How to turn the small Tarva dresser from IKEA into a beautiful bedroom
I searched for the perfect nightstands for our room for years! I could never find exactly
what I wanted.
They had to be tall enough and have plenty of storage. (We keep a lot of books
in our nightstands.) OH and the biggie — they couldn’t cost hundreds of dollars each.
hack the Tarva dresser to get the look you want.
This Tarva line comes in a variety of sizes, from three to six drawers. They
all come unfinished, so you can customize them exactly how you want for your
The drawers are nice and roomy and you can cut down the legs to adjust the
height of the dressers. The best part — they’re only $100 each!
This is how our Tarva nightstands started out:
When I put them together years ago I cut down the legs with my saw. It made them the perfect height for by the bed.
I went back and forth on a look for these forEVER. Here’s a reminder of how
they looked in our old master:
I replaced the wood knobs with random IKEA ones we already had — not sure why
cause it didn’t do a whole lot to help it out. 😉
I always knew I’d use stain somehow and add some trim. The exact details I
wasn’t sure of. But when we moved into this house it all fell into
place. I wanted to use a deep blue color and a dark stain. I went back and forth on
whether I should stain the front of the drawers or stain the trim and
I decided on the latter mostly because the pine these are made of isn’t
necessarily the best. There are lots of knots I didn’t want to
I started painting with no primer — I’m a rebel! I knew I was going to
have to do multiple coats no matter what.
After the first coat it’s important to do a light sanding to knock down the
texture that pops up with paint:
You’ll have to do that with primer as well. No need to go crazy with it —
just a light going over is fine. Wipe it down with a rag or tack cloth before
moving on to your next coat! (This pretty blue is called Gale Force.)
What a difference another coat makes! The grain becomes less and less
See the difference between the top drawer and the bottom
I started on the stain to wood top of the dresser while I waited on the paint
I use gloves and a rag to stain. Makes it super easy to apply and I find it
quicker than using a brush:
It really gets the stain into the wood too — you’re really rubbing it
I only do one coat of stain but if you want to deepen the color you can do one
or two more. Do be sure to wait till it’s dry in between coats or you’ll have
a gummy mess.
Never shake your poly — it will create bubbles and bubbles are the enemy of a
beautiful, smooth finish.
Staining is my favorite because it’s immediate gratification, but poly is a
close second because it really brings out the beauty of the wood:
Even though these dressers are made with inexpensive pine, which can be
finicky with stain, it turned out beautifully!
You want to smooth out the poly coats as much as possible. It’s helpful to use
your light source and look at the item from the side to see what needs
touching up. I find a few lighter coats work much better than one heavy-handed
better. I used
this inexpensive lattice wood trim
I’ve shown you a million times to trim out each drawer front.
I stained the pieces first and then cut them down to the correct size:
A nail gun makes for quick work (use short nails to make sure they won’t go
through the back!) but you could absolutely use glue too!
them out like I did. I could have mitered the edges (cut them at an angle) but
I was still using
my handheld saw and miter box since my saw was “lost” in our move.
I wanted to have my rough edges facing to the side of the drawers instead of
the top, so I did a long piece along the top and bottom and then the side
A bit of stain covered the raw edges right up!:
When the stain was dry, it was time to poly these as well.
See how using the light helps to see what you’ve covered?:
I’m absolutely THRILLED with how this came together! Gah! I love it!
The top of the dressers stained up much prettier than I thought it would!:
I’m impressed because we’ve been using these for years without any protection.
I tried to stay on top of any spills and avoided leaving drinks on them, but
still, I was surprised.
I used pine trim to match the top. Different woods will stain up differently
and even the same may have small differences.
Pine is definitely a more rustic look, so plan accordingly:
My whole plan for this space is a rustic elegance design and the nightstands
fit that perfectly:
The blue looks navy sometimes, sometimes a blue green. I like them both.
I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been looking at the pine dressers for
so long or what, but I’m smitten. They’re just so pretty
Sometimes it’s a good thing that I procrastinate. I didn’t have a great vision
of what I wanted until we moved into this house.
I had the lamps — I thought I had returned them and went to the basement
looking for something else and there they were! I must have known they’d work
Of course, like usual, one finished project starts a series of changes. I plan
to change out the bedskirt eventually. It looked great with our old wall
color but I don’t like it in here with the drapes and dresser color:
But that I can deal with!
That photo above makes the dresser look really navy, but this one is the more
true color. I am obsessed with it! It’s such a pretty blue:
Because you know I have to do it…here’s the before of this dresser:
And this is the after, with some paint, stain and beautiful hardware!:
I’ve made a TON of changes in our bedroom since finishing these nightstands! You
can see all of the updates to our room over the years here.