IKEA IVAR shines in this Sunburst Cabinet hack

Two pine cabinets makes one awesome sunburst cabinet.

We had just moved into our new home and we needed nightstands for our bedroom. I had a vision of what I wanted and after looking for it for months I decided I would try to make it myself. So I bought two of IKEA IVAR cabinets which are made up of untreated solid pine, perfect for what I needed. Or so I thought. Once I incorporated the height of the legs it turned out that the cabinets were much too high to be nightstands. So I found myself with two cabinets and this vision I wanted to create! That’s when I decided to connect the two cabinets to make a large dresser.

DIY sunburst cabinet IKEA IVAR hack
Photo: Alana Gennara

Even though my original idea didn’t work out, the vision of the starburst design still needed to be manifested so I decided to move forward with the project anyway. It actually all worked out because we needed a dresser in our bedroom to keep our two year old son’s clothing in. I never refinished or flipped any furniture before so this was a scary and exciting undertaking for me.

Here are the materials, tools I used and steps I took to make my DIY sunburst cabinet a reality.

IKEA items used:

  • 2 IKEA IVAR Cabinet 12” depth ($99×2 = $198)

Other materials:


  • X-Acto knife
  • Miter saw or hand saw
  • Brad nailer or hammer
  • Drill

(All prices in CDN dollars.)

DIY sunburst cabinet with IKEA IVAR

Step 1: Paint the IVAR frame and doors

I painted the cabinets, the trim and the countertop all the same colour with some furniture and cabinet paint. Next, I spray painted the 3 different size dowels I bought for the starburst design in gold.

Step 2: Add dowels to doors

I added a single shaker to the cabinet doors by attaching ¼”x 2” of trim made of poplar. You’ll need at least 1/4″ depth so that the dowels can sit inside the trim flush and not stick out. I used my brad nailer and some wood glue but you could totally get the job done with just some glue.

Then I added my starburst design within the trim.

I found it important to use 3 different size dowels (1/8, 1/4, 5/16) and cut them to different lengths to give the starburst some dimension. I simply used an X-acto knife to cut the dowels and some wood glue to adhere them to the doors.

Step 3: Connect two IVARs

To combine the two cabinets I drilled 4 screws on the inside connecting walls.

Step 4: Add Countertop panels

I bought two stain grade panels for the top of the dresser that were 3/4 x 12 x 36”. I cut each down to 31” and caulked the seam in the middle of the dresser with some DAP. This was a cost savings choice, to buy one piece that was 62” long was really expensive.

Step 5. Attach legs and middle support

DIY sunburst cabinet IKEA IVAR hack - adding legs

Lastly, I attached the 4 metallic legs I bought and placed a 2×4 that I wrapped in metallic paper in the middle of the dresser for support.

DIY sunburst cabinet IKEA IVAR hack

How long and how much did it cost?

With a little one at home and not being able to work on it all day, the project took me 1 week to complete but it could easily be done in a couple of days. I didn’t bring in any outside help, I did the project from start to finish on my own which was super rewarding! 

What do you like most about your DIY sunburst cabinet?

I love how elegant and unique the piece is. It is like nothing I had ever seen before. I also love how much extra storage space it gave us in our bedroom. But I mostly love that it was something I made with my own two hands. Whenever I walk by it in our bedroom I smile because I know that I made that. 

What was the hardest part about this hack?

I got a wonderful surprise when I hit a setback once I installed the legs on the cabinet. The design of the legs made it so I couldn’t place them under the dresser, they needed to be placed on the sides. I’m not sure if it would have made a difference or not if they could have been put under the dresser and placed more strategically closer to the center but the dresser started to cave in!

Ahhh! I really loved the legs and didn’t want to change them but I also needed to find a way to support the middle of the dresser with a leg that matched the ones I already had. I don’t know how the idea came to me but I had some metallic gold paper in my craft room that matched the legs and I decided to wrap a 2 by 4 piece of wood in the metallic paper and place it in the center of the dresser for support. It was definitely a proud MacGyver moment of mine. 

What to pay special attention to?

Because the IKEA cabinet is untreated wood you’ll need to properly prime it before painting it. Wood is porous so it will just absorb the paint if it’s not sealed properly. No matter how many coats you apply probably get uneven coverage and bleed-through, also the finish coats are more susceptible to peeling, chalking and other defects.

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

If you asked me during the project I would have said I wish I got different legs because I was really stumped and disappointed when the dresser started to cave. I was worried the legs wouldn’t match whatever I put in the middle to support it. But it ended up being a fun creative challenge that worked out really well and looks super awesome. 

Any new challenge can be intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it! This is a great beginner DIY. You don’t need any power tools, all the cuts can be made with a hand saw. That being said, a miter saw will make it easier but it’s not necessary.

See the details of the DIY sunburst cabinet on my blog. Follow me on Instagram @alanagennara as I go through the ups and downs of DIY and design.

~ by Alana Gennara