Published on April 30th, 2012 | by Jules Yap


$10 MALM facelift, huge impact

Materials: MALM four drawer unit, spray adhesive, inexpense engineer print, digital photo

Description: I wanted to customize my boring MALM dresser and after searching for inspiration I found only fabric, wallpaper and wood trims being applied to the dresser fronts. I decided, as a photographer/mom who loves her kids’ faces/decorator obsessed with OVERSIZEness, that I should go with a photo.

I knew that you could get super cheap larger than life black and whites at your local copy shop (staples, office depot). Take in your digital file and ask for an engineer’s print, aka blueprint. I prepared by cropping my image square, 32×32 (your Malm drawer width is 32 inches and the height is 8 inches) since I have the four drawer variety.

You can customize this according to which Malm you have. Once trimmed to four pieces, all 32×8, I applied them to the drawer fronts with 3M spray adhesive. It helps to remove the drawers, and stand them up so you can lie the paper flat. Once you have a sure fit, lift one half of the paper, spray the drawer front under it, and smooth it onto the sprayed drawer. It will stick right away, securing it in place while you repeat with the other half. I did not use Mod Podge as it would probably cause the print to bubble and smear.

The blueprints are said to be “not photo quality” so don’t expect perfection for $3.19, but I don’t think it looks bad at all! Also, when working with your picture, consider where the cuts will go so it is not distracting (cutting thru words or faces for example). Best of luck!!

See more of the Malm makeover.

~ Bridgette Davis


Let’s welcome our new site sponsor, PANYL. 

Just as this post is about decorating the front panels of your IKEA furniture, let’s rant a little about the limited surface finishes we have at IKEA – the beech, the birch, the whites, the reds, the browns and even more meh. Well, now, say hello to new possibilities with PANYL, the brainchild of Dan and Tristam. PANYL is a flexible self-adhesive vinyl film. Some thing like tape, but without the nasty residue or markings of any kind if you remove it.  Unlike tape, it is much  firmer and more rigid, yet malleable enough to be wrapped around gentle contours and edges. Which means, you and I can apply PANYL without any special tools or training.

The most wonderful thing is, PANYL currently stocks 34 patterns, in solid colors, woodgrains, and a handful of specialty finishes like brushed aluminum. Their finishes fit the Expedit, Bestå Tombo, Framstå and Ekby Järpen but there’s definitely more in the pipeline. Take a look at some of their colourful goodies.

This sky blue finish is just so easy on the eyes, don’t you think? You can also get creative with their finishes. The chevrons on the Expedit is simply amazing. I really want that for mine. 

Well, maybe it’s time I update the look of my Expedit. How about you? Go take a look at PANYL.

~ Jules

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Malm dressers become built in!

The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

19 Responses to $10 MALM facelift, huge impact

  1. Hello, I loved the idea to use blueprints when I first saw it a year ago and have finally given it a go. I LOVE the result. I’m in Australia and found a local stationery supplier does blueprints cheaply. I did finish with a varnish and as you commented, it did cause bubbles! Ooops. But I don’t think it detracts too much from the overall effect and my two boys really love their personalised drawers. Thank you for the idea!!

  2. essay says:

    Your colour collection is simply adorable really…the project looks very good in the photos..!!

  3. Lopik says:

    Do you know how the “engineering copy” is called in german or specific?
    I don’t know if this is just a big photo out of the engineering or so on…

  4. Anonymous says:

    How resilient is the photo surface? Does it need some sort of additional clear layer on top to keep it from getting scratched up?

    • it’s very thin paper (copy paper). in a bedroom with no food and drink allowed, i expect it to last a while. the biggest danger will be chocolatey hands or baby brother with an ink pen! i would love for it to be protected by plexi or something like that, but i didn’t have a clue how to acheive that. i think modge podge may cause it to bubble and clear contact paper might yellow in time?

    • girlygirlinblue says:

      If you’re wanting to protect the paper, use a coat of clear spray paint. Then you can do mod podge over it without any smearing, bubbling or tearing. I used this technique sucessfully on another photo print project. I’m also going to experiment on scrap paper to see if a clear coat of varnish can be used as well.
      I have my engineer prints, and I can’t wait to get started on this project!

  5. Sue says:

    This is a great idea! Do you know if it’ll be tough to remove the pictures if you want to change the look? Will the adhesive strip the wood or leave a residue or marks?

    • this stuff is extremely sticky, so yes i expect there to be residue for sure. our dresser was a hand me down so i was willing to risk it. i expect that when we want something else, we will remove this, remove as much as we can with water/magic eraser/light sanding, then recover. i don’t think it will be in presentable condition just plain anymore

  6. perusi says:

    can you tell us exactly what kind/type of 3m spray did you used? the cheapest one… which one? pls be more specific

  7. AprilAries says:

    Thank you for sharing this creative and simple idea! Your girls are beautiful as is the way you have cropped and positioned the photo on the drawer fronts. This is definitely a hack I’ll be trying out!

    Thank you for sharing the PANYL site! Can’t wait until they make PANYLs for the AKURUM/NEXUS door and drawer fronts.

  8. Snappy says:

    Absolutely wonderful!

  9. Thomas says:

    I like the idea, but I think that the photo would look better if you had left out the gaps, it looks rather stretched like this.

  10. i used the cheapest one i found at the store :) all-purpose seems to do well, and the girls and i have been finding all sorts of uses for it since then. just follow instructions on can :)

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. DJinny says:

    Love it, but your link for the spray adhesive sends to like 20 different kinds… can you indicate which one you used? Please! xx

  13. Anonymous says:

    Love it! I had not idea about “engineer’s copy” format. Thanks

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