The Cushion Correspondent

Travel-inspired style for a budget Ikea buy

Chest of drawers before and after

I actually did this months ago but am only just getting around to posting it. It was one of the first DIY projects I did when I moved in with Rob and it was very much out of necessity. The bedroom, which if you recall looked like THIS, was high on floor-to-ceiling hanging space courtesy of the built-in wardrobes and low on drawers and surfaces. And as I may have mentioned (for example HERE), I like clutter. Ok, I don’t actually *like* clutter, it’s more that I am resigned to the fact that clutter is a part of my life. I am a clutterful being. I accept it. Most days.

So I needed a chest of drawers. But I had just spent millions of pounds (about £100) on removals so off to Ikea I went to pick up the ultimate bargain basement buy. This, my friends, is RAST. He is well known in the interiors blogging community, largely because of how amenable he is to being hacked.* He costs a mere £20 and you can find him HERE.

*Is this personification thing a bit weird? I’ve started and I kind of can’t stop now.

Ikea RAST Are you familiar with Ikea Hackers? If not, go and check it out now. It’s basically a vast database of Ikea furniture makeovers. It’s in no way connected to the store but they aren’t daft at Ikea HQ, they know full well what their crafty customers get up to behind closed doors and in well-ventilated spaces and our pal RAST was basically designed to be painted, papered and otherwise personalised.

When it came to my RAST hack, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. I had an old steamer trunk (which now lives in my hallway) and I wanted to create a bit of a vintage travel theme, using the dark green, brown leather and brass as my base.

Vintage steamer trunk

I also liked the idea of wallpapering the fronts of the drawers but instead of wallpaper, I decided to use old maps. So, armed with little more than my ideas and an alun key, I set off on my DIY journey. Here’s what I used:

Dulux tailormade colour gloss in Tarragon Glory 1 (£12.99 for 1L from Homebase)

3 x old maps (eBay – obviously)

2 x leather belts (I got mine from Camden market but you could pick them up in any charity shop, the trick is finding two in the same colour)

Brass upholstery nails (£3.90 for 100, Amazon)


A hammer


Acrylic craft varnish

Chest of drawers project

STEP 1. Paint the two sides and the top of the drawers and leave to dry. For a dark colour like the one I used you will need at least three coats. Be aware that gloss paint is very thick and sticky and takes an age to dry. If I was doing this again I’d probably go for emulsion and just whack a coat of varnish on afterwards.

STEP 2. Cut the maps into rectangles of various sizes. I used one map per drawer and chose places that had some significance for me (top – Edinburgh, middle – London, bottom – Italy). Glue the rectangles on. As ever it’s worth spending some time working out how you want to place them first.

STEP 3. Cut the leather belts into six equal lengths, discarding the buckles and the notched ends. These will be your drawer handles. Use upholstery tacks to attach them to the drawer fronts.

Chest of drawers project

STEP 5. Put the chest of drawers together. Hammer in the remaining tacks around the edge of the frame and along the top to get that studded ‘steamer trunk’ effect.

Chest of drawers makeover project

Chest of drawers makeover project

STEP 6. Coat the fronts of the drawers with acrylic craft varnish to seal the maps and stop them curling up at the edges.

As a final ode to this versatile little chest of drawers, here are a few of my favourite RAST hacks from other bloggers. They totally put mine to shame and I’m also feeling slightly peer-pressured into doing a proper, styled up ‘after’ shot now so watch out for that. In the meantime, click the image to go to the step-by-step:





6 comments on “Travel-inspired style for a budget Ikea buy

  1. Antonia, Tidy Away Today
    February 11, 2013

    Wow, stunning transformation, Francesca! I absolutely love it, sooo original – like that the maps have meaning to you 🙂 Leather belts for handles? Genius. (I actually prefer your version to the others, as nice as they are.) May I pin this please? x

    • Franki
      February 11, 2013

      Thank you… pin away!

    • Franki
      February 11, 2013

      Also, I must confess – not entirely original. I nicked the leather handles idea from somewhere. The prob is I can’t remember where… I look at so many projects it’s hard to keep track but it’s def something I’ve seen before. Nevertheless I was impressed with how well they work (and how strong they are). x

  2. lmdunne
    February 11, 2013

    I had not heard of Ikea hackers….brilliant!

  3. thethinkingcloset
    February 14, 2013

    The personification thing is not weird at all. I do it all the time. (Just see my most recent post. I have personified my cord as an angry looking Tom Sellek type. It keeps me entertained at least.) Your dresser turned out fabulously. It inspires me to consider doing the same for an armoire for our bedroom. Now, just need to find a cheap armoire. Maybe IKEA!

    Thanks for your sweet comment on your blog. I love your space over here!

    The Thinking Closet

    • Franki
      February 17, 2013

      Haha, thanks. As long as it keeps us entertained, why not! x

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2013 by in Ideas, My Pad, Projects and tagged , , , , .
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