin off idea from the PB inspo is to use a folding shelf bracket. Easy and ready made. You’ll need to attach the table top to the bracket instead of the TARVA and then the vertical section of the bracket to the TARVA. Like so:

foldable brackets sold on Amazon
Photo: Amazon

It’s an easy solution but may be a tad hard to use. The desk when folded down will be against your bed, unless your nightstand is a little further away from the bed and you have room to easily move it up and down. But I’m throwing in this idea just in case it does work for you and because you intend to add wheels to the TARVA.

A rotating over the bed side table

One last thought. If you just need a small table over the bed, why not attach the FLOTTEBO side table to either your bed or the TARVA? You’ll probably need to switch the hardware out to what fits your bed or the dresser.

FLOTTEBO side table

That’s it from me. I hope you get some good ideas to get started on your project.

Remember to send it to us when you’re done. We’ll love to see what you finally come up with.

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. is not liable for any product failure, injury or damage resulting from the application of suggestions, ideas and hacks featured on this site.